Canon 20-35L or 20-35 USM

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jorge_ituarte|3, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. I am stuck on a decision between purchasing a used Canon 20-35 f/2.8L
    or a new Canon 20-35 f/3.5-4.5 USM. I am leaning toward the "L".
    However, I have heard numerous times that the 20-35 USM is every bit
    as good stopped down and I have also seen a number of pros carrying
    the USM model. I would appreciate subjective opinions from the point
    of view of esthetics. I am an artist and am concerned as much with
    the "look" a lens renders as much as I am with lines/mm. Keep in mind
    I tend to like certain qualities of good older glass. Clarity, tonal
    separation, color rendition, "pop". I would highly appreciate advice
    from people that have hands on experience with both. I already have
    primes in this range, so please offer advice on the wide angle zooms
    in question only. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Don't ever question the quality of a L USM over an non-L USM. L equivalents
    of non-L lenses are better in terms of sharpness, color rendition and non-
    distortion, no doubt about it. I have no experience with those WA zooms but
    I'm absolutely sure the L is much better in terms of both what you call the
    "rendered look" and lines/mm (which I take as sharpness). Of course, you will
    see pros carrying non-L lenses. After all they're glass :) and a lot of them are
    just great in most situations.

    The real questions are: do you work enough in the conditions into which the
    difference becomes visible so that the price difference would be justified? Do
    the conditions allow you most of the time to stop down the lens in order to
    obtain increased performance (given that you need that performance, which
    is not always the case) ?

    We can't really help you. Tell us more about the kind of work you do in WA.
     
  3. From everything I've read, the USM lens is indeed just about as good stopped down as the L lens. The L lens I can guarantee is superb, the best zoom I've ever owned.
     
  4. I have no experience with those WA zooms but I'm absolutely sure the L is much better
    ROTFL. Perhaps somebody's been overexposed to marketing..?
     
  5. I do mostly landscape work. I photograph the FL Keys and The Everglades and live in the FL Keys. Islamorada to be exact. Mostly black and white 11 x 16.5 thereabouts. My stuff has finally started to take off this year. I am in two galleries one in the US (Atlantis Gallery) and one in Paris (Gallerie Lumar), France, thanks to family connection in Europe. Ironically my stuff took off in France first. The French love the Caribbean. I also do an enormous amount of underwater stock work but that's another story entirely.

    About two years ago I got obsessive compulsive about image quality and acquired an arsenal of primes (not a good idea when its 90 degrees at 6 am in the summer. So I bought a Tokina 24-200 (say what) and decided to have some fun for a change. Low and behold last year I did some pretty decent stuff if I say so myself. By the way the Tokina is as good as any decent 70-210 consumer zoom. Considering its focal range I think it's pretty amazing. So I want to lighten up in more ways than one but not with so much of a compromise. I think the Tokina is a little too much of a compromize for larger prints but, it taught me to be a artist again and not a camera technician. It also taught me to use a zoom properly.

    Well, I think its time to upgrade my optics to something more realistic for now. And there you go...
     
  6. I do mostly landscape work. I photograph the FL Keys and The Everglades and live in the FL Keys. Islamorada to be exact. Mostly black and white 11 x 16.5 thereabouts. My stuff has finally started to take off this year. I am in two galleries one in the US (Atlantis Gallery) and one in Paris (Gallerie Lumar), France, thanks to family connection in Europe. Ironically my stuff took off in France first. The French love the Caribbean. I also do an enormous amount of underwater stock work but that's another story entirely.

    About two years ago I got obsessive compulsive about image quality and acquired an arsenal of primes (not a good idea when its 90 degrees at 6 am in the summer. So I bought a Tokina 24-200 (say what) and decided to have some fun for a change. Low and behold last year I did some pretty decent stuff if I say so myself. By the way the Tokina is as good as any decent 70-210 consumer zoom. Considering its focal range I think it's pretty amazing. So I want to lighten up in more ways than one but not with so much of a compromise. I think the Tokina is a little too much of a compromize for larger prints but, it taught me to be a artist again and not a camera technician. It also taught me to use a zoom properly.

    Well, I think its time to upgrade my optics to something more realistic for now. And there you go...
     
  7. Making a statement that all "L" glass is better than the non-"L" equivalent is absurd. L glass is about more than sharpness, contrast and color although many if not most times it does excel in these areas. It is about being able to do things that you just can't do with the non-L glass. An example of this would be the 50 f/1.0 vs. the 50 f/1.4. I think most people will agree that the 50 f/1.4 is better on all accounts, but it can't give you that extra stop of light if you need it.

    With all of this said, I would think the 20-35 f/2.8 will give you better contrast and color than the USM version which is what I believe you are looking for. I own the USM version, and I believe it is a good lens. The 20-35 f/2.8L has a very good reputation for being sharp and having good contrast. I have not used the 20-35L, but this is what I have read. I should note that I have used the 20-35's successors.

    One other thing to think about is the 20-35L is getting older, and you might have a harder time getting one in good condition. You will also not get FTM focus, and finally the motor will be a bit noisier as well.
     
  8. Okay, I DO own and use the EF 20-35/3.5-4.5 USM zoom lens (alphabet and digital soup combined, huh?).

    If you're using the lens stopped down to medium to small apertures for landscape photography, I doubt you'll see much difference between the "L-series" and the cheaper zoom. If you shoot wide open a lot and need maximum quality, the "L-series" zoom would probably suit you better. I almost always use this lens on a tripod, stopped down to obtain depth of field and I'm very pleased with it.
     
  9. I have no experience with those WA zooms but I'm absolutely sure the L is
    much better

    >>>>>>>>ROTFL. Perhaps somebody's been overexposed to marketing..?

    Not really. Just someone extensively exposed to most of Canon's line of
    lenses who drew a personal conclusion on the validity of the L letter
    marketing scheme after countless rolls. Try by yourself.
     
  10. In my humble opinion L beats non-L and that has nothing to do with
    marketing. Marketing is effective when you end up buying a L and you're
    using it only in situations that its non-L equivalent could cover perfectly. Take
    any pair of L and non-L equivalent. Keep the same scene, swap the lens at
    the same settings. Scan at 4000. Look closer. L beats non-L any time... I bet
    my 1V :)

    Just in case I didn't make myself clear enough, saying that any member of the
    L-series is better than any non-L equivalent does not discreditate in any way
    the quality of a non-L lens.... As I said, it's all about needs. I have a few L-
    series as well as many non-L. I wouldn't replace my non-L's with L's because I
    know I don't take advantage of the extra stretch of quality L gives you, either
    because I try to shoot in the optimal conditions for the lens or because my
    client doesn't care that much. However, there will always be a difference.
     
  11. Disclaimer: I've never used either lens.
    Are distortion and flare control concerns? You can take the following with a big grain of salt, but the survey results at photozone.de suggest that the L lens beats the non-L lens quite handily in both respects.
     
  12. Most lenses perform the same when stopped down to f/8-11. There is nothing new in this. However, when you start to open the lens, this is where you see the differences.

    What about primes ? The 24/2.8 is, optically, a highly regarded lens.
     
  13. "I already have primes in this range". --> Sorry, I missed that.

    Honestly, I have hard time believing that any of these zooms will be better than your primes. I had the 17-35/2.8 USM L and was disappointed from it's wide open performance. I thus sold it and am going to buy the 35/2 and 24/2.8 primes.
     
  14. We all know that primes (for the most part) are superior optically. I appreciate all of your input. But, I would like to hear some opinions about these zooms from first hand experience. Thanks again!
     
  15. One of my favorite lenses is the 20-35USM. One of the faults of that lens is the distortion at the horizontal edges when zoomed out to 20mm. Perhaps someone could comment on the the edge distortion of the 20-35L?
     
  16. If you really want to pray at the temple of sharpness, get a Medium Format camera.

    Maybe try a more inexpensive TLR first, sell it later if you don't like it. It'd still be cheaper than the 20-35L. (Do you really need autofocus for landscapes?)

    Just my $.02
     
  17. Medium Format? I thought that this was the Canon EOS forum. Thanks anyway!
     

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