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Old 30-01-2012, 09:16 PM
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What have you found to be a good camera lens?

I am interested in upgrading my terrestial DSLR in the next few months. Probably a 5D Mk? or a Nikon D800 whichever is available and looks the better.

What lenses have you found to be good. Usually Canon L series get good reviews although I read from someone who has used both the Canon 70-200mm F2.8L started losing quality control and early versions were better than later. Also a 1994 model was way sharper than the current lens.

So its this type of info I am looking for.

What lens have you found to be good?

I want to cover all focal lengths from about 14mm to 200mm. I'll probably get some primes in the more useful focal lengths like 50mm or 85mm and zooms for the rest.

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Old 30-01-2012, 09:57 PM
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hotspur (Chris)
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Check out Fred Miranda site for reviews on all lenses and gear,I have found this site to be most helpful when purchasing gear.

Also POTN,not too bad either.

I have a copy of a 70-200 F 2.8 L non IS.Been very happy with the results,lovely bokeh.I have heard it said by many photographers,that the
Canon 70-200 F2.8,is the only zoom which has very similar in results to a prime.I'd agree with that.

The only L lens I have seen get not so good reviews,is the 24-70 L F 2.8,lots of unhappy campers on POTN with this one.

Here is a basic test shot in shade at F 2.8,do not really think you can go wrong regardless on which of the 5 versions of the 70-200 L you choose.

Good luck

Cheers Chris
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Old 30-01-2012, 10:02 PM
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For Canon you can't go past these 2 lenses.

1. 24 - 70 IS L
2. 70 - 200 IS L

These are both awesome lenses. The 24-70 never comes off my Canon. The 70 -200 is great for sporting events, portaits, landscapes and Astro :-)

The 24-70 is great for star trails.
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Old 30-01-2012, 10:06 PM
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Octane (Humayun)
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I bought a 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (non-IS) in 2010 and it is superb.

So, so, very sharp.

The f/4L IS is even sharper.

The 17-40mm f/4L USM is no slouch for landscapes. 95% of my landscapes, if not more, have been captured with that lens, and, at f/16, too. The only thing that the 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM has in favour of it, apart from the extra stop of light (not so much of an issue for my landscape work) is that it gives the most incredible well-defined diffraction spikes at sunrise and sunset. The 17-40mm f/4L USM is a mess in that regard. I can't justify upgrading to the 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, however.

My 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is probably the sharpest tool in my bag. This lens cops a lot of bagging on forums, but, I must have got a good copy as it is flawless. People complain about barrell distortion with this lens. Well, if they bothered to use the lens correction built into Digital Photo Professional, they'd realise that it takes care of all that nonsense.

For landscape work, you would want to decide between (or, get all) of the following: 14mm, 24mm, 16-35mm and/or the 17-40mm.

If you're into tilt-shift work, there's sufficient lenses in that regard, too. I don't know the first thing about tilt-shift so can't comment.

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Old 31-01-2012, 12:10 AM
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I have the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 VRII lenses. Both are brilliant. I have produced some amazing shots of my kids with both lenses. The 70-200 is sharp to the corners of a full frame (the previous model was slightly soft) and its focus is very quick.

I'm hoping to add the 14-24 f2.8 in the near future. It's the lens that Canon photographers will use via an adapter - that say something about it's performance. It's one drawback is the sheer size of the front element, meaning you can't use filters (althought I did see an adapter bracket recently on nikonrumors.com that takes 145mm filters!!!!!!!!!). Nonetheless, you can't really use a polarizer on a such a wide angle lens - the effect on the sky will be non uniform across the image.

D800 is slated for release on 7th Feb - I'm already on a waiting list with a dealer in Brisbane.

As for Canon lenses, I can only comment on the 85mm f1.2. It is unbelievable. The depth of field is nuts - tip of nose will be blurry while eyelashes will be sharp. However it's focus is extremely slow.

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Old 31-01-2012, 08:33 AM
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I have a few L lenses as well as a couple of others.
I agree completely with H on the 70-200 F4 IS, it's everything you would expect from an L series Lens. The 24-105 F4L is good (sharp throughout the range) but with some deficiencies, namely barrel distortion and CA, although both are easily corrected with DPP. My opinion of the 16-35 F2.8 L is not good, my copy at least, is very soft at the edges (last 20%) at all apertures, edge softness is a common complaint with this lens. For portrait work the edge softness isn't an issue and the constant f2.8 aperture is desirable, but for landscape the softness defeats the purpose of that lovely full frame high res sensor.

The 100mm F2.8 Macro in either variant is an excellent lens, if you like fisheyes then the 15mm f2.8 fisheye (full frame not circular) is also an excellent lens and very sharp. The 15mm fish is not good for astro work as the abberations at the edge of the frame translate to large triangular stars.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:30 AM
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It would be nice to have this as a sticky.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by acropolite View Post
My opinion of the 16-35 F2.8 L is not good, my copy at least, is very soft at the edges (last 20%) at all apertures, edge softness is a common complaint with this lens.
Do you own the original or II model?
I have the II and it's one of the sharpest lenses I've ever used. Lucky to get a good variation perhaps.
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Old 31-01-2012, 12:22 PM
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Assuming you're using full frame based on the 5DII comment, to add my humble experiences with lenses I've owned/used:

Excluding my macro lenses (of which I have too many) and EF-S lenses for crop cameras, I have the 17-40L, 35L, 85L, 135L, 100-400L, and the Samyang 14mm. I have also owned, but sold, the 50 f/1.8, 85 f/1.8, 24-70L and 70-200L IS. All have been excellent lenses that I'd have no hesitation in recommending, with perhaps the exception of the 50 f/1.8[1].

Reason I got rid of the zooms was a personal choice to move to fast primes. No regrets in that decision.

If you're considering using these lenses for at least some widefield astro images, I'd add to the list the Tamron 90 macro lens. IMO it's the best bang for buck macro lens around, closely followed by the Sigma 105 and Canon 100 (non-IS). But what I like about it is the apertures leafs are curved, giving a really nice bokeh, but also for astro images the diffraction spikes are well-tamed. I'm sure you've seen some of Nettie's widefields with it, you may see what I mean when comparing them to other lenses.

You may worry the 90mm focal length is close to the 85mm prime. If you're considering the 85L, another consideration is the manual focus on the 85L. You can't manually focus it per se. You have to have the shutter pressed half-way to manually focus. I haven't tried it for astro, but I imaging it'd be a pain in the you-know-what. I'll respond to David's comment about the AF being slow on the 85L. While it is slower than the 85 f/1.8 and other lenses you'll use, it isn't painfully slow. Talking milliseconds difference in reality. Depending on what you shoot, it shouldn't be an issue. Certainly not for portraits, which is what the lens excels at.

While I love all the lenses I mention above, I'm finding I'm not using the 35L as much as I thought. I think it's just a personal thing. I use the 85 and 135 heaps, and 17-40 for landscapes. Must admit that despite the 35/85/135 combo being the so-called "Holy Trinity" of primes, I am wondering about getting rid of the 35 and maybe the 85 and replace them with the 50L. Less weight in the bag, and less overlap if focal lengths for me. But that's just a personal thing that I'm considering. Will be a shame if I did that, because the 85L is a dream for portraits, but the 50L and 135L are too.

I mentioned the Samyang 14mm f/2.8. I've only recently got this. It's a fully manual lens, ie no electronic communication to the camera, you have to manually dial in the aperture and focus. But it's extremely sharp across the field, and very cheap at around $350 IIRC. It's made by Samyang, but often re-badged by distributors and I've seen it badged as Samyang, Rokinon, Vivitar, Bowens, Pro-Optic (that's the one I have). All the same lens. It has a fair bit of distrortion, but nothing that can't be corrected with a Lightroom or Bridge lens profile. Really good flare and CA control, and as I said sharp across. I'm really liking it. And it's w...i...d...e... on a full frame. It isn't a fish-eye. Can't wait to use it for astro.

Bit hard to give much more than that, as the recommendations and choices you should make will depend on full frame vs crop, budget, what you want to shoot, and personal preference of zoom vs prime.

[1] The Nifty Fifty is recommended a lot as a cheap, fast prime. While it is cheap, and perhaps good "bang for buck", personally didn't like the build quality and image quality of mine. Would prefer to spend a little more and get that next level of quality.
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Old 31-01-2012, 08:31 PM
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Lots of lenses there Troy!

Not sure if Greg is starting from scratch,or has some gear.Given the parameters of focal lengths he has stated.The Canon 24-105 L would be a great lens,along with a version of the 70-200.After that he would have a fairly good idea which prime would suit most of his requirements.

There is a 'budget' 35 mm prime Canon lens for approx $350, I am looking forward to seeing StephenM's results with it.It has good reviews,and for a lot
of my photography a 35 mm prime would be ideal.
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Old 31-01-2012, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by hotspur View Post
There is a 'budget' 35 mm prime Canon lens for approx $350, I am looking forward to seeing StephenM's results with it.
Yes, the little EF 35mm f/2 lens works very well for me! My copy is nice and sharp even wide open, and as Chris says it's only about $350. It's also very light and doesn't take up much room in the bag. A great fast prime when you need one. I use it mostly for kid's portraits, but also used it for this Lovejoy image.

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Old 31-01-2012, 09:11 PM
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I have noticed going from 1.6x crop sensor size to full, how much more the edge stars distort. I like the 50mm F1.4 canon lens.

Here is a good link to lens comparisons.
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Old 31-01-2012, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Simon
Do you own the original or II model?
I have the II model, I have yet to try it on a crop body, it's sharp as a tack over most of the frame but the edges unacceptably soft.
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Old 31-01-2012, 11:10 PM
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If I had to pick my favorite lense in my bag it would be the 70-200 f/4L. The 17-40 is nice, but has it's faws. My wife's 24-105 is brilliant, a joy to use for family, portrait and travel.
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Old 31-01-2012, 11:44 PM
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Should you decide to go down the Nikon path (which I would wholeheartedly recommend) the range from 14mm to 200mm could be covered using these premium lenses:

- AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 (truly excellent, probably best ultra-wide zoom around)
- alternatively the older, cheaper but almost as excellent AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8
- AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 (haven't tried this myself but reportedly excellent)
- inside the zoom range of the above there are also the faster AF-S 24mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 primes if you prefer
- AF-S 85mm f/1.4 (brilliant, super bokeh, a classic)
- alternatively the AF-S 85mm f/1.8 (at least as sharp, much cheaper)
- AF-S 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR (brilliant allrounder, not just macro)
- alternatively the older AF 105mm f/2 DC (perfect portrait lens, bokeh control ring)
- alternatively the AF 135mm f/2 DC (same as above, a bit longer)
- and finally the AF-S 200mm f/2 VR (beyond reproach, expensive)
- alternatively the older and much cheaper AF 180mm f/2.8 D (practically unchanged since 1986, one of the sharpest Nikon primes ever)
- if you prefer a zoom for the tele end, the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (which I don't own but which is extremely popular)

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Old 01-02-2012, 12:38 AM
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My Tamron 90mm F2.8 Macro isn't too shabby for the price.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:25 AM
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Of the various Canon lenses I own (see my signature below), my favourites are probably the 70-200 f4 L (non-IS) and the 24-105 L. The 24-105 lives on my 5D probably 80% of the time as does the 70-200 on my 40D.

It took me a while and a bit of wasted money over the years to arrive at a set of lenses that I'm really happy with. I wish I'd had the sense to buy the right thing the first time rather than messing around with various "compromises" only to sell them because I wasn't satisfied.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:14 PM
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Hmmm, here we go.

I have a 14-24 f2.8N. Sharp but not the sharpest lens in my kit. Also you have to stop down to prevent seagulls on a full frame. Still a great lens though.

135 f2 DC lens, reputed to be the sharpest lens on the planet, old tech with spindle drive but yes very sharp. Perfect for doing wide field constellation shots and lovely portrait lens.

Standard 50mm lens is good too. Nice for capture of all manner of things.

300 f2.8N VR. Sweet lens and great for capturing animals and astro work too. Pretty sharp overall.

I have a older micro 105 too, works well and very sharp. Not used it for astro work yet.

Trying to get hold of a 85 f1.8 at present, no doubt it will make the imaging team too.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:54 PM
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Interesting question.

Had a think about my current stable of lenses and prodced the table below (well, it started as a table, but seems to have lost something on the IIS .html translation) ........... it's quite subjective, but may help.

Some non-contemporary standouts are the Takumar 50mm F 1.8...absolutely brilliant lens IMHO

Lens............................... ..............Geometric correction.....Colour correction
Canon L 8-15mm Fisheye Zoom F4.0......... Very good.......... Very Good
Canon L 14mm F2.8............................... . Excellent............ Excellent
Canon L 16-35mm F2.8............................ Very Good.......... Excellent
Canon L 85mm F1.2............................... . Very good............Average
Canon L 24-105mm F4.0.......................... Very good........... Very good
Canon L 70-200mm F2.8............................ Excellent............ Excellent
Canon L 70-300mm F4.0.......................... Very Good........... Excellent
Canon L 500mm F4.0............................... . Brilliant............... Brilliant
Canon EF 70-300mm F4.0......................... Very good............Good
Sigma EG DG 8mm F3.5............................ Brilliant................ Brilliant

Last edited by Peter Ward; 02-02-2012 at 10:46 AM.
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