Canon L series lenses are Canon’s professional grade lenses, and whilst they are expensive (and you are going to have to dig deep) they are worth every penny. Canon L series lenses are made from the best quality materials and use the best optics which means they are lenses that are not only tough and durable but also have awesome image quality. If you shoot a Canon camera the L series lenses are the best that money can buy, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with any one of them.
As previously mentioned, Canon L series lenses are expensive so before getting out the credit card and adding one to your shopping basket you need to make sure you are getting the best L series lens for the job. If there’s one piece of advice I can give it is to think about the subjects you are snapping, think about the type of photos you want to take and then select the lens accordingly. Simply buying an L series lens because it gets rave reviews is dangerous as it may not be the best lens for what you want it to do.
Buying the ‘wrong’ L series lens is a costly mistake, and whilst there is a market for second hand and used lenses you will always make a loss and never get your money back. Trust me, I have been caught out with this in the past – so please learn from my mistake.
So what is the best L series lens? What is the first L series lens you should buy? The answer to this will depend on what you want the lens for and your budget.
A wide angle lens is essential for landscape photography, and all ‘scape’ (i.e. seascape and cityscape) photography, and the must have L series lens for this type of photography is the Canon 16mm – 35mm f4L IS lens.
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 16mm - 35mm/ 25.6mm - 42mm/ Aperture:- 4 - 22/ Min focus:- 11"/ Dimensions:- 3.25" x 4.44"/ Weight:- 21.7oz/ Image stabilization:- Yes/ Price (approx.) $USD/£GBP:-$1,000.00/£820.00
You may think this a strange choice, especially when the flagship model is the Canon 16mm – 35mm f2.8L but this lens, the f2.8L’s smaller brother, is the model to go for.
Compared to the f2.8L version this lens is smaller, lighter, more discreet, cheaper and has better image quality to boot. I do have to say the difference in image quality is negligible and you’ll only notice it if you go pixel peeping on the computer (which in the real world no one does) but the f4 version still has the best image quality out of the two.
Being smaller and lighter the f4L is more comfortable to carry around, which I think is quite important for landscape photography where weight (or lack of it) is crucial.
The build quality of the f4L lens is superb, but this is the same with all L series lenses. The lens feels strong, robust and it is also weather sealed to protect it from Mother Nature and also keep out the dust. This lens is one tough cookie and will provide years of trouble free service.
Unlike the f2.8L model the f4L has image stabilization, and whilst this is not really needed for landscape photography as the camera spends most of the time secured to a tripod, it is a nice feature and allows for more uses and more possibilities.
The Canon f4L IS lens is an awesome L series lens, and if you want an L series lens for all the ‘scapes’ this is the one to go for, and I guarantee if you get one you will love it.
The Canon 16mm – 35mm f4L IS lens is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
Many photographers like to use a prime lens for portrait photography however I have to say my workhorse for portrait photography is the Canon 24mm – 70mm f2.8L zoom lens.
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 24mm - 70mm/ 38.4mm - 112mm / Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 15"/ Dimensions: 3.48" x 4.45"/ Weight:- 28.4oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $1,750.00/£1,000.00
Covering the 24mm – 70mm focal range this lens has got all the popular portrait focal lengths covered, and replaces 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm prime lenses. The 70mm long end my be shorter than the popular 85mm focal length, but I find 70mm plenty long enough when the need arises.
This lens has a maximum widest aperture of f2.8, which is narrower than prime lenses, but I find f2.8 the ideal aperture and seldom shoot wider than this when I am using a lens that allows me to. The wider you shoot the more accurate you have to be with the focusing, and when taking photos of models who are constantly changing positions and poses it is all too easy for the focal point to ‘slip’ a little. Shooting slightly narrower means I don’t have to be so accurate and can concentrate on the composition and getting the mood I am after.
Zoom lenses are versatile and means I can quickly change focal length without having to change the lens. Changing lenses halfway through a set of photos is disruptive, breaks the flow and also leads to bored (and irate) models. Use this lens and such issues will not arise.
The image quality of this lens is superb, but then this is to be expected – it is an L series lens after all. The build quality of this lens is typical of all L series lenses, which means it can also be used for outdoor portrait shoots as well as indoor shoots.
If you want the best L series lens for portrait shoots the Canon 24mm – 70mm f2.8L lens is it, and I guarantee that you would not be disappointed with this.
The Canon 24mm – 70mm f2.8L is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
If you are in to your macro photography there are two L series lenses to choose from and these consist of the Canon 180mm L f3.5macro lens and the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens. The Canon 180mm macro lens is big, heavy and very expensive, and whilst it is the ‘flagship’ macro lens it is not the best buy, and the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS lens is the L series lens of choice for macro photography.
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 100mm/ 160mm/ Aperture:- 2.8 - 32/ Min focus:- 11.8"/Dimensions:- 3.1" x 4.7"/ Weight:- 22.1 oz/ Image stabilization:- Yes/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $800.00/£685.00
Like all L series lenses this lens is made using top quality materials and the best optics currently available. The build quality of this lens is superb, and as it is weather sealed it can easily cope with me scrabbling around in the dirt trying to find insects, mini beasts and other critters to take photos of. The auto focus on this lens is fast (and I mean fast) and silent, which once again makes it a great lens for insect photography.
Unlike any other Canon macro lens this lens has image stabilization, and it was this IS technology that was the reason I bought this lens. When taking macro photos of insects, dragonflies, butterflies and other critters a tripod is slow and cumbersome, gets in the way and leads to missed shots. The four stop image stabilization means I can dispense with the tripod and capture sharp handled shots.
If you want an L series macro lenses there is only one choice, and this is it. Once you have used this lens you will soon see what a cracking lens it is.
The Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
A must have macro photography accessory
guide number (iso 100) – 24m/ zoom head – no/ ttl auto exposure – yes/ hss – no/ manual – yes. 1/1 – 1/128/ flash exposure compensation – yes/ wireless flash transmitter – yes/ vertical tilt – 50 degrees up: 30 degrees down: 30 and 60 degrees left: 30 and 60 degrees right/ power – 4 x aa batteries/ minimum recycling time – 4 seconds/ weight – 998g
One of the best macro photography accessories I have ever bought has to be the Yongnuo YN24 macro flash. Ever since I got the chance to use the Canon MT24 macro light I wanted one but the eye watering price tag was way out of my budget, so I had to make do with a Yongnuo YN14 ring flash.
When Yongnuo released the YN24, which is based on the Canon MT24 but a fraction of the cost, I took a punt and bought one, and what a purchase it was. The Yongnuo YN 24 macro light is awesome. It is powerful, it has manual mode and TTL mode, it has fully adjustable flash heads (I can alter the direction of the light and also set different lighting ratios), it recycles quickly (faster than the Canon MT24) and it is well built.Check out this review of the Yongnuo YN24.
A flash is essential for macro photography and, in my opinion there is only one macro flash to buy and that is the Yongnuo YN24. The Yongnuo YN24 is available for Canon cameras from Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK).
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.
More photography related videos at "Photography Tips & Tricks TV"