Canon Lens Comparison for 30D and 5D

Hey folks,

I'm in the market for a digital camera... either the Canon EOS 30D or the 5D. I'd prefer the full frame 5D simply because I hate small viewfinders, and I love wide angle lenses. It'd kill me to own a 16mm lens that acts as a 24mm on a 1.6z Crop Camera... so much lost potential!

So I've done as much homework as possible... reading reviews, and multiple postings on web sites such as photo.net. The consensus seems to be that it is a waste of the 5D's capabilities to stick a "consumer grade" lens on the front it. You must buy a $1000+ "L-series" lens.

However... I've yet to actually find a side-by-side comparison pitting an "L-lens" against a similar "consumer grade" lens. This makes me wonder how much of this "L-Lens Propping" on photo message boards is little more than chest beating or a p*ssing contest amongst Pro Photog Egoes. Or perhaps they just have to constantly try to justify their expensive gear to themselves.

...or they could be right! I simply don't know. Has anyone here seen any comparisons between "L" glass and consumer Canon lenses... especially on the 5D... or perhaps has personal experience with both?

Thanks!
-Mike
 
Hey folks,

I'm in the market for a digital camera... either the Canon EOS 30D or the 5D. I'd prefer the full frame 5D simply because I hate small viewfinders, and I love wide angle lenses. It'd kill me to own a 16mm lens that acts as a 24mm on a 1.6z Crop Camera... so much lost potential!

So I've done as much homework as possible... reading reviews, and multiple postings on web sites such as photo.net. The consensus seems to be that it is a waste of the 5D's capabilities to stick a "consumer grade" lens on the front it. You must buy a $1000+ "L-series" lens.

However... I've yet to actually find a side-by-side comparison pitting an "L-lens" against a similar "consumer grade" lens. This makes me wonder how much of this "L-Lens Propping" on photo message boards is little more than chest beating or a p*ssing contest amongst Pro Photog Egoes. Or perhaps they just have to constantly try to justify their expensive gear to themselves.

...or they could be right! I simply don't know. Has anyone here seen any comparisons between "L" glass and consumer Canon lenses... especially on the 5D... or perhaps has personal experience with both?

Thanks!
-Mike
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Mike,

There's quite a bit of model to model variance, not to mention the lens to lens variance. For example, some non-L lens are said to be better (sharper, higher contrast, etc) than other L-series lenses. In addition, some swear by their Sigma EX-series lenses over other L-series lenses. In the end, it seems that some non-Canon models MAY be just as good or better than some L-series lenses, but you may have to return several in order to get a 'good' one. I tried 3 Sigma EX lenses (24-70 f/2.8) before switching to Tamron because all three were very soft (though I've seen very sharp versions online... I just got bad applies). The Tamron that I have now isn't too bad, and it saved me money from the L-series... I think most complains about non-Canon brands fall into the "quality control" arena (with Canon tending to have higher QC, thereby giving you a better chance that you'll get a "good" lens without having to exchange it several times).

There are folks on here that are much more experienced and knowledgeable in this regard, so I'll pass off to them. I just wanted to give my 2 cents based on what I've researched.
 
As Jeff notedthe top end 3rd party leses will save you some money, but quality control is shaky. I've had good sigmas that compared with L lens, but they weren't built like tanks either. If you've got the cash, I would go with L. If your penny pinching, then go with Sigma or Tamron.

Just to clarify one point of your post. The viewfinder is within 1% of the higher end cameras from the looks of things. The Viewfinder is the small aperture at the top of the camera that you look through the lens with. It's no bigger or smaller than just about any other camera out there. What you see through the viewfinder varies a little between cameras. Some will show you a little more than others. as a rule of thumb figure 95% of what actually shows up on the photo is what you will "see".

Full Frame is the camera having the proper distance to have no magnification or cropping factor. Full Frame usually refers to a 35mm size frame that the image is projected to from the lens to CCD. Many Pro-sumer camera have the 1.6x factor because it would have cost too much to reconfigure the focal plane distance.

Remember what you're going to use the camera for. If it's mainly snapshots and the occasional good shot, just how much do you really want to invest?
 
The 5D is a studio camera. Its an over priced dog made for studio work or a landscape photographer. If that is your intention the 5D would be ok. I would buy a 30d or used 20D. Camera bodies lose there value by the week. Good glass never loses its value.
In the digital world you may trade cameras every couple of years, but your good glass will always stay the same, and you can shoot L glass for a couple 2-3 years and get you money back out of it if you need to.
With that said, I have had many pictures sold and published shot on really cheap off brand lenses. Whenever a publisher buys a picture I have never had them ask what lense I used.
There would be no sense in buying a 5D a really slow camera and putting a performance L lense on front of it. The main thing you gain by going to L lenses is performance ( speed of focusing and build quality) not necassarily picture quality. If you buy a 30d or 20d and put a L lense on it it will Rock as far as performance.
Hope this helps.

Hank
www.weatherpic.com
 
I dunnow about the hype: "The 5D is so good, you need L lenses." While that may be somewhat true if you're talking about zoom lenses, most fixed-focus glass is just plain sharp, particularly when stopped down a notch from full open At the other extreme, no 5D owner will happy using a cheapo 'kit' zoom lens. You're quite right about ego and anxiety among photographers and forum advocates. (I do wonder how many of those that brag about their obscene glass collection actually bother to go out and take pictures...)

Canon has made an awful lot of very good lenses, and not every L version is significantly better than it's 'vanilla' counterpart. The L glass is often faster, but who really needs an 85/1.2? At the wide end, faster apertures seem almost pointless; I don't think I've ever shot my 20/2.8 anywhere near wide open. Over time, Canon has made a point of releasing progressively faster versions of old lenses. They discontinue the older, slower design, and replace them with superfast, super expensive ones. This is all part of their evil master plan; driving as many photographers as possible down the 'upgrade' chute. I wish they would take a step back and offer high quality lenses with slightly slower optics at a reduced price. Anyway, think about what focal lengths you want, and how you're going to shoot.

IMO, L lens build quality is at least as important as speed or sharpness. When you pay for the Red Ring, you are usually getting a very soild lens. Whatever lenses you wind up with, be sure to handle them before commiting to buy. If the thing feels 'cheap' in any way, give it a pass. Handle an old manual focus lens for comparison - they are tanklike and almost overbuilt, but will last forever.

Then there's the whole zoom vs. fixed issue. You could get two megazooms, or a bagfull of less spendy primes, or a mix. What balance do you want to strike? Primes are almost always sharper, and the loss of a single lens won't hurt your pocketbook or shooting capability as badly. OTOH, they are also inconvenient if you're in a hurry. "Hold the tornado while I change lenses!.....Ohs$$$! Where's my 17??!"

As for "what to get, "there are no easy answers. Until you know (Based on your own experience, not forum "advice!") which lenses will be best for you, you might want to hold off on the kilobuck purchases, and get a few used middle-of-the-road lenses. The older EF models tend to be a little slower than their more modern offspring, but many are well built and take great pictures. Do you have friends, or a local camera club, from which you could borrow, or at least compare, lenses? Pay the camera shop a visit, bring your camera, and shoot anything they have (please buy something from them afterwards!)

A few links you might not have come across - Photo Zone MIR EF lens page

Good luck!

-Greg
 
It is hyped everywhere on the web to use L lenses on a 5D. But one seems to have forgotten the good old prime lenses. I own a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX, EF 28mm f/2.8, EF 50mm f/1.8 mk I, and a cheap telezoom 75-300mm, non IS. For the 5D it's just like with film - was a lens mediocre on film then it will be so on full frame. The only thing is that you will notice this better because it is very easy to inspect 100% without a loupe. My primes seem to perform very well on the 5D. I noticed with the 28mm that the extreme corners are not tack sharp even at f/9, but it isn't that bothersome to me. Primes usually are faster than zooms and very importantly, the barrel distortion at wide angle is much less than most zooms, the flare tends to be more controlled and you will have a scale of focus and depth of field - no obscure infinity settings that cause annoyance when focusing in the dark. I did not notice much vignetting. I guess the ones who noticed this most have come from a 1.6 factor sensor. I did not take test shots with the zoom yet, but it never was sharp and contrasty over 200mm. The new IS (not DO) version should have improved optics, according to the tests at Photozone.de.

I was thinking long and hard about buying the 5D. It is the first DSLR that appealed to me for the same reasons as you mention. I normally shot slides and 6x6 transparencies. My old Bronica S2a has some exposure quirk with one lens and a broken ground glass, and I was longing for replacing it by a Pentax 67II (more pleasing aspect ratio in most cases), even dreamed of 6x12, but in the end, despite the wonderful experience of seeing transparencies on the light table, I longed for a lighter camera, not a heavier system, with the flexibility of ISO settings, instant review, and no endless process of editing scans. I know my 6x6 images contain more detail than the 5D images, but I can't get that detail digital anyway with my flatbed scanner. I'd rather have a €2400 camera than a €2400 scanner, unless one needs to do consistently 1x1 meter prints... Still a lot of money but this buys peace of mind that it will really do all that I need, so no need to upgrade to something better anymore. And my first results have convinced me all the way! :)

Good luck with your choice!
Oscar van der Velde
 
In a nutshell: I'll only go with Primes/L zooms/ or select Canon zooms such as the EF-S series (not an option for the 5D). Consumer zooms just don't hold up in the conditions I need them for (wide open / corner to corner sharpness etc). I do know I could tell the differene between consumer glass and primes/ L zooms on a lowly D30 (not 30D) way back in the day, so I'm sure it is even more apparent on the 5d... which is full frame.

Hank is right on the money... invest in the glass, not the body. If you shop used, you could even come out ahead. I sold a 300 mm f/4 and 200mm f/2.8 prime for more than I bought them for.

Aaron
 
The short answer is "yes". Canon L lenses are far superior to their consumer line, and in most cases outperform the third party lenses. (There are some fine third party lenses to be found, but you have to do your research.)

The long answer is that if you do some Googling, you will discover what an "MTF" is and how to read it. You will also find some independent consortiums that do MTF testing on lenses, and that L lenses consistantly outperform non L lenses and third party lenses. (Try www.photodo.com for one.) You will also find review sites like www.photozone.de that do empirical tests which also consistantly find that the L lenses perform better.

L lenses, however, cost an arm and a leg. The question you have to ask yourself is: "is it worth the money to me?" What are you going to be doing with your images? If you're going to be enlarging them quite a bit or selling them for stock photography, then an L lense may be worth the money. If you're just going to be posting photos on the web, than you'll never notice the difference in optical quality and neither will your viewers. (You will notice the difference in quality of construction, of course.)

Personally, I think it makes more sense to put most of your money in your lenses, not in the camera body. Camera bodies lose value incredibly quickly these days. An L lens will lose maybe 10% of its resale value over the course of 5 years, if you treat it right. A third party lens will generally lose value at a much faster rate. One caveat may be the Canon EF-S line, which will only be useful for as long as Canon produces 1.6x crop cameras.
 
Personally, I think it makes more sense to put most of your money in your lenses, not in the camera body. Camera bodies lose value incredibly quickly these days.
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This is true if you intend to sell the camera only. If you are happy with what that camera does for you, you will find no need to replace it. It will continue serve you. If you bought a 6MP camera with 1.6 crop factor thinking well, there isn't unfortunately anything better for my money but I need my SLR to be digital, you already know when you buy it that it isn't what you eventually want. If you aim high enough, you can relax knowing this camera will still make you happy 5-10 years from now. It does not matter then that your friend gets a same spec camera for half the price two years later. Unless you could have waited two years before you needed it...
Unfortunately, I think the camera manufacturers make us pay equally - wanting to upgrade the low end cameras every two years, or higher end cameras every four years seems to require the same sum of money.... :)

Oscar
 
Whats the standard of quality to base all other storm photography from?

Well .. I would say Mike H's pics.. WOW! stunning.. How thew hell does he do that?

L Glass Canon 14 - 70mm.. Im saving up so I can try to compete..

key word "try".. lol Lots to learn for me yet..

Fred
 
Whats the standard of quality to base all other storm photography from?

Well .. I would say Mike H's pics.. WOW! stunning.. How thew hell does he do that?

L Glass Canon 14 - 70mm.. Im saving up so I can try to compete..

key word "try".. lol Lots to learn for me yet..

Fred
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Fred
FRED!!!

:)

It's NOT the camera, or the lens. It's the dude using them.
Mike also has a unique style of post processing that nicely emphasizes the storms he shoots.

I don't think I've seen any of his pics at a high enough resolution to notice any L sharpness. At web sizes, any sorta-decent lens will look great if you sharpen the image a bit.

-Greg
 
Not much to add that hasn't been said. If you want to buy zooms, my 2 yen would be to recommend L zooms. For sharpness, cheaper lenses can compete. But for color, and most especially contrast, cheaper lens will let you down. When taking pictures of the sky good contrast and flare resistance are very important. It will make the capture easier to post process as well.

If you want prime lenses, consumer primes will do the job, just as well or better than L zooms. Canon L primes are very overpriced (but I still yearn for a 35L). I haven't had much luck with third party primes--sharpness is usually good, but colors and especially contrast are weaker than Canon primes. That doesn't mean you can't adjust these things in PP, but there is an intangible natural look to captures taken with Canon primes IMHO.

For the body, the difference between 8MP and 12MP isn't as much as most people think. And the operation/ergonomics of both bodies is identical, except for the one point you brought up-the viewfinder. I would recommend the 30D. The extra $1500 you "saved" by not buying a 5D could get you that 17-40, and a 70-300IS, and polarizers for both. The 70-300IS (not the 75-300IS) has lens elements similar to an L lens', and IS, which is useful in windy environments.

Have fun deciding!

Tom
 
In the past couple years I've transitioned from using Minolta to Canon cameras. I have a Canon EOS Elan 7, and EOS-10D :D I usually use Sigma lenses. I've had nothing but good times with them. However, when I bought my EOS-10D, I bought a 70-300mm L lens. I love that lens. I've had nothing but good experiences with it, when I've actually gotten to use it. When I get the money, I would like to convert to all L lenses. However, like others have said, if you dont have the money or are penny pinching, use Sigma or Tamron. My vote would go to sigma :)
 
However, like others have said, if you dont have the money or are penny pinching, use Sigma or Tamron. My vote would go to sigma :)
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Sigma makes very good lenses, but the brand suffers from poor quality control. It is probably better not to buy this right before the chase season. With my Sigma 20mm f/1.8 I got increasingly overexposed photos within a month after I got it. I brought it to the service center and they adjusted the spring tension that should bring the aperture back to wide open after an exposure, for metering. It was stuck so the light that the camera measured was less for the aperture the camera had in mind that the lens should have.
A friend had the 28-135mm, but couldn't get it back into auto focus mode after a month or two. Had to be serviced as well. After these things it will probably serve you fine. But hopefully you get a lucky sample.

Oscar
 
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