A "what lens" thread with a twist:

While buying the Canon D5III, I can get any Canon L lens 3000 NOK cheaper (roughly $490 or €400)!

I already have these lenses that I will use with the new camera: 16-35mm f/2.8L (not II), 50mm f/1.4, and 70-200mm f/4L. What Canon L lenses would you suggest? Obviously I have some gaps in the ranges below 70mm, but I'm not too concerned about filling these, and I do like primes. I'm thinking about maybe a macro lens could be fun, too.

I do all sorts of outdoors photography (nature and city, with and without people in it), and usually take all my equipment with me in a semi-big Lowerpro backpack when I'm on a trip. I don't mind big lenses, but as the backpack is getting fuller, compactness certainly is a plus.

There is not really a set budget for this, but I'll have to keep it within reasonable limits, i.e. no 400mm f/2.8L IS USM...

The offer only applies to L lenses, and generally I don't consider the red ring a must-have on my glass. So, I'm mostly looking for lenses where the L version gives a big advantage over non-L counterparts.

Photo gear is generally a bit more expensive in Norway. I did a comparison between the Norwegian store in question and B&H for a randomly chosen L lens: The difference is about 23%. So you may think of the offer as 3715 NOK off ≈ $600 or €500, if my logic holds.

  • Well this might get closed as off topic. It is kind of just a "discussion" question, and since any answer will likely be as valid as the next, it doesn't really fit the Q&A style format of stack exchange. I could tell you to buy any one of the current 20 L lenses and it would be a valid response. How about a 135mm f/2 L? It really isn't in the same league as your 70-200mm f/4.
    – dpollitt
    Jul 16, 2012 at 19:53
  • @dpollitt I don't think my question is more general that other [equipment-recommendation]s; As my offer is for L-lenses only, I'm especially interested in L-lenses that are much better than the non-L alternatives. I explicitly added this to the edit, but maybe I should emphasis this further.
    – daniero
    Jul 16, 2012 at 20:29
  • @mattdm - I think the recent edit really changed this question entirely. The part about "L series big advantages" wasn't even in the original question, it was added later. With all of the existing answers and comments, would it make more sense to close this and just start a new question? I think this might be full of too much other content at this point.
    – dpollitt
    Jul 17, 2012 at 14:47
  • @dpollitt — I just put the key part of the edit in the title, in line with the comment above ("maybe I should emphasize this further"). I agree it's a change from the original question, but the original question was, as you noted, either very wide open or too localized to this very particular situation.
    – mattdm
    Jul 17, 2012 at 15:36
  • If buying the 5DIII (ie a full frame camera), consider the 85mm f/1.2 L. It's big, fast, and produces lovely photos. Expensive though...
    – Mike
    Jul 18, 2012 at 13:46

5 Answers 5


If you can get 400 Euro off the price of an L lens, I would be mighty tempted to get the 70-200 f2.8L lens, and sell the f4L you have. You can get at least 400 Euro for your f4L, so that's a 800 Euro off the f2.8 IS!

Otherwise, the excellent 24-105 f4L is my second choice and the perfect 'walk around' lens for your new full frame body.

Congratulations on the purchase, and enjoy!

  • That is a very interesting idea too! I really didn't think of that. I like the thought of getting better glass but not much more to carry :)
    – daniero
    Jul 16, 2012 at 20:31
  • 2
    +1 because you shouldn't buy totally different glass just because you have a discount. If you use your 70-200mm f/4 and like it, then upgrading makes sense. If you find yourself thinking "Wow, I lack <awesome lens> for <some unusual shot>", then you've got your answer.
    – rfusca
    Jul 17, 2012 at 14:20

Only you can answer this question. What gaps do you have in your bag for the type of photography you enjoy? When you visualize a scene and go to grab the appropriate lens, what range is limiting you currently?

Do you frequently see motion blur in your subjects? Maybe that indicates that you need to chose something with a wider aperture then you have currently, such as upgrading to a f/2.8 70-200mm lens.

"Outdoor photography" encompasses nearly every lens type in the book. You could pick up a tilt shift lens, macro, or fisheye. You already have roughly 16-200mm covered, but what about 200mm +? Outdoor photography many times requires upwards of 400mm which you don't have covered at all right now.

Canon currently offers around 20 "L" series lenses. Lets review each of the criteria you set:

  • Good for outdoor photography - Basically all lenses fit this
  • An L lens - 20+ lenses
  • Offers a great advantage over non-L lenses - True of all L lenses or the market wouldn't have a need for them at the price they demand
  • Doesn't overlap with your existing kit of three lenses - So this just leaves out really the three you already have, and maybe the 50 f/1.2 and the 70-200mm f/4 IS

So after filtering out all of the criteria that you provided, I'm down to a short list of only 15 L series lenses that are currently in production. That is why we are back to the idea that only you can answer this question. What do you want to do tat you can't right now? What are your needs? Where would a piece of equipment help improve your photography?

  • Off curse you are right, that it's my decision, I kinda know that. But I'm not convinced regarding your statement that all L-lenses are superior. For instance the 100mm f/2 USM is supposed to be insanely good. Some older (are they all updated now?) L-lenses were once surpassed by newer, cheaper lenses (also the cheaper 17-40L is supposedly sharper than the first 16-35L)
    – daniero
    Jul 17, 2012 at 14:12

I don't even think that an L series lens exists in your price range, so I cannot find a lens to recommend that meets you requirements.

If I had your setup, I think that I would spend a little more on the lenses and get the 24-105mm or the old 24-70mm (not the II) lens, as these would fill the gap of very usable focal ranges that you have only covered by your 50mm. After all, you are spending around £3000 on a body, why not spend a little more on lenses. They go for about £850-1000. I personally have the 24-105 and I am extremely happy with it.

But as I understand it, your reseller will let you pick a lens for free up to the price of NOK3000? Perhaps you could convince him to just pay for what the lens costs in excess of NOK3000?

But if the price is more or less set, you might go for the 100mm non-L macro lens. It should be almost as sharp as the L counterpart, but lacks the image stabiliser. But having the L version myself, I wouldn't want to have the non-L version as I have shot many macro shots hand-held, something I would never be able to without the image stabiliser. But that could be a good bet considering the given circumstances.

  • Hi, I've edited the question to clarify: I get a NOK3000 discount on the L lens. And yes, only L lenses.
    – daniero
    Jul 16, 2012 at 19:37

If you do a lot of landscape you could go for something wider, but wide angle lenses although they yield great results are not much fun to use. Also the 14mm prime is over $2000. You could try the fisheye EF 8-15mm f/4 L. I am sure that would be fun.

However, I borrowed the 100m f 2.8 L macro for the weekend and that was fun! In fact according to this review it might very well be the "Most fun per dollar lens". Quoting: "I called the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens Canon's "Most fun per dollar lens". While that lens is less expensive, I'm thinking the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens may be the new holder of this title."

  • Thanks, that really seems like a fun lens indeed! I searched it up some more and found Ken Rockwell saying that 100mm may be too short for "serious" macro photography? What do you think? Also, the 100m f/2 non-L seems really good, but the offer only applies to the L's.
    – daniero
    Jul 16, 2012 at 19:59

I just purchased (as in 5 seconds ago) the Canon 100mm macro L lens. From what I've been reading the big advantage in getting the L version, other than the standard bump in the quality of the glass, sharpness, etc, is that it has IS if you want to use it handheld.

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