Where are the EF-S L Lenses?

One of the promises of the EF-S lens mount was that the lenses could be smaller, lighter weight, and cheaper than full frame lenses. What happened?

While there are a dozen or so EF-S lenses on the market, and they are indeed smaller and cheaper than their full frame cousins, they’re all pretty low-end lenses. All the DO and L-series lenses are full frame lenses, which means I’m carrying a lot more weight than I’d like (and I could really feel that this morning at Jamaica Bay).

I guess Canon thinks that anyone who buys a L-series lens will also buy a full-frame camera, which may be true for portrait and wedding photographers, and is absolutely true for landscape photographers; but the exact opposite is the case for wildlife and nature photographers. We actually like the 1.6x magnification factor (or, as the landscape folks insist on calling it, “field-of-view crop”). Let’s face it: even with a 300mm or longer lens, it’s damn tough filling a frame with a 10cm warbler. And while an American Bird Grasshopper may justify a full frame macro lens, the largest aphid won’t fill an APS-C size sensor, not even at 5:1, much less a full size sensor.

It’s time to get serious about APS-C sensors. Stop treating them like the poor cousins of the 35mm frame, only fit for amateurs and cost-cutting newbies. Nature photographers are the primary customer for a lot of Canon’s most expensive lenses. We demand quality, and we don’t mind paying for it, but we also spend a lot more time walking long distances with cameras around our necks and tripods over our shoulders. Can’t we please have some high quality lenses than don’t waste half their weight bouncing light onto black plastic?

3 Responses to “Where are the EF-S L Lenses?”

  1. Spencer Kormos Says:

    Sounds like you just stumbled onto a business idea! =D

  2. Dolan Halbrook Says:

    One reason why I dumped by Canon D60 several years ago and went with Pentax — they actually DO make super high quality APS-C lenses (DA Limited series).

    That said, APS-C will *always* be behind FF for the simple reasons of sensor size, and Canon is banking on that.

    Keep your eye on Micro Four Thirds: Panasonic, Olympus, and Leica are taking this area seriously and judging by the success of the Oly EP-1 it’s a hot area. In fact, it may be that the market goes smaller and larger and leaves APS-C hanging.

  3. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I spent some time looking at micro 4/3 cameras and lenses at Photoplus Expo last weekend. Definitely interesting and worth watching. However for now the format is lacking the supertelephoto and macro lenses that wildlife photographers need. If someone releases such lenses in a 4/3 format that produce results of equivalent quality to the Canon L-series, then I would consider switching.

Leave a Reply