Sharpest Canon Lenses?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by bob_prichard, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. I shoot mostly landscapes with my 1Ds2 and enlarge to 40 x 60. I am
    looking for the sharpest Canon lenses. I have seen conflicting tests
    on various lenses. Which do you recommend?
  2. Give us a break and tell us what sorts of lenses you are interested in -- wideangles? teles?
    intermediates? zooms? I routinely use lenses ranging from 12mm to 500 mm (sometimes
    to 1000 mm) for landscapes.
  3. i would recommend that you do a little bit of research and decide for yourself which lenses are the sharpest, because any advice that you get on general gear forums is usually just that...general and unqualified (mine included). and people tend to just vote for the lenses that they themselves own, e.g.,"my 85 1.8 is the sharpest lens in the canon lineup."
    a good place to start (just to get acquainted with the terms and names) would be to look at michael reichmann's lens collection. a good majority of his lenses are top shelf canon glass.
    then you might peruse the mtf charts at
    or you could look through the reviews at, the digital, or
  4. The top three lenses that I can think of would be:<p>
    200mm f/1.8 L (discontinued)<br>
    85mm f/1.2 L<br>
    135mm f/2 L<p>
    Others that would be so good you should have no occaision to complain about them:<P>
    All L series primes, with the exception of the 50mm f/1.0 (a now discontinued specialty lens), the 24mm tilt/shift (some complaints of softness and CA), and potentially the 24mm f/1.4 L. <br>
    50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro <br>
    50mm f/1.4<br>
    100mm f/2.8 Macro<p>

    Now there are lots of other lenses that are very excellent in the Canon lineup, including most all the L zooms and consumer primes. But - if you are printing to 40x60 and are shooting landscapes, then you are looking for the best of the best wide angle lenses. Canon wide angle lenses unfortunately don't really stack up to the competition.<p>

    I think you have two good options to get excellent results.<P>
    1) Buy the Canon 45mm or 90mm tilt shift lenses, and learn how to use a vertical L plate to shift-stitch a vertical composition into a horizontal composition. This will increase your resolution from 16.7mp to close to 25 mp. The shift stitch method also avoids all the paralax hassles of conventional stitching.<p>
    2) Buy third party manual focus lenses and use them on your 1Ds II with an adaptor and stop down metering. The top of the heap is the Contax/Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 distagon. Pricey and tough to find. Other good wide glass can be found in varying focal lengths from Zeiss, Leica, Olympus and Nikon.<P>

    Do a search over at Rob Galbraith's forums about wide angle lenses. There's a world of discussion over there in the archives.<P>

    Hope this helps!<P>

  5. Just received the Canon TS-E 24mmL. It's quite sharp. I'm not sure what the fuss is about. And of course when you can set it to put everything along a plane from 6 inches below the lens to infinity in focus, that beats getting sharpness from depth of field any day.

    Also I'm very happy with the 28mm f/1.8, the 45mm TS-E and the 50mm f/1.4. I'bve been shooting with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 since 1971 and have never thought it wasn't sharp enough. My Summicron M is certainly no sharper.

    For the entire wide range the EF 16-35L zoom is terrific.
  6. I presume then that you are not happy with your present setup and expect better lenses to improve things? Are you sure the 1dS2 is the best tool to produce 40x60 inch prints of landscapes that contain a lot of fine irregular detail.
  7. ...its not an "L", but my USM 50mm f/1.4 prime lens is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever
    used - including amongst my Leica and Carl Zeiss lenses!

    Regards, Nick.
  8. Easy, pick the focal lengths you want and then find the L primes or zooms that match
    them. If there are multiple choices, buy the most expensive one.
  9. "I shoot mostly landscapes with my 1Ds2 and enlarge to 40 x 60"<p><img src =>
  10. "Easy, pick the focal lengths you want and then find the L primes or zooms that match them. If there are multiple choices, buy the most expensive one." - damn I knew there was an easy answer.
  11. Sheldon Nalos,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough reply. I will follow up with your suggestions.
  12. Pretty much pick any L lens zoom or any prime lens..they are all sharp. What are you using now that does 40x60 inch prints?
  13. "Pretty much pick any L lens zoom or any prime lens..they are all sharp" - doh! - I'm learning so much tonight.
  14. A macro lens might be the "sharpest". But probably not the best for landscapes. I'd decide on a focal length first, then worry about sharpness.<p> If you're serious about "sharpness" and really printing at 40x60" then a 1DS MkII probably isn't the best camera and a 35mm sized image sensor isn't the best format..... As "implied" above, go with a large format camera. A 35mm sensor/frame isn't going to come close to the resolution of a big, honking piece of film when you enlarge that big, no matter what lens you use.
  15. You need a large format film camera. The bigger the better. You want sharp? Try 8x10.

  16. I'd use the 3 TSE lenses and flat stitching + tilt to get enough DOF. The 45 and 90 are very sharp. The 24 is good, although not in the same class. Any image stitched to increase pixel count twofold is going to beat a single frame image at the enlargment factor you are considering. Terra Galleria Photography
  17. How about a Horseman View Camera Converter and a Schneider Digitar lens?
  18. I have shot a lot of 35mm and 6x6, and now some 1.6x factor DSLR, but none can compare to the beat up used 65mm Super Angulon ($200) and 1930's something Speed Graphic ($300) that I use for 4x5. Good luck.
  19. Photographic content and personal style comes first, sharpness comes second.

    Recommend? Why don't you rent a few of the focal lenghts you want to use, and test them yourself.
  20. The Canon macro lenses are among the sharpest lenses Canon makes. They are as suited to landscape photography as they are to macro work.

    The non-macro 50mm lenses (f/1.4 and f/1.8) are very sharp.

    Some of the L series zooms are pretty close to some of the prime lenses at their optimum apertures. I especially like the 70-200mm f/2.8 L (non-IS).

    The 135mm f/2 L and the 300mm f/2.8 L have excellent reputations but I haven't used them myself.

  21. Hi Bob,

    Let me advice from what I'm realy have:

    35mm f/1.4 L
    85mm f/1.2 L
    135mm f/2L

    and if I will have only 2 lenses they will be 35+135.

    Best regrds
  22. 35 f/1.4L, 85 f/1.2L, 135 f/2L, 200 f/1.8L, 300 f/2.8L IS, 400 f/2.8L IS, 500 f/4L IS and 600 f/4L IS.

    IMO: The absolute sharpest of these are the 300 f/2.8L IS and the 200 f/1.8L.
  23. Not at all what you asked, but let's say you find the lenses you like.

    At the size you like to print, since you are shooting static (basically) images usually with a landscape, you might want to consider something like a panoramic head, like the Manfrotto 303SPH, the point of it being, for example, you can shoot 4 images (or 6, 8, 9, 45...100), 1 in each quarter, stitch them together, and a 40x60 image from a 1DsMkII, 4 of them, resolution-wise, would be absolutely beautiful.

    Or you can go crazy and do everything 2x at different exposures and end up with a huge dynamic range on top of the huge resolution...

    Sorry for the tangent, but I thought I'd mention it, just because it sounds like a wonderful idea.

  24. I used the 85 L and 135 L and 200 2.8 L and I must say they are alll very sharp. Although the 135 L seems to produce better 3-D images than either of the two and also, has a more pleasing bokeh ...very smooth and vague.
  25. I have got a Canon EOS 1000 D with EF-s 18-55 mm kit lens, EF-S 55-250 mm IS lens, EF 28-135 IS lens and EF 50 f/1.8 lens. I do not own any "L" lens. For my needs, I find the best of the lot is the EF 50 f/1.8, it takes amazing portraits and is quite a fast lens. The next better one is 28-135 mm IS. Its heavy but quite a good walk around for travel. I am planning for a Sigma APO 135-400 APO. I understand its a good one.
  26. 135 f/2 = sharp
    My copies of 85mm f1.2 and 35mm f1.4 don't compare to the 135mm f2 I have.

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