From time to time, holding in hand a new lens with the plastic casing you ask yourself — what its prime cost? How to guess how the developers tried to develop it? What gives to this lens such a high price?
There is a lot of price and quality components, of course. But there is at least one moment which allows to understand the prime cost of a lens by materials.
It is known for a long time how to make a good lens. Also there are materials which should be used for the best results, but the commerce and operation on a wide customer superimposes the frames and therefore people try to simplify the lens.
I represent almost complete set of optical circuits of the Canon lenses and what elements were used.
Canon EF 16-35/2.8L II
For example, Canon EF 16-35/2.8L II USM — 3 nonspherical and 2 UD elements.
There were used three types of nonspherical elements: polished glass, cast glass and hybrid (plastic+glass).
This lens is obviously expensive in respect of prime cost. As the user I can tell that this lens is remarkable. Rather high sharpness for a wide-angle and a zoom besides. There are well removed HA so I even hadn’t to face them especially. The focus range is perfect for shooting of landscapes, and in case of a diaphragm impaction to F8-F11, it becomes “too sharp”. It is not an uncompromising lens, it, of course, concedes to fix – focal lens, but provides big universality. It has rather big distortion, so for people shooting on the full frame camera in most cases, is not really convenient. On the other hand its effect of distortion even is pleasant to me, gives perspective to a picture. It is necessary to improve them in a photoshop, but it is almost impossible to clean such type of distortion on engles. So think in advance how you would use this fine tool.
It has the same sharpness as Canon 17-40/4L. But thus you lose universality and you become “doomed” only to landscape shooting.
In respect to light resistance, both lenses are great for the focal values.
Canon EF 100/2.8L IS USM
— Hybrid stabilizator of the image (the equivalent to 4 steps of exposure)
— Reproduction of full-scale object (1:1)
— Ultralow-dispersing element (UD)
— Water – and a dust resistance
— Three-positional delimiter of focusing distance
— The circular aperture with nine lobes for creative blur
— Ring ultrasonic motor of autofocusing (USM AF)
One UD element — a lens with an average price. The lens is equipped with the hybrid stabilizator, it is one of the most advanced image stabilizators today.
Though, me as the user of a lens, didn’t note essential advantages. Both earlier, and now I estimate, is it possible to make a photo in such light conditions or not. In respect of sharpness the lens pleases, though it is not the champion in this focal distance (the champion according to my data is Leica APO Elmarit 100/2.8).
The lens has well removed HA and therefore it is especially convenient for macroshooting. Portrait art shooting didn’t please me because of a full correction of the lens. Here Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 100/2.8 is more nice.
Their comparing can be seen in the article Comparing of Canon EF 100/2.8L IS USM Macro Vs Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar 100/2.8 C/Y
Another matter studio portraits on the covered diaphragm to F8-F11. Here it again prevails for those who loves such focus (and there are a lot of fans, because on this focus on the full frame camera there are a lot of distortion).
Focusing ring with a low speed, so macroshooting is “as is”. If the ring of focusing has a big course, the lens would be much more valuable.
Canon EF 100/2.8 Macro USM
And here it is a simple glass. Lens of the lower price range.
The absence of an UD element, which is available in the elder brother of Canon 100/2.8L IS USM causes small “conceiving” of the picture at the edges and to the middle of the frame sides. But lens is quite good for the simple construction and price. In case of the limited budget, I would recommend it instead of its elder brother for macroshooting, because on “clamped” diaphragms they are identical.
Canon EF 180/3.5L Macro USM
3 UD elements. The lens of the upper price range. A smart uncompromising lens for macroshooting. It has fixing for tripod which allows to fix it on many interesting tripod heads and to twist it on different micro rails, without touching them.
It is great for macroshooting – it is convenient, because it gives a big distance to object, allowing to photograph different timid insects and it is more convenient to work in studio without standing a back in light. In the same time the lens is more for outdoor operation where there is a place to be torn and in big studio, because of the considerable focal distance many objects of the average size should be removed in order the object was entirely in a frame.
Still, Canon EF 180/3.5L Macro USM is more sharp, than Canon EF 100/2.8L IS USM.
Minuses: Low speed and “durance” under macroshooting.
Canon EF-S 60/2.8 Macro USM
Simple glass. Lens of the lower price range. Generally it would be remarkable in a type of the sharpness, but it will approach only on cameras with a krop-factor 1.6.
Canon EF 50/2.5 Macro
Simple glass. Lens of the lower price range. Rather sharp macrolens and cheap (approximately 300 usd ).
So this “old man” isn’t so bad.
It also has Life-size Converter from Canon which allows to receive macro 1:1 (without converter only 1:2).
Canon EF MP-E65/2.8 1-5X
1 UD element — a lens of the average price range. In this case it costs actually a lot, but I speak about production cost, but not about the marketing prices. It is clear that being the one super-macro it can cost a lot at the market. However its prime cost is small.
Who wants to buy it, you must think, how you would use it in future. It is professional lens, so there are any “somehow” . There must be a special tripod , rails, special flashout etc. This lens is only the detail of good macro set and without additional adaptations you won’t have any advantages before other lenses. It is fitted more for shooting of fixed micro objects in studio, than for outdoor shootings.
Canon EF 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS USM
1 fluorite element and 1 UD element — superexpensive lens in respect to the prime cost. What a pity that I sold it. It was magnificent from the point of view of color transmission and very high sharpness for the zoom construction.
Plus to everything it has the metal casing. Generally, you won”t regret. I sold it, because these focal 100-400 were unclaimed.
By the way, it has very good stabilizator of the image and though it is old, I consider it better, than the up-to-date hybrid stabilizator on Canon 100/2.8L Macro IS USM. The casing is metal, in difference from Canon 100/2.8L Macro IS USM though they are also not especially comparable directly, because the first is one telephoto lens, and the other – macrolens.
Canon EF 17-40/4L USM
3 nonspherical elements and 1 UD element.
Used nonspherical elements: 1 cast glass and 2 hybrid (plastic+glass)
Lens of the upper price range.
As the user I want to mark its excellent optical quality which doesn’t concede to his elder brother Canon EF 16-35/2.8L II. Fundamental difference only in speed, but also in the price is a big difference. If you use it for a landscape, the illumination isn’t so critical.
I bought it in Ireland and faced that the weather is more often cloudy, but not sunny. It turned out so, that I was without tripod and there was not enough of illumination. Therefore I decided to use 16-35.
Both mentioned lenses had an ancestor Canon EF 17-35/2.8. I do not recommend it, because it is not so sharp.
Canon EF 24-70/2.8L USM
2 nonspherical elements and 1 UD element.
Used nonspherical elements: 1 polished glass and 1 cast glass
If to speak about the first version of a lens — a good lens for responsible money. The second version is already excellent lens for very big money.
The lens is universal though it is convenient more for newshounds, than for genre or portrait shooting in my opinion.
Nevertheless in life of the photographer there are different types of shootings, so I would prefer to have it. One time I tried to buy it in Singapore, but I didn’t buy. And now specifics of object shooting dictate me other set of lenses.
My test of this lens (and at the same time second version 24-70): Canon EF 24-70 USM ver.1 vs Canon EF of 24-70 II USM
Canon EF 24-70/2.8L II USM
18 elements in 13 groups. 3 nonspherical a elments, two UD elements with the super-low dispersion and one super-UD element. It is rather expensive lens. I.e. construction assumes many elements with the super-low dispersion, but I tried to reduce the price a little of it and mounted UD instead more expensive fluorite.
Canon EF 28-135/3.5-5.6 IS USM
As the user I can tell that it strongly concedes to L-lenses on transmission of color hues. Perhaps because of an enlightenment. For the rest it is very convenient with the range of focal distances.
My feelings when I used it, were positive, but I decided not to use it after the bad photographing in Thailand where I didn’t see from it any frame with soft green halftones. It is good that I had 100-400/4.5-5.6L more for emergency. There were some quite good photos from it.
Canon EF 800/5.6L IS USM
What can I say… There are two huge fluorite lenses and 2 UD elements. It is super-expensive lens in respect of prime cost.
If not fluorite, there wold be so many lenses that very few people could lift it.
So Canon had to spent and grow up couple of large crystals here.
In total all Canon telephoto lenses are masterpieces. These are highly specialized lenses and therefore people worked hard.
Canon EF 500/4L IS II USM
Again two big fluorite lenses. It is super-expensive in respect of prime cost.
Quality must be magnificent.
Canon EF 400/5.6L USM
Here we can see that fluorite was already replaced with UD elements and there is no other devices. Plus the lens lost its illumination . It is a lens of middle class in respect of prime cost.
Canon EF 400/2.8L IS II USM
Here is an elder brother of the previous lens. In case of focal 400mm it has tremendous speed in F2.8!!!
It has two large fluorite lenses, so it is one of the most expensive lenses in respect of prime cost.
Canon EF 300/4L IS USM
And here again a simple telephoto lens. There are 2 UD elements instead of fluorite. It is rather average in respect of prime cost lens. Maybe slightly above an average.
Canon EF 300/2.8L IS II USM
Elder brother of the previous lens. Here are two big fluorite lenses.
Canon EF 200/2L IS USM
Expensive lens — 1 fluorite lens and 2 UD elements.
Construction of L series lenses
The image stabilizator (the equivalent of 5 steps of exposure) with recognition of installation on a tripod
Fluorite and ultralow-dispersing elements
The ultrasonic motor with possibility of manual focusing at any time
The plug-in filter with circle polarization 52 mm of PL-C 52
Extender of EF 1.4x III
Extender of EF 2x III
Canon EF 200/2.8 II USM
UD elements, lens of average prime cost in respect of materials.
- Two ultralow-dispersing elements
- Fast silent autofocusing by means of the ultrasonic motor
- Round aperture for receiving a magnificent dim background (side)
- Information about distance for system of flashout of E-TTL II
Canon EF 135/2.8 Soft-focus
Inexpensive lens for special purpose. Gives soft portrait blur at the expense of microscopic microlenses on a surface of one of big lenses.
It is used one nonspherical element.
Canon EF 135/2L USM
2 UD elements, lens of average prime cost in respect of materials.
Canon EF 100/2 USM
Lens of the lower price range.
Canon EF 85/1.8 USM
Lens of low prime cost.
Quite soap at the edges and working diaphragms from F2.8.
Canon EF 85/1.2L USM
The lens is equipped with a huge nonspherical element and can no be cheap. This version of a lens was issued in 1989 and still remains actual. Recently it was issued the second version which has more high resolution, but all the same to reach an ideal on completely open diaphragm of F1.2 is impossible. And it isn’t necessary, because the lens has beautiful from the side and is suitable for art pictures, whether it be in studio or on the street.
The lens has very strong construct and is very weighty (1.025kg). I was a pleasure to make pictures on it, but art pictures on an open diaphragm is not mine and I sold it. If you need such lens – ask me, I will try to help to find option “as new”, from Japan. The main difference from the second version is slower autofocus. But it is practically quite enough for any kind of shootings.
Canon EF 85/1.2L II USM
Inexpensive in respect of prime cost, it has only 1 nonspherical element. It is from polished glass that is very good.
Canon EF 85/1.2L II USM — a working diaphragm from F2. In the first version were quite high HA on open values of a diaphragm for L-class lens, but in the second, it was corrected even for F1.2.
On the one hand the lens of the second version is good, but on my opinion it is strongly overestimated both in focal, and in optical quality. The illumination of F1.2 is required for less people in my opinion because of very small GRIP and low sharpness on this value.
Canon EF 50/1.8 II
It has any features
Simply optical glass. Cheap lens.
Quite good in respect of sharpness from cheap one, Planar optic 50mm, as well as at the majority.
The working diaphragm from F2.8, is too fuzzy at the edges.
Canon EF 50/1.4 USM
Just optical glass. Cheap lens.
Nevertheless the sharpness is much more uniform across the field of a frame, than at 50/1.8 II.
Working diaphragm from F2.8
Canon EF 50/1.2L USM
One nonspherical element molded from glass. A lens of average prime cost in respect of materials.
It is optically better, than 50/1.8 II and 50/1.4, but it is clear from its high price.
Actually to sharpness F2.8 on center of its frame it will almost be made even with 50/1.8 II (it is blurred at the edges).
And you won’t distinguish it from 50/1.4 on F2.8 by sharpness on all field of a frame.
From pluses — gives a beautiful disk of unsharpness in the form of a cat’s eye. From minuses — cuts this disk on top on F1.2
Canon EF 40 f/2.8 stm
6 elements in 4 groups, 1 nonspherical element (cast glass). The 7th lobe rounded diaphragm.
My comment on this subject:
I don’t see especially how I can be happy in this situation… but as usual the new device is popular. And stimulated, as a rule, by firm of the seller.
Here I do not want to assume about the review of TDP, but note that there where they delivered in a row for comparing new 40/2.8 with the old 35/2.0 to whom only god knows how many years, and there is no Canon EF 50/1.4, for example.
Randomness? They have approximately a parity on sharpness. It doesn’t “tear” anybody on sharpness. They added one nonspherical element to compensate getting out HA because of the increased point of view. And it remained Planar.
It on EF bayonet, so it will work at all cameras with an EF bayonet. On full frame it has 40mm, and on spray 64mm.
In general here its plus — on full frame it is almost a wide-angle, and on spray it can serve as the lens “for every day”. Earlier I had especially nothing to advise. I offered 50/1.4 taking into account changeover of the camera by FF in the future (but after all it has 85mm, that is a lot of for standard). And now there is a decision.
It is absolutely incorrect to do standart camera from 35/2. On focal it will approach (56mm), and on the optical circuit and estimated operation – I think no.
P.s. Generally a policy of Canon in the release schedule of lenses is quite original. For example, there wasn’t a qualitative convenient macro for a long time- a 100 mm lens, though it was strongly demanded. Also it appeared only in the 2009th, and it was only L-option before.
God knows for what time there was no tripod. Only EF-S 60/2.8, but it doesn’t meant to doom itself then to burst of this lens upon transition to a full frame.
In the 2012th there was a tripod. Iy won’t replace the full frame cameras 35/1.4, as well as 50/1.4. And 50/1.2 generally it is much better.
They speak about video filming in advertizing but as far as I know, operators who are shooting films on Canon photocameras prefer the long course of a ring of manual lenses focusing. Such as Zeiss, for example.
Canon EF 35/2
features of the lens — any
The lens of old design is from normal optical glass.
Canon EF 35/1.4L USM
Wide angle retrofocal lens with one nonspherical element. It does not have any special types of glass, though in general wide angle lenses with a large number of lenses are expensive during the manufacture (compare to old analog 35/2 )
Canon EF 28/2.8
Simple wide angle lens with one nonspherical element. Inexpensive in the production schedule.
Quite good budgetary wide-angle lens in a type of the more uniform sharpness across the field of a frame, than 28/1.8.
Canon EF 28/1.8 USM
One nonspherical element.
High-aperture, but but too fuzzy at the edges to F2.8.
Canon EF 24/2.8
Simple optical glass
Canon EF 24/1.4L II USM
2 nonspherical elements, 2 UD elements (low-dispersing) — not expensive in respect to used materials. The develper obviously tried to correct all possible HA.
On use: Rather slow autofocus for a wide angle lens. On 1.4 it makes fuzzy. In the same time there is no autofocal alternative for this very convenient focal distance and it already works with F2.8 . It is beautiful from the side.
The relative hole is 1.4 in Canon EF 24/1.4L II USM is allegedly made for photographing in dark location (the critical case when I don’t want to use a flashout or it is impossible).
Canon EF 20/2.8 USM
Simple optical glass.
Canon EF 14/2.8L II USM
2 nonspherical elements, 2 UD elements (low-dispersing) — expensive in respect to used materials. The developer obviously tried to correct all possible problems.
It is convenient for photographing of landscapes and architecture.
Canon EF 8-15/4L USM FISHEYE
1 nonspherical and 1 UD element. The lens of the average price range.
Nevertheless very convenient and universal. In case of a bad distortion has quit good HA. Comparing with Samyang 8mm it has more benefits. The truth also is much more expensive. There is no need to compare withSoviet fisheye, it is much better.
It is convenient for landscape photographing, architecture and other photos.
Canon EF 24-105/4L IS USM
3 nonspherical and 1 UD element. Expensive in respect of prime cost. In respect of quality of the picture it is very good for a zoom lens, especially on “the long end”, i.e. on 105mm. The fix lenses concedes, catches flares in case of sharp light, as well as all “super – zooms”, because of abundance of lenses, but at the same its price is more than justified. The single minus — low illumination. Why people sell it?
Canon EF 28-300/3.5-5.6L IS USM
3 nonspherical and 3 UD elements. Expensive in respect of the used materials.
Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM
5 (!!!) low-dispersing elements and 1 fluorite. High-class lens.
It is enough to tell that it has the same sharp on 100mm as a fix – focal Canon EF 100/2.8L IS USM on a diaphragm of F2.8 and even more sharp, than Canon EF 200/2.8L II USM on 200mm and F2.8 diaphragm.
One at it a shortcoming – high price. Review and f/2.8L IS II USM Canon EF 70-200mm test
Its previous versions:
Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS USM
“Younger” brother of the previous lens. But it has an older design.
4 UD elements. Quite good and quite expensive lens, but, of course, it can not be compared to later version.
Canon EF 70-200/2.8L USM
“Younger” brother of the previous lens. But it has an older design.
4 UD elements. Quite good and quite expensive lens, but, of course, it can not be compared to later version. It differs from the previous with the absence of stabilizator. But not only this, also with the form of the diaphragm with the rounded lobes and lock of the autofocus which iare absent on the lens (see icons).
Canon EF 70-200/4L IS USM
1 fluorite and 2 UD elements. Quite good and quite expensive lens. It is almost identical on the open diaphragm Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM , but because of the low illumination it is more suitable for the clear weather, for example, in African safari, than for the street photo report or sporting shooting.
Canon EF 70-200/4L USM
1 fluorite and 2 UD elements. Quite good and quite expensive lens.
Differs from previous with the absence of the stabilizator. Also it is “fuzzy” at the edges of a frame, but it is unchecked information (nevertheless it differs from the previous version).
Canon EF 70-300/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM
Lens with Diffractive Optics system. Own development of Canon and, probably, it is a cheap substitute of UD and fluorite elements. But, unfortunately, on my observations this technology concedes to fluorite and UD elements.
Except a DO element in a lens there are also 1 nonspherical element.
Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6L IS USM
2 UD elements. Average price in contrast to used lens materials.
From all 70-300 line it is the most remarkable lens. The same or more sharp, as well as my favorite of Canon EF 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM
Younger brother of the previous lens. Here Canon cleaned one UD element and together with it the lens lost a letter “L” in the name. I.e. now it does not refer to the professional line of the Canon lenses.
Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 III USM
In this lens there are no special types of glass or lenses. It is the 3rd refresh and the developer tries to squeeze out a maximum of standard design, continuing to make its “shape” in parallel with release of high models.
Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 III – Modification of the previous lens, but without ultrasonic motor. The best ratio price/quality.
Canon EF TS-E 17/4L
4 UD elements and 1 nonspherical. Difficult in production and expensive materials. But it has special purpose lens (tilt/shift) so you shouldn’t expect transcendental heights in case of normal application. If you are going to buy such lens consider that it is often important for tilt/shift to have a big light-sensitive sensor. Less sensor is acceptable too. Impressions of tilt/shift of the lens Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L
Canon EF TS-E 24/3.5L II
3 UD elements and 1 nonspherical. Difficult in production and the expensive lens materials. But a lens of a special purpose (tilt/shift) so you shouldn’t expect transcendental heights in case of normal application. If you are going to buy such lens consider that it is important for tilt/shift weather your camera has light-sensitive sensor or not.
Canon EF TS-E 45/2.8
The lens is made from normal optical glass. An inexpensive lens in a tilt/shift line.
If you are going to buy such lens consider that it is important for tilt/shift how big is light-sensitive sensor. The less sensor – less the acceptable slope angles.
Canon EF TS-E 90/2.8
The lens is made from normal optical glass. An inexpensive lens in tilt/shift line. If you are going to buy such lens consider that it is important that for tilt/shift you need a big light-sensitive sensor. The less sensor is, the less are the acceptable lens slope angles. Tilt/Shift lenses, and also a review and impressions of the lens Canon TS-E 90/2.8 use.
How L-lenses Canon differ from normal EF
On Canon seminars, people were discussing such differences:
— The existence of two or more (UD) of elements
— The existence of a fluorite element
— The existence of polished glass nonspherical elements
And… yes, the letter “L” means “lux” (luxury).
Except design data, L-lenses often differ by optically in the better way.