Favorite Lenses

In the topic of photography, I feel I must do the mandatory favorite lenses post.  Ok, it's not mandatory but I at least wanted to be able to know a bit more before I offered this advise and also actually own the lenses I am recommending.  I've had a few years with these lenses by now so I think it's fitting I give my two cents or three.

Please note that just because I own a lens doesn't necessarily mean I love it.  To the contrary!  I have actually sold some pretty decent ones just because they didn't measure up or I outgrew them:  the 50 mm f1.4 and 70-105 f4L.   They are both good lenses but they just didn't do it for me. 

  1. Canon 24-70 f2.8L.  This is one of the most revered lenses in the L series as it is considered to be very useful and I couldn't agree more.  Front the beginning of my photography life I dreamed of owning this lens, but with a sticker price of 2K, I saw myself probably never getting it.  It actually took me years to finally get my hands on one.  About three years ago I was due for a birthday gift and the money wasn't right so I settled for the much cheaper cousin, the 24-105.  Not exactly what you would call a "cheaper lens" either but at around $1000, I thought it would do and I would be happy with it.   I mean it's an L lens.  Big, big mistake.  In the world of zoom lenses, not all L lenses are the same.  So I ended up selling it and waited for another birthday (and several other occasions) to finally feel I could splurge on the 24-70 f2.8L. 

    USAGE:  Even thought this is a beast of a lens, it obviously can't do it all.  It's definitely an all around amazing lens that is the perfect companion for when you're not sure what you're going to encounter so you take this one.  It's a great all around lens for anything and anywhere.  The saturation is amazing and the sharpness is on point, so I find this is specially useful during portrait sessions and at 2.8, it's pretty decent indoors as well. 
  2. Canon 70-200 f4L.  Here was another major decision that I had to make.  Well, all my lens purchases have been grueling and nerve wrecking and I probably loose sleep over it for days.  I debated wether to get this one or the 70-200 F2.8 L II for a bit more.  I went for the f4.L because of how heavy the f2.8 was and the price was a definitely decisive factor.  If I could do it again, I probably would not have based my choice on the weight alone but I am perfectly happy with my choice.  I've actually read posts where professional photographers say if they could do it again, they would probably buy the f4 because of how heavy and uncomfortable the f2.8 really is. 

    USAGE:  So, over all I am happy with my f4.  Ok, let me rephrase that, I am completely thrilled at how the f4 works.  I still remember the day I finally had this in my hands.  This baby can make magic happen, I mean anything looks good with this lens.  The saturation is bright and at f4 you get plenty of sharpness as the focus point is just right.  Although mine came with an image stabilization, I don't use it! I actually thought I would but as it turns out I don't need it.  If you ever encounter moving subjects, then I recommend you turn it on as it's definitely useful in this situation.  I recently had a senior session and he was a bit uncomfortable with me, so I used the 70-200 and it allowed me to keep my distance while at the same time getting many different angles.  With this lens you don't have to move much so if you're ever at a crowded place, you can still make magic happen. 

  3. Canon 50 f1.2L.  And last but definitely not least.  What can I say, I am in LOVE with this lens and I can totally see what all the hype is about.  It's taken me quite a while to finally get my hands on this baby and I was even worried I would regret this purchase.  (Like I did buying the cheaper 50 f1.4 version a couple of years prior)  I was completely wrong.  

    USAGE:  This is one of those solid lens purchases that you just wonder how you ever did without it.  If there is one upgrade lens purchase that needs to be made, this is the one.   While it's definitely one of those must have lenses, like everything else it can't do everything. This is a prime lens with a fixed 50mm distance so to get a shot you have to literally go get the shot.  I already had previous  experience with a prime lens, so I already knew what this lens could do and what it's limitations were.  I was just worried that it would not make the cut and then I would have to sell it too.  With the first photos I knew there was something special about this lens.  With the amazing f1.2 aperture, this lens gives amazing bokeh,  while the size of it make it the perfect carry everywhere lens.  I am very happy I purchased it and highly recommend this lens to anyone wanting to buy a solid prime lens.  I can't believe it took me these many years to finally get this lens.

Bonus: Canon 85 f1.8.  Alrighty, this is where things get interesting for me.  I always believed that if a lens was cheap, or "cheaper", that it automatically made the lens inferior.  I was so wrong.  So wrong that after using this lens for over 5 years, it is still going strong.  This lens did not leave my camera body up until the 50 f1.2 L came into my life because of how light weight it is and the amazing aperture.  This lens was my very first upgrade after my camera kit lenses on my Rebel and it's been the best purchase I've ever made.  Really.  I guess this is the beauty of prime lenses and this one has given me a taste of what they can do.  The aperture of this sweet baby is amazing.  I do have to step it down at around 2.2 to get a good sharp area but even here, the bokeh is simply amazeballs.  With this lens being a prime and not zoom, I learned to go for the photo I wanted, rather than having it come to me. I have to say zoom lenses made me a bit of a lazy photographer.  It has made me work for the image and for that reason, it has made me improve my photography.  At around 400, it's a workhorse and it's my favorite lens to recommend when I get asked for a recommendation and you do't want to break the bank. 

So you see, it's not about the price of the lens but how well it fits your style and needs.  As I maybe add more lenses in the future, I might change my top three but as of now this is where it stands.  Maybe the 85 mm f1.8 will get upgraded to the 1.4, or maybe I'll get the 35mm.   For some crazy reason, I have found that the 85mm just fits my style more than any other lens.  I sure love the 24-70 for when I go somewhere and have no idea what I am going to encounter and the 70-200 takes up after that in case I need to draw something closer to me .  My handy dandy 50 mm is just my go to lens every day now.  This is great for things that are not going to move too far from me but that I can't get too far from.  It allows me the perfect play area to grow and perfect my photography.

There tends to be a natural progression of any photographer.  It is said that most photographers start with a kit lens, then buy into the zoom lenses and finally end up pursuing the prime lenses 35, 50 and 85.  I am completely guilty of that!  This is a road that each of us have to take to find our style because not everyone photographs the same things or the same way.  For a wild life photographer, the 35mm would be pretty useless when what he photographs are 20 feel away up on a tree.  Zoom lenses are where his subjects are at and therefore the 600 mm is more for him.  If you photograph children, the 24-70 would work perfectly because kids move so much around that the 35 would wear you out trying to catch up to them.  Trust me, I know!  Usually when I photograph my girls, I whip out the 70-200 and there is no place they can hide from me.  I am invincible!  I am loaded and ready and that's how I get my best photos from.  If you are photographing well behaved and posing and staying perfectly still subjects, such as portraits, then the prime lenses are definitely your thing. 

Hope this has helped.  I feel I should write a lot more on photography subjects that I do so I will try to make a habit of it more often in the next year.  There are definitely many more things I can write about.  I'm no expert, I've just been doing this for over 7 years since my Canon Rebel made it to my hands.  I have never looked back.


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