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Photography Question 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
 

Canon L series vs non-L series lenses


I'm currently deciding between the 7D and 5D/ii. I know both are great cameras and will be a massive step up from my XSi/450D. The question that I struggle with at the minute is with the lens. I have a decent Tamron AF28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC that I've used for everything over the last two years and got some really great shots psuedo-macro, portrait, landscape, etc. However, I want to take the best family portrait shots I can because I'm now charging for these. I understand that the L series lenses are very good, but given that I'll be using mainly indoors with studio lighting is there really a noticable difference in image quality when compared to non-L lenses?


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12/29/2010 10:31:48 AM

 
Lynn R. Powers   For studio portrait work the answer is NO you will not notice the difference. Your bigger decision is which camera the lens is going to be used The 5D Mark II is definitely the better camera or even the original 5D for the purposes you mentioned. The regular Canon EF lenses will work perfectly and are preferable to the Tammy.

EF 50mm f1.8 for groups of people. The lens is very cheap in all regards except in photo quality. It may break after you have made a couple thousand dollars with it.

EF 85mm f1.8 to be used for two people side by side or maybe three if they have their heads scrunched close together when shooting in the horizontal orientation. For full length photos or waist up shots in the vertical orientation. This is an excellent lens for indoor or outdoor shooting.

EF 135mm f2 for head shots or head and shoulders photos. I have even taken photos of snow geese in flight with this lens. It is superb.

If you do not want to purchase all three lenses then I suggest the EF 24-105mm f4L IS. It will handle all of the desired focal lengths needed for indoor photos with proper lighting as well as become a great walk around lens for the 5D camera. It will also beat the socks off the Tammy. But it won't have the reach especially on a cropped camera.

Remember that in addition to a good lighting setup that you need a good tripod and head as well as a cable or other remote release in the studio. Always use a lens hood to prevent stray light from entering the camera and for less glare.

With the full frame images you will spend less time at the computer processing your photos and they will give you a much better DOF than the 7D will.

I wish you much luck.


Lynn


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12/29/2010 12:02:08 PM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  Thanks, Lynn. Appreciate the info. When would an L lens make a difference?


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12/29/2010 12:23:06 PM

 
Lynn R. Powers   When you are outdoors in varying weather conditions, when great detail is needed, a lens that will last you ten years or more, they are a bit sharper than the non L's. Even the cheapest 70-200mm f4L will be better than any non L that covers the same range. They are built stronger and with greater precision. They are better corrected for color flaws. If you are going to be a technical photographer I would recommend nothing but L lenses. For telephotos I would only purchase L lenses except for the 135mm f2.(they don't make an L in that FL) And preferably with IS because I am old and shaky.

That is unless you are a pixel peeper in which case there isn't a lens that will satisfy you so you must purchase the one with the least problems that you can find in a laboratory.

The only thing lacking in the 135mm f2 and the 85mm f1.8 is weather sealing and otherwise are of L quality. The 85mm f1.2L allows more light in to focus but also has an extremely shallow DOF wide open and has to be closed down anyway for portraits. But you can get REALLY creative with it wide open.LOL

Being that you asked specifically for indoor portrait shooting the extreme detail that is available with L lenses in the preferred focal lengths is not needed.


Lynn


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12/29/2010 1:17:39 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Actually, if you compare pictures of same subjects, similar focal lengths, you probably will notice the difference. Especially the longer the focal length gets. It's a question of it being worth it to you. And for what you get in image quality, that very well may be total non-factor to current or future customers. Even if they are shown the difference.


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12/29/2010 2:46:25 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Hi Kartin,
There is a reason why many portrait photographers shoot with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens, its amazing and you will definitely see a difference.
The 135mm f/2L and the 24-105 f/4L Lynn mentioned are also L lenses and the 135mm is also a great portrait lens.
There is a compression factor to using longer lenses like the 135mm or the 70-200mm lens that make for very flattering photos. I dont have the 24-105 but I do have & use the 24-70mm f/2.8L lens when my 70-200mm is a bit too long for the space I have to shoot in. I still prefer the 70-200 and at f/2.8 its fast & looks great even wide open.
I will include an image I recently took with my 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and a link to a bunch of photos I took at a festival last summer that I used my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens for the vast majority of the gallery and all taken with the Canon 5D Mk II :)

Carltons SCI-HH2010

my .02,
Carlton


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12/29/2010 7:49:01 PM

 
Lynn R. Powers   Martin,

My mistake. The 135 f2 is an L lens. I guess I was thinking of the 100mm f2.8 Macro. The original one that is not an L nor does it have IS as the 'II' version does.

Thanks for pointing that our Carlton.


Lynn


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12/29/2010 9:35:07 PM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  All - thanks a lot for the info. After a ton of deliberation and procrastination :) I've decided to go and buy a Canon 5D mkII and a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 II. Now... I'd best start to win some awards on this site... What's that? You mean it takes more than just good equipment to take great award winnning photos? Seriously, looking forward to learning from you guys... keep the info flowing; I will be posting lots of questions over the next few weeks as I begin my course on Exposure and Processing with George Schaub.


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12/30/2010 3:54:43 PM

 
Leslie J. Morris
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/30/2007
lesliemorrisphotography.com
  Great decision! The 70-200 2.8 is my go to lens for portraits, best investment I have made. I went with the 7D though because I love to photograph birds in flight and it is faster than 5D and has the added crop factor. Saving now for the 5D this time next year, or may save longer and upgrade my bird lens (100-400 IS currently) to the 500mm! Happy New Year!


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12/30/2010 4:15:08 PM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  Leslie - Now don't go confising me with the 7D and birds in flight :) That's one of the reasons why it was so hard for me to decide. However, I make money from doing family portraits and so think the 5D is the better business choice although I'd love the 7D as well.

How did you manage to win all those Editor's Pick Awards? Awesome photos.


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12/30/2010 4:22:36 PM

 
Leslie J. Morris
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/30/2007
lesliemorrisphotography.com
  Oh, so much equipment available, so little money. Guess I should book some more portrait sessions :)

Thanks for the complements. Just love birds!


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12/30/2010 4:51:06 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Hi again Martin (with an M this time :)
You wont regret the decision of the 5D Mk II & the 70-200mm f/2.8L. Its a winning combination and worth every $$.
Its also a great combo for low-light & high ISO shooting as I do a lot of festival & stage performance shooting when lighting is sometimes very challenging.
This shot was with this same camera/lens combo and shot at ISO4000 :)

Congrats & Cheers,
Carlton


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12/30/2010 10:54:25 PM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  Carlton - that's a great photo. Did you set everything manually, or did you set the aperture and let the camera automatically set everything else?


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12/31/2010 9:34:16 AM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  Just an FYI - B&H are about $200 less than anywhere else right now for the 5D mk II and the Canon 70-200mm IS II lens. Great deal!


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12/31/2010 1:00:15 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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I shoot everything manually. I rarely use Tv or Av. This is because when I was learning about exposure, I was reading books, taking classes and experimenting to become comfortable and as I did become comfortable, I now always shoot manually.
B&H rocks !!!
I am curious how much difference there is between the original 70-200 f/2.8L IS (I paid about $1800) and the new II version (which runs about $2500) ???
Happy New Year Martin :)
Cheers, Carlton


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12/31/2010 10:21:33 PM

 
Lynn R. Powers   Carlton,

From what I've read on FM forum, dpreview, and a couple statements from Canon the II is optimized for the very high megapix cameras. That includes the 5DII, 1DIV,1DsIII and 7D. The lens is able to better resolve all of the pixels.

If you are not using one of these cameras save your money because you won't see much of a difference. With your 5DII you will enjoy better DR as well as detail. From what is discernible on the computer there is a definite improvement especially in sharpness and detail. You may like to know that the new TC IIIs are designed for the new lenses that are coming out now or in the near future with no need to upgrade unless you do have a newer lens including the 70-200 f2.8 IS II.


Lynn


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1/1/2011 12:58:17 PM

 
Martin Cregg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2010
  The lens was $1869 with the camera! Amazing deal.


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1/1/2011 1:14:24 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  I can generally see the difference between Low Dispersion and non-L lens.
I had the 100mm f2.8 macro when I received the error 99 message, and bought the new 100mm f2.8L macro with IS. Although, I rarely use IS, because I am generally on a tripod.

The L lens is awesome with incredible sharpness. However, for portraiture, it may be too sharp for teenagers or women because every pore will show. Only a flawless complexion will work with this as a portrait lens. However, simple photoshop processing can soften the image and make it more pleasing for portraiture.

I've waited several years, and now all my lenses are Low Dispersion, which matters to me because my eyes are not as sharp as they were once.


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2/15/2011 5:32:11 AM

 
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