L lenses?

Fuzzy Orange

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 29, 2006
263
0
Well, after looking through Canon's lenses, I noticed the L versions. They seem much more expensive than the others. What is so special about them? Also, does Nikon have a certain category of lens to mirror the L lenses of Canon?
 

ac4lt

macrumors member
Sep 19, 2006
48
0
Broadlands, VA
Fuzzy Orange said:
Well, after looking through Canon's lenses, I noticed the L versions. They seem much more expensive than the others. What is so special about them? Also, does Nikon have a certain category of lens to mirror the L lenses of Canon?
Canon says the "L" stands for "luxury". The L lenses are their high end lenses and are usually optically very good. They tend to be sharper when wide open, tend to be faster and have excellent build quality. Whether they are worth the money depends a lot on your photography. For snapshots they are serious overkill, but for serious amateur and pro use they are absolutely wonderful.

I have three L lenses, the 16-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS. The latter two are simply amazing. They are incredibly sharp even wide open. They 16-35 is weakest of the three but it's still very good. The only down sides is that they are bigger and heavier than other lenses and, of course, more expensive. But, I wouldn't give them up for anything.

Nikon does have equivalent lenses, though I don't know if they brand them the way Canon does with a special label.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,609
408
Redondo Beach, California
It's all just marketing

Fuzzy Orange said:
Well, after looking through Canon's lenses, I noticed the L versions. They seem much more expensive than the others. What is so special about them? Also, does Nikon have a certain category of lens to mirror the L lenses of Canon?
Canon makes a distiction between the profesional quality lenses and the consummer quality lens and marks the pro lenses with the "L". Nikon builds lenses as good as the Canon "L" series and also a few low price consummer lenses and also some that are in between. In other words Nikon offers a range of lenses and lets the buyer decide if it is a "pro" lens or not and Canon offers two clases.

In the end it's just marketing. Canon users will argue if a given lens should have or not have the "L" and Nikon users just assume that all of the f/2.8 zooms most of the primes are "pro lenses.

If you are looking to buy a lens it is best to ask around on the forums and read the reviews.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,753
142
beavo451 said:
They do. Price. :D
And they leave the "G" off them. IE: 28-70 DX ED-G $200 (that's a bad guess) 28-70 DX ED $500.

L in Canon means best lens you can buy today. If I had canon I would invest in all "L" glass. My theory is invest in glass not the body.
 

Poeben

macrumors 6502
Jul 29, 2004
346
0
'L' lenses are VERY solidly built. That alone, to me, is worth the extra cost. Throw in better optics, wider apertures (than the non-L equivalent), and constant aperture zooms and you have a nice advantage over their consumer offerings.
 

extraextra

macrumors 68000
Jun 29, 2006
1,758
0
California
I think L lenses are also weather-sealed. I do know that the mount is weather-sealed, I'm not 100% about the whole thing.

You can check fredimiranda.com/reviews for user reviews of various lenses.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,389
114
Location Location Location
ac4lt said:
The L lenses are their high end lenses and are usually optically very good.
Yes, note the word "usually." ;) Sometimes it doesn't even mean that. Some of these lenses don't take better photos than non "L" glass, nor do they take better photos than a few of the 3rd party offerings that cost 60-70% less sometimes.


And this is why, despite the labelling, you really do need to read as many reviews as possible. I don't care what they label a lens, or which company makes it. If it's a good lens, then it's a good lens, regardless of label/brand.


Oh, and Canon's "L" glass comes wrapped in a red ring, while Nikon likes the colour "gold". When othe photographers see these colours, they know you own something expensive. ;)
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
jessica. said:
And they leave the "G" off them. IE: 28-70 DX ED-G $200 (that's a bad guess) 28-70 DX ED $500.

L in Canon means best lens you can buy today. If I had canon I would invest in all "L" glass. My theory is invest in glass not the body.
The G designation has nothing to do with the quality of the lens.

All DX lenses are 'G' lenses. The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens is a 'G' lens as well as the 200mm f/2, 300mm f/2.8, and 200-400mm f/4 VR. Those are definitely NOT consumer level lenses.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,609
408
Redondo Beach, California
beavo451 said:
The G designation has nothing to do with the quality of the lens.
Correct. "G" means there is no aperture ring on the lens and the f/stop _must_ be set using a control on the camera body. In the Nikon system this is an important distinction because older manual focus film bodies do not have an f-stop control and require a lens with the aperture ring.

So if you are like me and own a D50 and an F2 the "G" is a warning that the lens will not work on the F2.

Canon does not have this issue they changed the lens mount some years ago so the old and new systems can't interoperate and all new Canon lenses are what Nikon would call "G".

Nothing to do with quality except that Nikon's top of the lines lenses just hapen to not be "G" lenses. Many pros still use film.

One neat thing about the Nikon system is that older lenses fromt eh1960's still can mount on new DSLR bodies. Some features don't work in some combinations but the lenses most do mount ad you can take Pictures. So for example a Nion DSLR user who was really strapped for cash could buy an older manual focus 135mm f/2.8 prime for about $90 and have a great telehoto lens for use in sports photography. A lens that was capable of shooting a national Geographic cover in 1971 could do the same today. I'm using a 40 year old macro lens on my D50.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,389
114
Location Location Location
But I think Jessica is trying to say that on expensive Nikon lenses, they don't write "G" so blatantly in their designation of the lens. She's not saying that "G" lenses are lower quality, and that lenses without the "G" are better. :)
 

sjl

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2004
441
0
Melbourne, Australia
jessica. said:
L in Canon means best lens you can buy today. If I had canon I would invest in all "L" glass. My theory is invest in glass not the body.
Thing is, though, there's quite a few non "L" lenses that are also very good in the Canon lineup. Ones that spring to mind are:
  • EF-S 17-55 f/2.8
  • EF 100mm macro
  • MP-E 65mm (if you need that degree of magnification in your macro work)
  • EF 50mm f/1.8
  • EF-S 10-22mm (arguably)

For instance, if I had the money, I could be tempted to get two 5Ds, the 17-40mm f/4 L, the 24-70 f/2.8 L, and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L. If I had less money, but still a fair chunk to spend, I could get a single 5D, the 17-40mm f/4L, the 17-55mm f/2.8, and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L. (add in the 20D that I already have, remembering that it's a 1.6 crop body, and you can see why that lineup.)

So "L" usually means a good quality lens (not always, but usually), but the optics on non-L glass can be pretty damn good too.
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
Abstract said:
But I think Jessica is trying to say that on expensive Nikon lenses, they don't write "G" so blatantly in their designation of the lens. She's not saying that "G" lenses are lower quality, and that lenses without the "G" are better. :)
On all Nikon 'G' lenses, it is written clearly as part of the lens label.

Example: 70-200mm F/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR
 

shiv

macrumors member
Sep 9, 2006
74
0
Osaka, Japan
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe with Nikkor glass, if it has ED that would designate their highest-end models.
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
shiv said:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe with Nikkor glass, if it has ED that would designate their highest-end models.
You're wrong. :p

Many of their new models have ED glass. The best example is the D50 kit lens. Not exactly highest end. ;)
 

Mike Teezie

macrumors 68020
Nov 20, 2002
2,205
1
All I know is that L glass is terribly addictive.

After shooting with the 85 1.8 on a 5D, I've decided I'd rather stick with the 50mm focal length on the full frame body.

So, I'm getting the 50mm f/1.2L instead of the 85 f/1.2L, and maaayyybbeee the 135 f/2L.
 

snap58

macrumors 6502
Jan 29, 2006
310
0
somewhere in kansas
Mike Teezie said:
All I know is that L glass is terribly addictive.

After shooting with the 85 1.8 on a 5D, I've decided I'd rather stick with the 50mm focal length on the full frame body.

So, I'm getting the 50mm f/1.2L instead of the 85 f/1.2L, and maaayyybbeee the 135 f/2L.
You will love the 135 F2.0L, excellent on the 5D, gives you a little distance on the outdoor portraits, get them both.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,609
408
Redondo Beach, California
shiv said:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe with Nikkor glass, if it has ED that would designate their highest-end models.
I just checked. It seems that all but a few of the Nikon zooms use "ED". With primes, ED is used only for the wide and long lenses. They use ED in some of the lowest cost lenses as well as the expensive ones.

At one time Nikon did make a line of lower priced lenses. (Late 70's as I remember.) These were the "E-Series" but they were all manual focus ack then. Optically they were good but to lower the cost they were in larger and bulkier mounts. I have an old e-series 135mm f/2.8 lens. It is a physically large lens and there is some plastic showing. As the time the other lenses were all 100% metal. The Nikon "E" lenses look to be built "like a tank" by today's standards.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,609
408
Redondo Beach, California
Abstract said:
But I think Jessica is trying to say that on expensive Nikon lenses, they don't write "G" so blatantly in their designation of the lens. She's not saying that "G" lenses are lower quality, and that lenses without the "G" are better. :)
I just checked on the Nikon web site. In EVERY case the "G" followed the maximum f-stop and is written using the same color and type face as the focal length and max f-stop. So for example the "300mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR" What a lot of code letters but it does tell you how the lens is built. And this IS an expensive lens.

The "G" simply means there is no aperture ring on the lens. Notice there is no "DX" in the lens name. This means it is a full frame lens.