L-Lens vs. EF Kit No Sharpness Difference?!?!

JLMILLS

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This is my first post. I recently sold all of my Non-L glass and purchased L-series Canon Lenses. There is a huge difference in build quality, AF speed, controls, etc. However, I cannot tell any difference in picture quality. Actually, my 28-70 2.8L is so soft at 2.8, I prefer to carry the smaller 28-135 IS Kit. The IS allows me to shoot at F4 in similar light and produces sharper images vs. the L lens.

Yes, the aforementioned L-lens is 10yr old to the month. I purchased it second hand and it's in pristine shape.

MY QUESTION:

Is the technological gap over the last 10yrs so large that a cheap kit lens, made today, produces similar photographic results as the L's did a decade ago? Are my expectations unrealistic? I am satisfied with the photographic results, mind you, but I just expected a difference between the two, other than build quality and speed. Otherwise, I'll save the couple G's spent upgrading. I don't drop my lenses or bang them around so build quality hasn't been an issue. FYI I've been shooting for about 5 years as a hobby.

Honestly, I have never shot with a brand new L lens (or any other L) so I don't know what to expect. I have a 70-200 2.8L IS arriving in the mail Monday. I don't know what the date code on this one is and I hope it's newer. I don't anticipate it being more than 3-4yrs old.

I knew the age of the 10yr old lens when I purchased it.
All things equal, I am well aware of minimum shutter speeds vs. focal length vs. handheld vs. tripod vs. IS vs. Light vs. subject movement... as they pertain to sharpness (did I get all the variables there minus global ones like ISO and Aperture?)

My observations about the sharpness of the lens are not based on actually using the camera to take subject photos or on a job. They are based on controlled tests I've conducted indoors with props/charts/lighting/ etc.

When I joined, I filled out the part about my gear so I am assuming it will post at the bottom here like I've seen on your posts..is that considered a tag? (i'll see when I click submit :)
 

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the 28-135 is a very sharp lens. And yes, there has been a lot of progress in lens tech the last 10 years, ESPECIALLY when it comes to zooms with fast apertures. Further, mid range zooms at f/2.8 has always been the weakness in the Canon L line. Even the newest, top of the line mid focal length (ie 28-70) Canon L f/2.8 falls well short of its Nikon counterpart. Some people even prefer third party lenses to it.

Your gear only shows up if you put it in the signature. The 'my gear' section only shows up if I click your name to view your profile.
 

bratkinson

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I don't think that a 10 year old 28-70 should be having sharpness issues.

But...
At f2.8, the depth of field gets fairly thin...especially when the subject is near. Don't confuse slightly beyond depth of field softness with overall lens softness.

Also, most lenses get a tad soft when used wide open.

Even in pristine condition, the manufacturing tolerance of the lens may be a +5, for example, and the camera, +6, which would be 'out of whack', assuming +10 is an individual as well as combined limit (I'm purely making up numbers here!). On the other hand, a -5 lens with a +5 body would be a perfect match. Both lens and body are within tolerances, but together, they are a tad out of tolerance. Did you try the 28-70 on both of the two bodies shown in your profile? Or, perhaps, give it a try on someone elses' camera and check the results. The 24-70 f2.8L mark I is also a bit soft wide open. For what it's worth, I have a 1994 version 80-200 f2.8L (black pipe) and have had extremely good luck with it on my 60D. Although, I've never had occassion to shoot with it wide open, yet.

Seeing you are shooting wide open, I'm guessing you're also in low light conditions, and possibly shooting with a slower than stop-action speed. As the 28-80 (nor either 24-70 f2.8s) have IS, is it possible there's a slow shutter with a less-than-steady hand? Or a less-than motionless subject? I do a lot of available light indoor shots and perhaps 80% or more exhibit some level of motion, both mine and the subject. Usually, I crank up the ISO to 1600 or faster to keep the shutter speed 'reasonable', but on some shots, the shutter is still down in the 1/30 and slower range. I typically spray and pray and get 1-2 'outstanding', 10-15 'keepers' and the rest trash out of 200+ low light no flash shots. And, for what it's worth, I sold my 24-70 f2.8L mark i and kept the 24-105L f4 IS because I had major problems holding 'the brick' steady. That happens to us Medicare-qualified geezers.

Lastly, my 60D 'bit me' several months back when I had inadvertently changed the focus point selection setting towards the upper right, rather than in the middle that I prefer. Without realizing it, I took too many pictures with the primary subject slightly out of focus. Ain't technology great???

It used to be a whole lot simpler in the film days of my youth... <sigh> ... With all manual focus lenses, the shots came out great the majority of the time!
 
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JLMILLS

JLMILLS

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Thank you both so much. My shots were simply test shots. I took shots at various settings and compared to the kit lens, on a tripod in various lighting conditions.

Even though I am pleased with both, I just expected a big difference..a quantum leap in my photos. I'm being a little dramatic here but after shooting for several years with a kit, I just expected a big difference for cash it costs. I am starting to believe that everything is working just fine, but my expectations are a little unrealistic. I will try it on my 40D, as you suggested.

I am thinking of trading it for a brand new L 24-105 f4 IS. My rationale is, I don't appreciate the softness at 2.8, therefore I predict I will be shooting closer to f4 more times than 2.8. If thats the case, I could really use the IS and less weight.

Thoughts?
 

fjrabon

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JLMILLS said:
Thank you both so much. My shots were simply test shots. I took shots at various settings and compared to the kit lens, on a tripod in various lighting conditions.

Even though I am pleased with both, I just expected a big difference..a quantum leap in my photos. I'm being a little dramatic here but after shooting for several years with a kit, I just expected a big difference for cash it costs. I am starting to believe that everything is working just fine, but my expectations are a little unrealistic. I will try it on my 40D, as you suggested.

I am thinking of trading it for a brand new L 24-105 f4 IS. My rationale is, I don't appreciate the softness at 2.8, therefore I predict I will be shooting closer to f4 more times than 2.8. If thats the case, I could really use the IS and less weight.

Thoughts?

Yeah, I sort if gathered that you meant that the older L lens was simply softer than the 28-135. Not that it was awfully soft. I think few people appreciate how sharp the 28-135 is. That lens is an amazing value pure sharpness wise. At f/5.6-f/11 it's a razor. We use that lens a LOT in studio because with studio lights there is simply no reason to use anything else.

People often have this idea that L f/2.8 glass is going to transform their image quality. It won't. The biggest things you get with many L lenses are more consistent performance across all apertures and focal lengths, better build quality and the ability to shoot low light at all. Honestly there are very few lenses at all that are super sharp wide open (the 70-200 MkII L f/2.8 being one of them).

I doubt many people could ever tell a difference in sharpness between the 28-135 when shot at f/5.6 @ 50mm regardless of what lens they're comparing it to. Even pixel peeping.
 

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Just because you bought fast glass doesn't mean you have to or even should shoot it wide open unless you have a need to. I own nothing slower than f2.8 glass and rarely ever shoot wide open.
 

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This is my first post. I recently sold all of my Non-L glass and purchased L-series Canon Lenses. There is a huge difference in build quality, AF speed, controls, etc. However, I cannot tell any difference in picture quality. Actually, my 28-70 2.8L is so soft at 2.8, I prefer to carry the smaller 28-135 IS Kit. The IS allows me to shoot at F4 in similar light and produces sharper images vs. the L lens.

Yes, the aforementioned L-lens is 10yr old to the month. I purchased it second hand and it's in pristine shape.

MY QUESTION:

Is the technological gap over the last 10yrs so large that a cheap kit lens, made today, produces similar photographic results as the L's did a decade ago? Are my expectations unrealistic? I am satisfied with the photographic results, mind you, but I just expected a difference between the two, other than build quality and speed. Otherwise, I'll save the couple G's spent upgrading. I don't drop my lenses or bang them around so build quality hasn't been an issue. FYI I've been shooting for about 5 years as a hobby.

Honestly, I have never shot with a brand new L lens (or any other L) so I don't know what to expect. I have a 70-200 2.8L IS arriving in the mail Monday. I don't know what the date code on this one is and I hope it's newer. I don't anticipate it being more than 3-4yrs old.

I knew the age of the 10yr old lens when I purchased it.
All things equal, I am well aware of minimum shutter speeds vs. focal length vs. handheld vs. tripod vs. IS vs. Light vs. subject movement... as they pertain to sharpness (did I get all the variables there minus global ones like ISO and Aperture?)

My observations about the sharpness of the lens are not based on actually using the camera to take subject photos or on a job. They are based on controlled tests I've conducted indoors with props/charts/lighting/ etc.

When I joined, I filled out the part about my gear so I am assuming it will post at the bottom here like I've seen on your posts..is that considered a tag? (i'll see when I click submit :)

Shhhhhhhh! You are damaging the L-glass mythology!!!! Keep it down! Keep it down!

You know....years ago Popular Photography magazine did an article comparing f/2.8 "premium, pro" zoom lenses against consumer lenses. The not-so-shocking result? At smaller f/stops, like f/8, there was almost no difference in optical performance between low-cost consumer lenses and the pro, f/2.8 zooms. They did point out however that they expected the more-costly zooms to last longer and be better-suited for heavy use and rough handling.
 
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JLMILLS

JLMILLS

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JLMILLS said:
Thank you both so much. My shots were simply test shots. I took shots at various settings and compared to the kit lens, on a tripod in various lighting conditions.

Even though I am pleased with both, I just expected a big difference..a quantum leap in my photos. I'm being a little dramatic here but after shooting for several years with a kit, I just expected a big difference for cash it costs. I am starting to believe that everything is working just fine, but my expectations are a little unrealistic. I will try it on my 40D, as you suggested.

I am thinking of trading it for a brand new L 24-105 f4 IS. My rationale is, I don't appreciate the softness at 2.8, therefore I predict I will be shooting closer to f4 more times than 2.8. If thats the case, I could really use the IS and less weight.

Thoughts?

Yeah, I sort if gathered that you meant that the older L lens was simply softer than the 28-135. Not that it was awfully soft. I think few people appreciate how sharp the 28-135 is. That lens is an amazing value pure sharpness wise. At f/5.6-f/11 it's a razor. We use that lens a LOT in studio because with studio lights there is simply no reason to use anything else.

People often have this idea that L f/2.8 glass is going to transform their image quality. It won't. The biggest things you get with many L lenses are more consistent performance across all apertures and focal lengths, better build quality and the ability to shoot low light at all. Honestly there are very few lenses at all that are super sharp wide open (the 70-200 MkII L f/2.8 being one of them).

I doubt many people could ever tell a difference in sharpness between the 28-135 when shot at f/5.6 @ 50mm regardless of what lens they're comparing it to. Even pixel peeping.

Thank you. I think this is where I am at the moment. "People often have this idea that L f/2.8 glass is going to transform their image quality. It won't." ..If I'm completely honest, this is what I expected. I know...don't laugh. I"m being totally transparent here, because I believe thats the only way I'll grow.

Your comments have helped align my expectations a little more realistically. I appreciate it. I'm from Charleston SC so let me give a little nod to your USC avatar.

Thanks
 
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JLMILLS

JLMILLS

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This is my first post. I recently sold all of my Non-L glass and purchased L-series Canon Lenses. There is a huge difference in build quality, AF speed, controls, etc. However, I cannot tell any difference in picture quality. Actually, my 28-70 2.8L is so soft at 2.8, I prefer to carry the smaller 28-135 IS Kit. The IS allows me to shoot at F4 in similar light and produces sharper images vs. the L lens.

Yes, the aforementioned L-lens is 10yr old to the month. I purchased it second hand and it's in pristine shape.

MY QUESTION:

Is the technological gap over the last 10yrs so large that a cheap kit lens, made today, produces similar photographic results as the L's did a decade ago? Are my expectations unrealistic? I am satisfied with the photographic results, mind you, but I just expected a difference between the two, other than build quality and speed. Otherwise, I'll save the couple G's spent upgrading. I don't drop my lenses or bang them around so build quality hasn't been an issue. FYI I've been shooting for about 5 years as a hobby.

Honestly, I have never shot with a brand new L lens (or any other L) so I don't know what to expect. I have a 70-200 2.8L IS arriving in the mail Monday. I don't know what the date code on this one is and I hope it's newer. I don't anticipate it being more than 3-4yrs old.

I knew the age of the 10yr old lens when I purchased it.
All things equal, I am well aware of minimum shutter speeds vs. focal length vs. handheld vs. tripod vs. IS vs. Light vs. subject movement... as they pertain to sharpness (did I get all the variables there minus global ones like ISO and Aperture?)

My observations about the sharpness of the lens are not based on actually using the camera to take subject photos or on a job. They are based on controlled tests I've conducted indoors with props/charts/lighting/ etc.

When I joined, I filled out the part about my gear so I am assuming it will post at the bottom here like I've seen on your posts..is that considered a tag? (i'll see when I click submit :)

Shhhhhhhh! You are damaging the L-glass mythology!!!! Keep it down! Keep it down!

You know....years ago Popular Photography magazine did an article comparing f/2.8 "premium, pro" zoom lenses against consumer lenses. The not-so-shocking result? At smaller f/stops, like f/8, there was almost no difference in optical performance between low-cost consumer lenses and the pro, f/2.8 zooms. They did point out however that they expected the more-costly zooms to last longer and be better-suited for heavy use and rough handling.


You are too funny!!


Also, gryphonslair99, I'll admit, again, my amateur nature and agree with your statement. I do find myself taking my 50mm to 1.8 just because I can...when I have no need. I need to break these silly habits and enjoy sharper images.

Thanks to you all. I'm glad I joined this forum. I feel my PHOTO-IQ increasing with ever keystroke!!

Cheers.
 

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I can understand that. The 28-70 is the older mid-range L zoom. That's why I bought the prime 24mm. The 24-70 has never appealed to me for whatever reason. It just seems like it's mediocre at everything. It's sharp but the prime is sharper. It's fast but the prime is faster. The only thing I would use it for is convenience, but I rarely use the normal ranges anyways. lol
 

fjrabon

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I can understand that. The 28-70 is the older mid-range L zoom. That's why I bought the prime 24mm. The 24-70 has never appealed to me for whatever reason. It just seems like it's mediocre at everything. It's sharp but the prime is sharper. It's fast but the prime is faster. The only thing I would use it for is convenience, but I rarely use the normal ranges anyways. lol

Yeah, I actively don't like that lens or the 17-40 f/4 L. They're L level in build quality, but not image quality, IMHO. Not to say either is a 'bad' lens, but to me they don't stand up to the quality of the rest of the L line.

To my eyes the 28-135, at 35mm and f/5.6 actually outperforms the 17-40 L at f/5.6 and 35mm.
 

bratkinson

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For me, the difference between my 18-135 + 55-250 and the 15-35 L, 24-105 L and especially the 135 L is/was drop-dead sharpness! I thought the 18-135 was the cats meow, until I went to Ls. Needless to say, the EF-S lenses were sold shortly after I bought the 'good stuff'.
 

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JLMILLS said:
Thank you both so much. My shots were simply test shots. I took shots at various settings and compared to the kit lens, on a tripod in various lighting conditions.

Even though I am pleased with both, I just expected a big difference..a quantum leap in my photos. I'm being a little dramatic here but after shooting for several years with a kit, I just expected a big difference for cash it costs. I am starting to believe that everything is working just fine, but my expectations are a little unrealistic. I will try it on my 40D, as you suggested.

I am thinking of trading it for a brand new L 24-105 f4 IS. My rationale is, I don't appreciate the softness at 2.8, therefore I predict I will be shooting closer to f4 more times than 2.8. If thats the case, I could really use the IS and less weight.

Thoughts?

I love my 24-105...very sharp and quick :)
 
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I tried and I tried but just couldn't feel comfortable with the sharpness. I traded this lens for a NEW 24-105 IS. I will use it as my walk around. It is now the only lens in my bag that isn't 2.8 or faster but I'm excited about it never the less. I'll switch over to the 70-200 2.8 IS or 16-35 for low light. I know I have a focal gap in my Low Light set up but let's not forget, I can always take two steps forward or two steps back ;) ...is that a country song? should be.

Thanks for your help. My wife was encouraging me to send it back anyway. She just can't stand that I spend a lot of money on used equipment. She says "if you are going to spend 800 for used you may as well spend 1500 for new. Hello but that's a big difference...and I pay the bills!!! She only says that because she has a firm "no used designer pocket-book" policy. Convenient.
 

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Even the newest, top of the line mid focal length (ie 28-70) Canon L f/2.8 falls well short of its Nikon counterpart. Some people even prefer third party lenses to it.

Whaa? The 24-70 II has been regarded as the best 24-70 ever made from pretty much every review I've seen.
 

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