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how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses? - Photography

Many of Canon's non-L grade zoom tele lenses, sometimes called consumer lenses, get poor ratings in most of the lens reviews I've looked at. They are especially poorly rated at their longer focal length end (e.g. the 300mm end of the 75-300mm zoom). Ratings include statements at the long end include "soft", loss of contrast, & sometimes CA and flare are mentioned. Negative ratings are also often ascribed to their build quality. My questions are: 1- how severe these factors "really" are for moderately serious amateur use as opposed to professional use or cases of extreme enlargements (I plan to ...

  1. #1

    Default how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Many of Canon's non-L grade zoom tele lenses, sometimes called consumer
    lenses, get poor ratings in most of the lens reviews I've looked at. They
    are especially poorly rated at their longer focal length end (e.g. the 300mm
    end of the 75-300mm zoom). Ratings include statements at the long end
    include "soft", loss of contrast, & sometimes CA and flare are mentioned.
    Negative ratings are also often ascribed to their build quality.

    My questions are:

    1- how severe these factors "really" are for moderately serious amateur use
    as opposed to professional use or cases of extreme enlargements (I plan to
    print at 11x14 inches or so, and am shooting with a Canon D60), and to what
    extent can these "flaws" be compensated for in Photoshop? FWIW, my
    photographic domain is mostly nature photography, but not small distant
    animals.

    2-how concerned does an amateur need be about build quality?

    Thanks for any perspectives here. Yes, I know I should probably just get L
    lenses, but they can break the budget, even used.

    Mike


    mike Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    less bad than Nikkor lens are. Go for Tamron or Sigma if you dont like your
    Canon "consumer-grade" zoom.




    Chuck Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    > Many of Canon's non-L grade zoom tele lenses, sometimes called consumer 
    300mm 

    It's very tough to find truly objective, non-biased lens reviews. I'd say
    that at least 3/4 of the lens reviews that I read fall into one of a few
    categories:

    1. It costs less than a few thousand dollars, it can't be worth anything.
    2. It's from brand (X), it can't be worth anything.
    3. I found a shortcoming or two, it can't be worth anything.

    What so many people fail to realize is that lens design is about
    compromises - you simply cannot design and build a lens that is perfect in
    every aspect. Whether you're talking about Canon, Nikon, Leica, Zeiss, or
    any other lens manufacturer, you'll find that they've made lenses designed
    with certain goals in mind that would disappoint someone with different
    objectives.

    Many reviewers also fail to take into account the fact that normal people
    don't have 4-, 5-, or 6-figure budgets for lenses. I've seen a lot of
    reviewers make the assertion that if you can't drop at least three grand on
    a lens, you shouldn't bother with *any* lens, or trying to take the picture
    at all. That's just rubbish. Between getting a modest picture with a $300
    lens and getting no picture at all, I'd *usually* rather get the modest
    picture. If you don't play the game, you can't win.

    I'd strongly suggest "The Lens Book" from Hicks and Schultz, ISBN
    0715301497. It doesn't appear to be in print, but you can either pick one
    up used, or even get it from the library. It'll help you understand quite a
    bit about different aspects of a lens, and picking a lens that meets your
    needs. It covers all of the questions you've put forth in good detail, and
    a whole lot more that haven't even occured to you yet. : )

    steve


    Steve Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?


    "mike nelson" <org> wrote in message
    news:41fa987c$0$11670$newshosting.com... 

    Here is a shot taken with a Canon 75-300 IS at full zoom.
    http://home.comcast.net/~charlesschuler/wsb/media/291308/site1046.jpg

    Tests are one thing; real photography is another. Beware of the lens snobs.

    The build quality of this lens is fine; given its cost.


    Charles Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    On Fri, 28 Jan 2005 16:03:22 -0500, "Charles Schuler"
    <net> wrote:
     
    >
    >Here is a shot taken with a Canon 75-300 IS at full zoom.
    >http://home.comcast.net/~charlesschuler/wsb/media/291308/site1046.jpg
    >
    >Tests are one thing; real photography is another. Beware of the lens snobs.
    >
    >The build quality of this lens is fine; given its cost.
    >[/ref]

    Nice claws! However, only MTF or interferometer tests will truly show
    how a lens compares to it's competitors.
    -Rich
    RichA Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Steve Wolfe wrote: [/ref]

    <snip>

    Between 

    Let's say the five-year-old 75-300 is actually soft when it reaches way
    out there to 300mm; let's say technological advances have taught the
    makers how to correct that deficit. Is it likely that the location of
    the necessary fix is accessible so a practical "upgrade" could be
    applied? If not to existing lenses, to those produced subsequent to the
    discovery?

    I suppose the scale of production, numbers and costs-wise won't justify
    "slipstreaming" improvements. Or maybe this is going on all the time. If
    it isn't, does that mean the manufacturers continue to foist their
    mistakes on the consumer?

    Can anyone think of instances of such behavior by the majors?

    --
    Frank ess


    Frank Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    mike nelson wrote:
     

    Speaking directly to the 75-300mm lens, regardless of manufacturer, these lenses
    are all 'good to very good' from 75 to about 200mm (sharp, contrasty) and they
    are pretty soft, not to mention slow, from about 200 to 300mm.

    A good 'hint' about lens quality is the zoom ratio. Above 2.5:1 zoom ratio,
    don't hold your breath on quality.

    Given the crop factor of the Canon D60, I would consider both a long prime along
    with a 1.4 TC to attain fairly good quality for nature shots rather than a
    softish at the long end lens like a 75-300.

    Think about, perhaps, the 200 f/2.8 and eventually add a 1.TC.

    Or maybe the 100-300 in lieu of the 75-300.

    You cannot correct for lack of lens sharpness (or poor focusing) in photoshop.
    You can enhance the photo using USM, but it won't recover for the 'blur' created
    by the lens.

    More generally speaking, a careful bit of shopping with the right inputs will
    lead you to the better priced gems. Avoid high ratio zooms. Avoid what sounds
    to good to be true. One exception for Canon: the 28-135 IS lens gives very good
    performance for the price, from what I hear and some images that I've seen.
     

    The build quality should be appopriate to the use. If you will banging around
    trails in all kinds of weather, a poorly built lens will not last long.

    I use to have lovely, cheap Minolta lens that was sharp a tack, if a mite slow.
    (70-210 var-app). It was well, if cheaply built. I would never consider using
    it on a long trip in the woods, or in dusty areas. Sold it for a good price too.

    Cheers,
    Alan

    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Charles Schuler wrote:
     
    >
    >
    > Here is a shot taken with a Canon 75-300 IS at full zoom.
    > http://home.comcast.net/~charlesschuler/wsb/media/291308/site1046.jpg
    >
    > Tests are one thing; real photography is another.[/ref]

    Look at the eye. Looks like a blob.
     

    Yeah, we keep telling the truth, damn us!




    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Guest

  9. #9

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?


     

    Show me your shot or be quiet.


    Charles Guest

  10. #10

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Charles Schuler wrote: 
    >
    >
    > Show me your shot or be quiet.[/ref]

    /Derision/
    Snort
    /Derision-off/


    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?


    "Alan Browne" <ca> wrote in message
    news:cteim6$fqr$gazeta.pl... 
    >>
    >>
    >> Show me your shot or be quiet.[/ref]
    >
    > /Derision/
    > Snort
    > /Derision-off/[/ref]

    "Ridicule" is the oft accepted synonym for derision.
    "Snort" is often a gasp type of reaction when one is overwhelmed with one's
    hasty intake.
    If you ever decide to make any sense, let the rest of us know. Until then,
    be quiet and get some sleep.


    Charles Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    "Charles Schuler" <net> wrote in message
    news:com... 
    >
    > Here is a shot taken with a Canon 75-300 IS at full zoom.
    > http://home.comcast.net/~charlesschuler/wsb/media/291308/site1046.jpg
    >
    > Tests are one thing; real photography is another. Beware of the lens
    > snobs.
    >
    > The build quality of this lens is fine; given its cost.[/ref]

    That looks great to me. I would be happy to have a lens that would do that.


     


    MrB Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    In message <ctefl8$684$gazeta.pl>,
    Alan Browne <ca> wrote:
     [/ref]

    This is not especially sharp (especially if it is downsized at all), and
    the contrast is low.

    You have no idea how mediocre this lens is until you use something
    better.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <komm> 
    JPS@no.komm Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Most zoom lenses fall off when they get to extremes of focal length
    regardless of price or rating. One of the things you pay for in more
    expensive lenses is larger apertures and a bit more sharpness. And those
    costs can go way up, but it's often worth it, especially if you want to
    shoot at low ISO values. As for build quality, I can only go back to my
    "old" days of taking photos. Usually, the lenses manufactured by Nikon,
    Canon, etc., hold up pretty well compared to "off-brand" lenses. Good pro
    lenses made by the big guys may outlast you. What happens with cheaper
    lenses is that they start to loosen up after awhile, and it just gets worse
    from there. Some of my older Nikon lenses are built like tanks and have
    lasted 30 years. They use a lot of plastic in some of today's lenses, so
    who knows? And pros tend to thrash their equipment around quite a bit, so
    the better stuff is made to take it. Pros can't afford to keep all their
    equipment in their individual cases and pad everything up. They need to get
    to stuff fast, and may have two or three cameras hanging around their neck
    wacking into each other as they work. When I worked for AP a lot of the
    guys kept their equipment in the trunk of their cars with no cases. The
    stuff just rattled around in there (the trunk was their gadget bag). And,
    the equipment help up extremely well. Not sure if today's plastic would
    take that much punishment.

    Another thing is that generally speaking, and IMHO, fixed length lenses are
    going to be sharper than zoom lenses, so the tradeoff is carrying a pile of
    lenses around, and having to change them all the time, or compromising with
    a zoom. Remember also that you can "process" your images a bit to improve
    your images using software.


    "mike nelson" <org> wrote in message
    news:41fa987c$0$11670$newshosting.com... 


    Sheldon Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?



    RichA wrote: 
    > >
    > >Here is a shot taken with a Canon 75-300 IS at full zoom.
    > >http://home.comcast.net/~charlesschuler/wsb/media/291308/site1046.jpg
    > >
    > >Tests are one thing; real photography is another. Beware of the lens snobs.
    > >
    > >The build quality of this lens is fine; given its cost.
    > >[/ref]
    >
    > Nice claws! However, only MTF or interferometer tests will truly show
    > how a lens compares to it's competitors.
    > -Rich[/ref]

    Price apart, maybe. But price vs performance is not to be ignored, and
    the final judgement is made on the photograph, not interferometer or MTF
    measurements.

    Lens design trade-offs are not trivial. I remember, but can't find,
    example images by I think Leitz, who conclusively showed that designing
    a lens for sharpness alone ruined the tonal quality of the image. This
    why evaluation of the image is the ultimate gauge of lens quality.

    I had a Mamiya Press camera once, with a 90mm Sekor lens. Sharp as a
    tack, but no tonality. My Rolleiflex/Planar shots weren't quite as
    sharp, but the tonal quality of the Rollei image was light-years ahead
    of the Mamiya.

    I have seen the same thing with 35mm as well. My Pentax SMC Takumars
    were well ahead of my colleague's Nikkors for tonality.

    FWIW, I believe Canon lenses are designed for image quality ahead of
    outright sharpness. Some of their lenses don't look very good on
    technical tests, but I have never seen anyone complain about the image
    quality. And, to the subject of this thread, the 75-300 IS is a pretty
    good lens for the price.

    Colin.
    Colin Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    In article <net>, Chuck
    <com> wrote:
     

    Sigma is crap.

    I've got the Canon 20-35 & 28-200 and have no complaint with either.
    I've made 16x20s that look great.
    Randall Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: how "bad" really are Canon "consumer-grade" zoom tele lenses?

    Colin D wrote:
     

    The finer the detail in the photo, the higher MTF is needed. One could shoot a
    test subject with low detail and it will look great on a low mtf lens. Shoot a
    high detail subject with a low mtf lens and it will tell.

    This is why looking at the mtf figures and curves provides an important part of
    the story when selecting a lens. It also provides clues regarding the character
    of the oof qualities (tangential/sagital lines are close/paralell wrt each
    other). So does evaluating a lot of images from that lens.

    Chasseur d'Image have for the past year (a bit less maybe) begun testing various
    lenses with various digital sensors, as the sensor plays a role in determining
    the ability to resolve detail when coupled with a lens of a given performance.

    As an example, the 28-105mm f/3.5-.5 USM II did quite well on a 10D and 300D,
    but looked worse on the 1 Ds (as more pixels were evaluated in the softer
    corners and more vignetting was apparent; distortion was more apparent as well).

    The reality for 99.99% of photographers is they do not, can not or will not do
    these tests and so have to rely on reports and 3rd party testing.

    The second reality is that cropped sensor cameras will make almost every lens
    look better than it is as corner sharpness plays less of a role.

    And obviously, for available light shots, if people don't use a tripod, they
    won't get the sharpness that is available regardless of the lens type.

    Finally, the higher end lenses are usually faster as well. This gives you
    flexibility, shallow DOF, fatter 'sweet spot' for sharpness (of a lens that is
    usually sharper to start with).

    Cheers,
    Alan

    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Guest

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