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Canon's Luxury Line of Lenses - L Series

It's been a while since I've blogged about gear and it seems like I've had a half dozen or so conversations with friends over the past several weeks that have had me thinking alot about lenses, specifically Canon L Series lenses.

Lenses are easily one of the biggest expenses that both amateur and pro photographers have to make and one of the dSLR camera components that seem to offer the most options. Canon alone currently offers 61 lenses in their lineup for Canon camera body owners and several other companies, like Tamron and Sigma, make Canon-compatible lenses as well. With so many to choose from, making a lens selection can be an involved process.

A typical lens selection process looks like this:

  1. In selecting a lens, the first consideration is typically focal length i.e. 24mm, 50mm, 100mm, etc.
  2. Then there is the option of whether to buy a prime (fixed focal length) or a zoom lens.
  3. For prime lenses, additional features are offered on some that extend the usability of the lens like macro, tilt-shift, and fisheye lenses.
  4. A brand of lens must also be selected. Currently, there are at least 12 brands of lenses that are compatible with Canon camera bodies including Canon's own line.
Step 4 is where we pick up in this article.

I'm not going to use this article to argue Canon's lens superiority over other brands. Certainly, there are fair arguments for either position. I choose to shoot with Canon camera bodies and so these are the decisions that I have to make regarding my own equipment.

In the Canon line of lenses, there is a subset that are referred to by a red stripe or ring on the outside of the lense and are further identified by the letter "L". These are the L Series line otherwise known as the Luxury Line. Canon's L series lenses are far superior to Canon's standard line of lenses.

What makes these L series lenses unique? Here's just a few that catch my attention:

Canon L Series LensesStandard Canon LensesBenefit To The Photographer
The use of either fluorite or ultra low dispersion glassConventional optical glass Results in extremely clear and detailed images
Aspherical lensesCombination of spherical lens elements Results in extremely sharp images
Super spectra coating Eliminates ghosting and lens flare and adds optimal color balance
Extreme toughness and durabilityDust and moisture-proof construction provide reliability in inclement weather conditions
Telephoto and super telephoto lenses can be identified by their white barrels Black barrelsThe white colored barrels resist the heat of the sun normally attracted to black barrels

Some of my gear has taken quite a beating. After having been exposed to sea water and been dropped onto concrete, the L series lenses that I've owned have always surprised me with their durability, quality, and reliability.

Additionally, most L series lenses come equipped with In-Lens Image Stabilization and In-Lens Drive Systems providing both sharper images and quicker auto focus.

Here's a link to Canon's site where they go into far more detail describing their L Series line:

A few months back I shared a video in a blog article where a Canon rep discusses lenses and new Canon bodies. The rep briefly discusses the value of the L series line. It's short and worth a watch.
Check it out here!

I always recommend to folks looking to buy gear that they rent it first to see if they're even going to like it. I hear from a lot of people about gear purchased that just sits on their bookshelf at home because it's too heavy for their preference or doesn't meet some critical need of theirs. Personally, I only own one lens and I rent other lenses as needed and fairly frequently from a company called They run a really efficient photography gear rental business by mail via their website making it super easy and cost-efficient to try out your gear before you buy it. It's this method that as allowed me the opportunity of shooting with many different L series lenses for specific shoots requiring different focal lengths or creative options.

Rent Pro Photo Gear

If you're in a position to make an investment in one, I always recommend B&H; Photo for buying new and or Adorama for buying/selling used.

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