My 6 All-Time Favorite Lenses
I’m not one to play favorites very often, but there are a few lenses that I reach for far more often than most. I’ve assembled this short list of my six personal favorites, with a few notes reserved for application. I think most photographers will agree there aren’t many “magic bullet” lenses that will kill across any and every situation, so I’ll try to be as specific as I can.
As a side note, I suppose it’s just coincidence that five of the six lenses are Canon. I’m not sponsored by Canon, nor do I receive any compensation for using their lenses, or including them in this post. They simply happen to be the lenses that I’ve experimented with and found that I quite liked.
If you have some favorites of your own, by all means sound off in the comment section below.
In no particular order, my six favorite lenses are:
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM
Yes, the older version had its issues, but the new edition (released in early 2012) is great. It’s a workhorse for me, and though it was designed with the Canon full-frame bodies it’s not limited to those.
Anyone who is upgrading from version I will notice a few things, particularly less weight, sharper optics and a bit more plastic.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
This is always in my arsenal for shooting climbing, skiing or snowboarding. (That’s the 70-200mm I’m holding in the top photo.) As much as adventure photographers try to get close to the action, sometimes situations/geography forces us to keep our distance.
It costs half as much as the IS II because you’re dropping Image Stabilization and a little bit on the AF side, but you don’t need IS when shooting action stuff like skiing or snowboarding or if you’ve packed a tripod.
Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS
I use this lens for film paired with the DSLR. It’s a mid-range zoom with decent optical performance. If you’re getting into run & gun style shooting, I highly recommend this lens.
This lens is probably the most useful for its great image stabilization and, if you’re the autofocus type, really fast and accurate autofocus. Runs a little on the heavy side.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
The 50mm 1.2 is a beautiful lens for portraits and for film. It shoots great in low light and you get incredible bokeh and control over depth of field. Very fast autofocus, but you get the manual override even when in auto by simply grabbing the ring.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM
Like the 50mm 1.2, the 35mm 1.4 is also a beautiful lens with incredible bokeh. I find I end up using this a ton on lifestyle commercial shoots. It’s especially great when shooting backlit images.
The 35mm 1.4 produces tack-sharp and beautiful images. In fact, I just did a Roxy shoot and used this lens for more than half of the shoot.
Zeiss 15mm Prime
Great lens for those moments when you need something a bit wider. I don’t usually like the look a very wide lenses, but sometimes you need it and this one shoots beautiful imagery and has great rectilinear correction. It is a manual focus, so take that into consideration. It’s also big and pricey, so it might be a better rent option (around $200 for a 3-day rental, depending on where you go.)
So that’s what I roll with. I’m always excited to try out new lenses, but for the moment these are my go-to six. What are you shooting with?
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