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Author Topic: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?  (Read 4611 times)

andrewj

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Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« on: February 16, 2012, 05:13:59 AM »

Hi,
I use Canon DSLRs (7D and 550D) with a standard 3 zoom approach. I'm very happy with my wide angle (the 10-22mm) and telephoto (the 70-300 IS USM) - both are sharp, with well-controlled geometric distortions and low CA distortion. However, I've never really found a mid-range zoom I'm happy with.

The 17-85 mm IS is OK, and I've done a lot of decent work with it, but it's quite soft at the corners and the Chromatic Aberration is quite bad, especially at the wider end.

I also have the 15-85 mm IS, but I've been a bit disappointed with it. The geometric distortions are quite bad, arguably worse than the 17-85, and while CA is better than the 17-85 it still needs a fair bit of correction. However the worst problem is that images seem to be very soft towards the edges. I've even returned it to Canon for recalibration but it's still not brilliant. Obviously this could just be my example, but I have no way of telling...

Is there a better option? I want an autofocus lens with IS covering at least the 17-40 range, with a similar optical quality to the 70-300mm IS USM. The Canon 17-40L and 16-35 are no good because they don't have IS. I tried the 17-55 f/2.8, but I found it very heavy and not that much sharper than my existing lenses. I've also tried the 24-105L, which I quite like, but on my cropped-sensor cameras it's frustrating that it's only 24mm at the wide end.

Are there any other options? Please note that I'm not interested in answers which boil down to either "use primes" or "change camera brand", but I might be prepared to look at other lens suppliers.

Thanks
Andrew
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2012, 05:28:55 AM »

Well, in Canon land, if you rule out the two L zooms (17-40 and 16-35), which would give you better image quality than the 17-85 and 15-85, that is it. Then, if you are happy with the 17-55 2.8 IS, there is really nothing left.

You might look into the Nikon 14-24 2.8, it is supposed to be very good, and you could use it with an adaptor, but , no IS. I suspect lenses from other 3 party brands would struggle to give you better results than the Canon's.

Ken Bennett

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2012, 07:29:49 AM »

The 24-105 would work pretty well in conjunction with the 10-22, as there is no overlap, but I agree that having 24mm as the wide end on a 7D is somewhat frustrating.

I own the 17-55/2.8IS lens, and find it quite good. It will likely be for sale in the near future.
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Greg D

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2012, 01:25:59 PM »

For quite awhile I used (on crop frame as you do) a combination of 17-40, 24-105 and 70-300.  I never felt like I needed IS in the 17-40 range, and didn't need anything wider than 17.  I recently felt like I needed to simplify (and with the 17-40 & 24-105 I did do a lot of lens changes) so I got a 15-85.  Other than the distortion and corner shading (which is a 1-click fix in Lightroom) I don't think I've given up anything in terms of sharpness or color contrast - it actually seems sharper to me.  (Build is another thing, and the variable max aperture is annoying.)  So what I'm suggesting is that, if your only complaint about the 15-85 is the IQ problems you mentioned, you might try another one - maybe you got a lemon.  Or, there's the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS, which has had very positive reviews.  Having said all that though, I still miss my "L" lenses, especially the 24-105.  It was a pleasure to use, and obviously more durable than the 15-85.  If I had to make do with only one lens, that would be it, even on crop frame.
Just my $.02 - hope it helps.
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andrewj

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 04:53:21 PM »

Thanks for the various replies. Sounds like my best plan is try another 15-85, and if that doesn't work get a 24-105.

Andrew
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Steve Weldon

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 07:25:54 PM »

The Canon 17-40L and 16-35 are no good because they don't have IS.
Wow.  Seriously?  And all these years I thought my images were doing okay.  I can't remember even once wishing I had IS on a wide angle lens.
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Robcat

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 08:56:41 PM »

Surprised no one's mentioned the 24-70 L. That covers your gap. I have both it and the 24-105 and the 24-70 beats the pants off it. It is head and shoulders over the 15-85. It is also big and heavy but the image quality is stellar.
Rob P
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Steve Weldon

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 09:00:45 PM »

Surprised no one's mentioned the 24-70 L. That covers your gap. I have both it and the 24-105 and the 24-70 beats the pants off it. It is head and shoulders over the 15-85. It is also big and heavy but the image quality is stellar.
Rob P
I would have mentioned it.. but have recently learned it's 'no good' because it doesn't have IS..  :-\
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Ken Bennett

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 09:14:09 PM »

I can't remember even once wishing I had IS on a wide angle lens.

This is a common sentiment, and I don't really understand it. Yes, I can handhold a wide angle lens at slower shutter speeds. But with IS, I could handhold it at an even  slower shutter speed and get usable sharp images. In some cases this might be the difference in getting a usable shot. Given than Canon makes a pro-quality f/2.8 normal zoom lens that includes IS (the 17-55), that seems to imply that not only is it possible, but some people are able to use it for something or other. Me, for example.
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mmurph

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2012, 11:25:44 PM »

Another vote for the 24-70

In the studio I used that about 85% of the time.

I also prefer all 2.8 or wider lenses. Even if I don't use them wide open, I want the bright viewfinder.
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Steve Weldon

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2012, 01:10:52 AM »

This is a common sentiment, and I don't really understand it. Yes, I can handhold a wide angle lens at slower shutter speeds. But with IS, I could handhold it at an even  slower shutter speed and get usable sharp images. In some cases this might be the difference in getting a usable shot. Given than Canon makes a pro-quality f/2.8 normal zoom lens that includes IS (the 17-55), that seems to imply that not only is it possible, but some people are able to use it for something or other. Me, for example.

1.  There is probably a reason for that.

2.  I think this is sometimes true at the longer end of a 55mm+ lens used with a crop camera.  .  I don't think it matters at the wider end, at 16-35 or 17-40 for the vast majority of shots..  And by this point, your shutter speed is so slow that the scene needs to be entirely static unless you're using movement as a compositional element.  And if the scene is entirely static, once you get that slow, you'd want a tripod or some sort of bracing.  And with the higher-ISO capabilities of todays cameras.. at this extreme.. the value is so marginal that I wouldn't let it influence my overall lens choice.  I certainly wouldn't call the lens "no good" and rule it out based only on this one variable. 

3.  Canon or Nikon is not immune to designing elements of a lens or camera around marketing.  Because it's included does not necessarily mean it's a good thing or in fact useful.  Their EF-S lenses are certainly targeted, but not necessarily as a pro lens.  I see it more as a prosumer lens.  And prosumers are typically really into the equipment/specification side of photography.

4.  I wish you the best with that.   I really don't see IS helping me more than 'once in a blue moon' with this focal length, and again I'm thinking of a true 16-40mm equiv.  Certainly not often enough to influence my purchase of a lens at anything but a small price difference level. 


I do hope Canon improves their wide end lineup.  But I'm thinking more of optically..
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Steve Weldon

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 01:12:05 AM »

Another vote for the 24-70

In the studio I used that about 85% of the time.

I also prefer all 2.8 or wider lenses. Even if I don't use them wide open, I want the bright viewfinder.
+1

The bright viewfinder is nice, but let's not forget the enabling of cross type AF sensors at F2.8 compared to F4 and F5.6 depending on which body.
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andrewj

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2012, 03:59:18 PM »

I was specific abut my wish for IS because I find it genuinely useful in all sorts of photography. The 15-85 allowed me to handhold a shot at 1/5s to freeze a mountain stream in Iceland, try that without IS!

Andrew
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scooby70

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Re: Canon Lenses - Am I Missing A Trick?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2012, 01:46:45 PM »

Has anyone mentioned the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8?

I had the non IS version and it was the sharpest zoom I've ever used. Check out the reviews.
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