Canon dSLR Newbie: EF vs EF-S Lens Questions

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gkarris, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #1
    Hi there.

    I'm new to Canon dSLR's - got blessed by an MR member selling me a used one in great shape. A 20D with the 18-55 EF-S Lens.

    I have an Olympus system so that's what I'm used to.

    I bought the 20D for shooting telephoto with high ISO. I see how expensive the telephoto lenses are so will probably rent the lenses.

    Questions are:

    1. I see the EF and EF-S, and understand that the EF series is from the full-frame/film format. The EF-S works only on certain Canon digitals. Does it also follow that EF lenses are of higher quality than EF-S?

    2. I tried the EF-S IS 55-250 (the lens IS is kinda cool :) ) at the camera shop while getting the rental list. If EF lenses have higher quality, would it be worth renting the EF lenses, which are considerably more costly, than say, buying the EF-S lens outright? I foresee shooting with a telephoto only 2-3 times a year(at Sci-Fi conventions and the like). I'm more a landscape/architecture/cityscape and Aviation (the planes while on the ground or takeoff/approach/landing) photographer.

    Also seems to me that the EF lenses (white bodies) and are not as portable as the EF-S lenses.

    Thanks for everyones help on this forum. Sorry I'm sorta lazy to search the web's vast amount of information.
     
  2. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #2
    EF-S lenses are different from EF lenses in two ways:

    Smaller imaging circle. This means that there is less actuall glass in the lens, and that all of the lens elements can be smaller for a given focal lenght and maximum aperature. This means that EF-S lenses are cheaper to produce.

    Short distance between the rear element, and the sensor. This is what the "S" stands for in EF-S, as Canon calls it "Electro Focus, Short-back focus". This means that the last element in the lens actually sticks into the camera further than a EF lens does. On EF-S cameras the mirror is smaller than the mirror on EF cameras, and it clears the lens. If an EF-S lens was mounted to a EF camera, the mirror would hit the back of the lens. In theory, having a shorter distance between the rear element and the sensor improves the IQ of the lens.

    Now by the pure definition of "EF-S", it does not mean that the lens has to be cheap, but out of the 10 or so EF-S lenses that Canon makes, only two of them are considered "good", the EF-S 10-22 and EF-S 17-55. These lenses have good optical design, and while they still have plastic bodies, they are of higher quality than the other EF-S lenses in Canon's lineup. Keep in mind that there are many EF lenses that are also cheaply made, and and are also not very good optically.

    I think what you're looking for is the "L" line of Canon's lenses, designated by the red stripe around the barrel, and sometimes a white body on the telephotos. These lenses usually will cost much more, have a metal body, and more advanced optical designs, treatments and coatings to control aberrations. There are no EF-S lenses in the "L" lineup, although some will say that the EF-S 10-22 F/3.5 and 17-55 F/2.8 are very close to being "L" lenses in optical quality.

    But the bottom line is that what is printed on the lable on the box and around the ring on the lens is not what makes a lens instantly good or bad, before renting or purchasing any lens do your homework and do a little reading about the lenses you're interested in so that you know what to expect.
     
  3. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #3
    ^^^

    Thanks for taking time to explain.

    I'm on Canon's website now. Looks like the glass sticks out the end of the EF-S lenses?

    I tried this one at the store:

    http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=150&modelid=15700

    $260 at Calumet...

    Calumet doesn't really rent many EF-S lenses - so that people with film and full-frame cameras can rent from the same pool I'd imaging.

    Will maybe rent this one to check out:

    http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=150&modelid=14260

    $1,100 from Amazon! :eek:
     
  4. bking1000 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Buy the 55-250, because it's cheap light and good, and rent L telephotos for when you need the "serious" lens. Later, if you find you really must have an L to own, and don't mind the weight and cost, you can buy an L, but still keep the 55-250 when you want to go light.

    p.s. if you have the Canon 18-55 lense, that's a lousy lens. Move up to the newer 18-55IS, and you'll have a much better experience. Coupled w/the 55-250, you cover all the FLs on very short money.
     
  5. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #5
    I was wondering, I took the same pics with my Olympus and the image sharpness seems to be better.

    It seems to be an okay "budget/cheap" lens.

    The 20D sensor rocks though, especially in high ISO.... :)
     
  6. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #6
    I rent from here: http://lensrentals.com

    Seriously awesome folk, very fast shipping, reasonable rates (week rentals are the same cost as day rentals at many other places), and they have a broad selection of gear to choose from.

    Lens review sites:
    http://fredmiranda.com
    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/ (Canon only)
    http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/overview

    Just a few of the many sites that offer information and opinions about lenses. Read up on any lens before you buy and try to judge if you'll be satisfied with it or not.
     
  7. bking1000 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    You've hit it, from what I've read. Never had an Oly, but thought about it long and hard. Many people have said the Oly lenses are sharper than Canon when compared in the same price range (though the Canon L lenses are just as good if not better than Oly, overall).

    However, the Oly 4/3 sensor is a smaller sensor, so will show more noise at higher ISO. That's one of the trade-offs (the others generally being: Canon focuses quicker, but Oly is smaller/lighter).
     
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #8
    There's a third one (and maybe more than I'm not aware of). The EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro gets high marks in lab tests and great reviews. Photozone calls it "almost flawless."

    Also, some of the Sigma and Tamron lenses that are made for cropped sensors have excellent optics.
     
  9. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I haven't purchased EF S lenses. Instead, I got the 18-50mm Tamron f/2.8 (instead of the kit lens), and Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (for landscapes). Instead of spending on EF S lenses, I have decided to go the EF route.

    Canon has several non-L lenses that have excellent glass. A lot of them are primes, and well known for sharpness and IQ. For example: EF 50mm f/1.4, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, and so forth.

    I have the 100mm macro (around $400.00), EF 200mm f/2.8L USM (around $700.00), EF 400mm f/5.6L USM (around $1,200). In the long run, one would save a lot of cash by buying instead of renting, except for the very expensive L telephotos.
     
  10. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #10
    Thanks, I'm going to try lensrentals.com for some of the lenses not available at Calumet.

    lensrentals.com rents Olympus too... :)

    ZEISS LENSES FOR CANON EOS?

    (starts drooling...) :eek:
     
  11. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Yes, there are a few of these lenses one can use on Canon EOS.

    In fact, you can use Nikon lenses with the correct Canon mount, although aperture and focusing is done manually.
     
  12. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #12
    I contacted lensrentals.com and he (the owner?) is very friendly.

    I suggested he get some of the Panasonic-Leica Four-Thirds lenses in. He said they're working on getting the Micro Four-Thirds system in, but he's going to try to get at least the one I've been eye-ing to try out (the 40-150mm with OIS).

    These guys seem awesome. I think my first rental will be a Zeiss Lens for Canon.
     
  13. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #13
    Was it Roger?

    Roger is a very cool guy, I don't know if he is the owner, but he seems to play a big part in their operations. Very knoweldgeable and helpful guy.
     
  14. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #14
    Yes. He said he'd get that Panasonic-Leica Four-Thirds lens in April. Hope they come through...
     
  15. thunng8 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Well, those mentioned lenses in many ways are better than their "L" full frame equivalents in optical quality. That's why many people don't want to move to Full frame bodies since they will miss the quality of the 17-55 lens and there is no real equivalent on a full frame body. The 60mm Macro lens is also superb and better than the full frame equivalent.
     
  16. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #16
    i don't see how the 60mm is better than the 100mm macro..

    the 10-22 i think is optically identical to one of the L ultrawides...17-40? the 17-55 also has high-end glass. i think it's actually sharper than the 24-70 (don't have the link though, but it had numbers), but it suffers in other areas, optically speaking. flare resistance, for example.
     
  17. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #17
    I have to disagree with this. The 16-35 2.8L I and II (Ive owned both) are considerabley sharper and not even in the same league as the 10-22 (another one I've had). The 10-22 is great on a cropped body but youll never pull the color and detail from it (as well as lack of chromatic abberations) that you will with the L ultrawides.

    Also the 17 - 55 on a 1.6x cropped body is roughly equivilent to the 24 - 70 2.8L on a full frame, and yet again, the 24-70 is a lot sharper and has a lot better color then the 17-55.

    However, if you are on a budget, forget about L glass for now. Its expensive and addicting :) The cheapest L lens you can get is around $600 (70-200 f4) but most hover over the $1000 mark.

    I would suggest staying away from EF-S Lenses if you can only because if you want to upgrade to full frame later down the road your lenses will be useless.
     
  18. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #18
    Uh, no. While they're nice lenses, and come very close to maching IQ, they're still not as good as their "L" counterparts.

    The EF 16-35 f/2.8L besides being a faster lens with a constant aperature, is also sharper across the entire frame than the 10-22, has better CA control, and has far superior construction and controls. And it should be consider how much it costs.

    And the "full frame equivilant" of the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 is the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, which again is a much sharper lens across the entire frame, and has far superior build quality. And again it costs almost twice as much. I've never heard from anyone saying that they were planning on sticking with crop bodies just for the 17-55, that doesn't even make sense.


    As for the 60mm Macro, it's not even close to the EF 100mm f/2.8 macro.
     
  19. thunng8 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I'm not sure where all these "L" lovers come from. Check the quantitative tests at such sites like slrgear.com and photozone.de. I won't bother to list every review, you can peruse at your leisure.

    All show the 17-55 is sharper across most focal lengths than the 24-70L and the 60mm is also a tad better than the 100mm macro.

    If you even read dpreview.com forums, this topic comes up very often. i.e. people wanting to stick with the 17-55 because the 24-70L is subpar.

    Even the-digital-picture.com has some very interesting comments on the 17-55mm vs the 24-70mmL.

    So, my conclusion is: if you are sticking with a crop body .. the EF-S lenses will server you very well.
     
  20. gkarris thread starter macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #20
    Thanks. But I think I would like to rent the more expensive lenses.

    slrgear.com has the 24-70mmL as being stellar...

    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showcat.php/cat/11
     
  21. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #21
    The 24-70 is stellar. Loads better then the 17-55 IMO. Not sure why some sites try and compare the two lenses. I was never big on online reviews anyway my results were always different.

    Renting is a great way to go to ensure you like the lens before you buy it. Lensrentals.com and rentglass.com both offer affordable rates to rent a lens for 1 week to 30 days. I highly recommend this route :)
     
  22. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #22
    I think this is bad advice. A person should buy whatever lenses best suit their current needs, not needs they might have years down the line. Canon lenses hold their value very well and sell easily on the used market. Since lens prices have recently increased, some people are even able to sell their used equipment for what they paid new. I purchased two of my lenses used, after much waiting and hunting for bargains. In the end, I saved just enough to make it barely worthwhile buying used--just enough to make me feel less guilty about spending money in this economy. And I know I could turn around and sell these lenses for exactly what I paid used--no problem.

    [raises hand]. The 17-55 has IS, so there is simply no EF equivalent. I do a lot of low-light, handheld shooting of stationary objects (in museums, where tripods are not allowed). I need that focal length range with IS. With the 17-55, I can shoot at 1/4s handheld. I need that.

    Have you seen their respective charts? Have you used them? I'm scratching my head here. They are not only close, they're extremely close.
     
  23. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #23
    You are right, 28-70mm f2.8L is more expensive than 17-55mm f2.8 IS ... but just barely :)

    28-70mm f2.8L is 1190$ on Amazon while

    17-55mm f2.8 IS is 1030$ on Amazon (but you have to get the 50$ lens hood and xy$ lens case separately).
     
  24. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #24
    that's a 24-70...the 28-70 was discontinued awhile ago.

    anyways, the 17-55 is quite expensive. it's a professional lens stuffed in a midrange barrel (unfortunately).
     
  25. thunng8 macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Have you ever used the mentioned lenses? Maybe you tried a dud copy of the 17-55IS lens (which happens often because of bad QC)? I know my 17-55 outperforms my previous 24-70 in sharpness and clarity on the 50D, and most sites (all very respected) tend to agree with my assessment.

    e.g. comparison against other lenses including 3 "L" lenses (its about 1/3 way down the review)

    http://the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-S-17-55mm-f-2.8-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx
     

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