Lo vs Hi Quality Lens comparison.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by dingdongbubble, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. dingdongbubble macrumors 6502a

    Jun 1, 2007
    Uptill now everyone keeps talking about preferring a hi quality lens and lo quality body over a high quality body and low quality lens. I want to see the diference for myself. Can someone kind enough please post a couple of comparison shots between a hi and lo quality lens? Like a Canon kit lens and a Canon L lens(if I am not mistaken). I want to see the difference a lens makes for my own.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. dingdongbubble thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 1, 2007

    Cant anyone take the same shot with a crappy lens like a kit lens and another shot with a high end pro lens? PLEEEEEZ
  3. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    You pose a huge request because there are so many lenses out there. However, here's a link to a site Pixel Peeperthat will give you photos taken from various lenses. You'd have to do your own research to determine what two lenses are supposed to do the same but the price is completely different because the quality of the build/glass is very different. For example, check out the 70-200 nikon G glass against their non-g glass.

    What you will find is that some amazing photos selling today were probably taken with less-than quality glass. However, what needs to be considered is that each lens performs best at a certain point. The better the lens quality the more options for performance you will have. I have one lens, a diamond in the ruff, have had it for well over 8 years and it is great (70-210mm). At 210mm @ F 5.6 it is not the best lens. There is a lack of sharpness when photos are printed at 8x10 or higher. There is also quite a bit of moire to deal with. However, at f8, f11, f16 and 210mm the lens performs so very well. The same holds true for the 70mm end. At 70mm the lens has it's so-called favorite f-stops.

    The point is, the lens was $500 new, when purchased that wasn't a super expensive lens at all. Compared to it's counterpart the more expensive lens I bet it would perform well at 210mm f5.6....very well in fact.

    See the point?
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    FWIW, posting nag posts is not the optimum way to get cooperation from forum members.

    Also take into account that just over 4 hours is not a lot of time for a response in a specialized forum. And that your country is in a different time zone than mine. Members in the Pacific time zone are not likely to be answering questions at 5:52 AM.
  6. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The differences between a good and a bad quality lens isn't just in sharpness, but also chromatic aberation and more importantly speed. You can't compare speed directly because a slower low-quality lens simply isn't able to take a shot in low light. For instance, the Nikkor 400/2.8 AF-S II is about $7800, but it's two whole stops faster than a Nikkor 80-400VR AF-D lens which retails for about $1200, it has significantly faster autofocus too. Each stop requires twice as much light, so you'd need 4x the light, or to try to go 2 stops faster on ISO, at which point you're not comparing lenses, but camera performance at different ISO values. While the 400/2.8 is significantly shaper at 400mm, it's not 6x sharper- the main difference is in being able to get the shot, or being able to get the shutter speed necessary to capture your subject. If I go out pre-dawn for wildlife shots, I've got at least an hour, sometimes more to shoot with a 2.8 lens than with a 5.6 lens. I also get better subject isolation and better sharpness.

    However all my consumer lenses are lent out at the moment because I'm simply not satisfied with shooting with them, so a comparison shot isn't possible. If it were though, you'd see the most difference in challenging situations like shooting things that tend to show CA like trees against a blue sky, things that tend to show flare like into the sun and other things that aren't like my weather at the moment.

    Finally, if you don't want to spend a lot of money, don't compare them- because you will see a difference and it'll drive you to spend more than you generally need to if you're not making real money shooting.
  7. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
  8. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    It's been said to death, but it's the photographer taking the image, not the camera/lens. Give someone the Nikon 18-55 f3.5-5.6 and give them the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 and you'd see pretty much the same image, despite the $1300 price difference.

    However, like Jessica said, better quality lenses do allow for use in certain situations. Certainly the 17-55 2.8 would give a better DOF than the 18-55, and it would certainly perform better in low light without requiring a massive ISO bump.

    Seeing as you currently have a thread going regarding whether to buy a 350D or not I'd worry less about Canon's L glass for the moment and more about practicing your basic photographic techniques. The more you take photos the more you'll learn what you can and can't do with your current lens and you'll know if you'll need to drop serious cash on pro-quality lenses.
  9. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    There are some problems with the question you're asking - it's too broad to really give you any useful information back (that's not really your fault though).

    Most kit lenses aren't "crappy", to use your term. It's not like a photo of your dog is going to be blurry if you use a kit lens - your photo will still likely be sharp (or, if it's not sharp it's probably your technique, per epicwelshman's comments, rather than any shortcoming of the lens). They just have certain tradeoffs (some of which are described by compuwar, above) when compared to higher quality and higher cost lenses.

    Also, there is a range of quality when it comes to lenses. You don't just have one quality point that's "consumer" and another that's "pro" - it's a continuum. There are lenses that are somewhat poor in quality; a lot of lenses that are pretty good for most uses; lenses that are VERY good, but might have some other non-pro attribute (e.g. variable aperture throughout the zoom range, or an f/4 maximum aperture rather than f/2.8); and then lenses that are considered "pro glass".

    Plus, there are decidedly non-pro lenses (like my Nikkor 18-200mm VR) that do a pretty good job, but who's strong selling point is convenience - a pro wouldn't use it for a paying job, but many do own the lens and use it when they're out hiking or otherwise just "out taking pictures" because it does very well at the task it's designed for (covering a wide range of focal lengths with a lens that's not too heavy yet takes good photos in most situations).

    Another important factor is weight. Pro lenses, which are built to have the absolute best specifications the company can offer, are almost always significantly heavier than non-pro lenses. For a paying job, a pro will not want to make any quality compromises; but you may not want to carry around a lens that ways 3x as much but is only slightly better than the comparable "consumer level" zoom that covers the same range.

    When deciding on any specific lens, your best bet is to read reviews. You can certainly ask here for peoples' experiences with specific lenses; but use that as a starting point, and do some research. For Nikon lenses, Thom Hogan's site is a good resource. PhotoZone is a very popular review site that provides standardized test reports on lenses, and supplements that with the reviewer's thoughts. I also like the reviews on SLRGear.com.
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    First of all, as has been pointed out before, you can make very good photos with any camera. Lens quality can become important for certain tasks, no doubt about it. But usually it's hyped: a well-composed photo will still be a great picture even if you have 2 % less brilliance or 5 % less sharpness on the corners.

    Now, expensive lenses have other benefits: for instance, a larger aperture. There are three main reasons why this is a good thing™: (i) In the times of film, you couldn't `change ISO' by the push of a button, you needed to change film. So in order to take pictures in low-light conditions. Nowadays, this is not really necessary anymore, you can simply crank up the ISO. My new D80's ISO range is 100-3200, my E-20's was 80-320, now that's a factor 10! People will say that at ISO3200 the noise is very strong and they're right. However, they forget a few things: noise can be part of a good picture (I for one like grainy film), or to quote David Carson: `Who says a good picture has to be sharp.' Also, the being able to take a picture (with noise) certainly beats not being able to make the shot.
    Reason (ii) still persists and is actually why I bought a used 2.8 80-200 zoom: depth of field. Now this opens up a lot of new possibilities in taking pictures that cheaper lenses can't.
    (iii) Lastly, more expensive lenses are much sturdier.

    If you don't want to spend too much, but need these features, you can either buy used or (even better IMHO) go for either Tokina or Sigma. Tokina is IMHO superior to Sigma, the built quality is on par with Canon's L series or Nikon's pro lenses. The picture quality is excellent, usually either getting very close to the original manufacturer's lenses or in some cases, surpassing them according to various magazines (e. g. the 12-24 zoom is an excellent example). At the very least, they are cutting it close and from a price/performance point of view, they are usually the better choice by far. (Even some pros use Tokina and Sigma lenses.)

    There are a few downsides to pro lenses, too. The biggest one is weight and size: my 80-200 Nikon zoom (bought it used) weighs more than 1300 g. While I don't mind the weight, you end up looking (and shooting) like a paparazzi. Changing lenses becomes cumbersome and it doesn't fit into my lens bag anymore. I will eventually replace it by a Tokina 50-135 zoom (not because of weight, though, but because the zoom range harmonizes much better with my D80). Another downside (this is true of older, used pro tele lenses) is that the AF speed might be slower (everything is heavier, you need more precision while focussing, etc.).

    IMHO you should rather go out and try to focus on pictures. Don't think in terms of `this L lens will give me more sharpness' or test your equipment taking pictures of tiles and bricks. I took some nice pics with my father's 50-year old Zeiss Ikon range finder!
  11. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2003
    I am a pro and don't have two versions of the same lens in the hi and low quality version. I shoot Canon and use the 16-35 2.8, and 70-200 2.8 Canon lenses. I have a cheap Sigma 28-70 2.8 until I can replace it with the Canon equivalent so can't help you. Photozone is a great resource to see lens comparisons. Always buy the best lens you can afford. Even better shoot great strong photos with whatever best equipment you can get. I look back over past masters of photojournalism (my field) and am amazed at the great world changing photos that were shot with gear I could not even probably function easily with.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Not many people are going to have overlapping lenses and the only valid test would be to shoot the same subject in the same light with the camera on a tripod.

    What you will find is that if you spend the bucks and get he f/2.8 zoom or the f/1.4 prime it is NOT just a better build version of the same lens. It's different. For example the f/2.8 lens will alow a different depth of field or for a longer flash range.

    The "A" and "B" shots that you asked for culd only be done over the f-stops that both lenses have in common. But the reason you buy the more expensive lens is for those extra f-stops.
  13. dingdongbubble thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 1, 2007
  14. bmat macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2004
    East Coast, USA
  15. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    you're going to run into a couple of problems (that may have already been mentioned)

    first, JPGs on your screen are not, by and large, going to give you much of an idea about sharpness. Your screen can't even output at the 240-300dpi most people print at.

    second, digital 'sharpness' is as much a function of technique and software in processing as anything. Too much USM, too little, etc. (which was also true shooting negative film - but we had chromes as a reference for sharpness with minimal interference)
  16. jaisai01 macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2006
    i say hi qual and low body over vice versa anyday.
  17. valiar macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2006
    Washington, DC
    Which is actually not a bad lens at all :)
    At least, the Canon L equivalent IQ is not better than this Sigma by leaps and bounds.

    But back to OP's question... You have to realize that under certain conditions your cheap kit lens and something more expensive will take an almost identical picture.
    For example, a Canon consumer zoom and a 28-70 2.8 L will probably be very close if you stop each of them down to f8, and shoot something with realtively few small details in bright daylight.
    However, a better lens will produce acceptable results even under more challenging conditions where your kit consumer zoom will struggle. For example, most Canon L zooms are relatively usable with wide open apertures. A picture taken with a wide open consumer zoom will not look pretty. It will be fuzzy with low contrast and a lot of lost detail.
    In the end of the day it is the image composition, subject, and your camera settings that matter the most. A better lens just increases your chances of getting the shot done.
  18. sjl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    Pretty much true. However, chromatic aberration is also an issue, and this can only be dealt with by using fluorite elements or other low-dispersal optics. Fluorite is difficult to work with, so lenses that use it are more expensive.

    Having said that, though, CA is small enough in most lenses that you won't see it unless you're pixel peeping. The only lens I've had that gave me grief with CA was the EF 75-300mm USM - I sold it as soon as I realised what the issue was.
  19. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    If you shoot RAW, CA is not really a significant issue since it's easily corrected.
  20. jayb2000 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 18, 2003
    RI -> CA -> ME
    and on flickr you can search, often the tags have info about the lens.

    One reason people suggest spending the money on the lens, is that hypothetically, a few years down the road, you can update the body and get even more out of the lens.

    Updating the lens with a crappy body will still be slower, not have as fast a flash sync, etc.

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