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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
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Old August 19th, 2010, 05:51 PM   #1
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expensive glass vs not expensive glass(not a dumb question i swear)

yes this is not going to be a dumb question *i hope*

okay i want to know if the only difference between those super high priced canon L glass and the other is the ability for it to allow more light in(it's faster as you guys say) and therefore my real question is if i get enough light comming through my 200$ sigma lens(meaning my scenes are bright enough to the satisfaction of my eyes) why would I waste the extra 1000$ for the L(that was not a rhetorical question by the way)...

please enlighten me my more experienced friends if i may call you that

i really want to know what is the difference in having godly L quality glass and human made non-L lenses..
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Old August 19th, 2010, 06:18 PM   #2
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What the lens costs is not necessarily proportional to how much light it lets in. Canon L glass rated at F4 isn't going to be anywhere NEAR as bright as a $50 F1.8 piece of glass. That's not what you are paying for.

What you ARE paying for is a lens that is built very well, has very few distortions in the glass (and thus your image), has excellent color rendition, and other things that affect the image. Maybe that's worth it to you, maybe it's not. But I have to say, I am VERY fond of the imagery that I get from lenses that were made long before "L" glass was even heard of. I've used L glass and find it's very nice. I've used other glass (Nikon ED, AIs, and other glass) and found it just as nice.

To each their own.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Mr Ford... in the olden days, lens glass was made using different materials... lead being one of them....
Some, not all, older lenses have advantages over the newer versions because of this different formulation.

Back to the original question... better glass construction add's to the cost. you get better images. Better materials, metal versus plastic, it could be a situation with more aperture blades, so the background blur is more pleasant. Some more expensive lenses offer water proofing...
Most L lenses hold their value very well. I suspect that when Red releases their lineup, then Canon L's will be in demand again... Red is making sure they include a canon mount with the new cameras...

The only reason Nikon has held up against the Canon L is the fact that Nikon uses a mechanical aperture...
But Red knows how to manipulate the Canon electronic aperture... could be an interesting setup...
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Old August 20th, 2010, 03:45 AM   #4
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I suspect that when Red releases their lineup, then Canon L's will be in demand again... Red is making sure they include a canon mount with the new cameras...
Since when were they not in demand? Seems to me everyone thinks they need Canon L glass

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The only reason Nikon has held up against the Canon L is the fact that Nikon uses a mechanical aperture...
But Red knows how to manipulate the Canon electronic aperture... could be an interesting setup...

I am not so sure that is the only reason.

I can think of at least a couple of professionals who will swear by Nikon AI lenses over Canon every time, money no object. They render a warmer image and resolve detail very well, even compared to Canon L lenses.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 04:06 AM   #5
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I am not so sure that is the only reason.

I can think of at least a couple of professionals who will swear by Nikon AI lenses over Canon every time, money no object. They render a warmer image and resolve detail very well, even compared to Canon L lenses.
Count me among that group. And after seeing some of the images from the early Pentax Takumar lenses, I am going to get some of that as well.

I have a lot of the same problem with L glass that I do with Zeiss glass. I don't necessarily care for my images to be razor sharp and super contrasty. Not that Nikon ED glass isn't razor sharp or contrasty. I prefer the softer, more forgiving look of older glass. I don't mind a little bloom in the whites.

It's amazing to me how many people will go out and spend a boatload on this super-sharp glass, and then spend a bunch more money on diffusion filters and other things to soften up that razor sharp glass they just bought.

But it's a difference in aesthetics. I tend to prefer films like period pieces with lush landscapes, soft lighting and beautiful women. Other people prefer different kinds of films. And not all films need the same look. I guess it's one reason I've preferred Fuji stock to Kodak for years and years.

Oh, and Ray, one other reason people prefer Nikon glass, is that the mechanical mount hasn't changed since the F mount was invented. 1960s Nikon glass fits on my Nikon body camera just as well as modern AF glass. That is a HUGE advantage because the focusing on that older glass is smooth as butter. AF glass focus is TERRIBLE for video work. And that includes L glass. That old glass has 200-nearly 360 degrees of rotation. Absolutely GLORIOUS for using with a follow focus. Most of the modern AF glass has less than 90 degrees from end to end. And when you turn off the AF mechanism, it feels like crap.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #6
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Good quality glass is more expensive for a number of reasons. Firstly, superior optical glass and lens coatings add to the price. The build quality is superior with more expensive materials. The mechanics are superior with more expensive components. They're often water resistant. They are hand made and checked. They often contain more glass elements and blades on the diaphragm. The focus is smoother and the bokeh more pleasing. They are more accurate. They have less optical distortion and less chromatic aberration. They produce more natural colors with good contrast. They don't breathe or ghost. They tend to be faster (mechanically and optically) and they're sharper with better control of flare. A good set are optically matched. I could go on...

Of course, whether you like the look of expensive modern glass or are prepared to pay the extra for a perceived increase in quality is down to you:)
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:24 AM   #7
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Would taking 2 lenses (A Sigma and a Canon) same focal length (A prime maybe) same aperture, same light setup, same camera body...take a 2 or 3 minute interview, put it in your timeline and render...do you think you can spot which one is the L glass and which is the Sigma?
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:38 AM   #8
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Yea, maybe. Would depend on what it was rendered to, and what camera it was on. Also depends on if it's L glass or not.

If there are distinct vertical edges at the outer edges of the frame, or circular objects, shouldn't be too hard.

But, unless the Sigma was pretty bad, you'd need both side by side to see the differences most likely. Most glass is decent these days.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:50 AM   #9
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", one other reason people prefer Nikon glass, is that the mechanical mount hasn't changed since the F mount was invented. 1960s Nikon glass fits on my Nikon body camera just as well as modern AF glass."

Not quite. My pre-AI Nikkors from the early '70s won't work on digital Nikons without sending them to some guy in California for modification, and I've hard that is iffy. That's why I moved to Canon in the first place--readily available adapters let me use my old lenses on Canon cameras.

I have to agree with the build quality and optical quality of the old Nikkors. There's a lot more to a lens than just sharpness. There's a certain look these lenses have that's very nice. There's a look the L lenses have that's nice. I am intercutting the Nikkor 24mm, 25,, and 105mm with a new 70-200 F4 L lens and nobody can see the differences in the final product. I also have a 50mm Zeiss thrown in the mix. The differences in these three brands is minimal, with the Nikkors winning overall.

The Zeiss seems to have as good a build quality and focus throw as the old Nikkors, actually. However, I can send the Nikkors away to Duclos and have the hard stops taken out. With the Zeiss ZE, I'm stuck with that because it doesn't have an aperture ring, which is why lots of people are buying the Zeiss ZF (Nikon mouunt) and using adapters. If you ever have a shot where you need to ride aperture, you can't do it with a lens that has click stops.

As far as being able to tell the difference in a shot from a Sigma and an L lens, the short answer is yes, you can. The L lens will be sharper and probably have better overall color and contrast. The meaningful question, I think, is more like: Is the Sigma good enough for what I'm doing?

When I got my 7D I got the $200 extra deal for the Canon 28-135, and then I bought a Tokina 16-50 for wide angle and a 2.8 Tamron 28-75 for shooting interviews (the Canon stopped down too much when zoomed in). Those lenses were OK, although the focus rings were not great--way too short a throw, and they felt flimsy. But images were OK for my purposes--most of my corporate video ends up on the web and the biggest screens it gets shown on are 50" plasmas in conference rooms.

However, I got adapters for my old Nikkors and the first time I shot with them, I was ruined for shooting with the cheaper lenses. Because I needed wide angles for what I do, I ended up selling the 7D and getting a 5D so I could use my 24mm and 35mm Nikkors as my primary lenses.

A part of the look, of course, was that I was comparing high quality primes to cheap zooms. If I had bought the L 16-35, it probably would have looked pretty good and I wouldn't have been so impressed by the Nikkors. As I said, I intercut them with the 70-200 now. However, I shoot about 90% of everything with primes, using the zoom only for interviews where I often need to change focal lengths quickly between questions.

To me the build quality, smoothness and throw of the focus ring, overall tight feel of the focus ring, contrast, color--all these things are important. You can get reasonable sharpness in a cheap lens, but you don't get the rest. Even so, the lens may be good enough for the work you're doing. In my case, some of the personal documentary work gets shown in theater screens at festivals, and because of that I wanted to shoot mostly with better primes. For my day job, the quality of the cheaper zooms really was good enough.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:54 AM   #10
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Would taking 2 lenses (A Sigma and a Canon) same focal length (A prime maybe) same aperture, same light setup, same camera body...take a 2 or 3 minute interview, put it in your timeline and render...do you think you can spot which one is the L glass and which is the Sigma?
I tried, 70-200mm Sigma and Canon, not only me, nobody I showed it to couldn't tell, I got the Canon only cuz it has IS.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 10:07 AM   #11
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", one other reason people prefer Nikon glass, is that the mechanical mount hasn't changed since the F mount was invented. 1960s Nikon glass fits on my Nikon body camera just as well as modern AF glass."

Not quite. My pre-AI Nikkors from the early '70s won't work on digital Nikons without sending them to some guy in California for modification, and I've hard that is iffy. That's why I moved to Canon in the first place--readily available adapters let me use my old lenses on Canon cameras.
This is specifically why I said "mechanical mount". There have been changes along the way. The change your are talking about is the non- AI to AI. Nice to hear someone is still doing this work. When I mount my non AI glass on my Nikon film body, it's as dumb as a post. No metering, no nothing. But it mounts and I can take a picture. If I mount that same non-AI lens onto my 550D with an adapter, I get metering.

Mechanically, the lenses will couple to the body (with only 2-3 exceptions) but that doesn't say that other things with the mount haven't changed. Like the addition of AF Contacts, and other things. This is not true with Canon glass. My old Canon glass will not fit on my new Canon body. It just won't.

Agree with all your other comments about Nikon glass. I can't wait to buy a few more lenses between now and Christmas.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 11:34 AM   #12
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Would taking 2 lenses (A Sigma and a Canon) same focal length (A prime maybe) same aperture, same light setup, same camera body...take a 2 or 3 minute interview, put it in your timeline and render...do you think you can spot which one is the L glass and which is the Sigma?
Yes, I can. At least most of the time, well maybe some of the time - but then I've spent most of my adult life staring at these things!

What is certainly true is that there are a lot of really good lenses that don't cost the earth and will be perfect for many peoples' needs.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 11:53 AM   #13
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What is certainly true is that there are a lot of really good lenses that don't cost the earth and will be perfect for many peoples' needs.
There you go. I'm about to spend $300 or so and pick up 4-5 vintage lenses that will look like GOLD on these cameras. With the crop sensor, you're avoiding all the edge sharpness issues anyway, and any of this good glass will outresolve the sensor in HD mode. Stills might be a different story. If people want to drop a small fortune for slow glass, with short throws, difficult manual focusing, electronics, and waterproofing... hey more power them.

I certainly would recommend that newer shooters at least TRY a good manual prime before blowing a bunch of money on one of these super expensive zooms. And mind you were are discussing still lenses here. We aren't talking about matched glass sets, standardized barrel sizes, standardized iris sizes, or any of the other features that make cinema glass so costly.

Heck, if you weren't OVERLY picky, you could put together a complete set of primes for $1000 from 20mm to 180mm. I expect to grab a 24, 35, 50, 85, and 105 for about $400-$500. I'll just need to find a good 135, a good 180, and then hunt down an 18mm or 20mm to complete my set.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 01:08 PM   #14
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I would also add that my experience in telling the difference is that it depends on the shot, much like Perone has said. The L glass performs better in certain lighting situations where others fall flat. If it's a straight up shot with some grading then many times you can't tell. But if you are shooting in certain conditions the better lenses will pick up for detail and create a better/softer bokeh or even better detail in the background for deep focus shots.

It all depends on what look you are going for. Many wedding videographers that I talk to love the older lenses because of the look you get right off the lens. Many film makers don;t like them for that same reason. I personally tend to like the L lenses, but I also have a Helios that I just used on a shot that turned out beautiful.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 01:46 PM   #15
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Interesting to note that this just came out a few minutes ago;

Which lenses to buy? | Philip Bloom
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