Canon L Glass Nightmare- Help Needed

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by photographydude, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. photographydude

    photographydude TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone. This is my first post here and I need help. I'm just about at my wits end.

    Well the new lenses arrived a few weeks ago. I anticipated having my socks knocked off but instead when the lenses saw first light, I was not so happy. I took both lenses outside and shot some landscapes with trees and clouds as well as some photos of squirrels. When I went back in I found the following:

    17-40mm f/4L: The edges of the clouds were not sharp at all despite well defined edges being seen when I looked though the viewfinder when I shot it. The leaves on the trees seems to have ghosting as if there was camera shake or motion blur (there was no breeze and the shutter speed was over 1/1000s). Items with hard edges like fences or trees, were not tack sharp - not even close. I did tests at both 17 and 40mm at different iso's and f stops. The usual f/8-f/11 sweet spot didn't seem to do anything. The color the lens produced also seems weird. I took a photo of a brilliant sunset and when looking at it in RAW the color was very muddy and flat. I also used a 50mm prime and 15-55mm kit lens to shoot the same sunset in RAW and sharpness and colors were brilliant.

    100-400mm f/4-5.6L: I was expecting to see whiskers and hair on the critters I took photos of instead they were all blurred. I even had my dog sit about 50 foot away in bright light and took photos of his face. Again the hair and whiskers are not sharp despite the photo being in focus. I tried several things, hand held, IS on, IS off, monopod, tripod, tripod with cable release, tripod with cable release and mirror lockup. I kept getting camera shake or soft focus. I got ok results with the monopod and IS on and better results with the tripod and IS off but this was also at noon, in bright light at ISO 800, f8 and 1/500s. This combo resulted in usable images that were in my opinion printable. Results also seemed hit or miss even with the tripod. By the way, my tripod is a heavy duty model - it was over $500 so it's not flimsy.

    Thank you so much!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  2. Misfitlimp

    Misfitlimp TPF Noob!

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    Maybe you where expecting to much but honestly I bought my L glass second hand and my stuff is great. I love it compared to my non L glass. Maybe a bad copy? I know it happens sometimes.
     
  3. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    L glass has many advantages over consumer glass. Design, materials, construction and image quality. In every line, including L glass there are economy lenses. The 17-40 and the 100-400 are both L glass, with better quality than the consumer quality lenses in the same focal range/aperture range that are made by Canon. They are also the economy end of the L glass series.

    I know several shooters that that own one or both of those lenses. Not one of them that I know would rather have those lenses over my 16-35 f2.8L, 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f2.8L, 300 f2.8L & 400 f2.8L when talking about image quality. But as you said, some of them are quite expensive. They understand the compromises in choosing those lenses and are satisfied with them because they want to feed their kids, cloth them and have heating in the winter. Actually it's not that bad, but they have other interests that also take money and they are not willing to spend that much money on their glass for what they use it for. At least not at this point.

    If you have real concerns about the focus issues of the lens you might want to conduct this test and see if there is a focusing issue. If there is it could be in the lens or in the body itself. You might also want to go to PhotoSig and check images produced by those particular lenses and see if there are significant differences in image quality from your shots.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Also to add to gryphonslair99's points consider weight and portability - a 100-400mm is significantly lighter and smaller than the 300mm f2.8 IS L - yes the latter is outstanding in what it gives, but its also less easily mobile. You might happily use the 100-400mm on a light day's shooting but the 300mm f2.8 would be a serious days lens.

    I also encourage you to test and check the lenses against other samples - the 17-40mm I know less of, but the 100-400mm superzoom is a complex beast and its not uncommon to find that its slightly out of calibration with your camera body. Newer camera bodies like the 7D and I think the 50D have micro focus adjust inside that can help to counter this without having to send things off to canon for repairs.
     
  5. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    Why am I not surprised?

    Zooms are not as good as primes.

    Digital isn't sharp.

    Want good photos? Get some nice used Leicaflex stuff (single focal length lenses) and shoot film.
     
  6. photographydude

    photographydude TPF Noob!

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    I was actually going to buy the 24-70 f/2.8L but I needed that extra wideness. The 2.8 is not a big deal with me. I have always shot f/4's for landscapes and gotten good results. I have reserved the f/2's for in the studio where I need the extra bokeh. As far as the build quaity the lenses feel like a tank and I love how they feel and look on the camera. I can tell right off the bat that they are built well. As I said it's the quality that has floored me.

    I understand what everyone is saying and I knew that there was no way that a $1600 zoom was going to beat a $5000+ prime that was at least two f-stops faster. But at the same time, I never expected to see that a $200 non OEM lens would produce better quality images. Clearly something is wrong. The lens is capable of producing some acceptiable images that I was happy with but it seems very inconsistent. Like I said when placed on a tripod using mirror lockup and cable release, the lens produced one sharp image in a set of 20 using the same settings. I should be seeing almost every image having the same quality but in this case I am not.

    I don't know if maybe I have a backfocus/frontfocus issue with the camera that I never noticed before or what is wrong. I will test this later and let you know.

    As far as comparisons, the quality is better then the images I see from the Bigma (sigma 150-500) but not as good as other ones shot with the 100-400 f/4-5.6L.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Your testimony would make a good case for an advertisement for a competing brand's lenses. It kind of sucks to buy supposedly top-shelf gear and have it be second-rate.
     
  8. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    You need to learn what bokeh means.
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Like I've said above I do think you need to have both lenses tested out before you pass judgement upon them. I will however give you a warning when comparing images online:

    1) Most images online at (at most) 1000pixels on the longest side - that means most are 1/3 or smaller than they were out of the camera. With a proper sharpening and resizing method you can thus make websized shots look a lot lot sharper than they are straight out of camera. This is why comparing websized images is rather fruitless as even lower end lenses can deliver good results with the propper processing and presentation.

    2) 100% crops online are also a risk when you compare different camera bodies. A 100% crop from a 400D looks very different to one from a 550D, to a 40D to a 1DMIII. Different sizes and finishes mean that its hard to directly compared them against each other. Again its something that once you're aware of you can take into account but its something you need to understand when comparing shots

    I feel like I need to search the net for poor sample quality Ziess glass now ;)
     
  10. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    Good luck. They recall all the ones that aren't made with rainbows and unicorn farts.
     
  11. photographydude

    photographydude TPF Noob!

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    Umm... I know what it means.... An f/4 lens with a close focal point stopped down to f/8 for the sweet spot will have a larger depth of field. A 2.8 (or 1.4 which I also use) will give me a shallower depth of field (even more with a macro) and depending on the quality of the lens the bokeh will be beautiful. As I said, in the studio I use the faster lenses with better bokeh since I mostly do product shots for commercial marketing. Most are shot on a background or are staged so good bokeh is critical to isolate the item or draw the eye.
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    FM Reviews - EF 17-40mm f/4L USM


    Different users have different expectations of quality. Canon has long had a reputation of building poor wide-angle lenses compared to other noted lens makers like Leica, Zeiss, and even Nikon. One only needs to go to some of the serious "hardcore" landscape lens testing sites to see that the wide-angle and wide-angle zoom lens performance of Canon's L-glass models lags behind that of Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, and even the folks who bought the Yashica/Contax name. In the 14-24 or 16-35 or 17-35 wide zoom range, Canon cannot compete with the better designs offered by several lens makers--and this is when cherry-picked (as in five,six samples) Canon L- wide zooms have been tested against what are simply, better optical designs from other lens makers.

    As to the 100-400 L zoom...it's a very handy lens. But as one can see from the tests here with it tested against Canon's 400mm f/5.6 prime lens, the 100-400 zoom clearly comes up short, and this was on the 1Ds---the 11-megapixel, Full-Frame 1Ds of eight years ago...on today's high-density, tiny 1.6x sensor Canon bodies with 15 to 18 megapixels or so, sensor performance is truly hitting the **limits** of many older lens designs.

    Forgotten 400

    Canon's push to 17.8 megapixel sensors in the newest Rebel bodies is really hitting the limits of many lens designs; that's one reason Canon has had to re-design many of its lenses, like the 17mm TIlt-Shift, 24mm Tilt-Shift,and 45mm Tilt-Shift, and the 70-200 f/4 needed an update to IS and better optics, and the 70-200 2.8-L IS also needed a re-work optically: those three older Tilt-Shift lenses are designed for demanding technical applications and will be bought and used by, mostly, professionals who have high demands, high expectations, and very critical,demanding clients, and the older three T-S lenses simply are not good enough now that megapixel counts are going up so fast. The older 70-200 f/4-L, the non-IS lens, is not nearly as good a lens as the new IS f/4 version. The new f/4 IS version is/was in fact, considered to be better than the Version I 70-200 f/2.8-L IS model, which is not that great at the longer end of its range, and so a Mark II is already on the market right now. Nikon's stellar 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens was outstanding on APS-C,simply outstanding, but it has bad vignetting on FF sensors, and its corner performance and close-distance flat-field performance is simply no match for the newer Version 2 from Nikon.

    Canon is not alone in this: Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, and Zeiss have ALL made a direct,concerted effort to design and build new lenses that have BETTER OPTICS. Probably nowhere has this been more obvious than at Olympus, who has gone with the smaller-sensor 4/3 size sensors and 100 percent, completely and totally abandoned its legacy lens mount and legacy lens designs, and created ALL-NEW, ultra-high resolution lenses so that their small-sensor cameras can get the kind of incredible MTF function (optical performance in terms of resolution and contrast) that their smaller-than-industry sensors absolutely need to compete. Zeiss has made entire series of new, manual focusing primes for in Nikon,Canon,and Pentax mounts, for people who want the highest optical performance they can get. Pentax designed new DA Star series lenses, specifically for digital sensors and for the future. Nikon re-tooled its lineup with 14-24 and 24-70 and 70-200 designs, entirely replacing their class-leading 17-35/2.8 and 28-70/2.8 models with what most people consider to be the absolute best wide zoom and standard zooms on the market--because the new cameras demand higher-quality lenses to make high-resolution images. Nikon re-tooled its 105 macro, and its 60mm macro, its 1980's designed 50mm 1.4, and built an entire new line of 200,300,400,500,and 600mm lenses, plus a new 24mm 1.4 prime.

    The smaller 1.6x sensor and 4/3 sensor cameras do not have the advantage of a larger capture area that can offset slightly below state of the art lens performance; when one is capturing to a small sensor crammed with almost eighteen million pixels, the performance of the lens becomes absolutely critical,and the lens makers at Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Leica, and Zeiss are all aware of the problems, and are designing, building, and selling new designs. Sony is contracting Zeiss to design and build its high-end lenses.

    For people who want to see side-by-side comparisons of high-performing lenses, look through this site. 16:9 | Photographic Resources & Lens Tests
     

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