Why isn't IS built into all new L lenses?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jim_dockery_photos, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. I can't see much of a downside to IS, even on a wider lens (above 300mm I suppose a tripod is needed so you might not need it). Someone want to explain why Canon doesn't build it into almost all new L series lenses (28-70 a good example)?
  2. It not only costs Canon more to make it, but a lot of consumers can't afford it, me being one of them. I have a 17-40mm f/4L and 70-200mm f/4L, neither of which have IS. If they weren't offered without IS, I would have to settle for the consumer grade lenses like the 17-85mm IS, or 70-300mm IS. These do have IS, but I could never use the 70-300mm b/c the AF isn't nearly fast enough. In the end its all about making money and if they don't offer non-IS lenses, then they don't make as much money. Its all about choices. And to be honest, some people don't need IS. Sports shooters don't need it, given a lot of them have it b/c its a nice luxury, but it does absolutely nothing to freeze action, and if the shutter is fast enough to freeze fast action, then the IS is ineffective.
  3. Can't explain why Canon doesn't have IS on all their L lenses, but a few reasons why I see IS is not always necessary:
    • Battery drain
    • Repair Cost
    • Purchase price (thankfully when I wanted a 70-200 for sports photography the f2.8 version with non-IS was available. I did not want, nor could afford the IS version and did not want the extra weight either. If I were to purchase today it would be the f4 IS version).
    • If doing something like landscape photography what good is IS if using a tripod and long shutter speeds? There are occasions when I hike and don't want to carry a tripod. That is one reason I bought the 100/L IS macro lens. But IS by no means makes is a replacement for a tripod.
  4. One could argue that the cost to benefit diminishes quite rapidly at wide focal lengths. At the same time, the challenge likely increases dramatically, since a 3 stop IS improvement on a handheld 24mm shot approaches 1/2 second. Who knows how long the period is between the tremors in the various parts of a human body. Is a 1/2 second more challenging than 1/100 sec? In any case, all of that is rather moot, since I have two wide zooms with IS, the 24-105L and 17-55 EF-S.
  5. Many people pointed out the cost issue, but one of the reasons I asked is that it seemed to me that the cost to Canon can't be that high since they build it into many of the lower cost EF-S lenses. The newer 'Hybrid' optical image stabilization system designed to compensate for two distinct types of camera shake (on the new 100mm macro) might be more, but then they just built it into the new S95 P&S. I do a lot of hiking/climbing/skiing and appreciate IS for many handheld shots (I also carry a tripod for series landscape shooting, but don't want to bother when grabbing a low light evening shot skiing down at sunset).
  6. My guess is that the IS in an L lens is of a sturdier variant than that in a EF-s consumer lens.
    L lenses are supposed to survive a drop from the Eiffel Tower (Empire State Building for Americans?)...
    (O.K. maybe not that but they're supposed to be tough.)
  7. I think the cost is one reason. Another reason would be the history of development, or more accurately the advancement of technology. I don't think (maybe I'm ignorant) that the IS technology was available 15 years ago. It's a rather new technology. As with any new technology, it will be implemented for the higher end products first, then trickled down to lower end products over time.
    One might ask "why don't they implement all of the lenses now?" I think it doesn't make practical or business sense to upgrade all the lenses together. Why do they have to upgrade the entire lens collection when they can spread it out over the years? It makes the changes in the production line more affordable, and the company's image less stagnant (comparing to the case when they upgrade everything 1 year and no new products the next 10 years).
    So the next question is "which lens to implement first?" I think that's the question that their marketing department will have to decide. Or maybe other decision making body in their company will be in charge of this (maybe some consulting branch?)
  8. Jim,
    There is a difference between the cost to Canon and the cost to the consumer.
    [[but then they just built it into the new S95 P&S.]]
    Near as I can tell you could fit 2 or 3 completely lens assemblies from the S95 inside the 100mm f/2.8 IS L. You don't think that is an important difference? :)
    If, as a consumer, you want every lens to have IS, buy a Pentax, Sony, or Olympus camera. :)
  9. Hooray for Pentax and those that have built-in body stabilization that works for every lens. That's forward-thinking. Although it doesn't necessarily translate into cheaper lenses (priced any Pentax lenses lately?).
  10. I for one want IS on all my primes. I tried the Pentax system for a while and it did not work for me. Sold everything again.
    I think, for the price of the current EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM they should have included IS. But since Canon puts it into their cheapest consumer lenses, I would appreciate it if they would update their primes and give us a selection of fast, stabilized prime lenses. Or at least a third-party manufacturer (Tokina, Sigma or whoever) should seize the opportunity.
  11. Another issue is the room required for the IS element. Maybe the fast wide lens designs are already crammed with glass so that there is simply no room to add the IS element. The consumer grade EF-S lenses with IS are much slower and require less glass due to the smaller image circle. Therefore, this difference could explain why you find IS in the EF-S consumer lenses and it is lacking in the wide L lenses.
  12. IS adds considerable cost, and makes lens heavier and larger
    IS does noting to help with subject movement. Only shutter speed can help that. (faster lenses)
    Personally I only see IS useful in telephoto lenses
  13. Apparently it isn't physically possible with all lenses. I was surprised when Nikon brought out a revised design of the 85/1.4 they do, and it did not have VR - I was told, by Nikon folk on here, that it is a physical limitation to do with the size of the rear element and there not being enough room to move/compensate vibrations.
    If you want "IS" in everything, best option is in body stabalization. Today, that means Sony or Pentax really. Sony has quite a good line up of lenses these days too, and is building steadily all the time.
    I know many Sony folk who use the Rokkor 58/1.2 converted to a-mount, that's 1.2 & SSS :).
  14. Someone want to explain why Canon doesn't build it into almost all new L series lenses (28-70 a good example)?​
    Not sure if 28-70 is a typo; the 28-70 f/2.8 L is hardly a new lens, it was introduced November 1993. Its replacement, the 24-70 f/2.8 L, was introduced November 2002 - newer, but hardly new.
    I flipped through the Canon Museum looking for non-IS L lenses introduced since 2000... there really are not very many:
    14mm f/2.8 L - 09/2007
    24mm f/1.4 L - 12/2008
    50mm f/1.2 L - 01/2007
    85mm f/1.2 L - 03/2006
    16-35mm f/2.8 L - 04/2007
    17-40mm f/4 L - 05/2003
    24-70mm f/2.8 L - 11/2002
    TS-E 17mm f/4 L - 06/2009
    TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L - 06/2009
    (The new L fisheye zoom is not yet listed in the museum.)
    So why don't they have IS? Ultrawides don't benefit much from it. Very fast glass could benefit; it might be difficult to insert the optics into such lenses, I don't know. I suspect it would be hard/impossible to put IS in the TS-E lenses, and they're normally used with a tripod anyway.
    That leaves the 24-70/2.8. Everyone wants IS in that one. Canon is presumably aware of this and probably working on it.
    For reference, the Canon Museum lens lists are at http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/camera/lens/index.html
  15. stp


    I use a tripod 99.9% of the time. I don't need IS, and if I don't need it, I'd rather not pay for it. My last three lens purchases have been non-IS lenses (but for full disclosure, these lenses don't even come in an IS variety: Zeiss 21mm, Zeiss 50mm makro, and Canon 24mm T/S II).
  16. Now if they put it in the camera they would save a lot of money for us, then the lens would not have be IS equiped
  17. Thanks for the museum tour Alan, I thought some of those were newer lenses. It does look like they are working on IS for many new lenses. In body would be nice, but I guess Canon is commited to the lens route (more $ for them?).
  18. I know some people who don't want IS. If you want IS, Canon makes it for you, shouldn't complain at all
  19. I will keep hoping that IS (and VR) do not make it into every lens for all the sane reasons already given above.
  20. Sony and Pentax seem to be able to put useful IS in to the body fairly cheaply. Pentax KR and KX are cheaper than Canon's rebels without the IS.
    Canon could put IS in the body and keep it in their high end lenses to give users the best of both worlds. That they don't I suspect is more to do, with the big premium they can charge to enthusiasts for their mid tier lenses like the 70-200 f4L IS.
    After all if the put IS in the body for $50 like Pentax and Sony seem to do, who would pay $500 extra for the IS version of the 70-200 f4 L.
    The pros will presumably always be prepared to pay for the more expensive and probably superior lens based IS.
  21. Cost, Weight, and the law of diminishing returns.
    A 16mm lens really doesn't need IS.
  22. I think the main reason Canon decided against putting IS into their bodies was to please film(135) users and those who use film and digital bodies like me. Having IS on the lens allowing me to benefit from IS no matter what kind of body you use. Remember IS was first used by Canon around 1995, long before DSLR's. It also allows Canon to optimize the IS feature for each individual lens.
  23. Why do you need it for anything? Use the 1/ASA rule of thumb for minimum shutter speed and you never have to worry about it. If you are shooting above 300mm use a tripod or a monopod. If the ASA you are using is not sufficient, raise it or open up. Jeez Louise people, for crying out loud, stop relying on machines to do all the work and thinking for you. Take control of the photographic process yourself.
  24. Relax there Mr. Murphy ... While I do agree that we've made it this far without IS (and oviously don't need it), the OP does raise a valid point. I, for one, would love if IS was in my camera body and my 50 f/1.4 was stabilized. Nine times out of ten it wouldn't matter, but it would be nice.
    That said, I agree that it's probably a cost issue. Not necessarily the cost of building the lens persay, but the cost of producing two versions of every lens. Unless Canon went with IS on everything, in which case all their lenses would cost more than Nikon's, and THEN cost would be a big deal. The only way Canon could make out well with an all-IS lineup would be if Nikon did the same thing with VR. Otherwise, the brand that doesn't do that is going to win all the low-end business of people that only look at price, AND the high-end business of studio, landscape, and sports photographers that don't generally want to pay for IS they won't use.
    Canon and Nikon are more-or-less stuck on this issue. By not adopting in-camera stablization right away like Pentax and Minolta (now Sony), they put themselves into a situation where changing their entire lineup would be extremely costly, and/or would encourage users to seek out older versions of their lenses on the used market rather than buy new gear. If Canon put IS into the new Rebel, who in their right mind would buy the more expensive 70-200 IS over the non-stabilized one? For that matter, who would buy a new 18-55 IS when the ones you can get for $50 used are IS now too? And if you were looking to get into a new camera system and didn't need IS, why would you pick the brand with all IS lenses that cost more? This is a similar (but much smaller) problem to what Olympus is facing; since they totally redesigned their system to accomodate a smaller sensor and built-in stabilization, Olympus can't court the full-frame market without making their customers buy all new lenses.
    The only way Canon or Nikon could go for total stabilization right now (assuming the market doesn't change drastically) is to either rush it out before the other brand does, and hope the market backlash doesn't bankrupt them, or to try to reposition themselves as a higher-end brand, and hope to steal the business from Leica. Of course, that's a very small amount of business compared to what they do now.
    Considering the fact that Canon and Nikon are both aggressively fighting for the 'parent' market right now, I doubt we'll see either brand do anything to raise the overall cost of their lines anytime soon. If anyone could benefit it would be Nikon though, as the concept of 50 years of now-VR lenses is probably much more attractive.
    But that's just my two cents. I could be way off.
    • Cost
    • Weight
    • Not necessary for the "tripod only" folks
    • The IS design might restrict the maximum aperture of fast prime lenses
  25. I am all in favour of IS, the more lenses with it, the better. If I don't need it for a particular situation, how hard is it to turn it off? I prefer to have the option available, and then decide when to use it. For example, a few years ago, I think that the majority of people were of the opinion that IS on a macro lens was not necessary; well guess what, it may be not necessary, but it is damn nice to have! IS in the new 100mm macro lens makes the lens a lot more fun and versatile to use. I can now do nature macro shots in the woods without a tripod; IS combined with excellent higher ISO image quality equals the necessary shutter speed to get the shot handheld.
    Canon and Nikon track each other, so I have no doubts that when one of them brings a new professional lens with IS (say the 24-70), the other will follow suit. It's that simple.
    As for IS on the lens versus IS on the camera, why not the option of having both? Again, the more options the merrier I will be. So far, I prefer to have the IS on the lens; the IS required for a 600mm is different from the one required for, say, a 24-105 zoom lens. So, IS in the lens is fit-for-purpose, instead of the IS in the camera, which is a kind of one solution fits all (not necessarily the optimal one). IS technology has evolved a lot, and today you can use IS even with the lens on a tripod, and it helps. I do not agree that superteles do not need IS because they will be used on a tripod; even with tripod use, the IS technology will recognize that the lens is on a tripod and adjust accordingly.
  26. Not necessary for the "tripod only" folks.​
    Conversely, mebbe tripods won't be so necessary for the IS folks. ;)
  27. Conversely, mebbe tripods won't be so necessary for the IS folks. ;)
    So, you can take a 8 second exposure with a IS, w/o any blurring... ;)
    I think mostly it's a weight, dimensions and IQ. Althought 70-200 f4 IS is an exception to that.
  28. I suspect the main reason for not putting IS on everything is simple historical inertia.
    As they work their way through upgrades of various lenses, the hot sellers will always be the first in line for reworking. Much as I would love to see a USM 50mm f/1.8 IS, I will not even begin to hold my breath for that one. I suspect the same inertia factor of not redoing something that has been in line-up for a long time applies to the L glass as much as the regular EF lenses. I don't expect an IS version of the 50mm f/1.2 either.
    Given the versions of IS available on inexpensive kit lenses these days from both Nikon and Canon, I think that cost of the IS is unlikely to be the main reason. They may not be making a lot of money on these kit lenses, but I doubt that they are really "loss-leaders" for them. I expect on some of the truly new lenses (of which there are not a lot), they just don't see much virtue in the IS for certain focal lengths, etc.
  29. I like the IS lens for any hand held shot, no problem turning it off for tripod shots. I think the reason it is not in all the L lens is so Cannon can charge extra for it. Cost of construction has little to do with price of lens. Example Sigma 50mm to 200mm for $159 dollars Sigma 50mm to 500mm $1000 without or $1600 with stabilization fpr canon or nikon. The area IS helps a lot is macro and long hand held telephoto shots, so I pay extra for it and gripe.
  30. "Someone want to explain why Canon doesn't build it into almost all new L series lenses (28-70 a good example)?" The 28-70L is an older discontinued lens. The 24-70L, 17-40L and 400L are older lenses, possibly due for an upgrade which might, at least in the case of the 24-70L and 400L include IS, but who knows if that will ever come about?
    Of the top of my head, it seems like most new L zooms and some revamped prime lenses are now issued with Image Stabilization - even the new 100mm f/2.8L IS has that capability.
  31. Would in-camera IS bring us cheaper lenses? Probably not. I have just checked the price of lenses comparable to the EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS from different manufacturers. Both the Nikon and the Sony versions of this lens were more expensive. And this although the Sony version does not have in-lens IS.
  32. The large cost of making IS lenses isn't actually the IS unit itself. The 'cost' is the cost of research and development and production. This is why lens prices do not always go up every year, or go up less than the cost of inflation. This is also why new gaming systems come out for $500 and work their way down to $200 over several years. When first introduced, an IS version of, say, the 50 1.2 would cost significantly more than the non-IS, as Canon needs to recoup all the money they spend on R&D to make it. Five years after it's been released, the cost of the two lenses will probably be much closer.
    The exception of course are certain 'flagship' lenses like the 70-200 2.8, for which Canon can charge whatever they want because people gotta' have it. You know damn well than an about-to-be-discontinued 1Ds costs them a lot less to make than when it was first released, but they still get $8,000 for it because that very small portion of their business will still pay that. The cost of a Rebel goes down as it gets older (remember that after a year or so they've paid off the R&D bills) because customers in that price range are more likely to shop around, and don't generally have a 'It costs what it costs," mentality.
  33. I would love IS in my 50L. I'm not the steadiest and I usually have to have the 50 at 1/100th to stop camera blur. Having IS would mean I could shoot at 1/30th. That would be useful.
  34. "That leaves the 24-70/2.8. Everyone wants IS in that one. Canon is presumably aware of this and probably working on it."
    I can't imagine the 24-70mm being heavier than it is right now ?
  35. I had the 70-200 F4 and the IS version. I didn't notice any extra weight. IS adds a gram or so at most.
  36. Chris, the IS version is 55g heavier, which admittedly isn't much. (See link).
  37. If canon made a good full frame 24-70 f2.8 IS L i would sell my 17-55 f2.8 IS and cropped body tomorrow
  38. Thanks for the link Mark, bookmarked! I actually couldn't tell the difference so 55 gms surprises me! Still, that's not a lot in pints...!
  39. Sports shooters don't use or need IS, so why should they buy a lens with an expensive feature that isn't going to be used?

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