Questions on Glass Differences: Canon, Tamron, & Sigma


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Aug 12, 2010
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Cary, NC
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Hi all! After much deliberation, I have decided to upgrade my camera from my current Canon T1i to the Canon 7D. However, rather than jumping right into a body upgrade, I was told that upgrading my lenses first is the best way to go. So I have been scouring Amazon in search of all the lenses I wanted to add to my wish list so that I can eventually start buying.

I do, however, have some questions first... if anyone can answer them!

I noticed that the abbreviations that marks top-of-the-line lenses from the 3 mentioned brands (Canon, Sigma and Tamron) are Canon - L, Sigma - EX, and Tamron - SP. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. So these are the only lenses I looked for amongst the 3 brands. Most of the lenses I have my eye on are the very (expectantly) expensive Canon L series.

My questions are this:

1. The difference in quality and glass between the 3 brands - what is that like? For instance... would a Canon series L lens give the same quality photo as a Sigma series EX lens? I've noticed that the Sigma EX and Tamron SP lenses are significantly cheaper in price in comparison to the Canon L lenses, but if they don't produce similar quality, what would be the point on upgrading to those?

2. My current lenses - would they mount to a Canon 7D body? They are listed in my signature below.

3. If I begin purchasing lenses now with the higher quality glass - should I worry about THOSE being able to mount to the Canon 7D when I do finally upgrade?

Any help would be appreciated. I apologize if I have repeated this topic and it's been discussed in the forums before. I swear I did a search before posting. :p Thanks!
1) There is no general pattern here - some sigma lenses will just as good or better than even canon L within certain specific areas (Eg sharpness or barrel distortion) whilst others will be worse and some equal. The best approach is to determine a use for a lens, a need, a weakness in your current setup etc... Then find the lenses on the market that fit that stated need and compare them against each other from reviews, asking and such.

Eg Canon 50mm f1.4 is not as good as the Sigma f1.4 (provided you get a good copy)
Canon 180mm L macro is about equal to the sigma 180mm macro

2) 7D is a crop sensor camera body so EFS and EF lenses will fit to this camera body. Any crop sensor will take any EFS and EF lenses whilst fullframe camera bodies (like the 5D and 5DM2) will only take EF lenses and not EFS lenses (they physically won't fit).

3) Nope not at all and purchasing top end glass now is a great approach. Better glass gives you a far more noticeable increase in optical quality as well as overall light quality. Pro end glass on an entry level camera body can and will deliver fantastic results.
1. The general rule of thumb with third party lenses is that they usually offer about 80-90% the performance of the name brand, but for 40-50% the price. I personally wouldn't buy any of the off brand lenses for a handful of reasons, and since my budget allows it, I stick with Canon lenses. But I know a lot of people who have been happy with certain Sigma and Tamron lenses.

2. Yes, they would all mount on the 7D fine. The EOS 7D will allow mount for every lens Canon has made since 1987 (every EF and EF-S). However, be aware that EF-S lenses are designed for (and can only mount onto) APS-C crop sensor cameras (Basically everything that's not a 1D or 5D).

3. Nope. Nice L lenses will see instant results in image clarity (given proper shooting technique), and since all L lenses are EF, they will mount onto every EOS DSLR Canon makes.

dang a hair too late!
I would take my Tamron 17-50/2.8 over Canon 17-40/4L easy. The Tamron clearly beats it in sharpness. That said unlike the Canon it can not be mounted on FF cameras and the auto focus is a bit slower and more noisy. I don't mind it, but might if I had to shoot using it in say a church. They also have a awesome Macro the 90/2.8 which again I think competes very well against the Canon 100/2.8 Macro. The new L version I am told really don't have better image quality per say, just butter build weight distribution and of course the IS. A third would be the Tokina 12-24/4 again I would put this against Canon and Nikons best and the winner may not be who you would think, so I believe its a lens by lens case bases.

Read reviews online and magazines and decide from there. Usually Canon will have the best lens all around as far as build, speed and image quality but not always.

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