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austinchimp

Are Canon EF lenses still a good investment?

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So I, like many, bought into the Canon EF lens system as the best bet for long term system-agnostic compatibility. In the last few years I've used Canon lenses on Sony, Panasonic and Blackmagic cameras with adaptors. Recently a put a few more grand into the Canon system but I'm starting to have second thoughts.

Auto focus is starting to be a realistic workflow enhancement these days but only with native lenses, and my primary cameras aren't Canon. I also shoot more stills these days and have to muddle through with manual focus when native lenses would save me time and stress.

so my issue is this - do I drop my Canon lenses and buy into Sony, therefore committing to a system that to b honest I'm not 100% sold on, or do I move to Canon cameras?

neither of those options seem perfect to me. The reason I've tried to use 'transferable' lenses like EF is because I've never found the one perfect camera system. I currently use Sony and Blackmagic but have my eye on a GH5. I also dislike Sony lenses for the way they manual focus and also the price.

On the other hand there is the Canon system of cameras. God I want to like them but they make it so hard. I sold my 1DC because I wanted higher frame rates, but now the 1DX Mkii has 4k60fps I find myself disliking the dynamic range and the quality of the 1080p image. It really looks like they've made no progress since the 5d mkii apart from in resolution. The 1dx mkii would fit my needs as a rugged all terrain outdoor camera, but I don't know if I could swallow the drop in image quality and cinematic quality from my current set up.

There must be others considering similar dilemas... What are you doing? Anyone else selling up their Canon lenses and buying into other systems?

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@austinchimp

Canon lenses are a class of its own, over the years we gathered about 60 major lenses, zoom and rare and expensive primes like the 300mm 2.8 (buyed a couple of years ago for about 3.500 Euro, now the lens is about 5.200 Euro) or the 600mm 2.8. Or the 200mm 1.8...In my eyes, extraordinary lenses, worth every penny.
Now (in 2017) we will leave the Canon stills ecosystem and buy a bunch of Nikon cameras. BUT we will not sell our Canon lenses or older cameras...
I love the character and precision of these lenses, we never had even one technical issue with them....

All my claims are ALL about stills, we never used them for filming on Canon stills cameras, just on my Samsung NX1 with a EF adapter...And in future probably (?) on Sony film cameras...

Merry cristmas everyone!

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Don't know how much of an issue it is right now... the other brands still need to catch up with Canon's dualpixel AF. But once they do, it is really going to benefit having native options. Especially if you'd go GH5, because they've integrated hybrid stabilization as well, Dual I.S.2. There's already a bunch of zooms, but now some more primes too.

What I didn't like myself is the electronics required to adapt/use an EF lens which would drive adapter costs. Surely to have it electronic has benefits too though and the EF mount is probably one of the easiest ones to adapt to, so there's something to say for that. Quality concerned, Canons have always been technically excellent and flattering on people. But other than that I don't find 'em to have much character or pop, but I guess I have some bias towards vintage lenses and stuff.

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You should wait and see. If you shoot more photo than video, Canon is still an excellent company with plenty of choices.

Video will get better too. How many lenses do you have and which ones? Maybe you can sell the older versions, as I see many of them replaced in the near future, if not for faster AF, for better performamce and enchacments, but surely you can keep your most used ones, and invest on a couple from the native system you are using (for crop Sony and video the 18-135/4f is an excellent lens for the price, you can get a couple zoom amd a prime for m4/3 too, it depends).

Sony is not even close, and some of their best lenses are more expensive than Canonikon ones, Canon lenses are still the market stable, so many adapters around, and they are getting cheaper and better.

I wouldn't worry If I was you, you can play the waiting game and see where the market goes in a couple of years. Too much going on right now to know for sure.

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Can't fault Canon's lenses, although Sigma EF mount lenses are often better value for money.

Fact remains you can't take mirrorless lenses to a different system, so you are stuck with them and have to sell all of them if a new camera from a different system takes your liking.

To date I have used my Canon lenses on -

Blackmagic

Panasonic

Sony

Olympus

Canon of course

Fuji (although no IS, AF or aperture control)

And with Speed Booster they're even better on crop sensors than the native glass.

I only use native glass when I need the best AF speed for stills, or the lens is pretty special in its own right.

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Pragmatic strategy: Use either Canon EF or Nikon F mount SLR glass as your universal and broad set of lenses. This should include all standard and exotic focal lengths (super-wideangle, super-tele, fisheye etc.) and special purpose lenses (toy lenses, tilt-shift, vintage/character lenses). With conventional adapters or focal reducer/Speed Booster, you'll get them to work on all mirrorless camera systems.

If you also work a lot with autofocus and other electronic lens functions, get no more than 3 bread-and-butter lenses for the mirrorless system you currently use. These should be lenses you'll use in roughly 80% of all shooting scenarios. Be prepared to sell them again when upgrading cameras (and switching systems) in the future, and be prepared to sell them at a comparatively high loss.

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52 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

Can't fault Canon's lenses, although Sigma EF mount lenses are often better value for money.

I agree.

What Sigma understands better than anyone else is that there is a real need for lenses specially designed for crop sensors, and most video cameras that use the EF mount are crop sensor or smaller.  A lens specially designed for a crop sensor has a better resolution than a full frame lens if all other factors are similar.

 

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I would hang on to the EF lenses.

Adapted AF is getting better and better.      AF with either Metabones or Kipon adapters and M4/3 is pretty close to native for stills with AFS now (and some combinations AFC may well be ok now) and some Sony cameras with some adapters is also close to native AF for some uses.

I would hope in a year or two, adapters would be as good as native in just about all ways for AF in video.      My favourite Canon lens is manual focus anyway (17 TS-E) and to my mind is better on Sony FF than on any current Canon camera (at least a lot more useable and easier to use anyway).

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Like most here I would keep my EF glass. Sony's AF is nothing that you will want to rely upon in a pro video setting, so you will be manual focusing the fly by wire Sony lenses. I personally find MF on Sony lenses to be somewhat less than ideal. So much so, that I opted buy a complete set of Sony compatible manual glass in addition to my AF lenses. The Canon lenses on the other hand are much better when used manually. So there is little need to also own a similar manual version.

As for the argument that the rest of your setup is more "cinematic", well perhaps the BM is... though I do find the BM look to be somewhat muted... which is the biggest reason I left that system. As far as the Sony, I always found them to produce very videoish results... regardless of lighting and camera movement etc... In the end what is cinematic is very subjective, so ymmv. 

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Also voting for keeping them. As much as I like native (MFT) glass because of size, focus rings are soooo much better on Canon EF because they are not fly by wire (except the STM ones which still seem to have a way better implementation of focusing than mirrorless glass). Additionally, with a speedbooster, EF glass really shines if you also need AF. I am using the Sigma 18-35 on my GX80 and was suprised about how good AF works, I excepted something much worse. Sure, not comparable to native glass, but for my purposes it is acceptable.

I only would go for native glass if: size matters and/or if it is a unique lens. For example it seems that as long as I am on MFT i am bound to the Panasonic 20mm. It is just a terrific lens and so small.

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16 minutes ago, jase said:

 I am using the Sigma 18-35 on my GX80.

That is a great lens.

Take a Speedbooster with the Sigma 18-35 and the Sigma 50-100mm and you have a wonderful combination!

It would be even better if they made a 30-60mm to complete the set.

On the wide side what do people think about the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro? 

With the Speedbooster you get an 8-11mm f/2.0 lens!

 

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Canon EFs have good, clean glass, but keep in mind that, because of their electronic iris, you might run into some situations in which using those lenses will be frustrating or nearly impossible to use.

 

If you want to do an aperture ramp during a pan, you might be operating from a camera menu and/or a touch screen.  Very annoying.

 

Also, certain adapters (namely tilt) will not allow any aperture adjustment with an EF lens.  So, unless you have handy a spare Canon body or spare powered EF adapter, you are "SOL" if you want to change the f-stop.

 

The same drawbacks apply to most other lenses with electronic irises.

 

 

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This is a great thread because I have been thinking about this myself. 

For video I think for zoom lenses (especially with IS) there is none other better than Canon. 

For IQ on digital sensors, I personally love using vintage glass. I own a set of contax Zeiss lenses that perform so well on canon, Sony, red, everything. 

So my ideal kit is: Canon: 16-35, 24-105, 70-200

with a full vintage CONTAX or Leica R prime kit. 

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The canon lenses are great for stills and video. I have the sigma 18 -35 which is sharp for shooting video and portraits but the CA when shooting a tree with leaves etc the lens is total crap, can't do it at any aperture! The cheapo Canon 17 -40 f4 L lense craps all over it! I would have sold the 18 -35 but its so versatile for shooting room scenes in lower light but as a wideangle for stills, it's unusable! Canon lenses don't do that, not even the cheaper Canons! The older AI Nikons are the same, quality lenses, almost all of them! All these 3rd party ultra sharp lenses with multiple elements have serious trade offs. The Sigmas are the worst offenders, can't recommend any except the 105mm and the 150mm which are superb and cheap. The newer Tamrons are much better, as good or better than canon. The 70 -200m is great but the focus breathing is horrendous - stick with canon 70 -200m if you need a true 200m. The older tamron 28 -75 2.8f is a winner, shoots as well as canon 24 -70 2.8L at 1/3 of the price. I have both, can't tell the difference? Canon lenses are the best imo, always deliver and meet expectations in all scenes for stills and video and retain decent resale value when you upgrade.

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1 hour ago, Henry Gentles said:

All these 3rd party ultra sharp lenses with multiple elements have serious trade offs. 

3rd party ultra-sharp lenses with multiple elements? Just at random, I checked the Zeiss Otus 50mm f/1.4 and chromatic aberrations are extremely low. Likewise with my favorite lens, the 23-element Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8, and while not a 3rd party lens, it exhibits negligible chromatic aberration. Of course, when using OEM lenses, distortion and vignetting are corrected by the camera's own firmware. What disturbs me is this pervasive misconception that the new multiple element lenses are somehow inherently worse, which is simply not the case at all. 

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1 hour ago, jonpais said:

May I ask why the Sigma is unusable for wideangle stills? I don't shoot stills, but I've read everywhere that chromatic aberrations are easily corrected in editing software.

This is common knowledge now actually. If you focus on a large tree from a distance to frame the tree, none of leaves will be in focus and at any aperture. You will think the leaves are moving but even when you increase the shutter speed same result, garbled leaves. It's chromatic aberration, a design flaw due to the 14 elements etc. There's a few videos on this on youtube but I can't find them right now. Plus the 18-35 won't focus using the outer focus points, you have to use centrepoint only. The Lens is complete junk unless  you use centrepoint focus only. The new 50-150 1.8 they just released is even worse, it just doesn't focus every 5 or 6 shots or whatever, which means unusable for a professional stills photographer. Totally unreliable auto focus. The Zeiss and the Fuji are not 3rd Party and are great lenses no doubt and cost a bomb, not sure your point?? The new chinese$2K  Nikon 85mm has a similar issue to the 18 -35 due to all the elements, stick with the old one much better Lens and half the price. 

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38 minutes ago, Henry Gentles said:

This is common knowledge now actually. If you focus on a large tree from a distance to frame the tree, none of leaves will be in focus and at any aperture. You will think the leaves are moving but even when you increase the shutter speed same result, garbled leaves. It's chromatic aberration, a design flaw due to the 14 elements etc. There's a few videos on this on youtube but I can't find them right now. Plus the 18-35 won't focus using the outer focus points, you have to use centrepoint only. The Lens is complete junk unless  you use centrepoint focus only. The new 50-150 1.8 they just released is even worse, it just doesn't focus every 5 or 6 shots or whatever, which means unusable for a professional stills photographer. Totally unreliable auto focus. The Zeiss and the Fuji are not 3rd Party and are great lenses no doubt and cost a bomb, not sure your point?? The new chinese$2K  Nikon 85mm has a similar issue to the 18 -35 due to all the elements, stick with the old one much better Lens and half the price. 

I don't think that is right! Chromatic aberration is Purple fringing, nothing to do with focus. And it is no worse than 90% of the zooms out there for it.

Now you might not get leaves in focus because of the narrow DoF, but you have to re learn how to shoot with a lens with that fast of a Aperture. Try using it with a speed booster even harder to do. That lens is one of the best lens you can buy for any money.  Center point only really. You must have the worst copy ever make, and I doubt that is true with it.

You are the only one I have heard say bad things about it. Is it perfect no, is any lens tons better no. But I don't do much photo work, and I doubt many do on here either with that lens. If that was the case not one frame in Video would be in focus. No nasty thread on here about that problem with that lens that I know of.

Now the 50-100 1.8 is not as good of a lens a the 18-35mm. No way you going to make a lens with that big of zoom work at F1.8. You stated it wrong in you reply. It is NOT 150mm.

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You always have to differ between using a lens for stills or for video. Let me give you an example:

The Samsung 16-50mm 2.0-2.8 is a phantastic native lens for NX1 to make videos. For stills and compared in real world with eg a Canon 24-70 2.8 ii (manual focusing with adapter on a NX1), the Samsung lens is more than poor....And this is noticeable, not a matter of pixel peeping details. In this special case, the optical capabilities of the native lens are far behind the optical quality of the Canon 24-70 ii in stills. In video (even with 4k) the enormous differences aren't noticeable, because of the big difference in resolution (stills resolution vs video resolution). It gets much more noticeable with NX-adapted major Canon prime lenses, where the Canon glasses wish the floor with the Samsung lenses (even with the Samsung 45mm 1.8, considered to be a very good lens). Please consider: in stills.

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