I agree. You shouldn't get an L just to get an L. That's frankly a waste of money, and it will not improve your photography. My mantra for upgrading gear is this:
When you regularly want to do something with your photography, and find that you can't because of the limitations of your current gear, then get the equipment that will enable you to get the types of shots you're missing now. So, if you feel that you have a pressing need for a larger aperture at portrait focal lengths, either because you're shooting in lower light without flash or because you want shallower depth of field, then get a faster lens in the 85-135mm (effective) focal range. (With a crop body, the 50/1.4 or 85/1.8 is usually the best compromise in terms of image quality and price, depending on your preference in focal length.) Heck, the 85/1.8 is a much better event lens than the 85L due to its much faster autofocus. In this case, the 85L and 50L are really specialty lenses that in my opinion should only be purchased by those who truly have a NEED for f/1.2. Otherwise, you're just going to waste money.
If you find the compositions you want to have are limited by how wide you can go, then get an ultra-wide (which would NOT be an L in your case).
The point is not to blow money on lenses you don't need. If you have a need for an L, then by all means, go for it, but realize in many cases, it makes MUCH more sense to go for a non-L and save the money. It really depends on the person.
The biggest thing to realize is that better lenses won't make your photographic eye better...they can only improve the sharpness, color rendition, bokeh, etc. Lenses with better capabilities can allow you to get some shots you couldn't get without it, but it's a fine line. If you make great pictures now, then you might be able to do more with your camera with better gear, but if you make average stuff now, adding a better lens (especially if you don't have a real reason for upgrading in mind), will simply get you slightly sharper average stuff.
It sounds to me like you just want the 'L' badge on your lens, rather than you have a pressing need for the capabilities. Getting a 'pro' lens will not get you 'pro' pictures.
Thanks man! very good information in your post. I am getting better at photography slowly. I agree that a photographers technique plays the biggest role when it comes to taking good photographs. But it would be nice to have the best glass possible as well when shooting events / portraits for which you are getting paid for.
Also have you had any experience with using Sigma lenses?.. the one im talking about is 30mm 1.4. How does this lens compare to the L series 35mm 1.4 in terms of sharpness / IQ, especially since its 3rd the price of that lens.
Heard a lot of good things about this lens, apparently THE sharpest L series lens.. will definitely be on my list in the future, but that 135mm focal length will be very limited for my FIRST lens especially on a crop body (which makes this a 200mm+ length for me).
24-105 f4 IS L followed by 70-200 f4 IS L, both great lenses and both great for portraits. Probably not wide enough for your landscapes, but I'm guessing you already have a lens for those anyway.
How does this lens compare to 24-70mm 2.8?.. If I am shooting mostly with a flash at night, then I guess i don't really need 24-70 right? Especially since I have heard that this lens is extremely sharp all the way from f4, as where the 24-70 has some soft issues when shot at 2.8?