40-Acre Lake, A Tripod, Three Cameras and Three Lenses

5570_Becky At The Pier

The weather here in my part of southeast Texas has finally started to cool down.  During this past week, the mornings have been crisp, cool, and humidity-free.   Since it was my Friday off (my company gives us every other Friday off in return for working 9 days, 10 hours each day), I decided it would be the perfect time to make a morning trip out to Brazos Bend State Park for some sunrise images and some camera/lens comparisons.  I also wanted to see what kind of birdlife was still out there.  You see, it’s winter here.

Winter at Brazos Bend State Park means  there are fewer people (at least, on a week day), the water levels are much lower, and much of the water vegetation has died off.  For all of this, though, there is still the cacophony of hoots, honks, caws, and tweets filling the air from the attendant birdlife within the park.

As I drove to the park, I could see in my driver-side mirror the glorious golds, reds, blues and pinks of the sunrise.  I hoped it would still be as colorful upon my arrival, but I’d resigned myself to whatever Mother Nature provided, since I wouldn’t get to my chosen spot until a little after 7AM.  I got a front-row parking spot at 40-Acre Lake, where I traipsed down to the fishing pier and set up my tripod.  Needless to say, I was pleased to see some color and contrast still around as I started to photograph the lake scene.

With the swampy sunrise of 40-Acre Lake before me, I compared the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L USM II lens and the Canon 24-105mm f4L USM lens on both the Canon 1DX and 5D Mark III.

I’ve been wanting the 24-70mm for quite some time – particularly since I’ve read it’s a good event lens suited for low-light circumstances (weddings, parties, other groups)  I eschewed the original version in favor of the newer mk II version (but not the even-newer version with IS, because that is not fast enough for my needs).

Following are the original raw images for each lens and camera, followed by their respective 100% crops, followed by my final edited version.   Every image here had the same settings of 1/60, f5.6, and 250 ISO.

The Canon 1DX and 24-70mm lens

At 24mm:



H5T3545_40-Acre Sunrise

At 70mm:



H5T3548_40-Acre Sunrise

The Canon 1DX and 24-105mm lens

At 24mm:




At 70mm:




The Canon 5D Mk III and 24-70mm lens

At 24mm:



_U9A2189_40-Acre Lake Sunrise

At 70mm:




The Canon 5D Mk III and 24-105mm lens

At 24mm:




At 70mm:




Since I brought it along, I also ran some shots using the Canon 5D Mk II, but only with the 24-105mm lens.  By that time, the sun and its supreme colors had run their  course, so the edited images below don’t have quite the same color as the edited images above, taken just a little bit earlier (this is a good example of why photographers need to be at their sunrise locations before sunrise, since optimal sunrise lighting is so quick to run its course).

At 24mm:




At 70mm:


5560_5DMKII_Raw_24-105_70MM 100PCT


Here’s my opinion, and you can take it for what it’s worth, since  I’m not a technical expert.  What I do notice from the raw images is that every image needed a little Unsharp Mask as well as some “oomph” added to jazz up the colors and more accurately depict what my eyes actually viewed.  My eyes did indeed see brilliant, saturated colors that morning.  The camera just can’t completely pick up on what the eye sees – at least not in the somewhat low light of the morning.  And, I probably need to work with my camera’s white balance settings – I just haven’t gotten around to that  yet.  When I photographed other things throughout the morning, as the light got better and I increased the aperture from 5.6 to 7.1, the images produced needed hardly any processing at all.  I think it’s all about the light.

So, these lenses are not sub-par for L-lenses, simply because these sunrise scenes needed some processing.  Far from it.  They are awesome lenses – both of them.   I think that the 24-70 is sharper than the 24-105, and portraits look great with this lens.  The 24-105 lens is a great overall lens to use and carry around, and has a greater reach at 105mm than the 24-70mm lens (and, it is an L-lens with all of the quality that goes with the moniker).  Plus, the 24-70 lens doesn’t have IS.  That being said, I absolutely LOVE my 24-70 lens and it was worth the price of admission for me.  Personal opinion.

So what’s that third lens I mentioned in this post’s title?  The Canon 100-400mm lens.   I used it with the 1DX.

H5T3647_Great Blue



H5T3893_Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

H5T3886_Three Dudes

I don’t promise that this will be the last comparison post I ever make (in case any of you are getting bored because you aren’t Canon owners or else you just don’t give a rip), but I do promise my next post will be a scenic trip to Anticline Overlook in Utah, with no camera or lens comparisons at all.

U9A2242_Taking A Break


Filed under Photography

7 responses to “40-Acre Lake, A Tripod, Three Cameras and Three Lenses

  1. What a fun outing! Since Hurricane Sandy, I haven’t been out taking photos. It seems the clouds don’t want to move away. Anyway, love that 3rd 24mm lens–you can see to the bottom of the lake!

  2. Great review and shots Rebecca. I have the 24 to 70 and absolutely love this lens.

  3. Great comparison, Rebecca. I bought the 24-105mm for my Canon 550D this year, and love the shots I’ve been able to get with it. It’s been a huge improvement on the 18-55mm kit lens. But it’s not that good for low-light conditions or indoors or fast-moving action. I’d wanted the original 24-70mm IS lens, but – just as I had finally made my decision – it was taken off the market and the 24-70mm Mk2 came out – at waayyyy beyond my price range. I’m intrigued about the 100-400mm lens – what do you think of it?

  4. So the big question is… did you see any difference in image crispness on the Canon 1Dx vs 5D mkii. My offhand guess would be not. I’ve always been of the opinion that the lenses have greater resolving power than the media behind them, which may not be true with the newest iterations of sensors. I would be startled to learn that there is a visible difference in crispness between any lenses made by Canon or Nikon, either between the brand or between lenses within that brand unless you happen to get a defective lens. This is especially true in the mid f-stop range of f-8 to f16. I have a Canon 18-135 lens that is razor sharp at apertures of f-8 and smaller. The disappointing thing on that lens is edge sharpness wide open. One would be hard pressed to see the difference between it and my Canon 70-200L lens if all other factors are the same. The point of the question is this. All of these tools are capable of making blazingly sharp photographs if they’re used properly. The issue in image un-crispness is almost always the user, not the lens. As to Anticline overlook; can I go puuleeeeze?

    • I saw no difference in image crispness between the 1DX and the 5D MkIII, but I did see a difference between the 5D MkII and the other two, newer models. I also noticed that my 5D MkII images tended to be a little “murkier” and required a little more brightening/lightening/cleaning up during post-process. But you are absolutely correct – all of those tools can make wonderfully sharp photographs when used properly.

  5. Some great shots with the 100-400 lens.