Why should I buy L glass

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Mark
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#1
N00b question I'm sure, but what is the big difference between say a 100-300 canon lens and the L equivalent. It is just build quality / bragging rights or am I missing a huge thing here?

Please don't mock me, I'm just trying to understand. :confused:
 
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Raymond
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#2
L stands for luxury, it's not an indicative of quality as such but that being said…they are generally better.

For example the 16-35L is better than the 18-55mm. Sharpness aside, the 16-35 offers weather sealing, faster aperture, better build quality, faster focusing and nicer bokeh (more aperture blades).
Those are the elements that usually apply to an L – build quality, weather sealing, aperture, focusing and of course, sharpness too.

There are some exceptions. The 17-55/2.8 is considered to be a L standard lens in terms of sharpness, although I don't think it is in the same ballpark in build quality as a 24-70.

The 45 TSE is not an L but it comes with a lens bag and a lens hood which are normally reserved for an L. Also it is all metal construction, there is more metal on it than my 35L, it is also stupidly sharp.
 
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Jeff
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#3
L glass is the Rolls Royce of Canon lenses..
 
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David Williams
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#4
Hi Mark

Short answer - if you can affford L glass then go for it. There are very few downsides apart from the cost and the visibilty of the white teles and zooms. They hold their value very well and treated with care should provide years of use.

An L lens will (speaking very generally here) overall have better AF performance, better contrast (esp in poor light), some are weather sealed, and of course better image quality.

An L lens on a cheap body is a better idea than a cheap lens on a expensive body - all other things being equal.

That's not to say there are no non-L lenses that perform brilliantly - there are, but you need to weigh up your budget and prorities.

HTH

David
 
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Jak
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#5
Another 'side effect' is that, when you go to sell an 'L' lens, you'll get top dollar, it feels as if you are only borrowing the lens :)
 
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#6
L stands for luxury, it's not an indicative of quality as such but that being said…they are generally better.

For example the 16-35L is better than the 18-55mm. Sharpness aside, the 16-35 offers weather sealing, faster aperture, better build quality, faster focusing and nicer bokeh (more aperture blades).
Those are the elements that usually apply to an L – build quality, weather sealing, aperture, focusing and of course, sharpness too.

There are some exceptions. The 17-55/2.8 is considered to be a L standard lens in terms of sharpness, although I don't think it is in the same ballpark in build quality as a 24-70.

The 45 TSE is not an L but it comes with a lens bag and a lens hood which are normally reserved for an L. Also it is all metal construction, there is more metal on it than my 35L, it is also stupidly sharp.
Hi Raymond, I might have guessed you would frequent here :D

My thought is to buy a few 'normal' lenses until I make the move to a FF (if I do) and then buy the more expensive L. Although on the other hand it probably makes more sense to buy the L from the outset as I won't lose anything. Hmmm.
 
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#7
Hi Mark

Short answer - if you can affford L glass then go for it. There are very few downsides apart from the cost and the visibilty of the white teles and zooms. They hold their value very well and treated with care should provide years of use.

An L lens will (speaking very generally here) overall have better AF performance, better contrast (esp in poor light), some are weather sealed, and of course better image quality.

An L lens on a cheap body is a better idea than a cheap lens on a expensive body - all other things being equal.

That's not to say there are no non-L lenses that perform brilliantly - there are, but you need to weigh up your budget and prorities.

HTH

David
Yes I can see where you are coming from. My thought is that I want to dip my toe in photography before I really commit to selling my first born, but as Norkie says above, if I buy the L glass from the outset, I won't lose much if I sell it on again.
 

BRASH

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#8
The general rule is buy the best glass you can afford. If you can afford L glass now then don't waste your time and money buying anything cheaper. It'd be a false economy if you're going to buy L glass in the future anyway. Just do it, you know you want to.;)
 
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Jim
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#9
I work on the premise of buying the best glass I can afford. To me it makes more sense to have the best glass and then upgrade the body should you wish. Look on it as an investment. That way you get to see some benefit for your hard earned cash. Otherwise you'll be paying for lenses that you intend to sell later in order to upgrade to L lenses. To me that's a waste of money.
 
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#10
Hi Raymond, I might have guessed you would frequent here :D

My thought is to buy a few 'normal' lenses until I make the move to a FF (if I do) and then buy the more expensive L. Although on the other hand it probably makes more sense to buy the L from the outset as I won't lose anything. Hmmm.
I'd advise against that, if you can afford to get an L that is, then get an L.

If you buy secondhand, you won't lose any money if at all, might even make money as the price of them go up and down a little.

I made that decision back in 2007, not regretted it once.
 
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#12
I bought a couple of L lenses to go on my 50D and 1D2 bodies, they were very good by comparison to my other non budget L lenses, comparedt o my old all metal lenses (non L from my film days) they werent "that" much better, certainly biger and more noticeable, not necessarily a good thing, then I bought a 5D3, oh my, how the lenses improved. So a cheapish/low/middle end body with L glass was for me a waste of time.
They are however generally bullit proof and tbh I really dont have to worry about mis-using them to the same extent I would a non L lens, truthfully though I dont mis-use my kit so its only really a belief I could treat them rougher than I do and they would survive. I was out last year all day at Dunsfold (on the Saturday) and it rained like it is now, constant and heavy, the body and lens combo (70/200 f4 IS L) behaved impecably, as they should given the near £4k price tag.
 
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Simon
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#13
L lens are

high optical quality

high specification, either maximum aperture or focal length. For example Canon make several 50mm lenses, but the one with the largest aperture the F1.2 is the L version

High build quality; e.g. they have metal barrels rather than plastic ones
 
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Alan
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#15
I'd always advise ignoring badges and designations and buying what's best for you.

If you have an APS-C DSLR you wont find any L lenses specifically designed for your sensor size and of course there isn't an L lenses available at every spec point in the market so it's perfectly possible that a Canon non L lens, maybe one specifically designed for APS-C, or indeed a third party lens may be the better choice for you.

For example if you want a 17-50mm f2.8 for an APS-C camera where's the L choice? There isn't one. You could compromise and buy the 17-40mm f4 but that lens is (IMVHO) a poor option compared to the more modern, better performing and wider aperture options from Canon and the third party manufacturers.
 
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#17
As said really, sharper. Better built, and weather sealed
Gotta be careful as some or indeed all of these points may or may not hold up :D

Sharper? Than what and at what aperture?
Better built? Does that include reliability?
Weather sealed? Are they? Does that include having a filter on the front?

Best to judge each lens on its spec and performance rather than a list of blanket assumptions.
 
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Rikki
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#19
I'd advise against that, if you can afford to get an L that is, then get an L.

If you buy secondhand, you won't lose any money if at all, might even make money as the price of them go up and down a little.

I made that decision back in 2007, not regretted it once.

Totally agree, the first L I bought was a 70-200 f4 and I actually sold it for £20 more than I bought it for after a years use! I have had Sigma lenses which I thought were great but when compared to the L versions I find the L lenses have superior AF abilities and build quality; I have never regretted any of them.
 
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#20
I've found that with the zooms, the L lenses are by far and away superior in every aspect to their non-L bretheren. With prime lenses however, there is not so much in it apart from the obvious upgrades, being the light grabbing capabilities and the build quality. To put this in perspective, I have had the opportunity to replace both my 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8 with the 50mm 1.2L and 85mm 1.2L respectively, but the performance of the two non-L lenses is so good, and the weight and price difference so huge, that I would say that I do prefer to use the non-L glass in these cases.

The only L prime I currently own is the 180mm 3.5 macro, as the capabilities of this lens are just not represented in any non-L series glass. Other than that its L-series Zooms and standard USM primes for me...

The only prime lens I would consider changing out is my 35mm f/2 for the f/1.4L as the differences are rather compelling in all aspects (except price!).
 
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#21
Just to point out though…an L isn't perfect.

Based on what I have

16-35L mk1 - can be sharper at the corners with less distortion at 16mm (I believe this is fixed in mk2)
24-70L mk1 – weight, quite a shock coming from a 18-55 kit lens
24L – erm…this can be considered perfect. It is fast, it is sharp, it is everything you could ask for.
35L – plastic barrel
85L – slow to focus, as it moves the front element but is dead on when it does.
100L/2.8IS Macro – plaster barrel
135L – erm, actually hard to fault this.
 
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Andy
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#22
Once you have had L glass you generally won't want anything else as you will have been spoilt by the IQ.

I really wish id listen to my own advice though as i own 9 but sadly only 1 is L I keep telling myself I should
shift some and stick to quality not quantity but I would want to do it all in one go if that makes sense.

A
 
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Kevin
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#23
Started with a 70-200 f4L (Wonderful lens) have now - 16-35 MK2, 24-105L, 70-200L f2.8IS MK2, 100-400L. I am, very, very happy with these & see them as an excellent investment for my photography. :)
 
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#25
Another vote for the L if you can afford one and as you loose a lot less money I have 2 L lenses 70-200F4 L IS and 300 F4 L IS both produce great results but I made a mistake last year when I went for a Sigma 17-50 2.8 (as I had 2 years of good results with my siggy 120-400 ) for a trip to OZ it cost me £480 and when I phoned Camera world about chopping in for a 24-105F4 L they only offered me £100 WTF it was only a few months old
 
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Dan
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#26
Also, if you're a big fan of beige, the L lenses are really your only option. I had some bespoke covers made up for my Sigma lenses in beige neoprene- but they couldn't quite get the colour right, and they were missing that quintissential 70s grooviness.

(Warning: may contain traces of sarcasm)
 
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Chris
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#27
I'd advise against that, if you can afford to get an L that is, then get an L.

If you buy secondhand, you won't lose any money if at all, might even make money as the price of them go up and down a little.

I made that decision back in 2007, not regretted it once.
But what about the none L gems?

EF-S 17-55 IS UMS f/2.8, EF-S 10-22, EF 85 f/1.8 to name but three. All of them really shine on crop, hold their value really well and are all easy to sell on with little loss.

Lack of weather sealing is a moot point when the majority of Canon crop bodies don't have any either.
 
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Raymond
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#29
But what about the none L gems?

EF-S 17-55 IS UMS f/2.8, EF-S 10-22, EF 85 f/1.8 to name but three. All of them really shine on crop, hold their value really well and are all easy to sell on with little loss.

Lack of weather sealing is a moot point when the majority of Canon crop bodies don't have any either.
You pretty much named the 3.
I would put 45 TSE in there but it's £1k and rather specialised. The 85/1.8 I would say is the best bang for buck. I'd put the 50/1.4 in there too because the cost jump to the 1.2 is massive for little gain.
 
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#30
Just to point out though…an L isn't perfect.

Based on what I have

16-35L mk1 - can be sharper at the corners with less distortion at 16mm (I believe this is fixed in mk2)
24-70L mk1 – weight, quite a shock coming from a 18-55 kit lens
24L – erm…this can be considered perfect. It is fast, it is sharp, it is everything you could ask for.
35L – plastic barrel
85L – slow to focus, as it moves the front element but is dead on when it does.
100L/2.8IS Macro – plaster barrel
135L – erm, actually hard to fault this.
Know what you are saying some L lenses are better than others
Don't think that you were but I wouldn't mark the 100L down because it's got a plastic body:)
The plastic used is an engineering thermoplastic I think that you would have to try pretty hard to break it
I've got one it's an amazing lens the IS works at macro distances, it has transformed my macro I can hand hold at 1:1 distance without flash
 
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#31
The general rule is buy the best glass you can afford. If you can afford L glass now then don't waste your time and money buying anything cheaper. It'd be a false economy if you're going to buy L glass in the future anyway. Just do it, you know you want to.;)
Yes and you don't nessersarily have to spend a fortune, you can get the 70-200F4 second hand pretty cheaply get one and see it's fantastically sharp:)
I've had one since 2006 and will never sell it
 
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#32
I would expect it to be metal that's all, being an L. It's not really about "breaking it", I would've preferred it being metal that's all.
Although I only paid like £450 for the 100L new so can't complain !
 

odd jim

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#33
Also, if you're a big fan of beige, the L lenses are really your only option. I had some bespoke covers made up for my Sigma lenses in beige neoprene- but they couldn't quite get the colour right, and they were missing that quintissential 70s grooviness.

(Warning: may contain traces of sarcasm)
Unless you buy one of the many non 'beige' L lenses ;)
 
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#34
RE the 100L yes I was surprised when it came out in plastic but I guess they did it to save weight it's certainly nice and light
£450 new that's a bargain:)
I paid £600 but got it soon after it came out, i couldn't wait ! Also the auto focus on my sigma 105 was starting to pack up
 
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michael
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#35
As said really, sharper. Better built, and weather sealed,and better trade up/resale value!!!!
not that you would ever want to sell one once you've owned one!!!!
 
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#37
Basing that off the 4 I own :) once there clipped to my mk3 there weather sealed and are indeed sharper across the board. It's preference I guess. As for filters, I'll be buggered if I'm sticking a 30 quid price of glass over the one that cost me a grand...
Yes, my point was that unless you do it may not be weather sealed. The spec will tell.
 
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Rob Telford
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#38
Yes, my point was that unless you do it may not be weather sealed. The spec will tell.
To my own knowledge, the 17-40 f/4L isn't considered weather sealed by Canon without one.

A quick trawl of the inter webz reveals
  • EF16-35mm F2.8L USM
  • EF16-35mm F2.8L II USM
  • EF17-40mm F4L USM
  • EF 50mm F1.2L USM
Which require a filter to complete the seals.

There are other 'L lenses, such as the EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L and EF 200mm f/2.8 L USM II, which are not weather sealed at all, regardless of whether you have a filter on them or not.
 
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#39
Hi Raymond, I might have guessed you would frequent here :D

My thought is to buy a few 'normal' lenses until I make the move to a FF (if I do) and then buy the more expensive L. Although on the other hand it probably makes more sense to buy the L from the outset as I won't lose anything. Hmmm.
Wrong way. Buy a few L lenses if you can afford to and then upgrade your camera
 
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