One of the big questions that potential buyers of the new Canon 50 megapixel monsters, the 5DS and 5DSR have to ask themselves is “do I have the right glass to justify this new body?”
Back in the days of 23 megapixel 5D Mark IIIs it was easy. If you had an ‘L’ lens you were good to go. Many of the non-L prime lenses were good enough too (some exceptionally good, but we’ll get onto that later). But now the new 5DS/5DSR bodies from Canon are showing the weaknesses of some of these lenses.
Initially Canon claimed that any of the L lenses *launched* (NOT manufactured!) since 2010 would have a high enough resolution to work well with the 5DS/5DSR. This would rule out some fabulous lenses such as the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (2009), the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II (2009), the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM (2008) and the EF 135mm f/2L USM (1996).
But then at the end of June Canon published a list on their website (before removing it soon after). Here is that list. I’ve added to the list the year of introduction for each lens based on the list published by eflens.com.
EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM (2010)
EF 11-24mm f/4L USM (2015)
EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM (2014)
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM (2012)
EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM (2012)
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (2010)
EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (1999)
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM (2010)
EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM (2014)
EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x (2013)
Wide angle fixed focal lenses
TS-E 17mm f/4L (2009)
TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II (2009)
EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM (2008)
EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM (2012)
EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM (2012)
EF 35mm f/2 IS USM (2012)
Standard fixed focal length lenses
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM (2012)
EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (2006)
EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (1993)
EF 50mm f/1.8 II (1990)
EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro (1987!!!)
Telephoto fixed focal length lenses
EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM (2006)
EF 85mm f/1.8 USM (1992)
TS-E 90mm f/2.8 (1991)
EF 100mm f/2 USM (1991)
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (2000)
EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (2009)
EF 135mm f/2.0L USM (1996)
EF 200mm f/2L IS USM (2008)
EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM (1996)
EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM (2010)
EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (2010)
EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM (2014)
EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM (2011)
EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM (2011)
EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (2008)
This is quite a revealing list!
First of all a few things that aren’t a surprise – no non-L zooms make the cut, not even the new EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, a lens designed primarily for the Canon 6D. And all our favourite pre-2010 lenses are in the list.
But there are some oddities.
Firstly, the plastic fantastic, the nifty-fifty EF 50mm f/1.8 II is on the list which is not in itself a huge surprise because despite its price the lens is actually really rather good. But where is the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, their new replacement for the lens? I assume it’s probably an oversight rather than an indication that the new lens is not as good as the previous one. Reviews seem to show the new STM lens is slightly better than the f/1.8 II.
Every single other 50mm lens Canon currently sell is on the list, including the ancient EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro from 1987 – this ancient lens is possibly the sharpest 50mm EF lens Canon have ever produced (which, to be fair is not actually saying a great deal) so the inclusion of the lens that my brother says sounds like “a ‘bag of angry bees’ when focusing” is no big surprise.
Next, some very notable omissions in the L zoom lineup. No EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM, which only dates back to 2005 – a lens many of us already have as it was a standard kit lens with the 5D series and the 6D series for a very long time. I don’t use mine very much as I prefer my old but faithful EF 24-70 f/2.8 USM lens – which is also absent from the list. Also absent is the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM – a very popular lens with professionals. And only two of the four 70-200 L zooms in Canon’s lineup are listed, the cheapest EF 70-200mm f/4L USM and the most expensive, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I have both of these lenses and they are both terrifically sharp. But the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM are by no means regarded as poor lenses, so their omission is baffling. Perhaps in error?
The TS-E 45mm f/2.8 is the only tilt/shift lens not included. More worrying is the absence of the MP-E 65mm f/2.8 Macro which is an extremely highly regarded lens amongst photomicrographers. And also, what about the EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM? It’s another lens rated very highly for sharpness.
And where is the EF 35mm f/1.4L USM? This is a lens that’s certainly quite a bit sharper than the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM which is on the list. We can only assume the imminent launch of the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM may have more than a little to do with this.
So don’t by any means take this list as gospel. Some of these lenses (especially the zooms) will not really take full advantage of the sensor. If you want a lens that really shows off the sensor then you may just have to start saving your pennies for a Zeiss Otus lens.
Header photo by Wei Wei on flickr