Since I just upgraded my camera to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III I figured this would be the perfect time to tell you about my gear and what lens I use for what. Remember that a lot of this is personal preference. If I use something for x, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for something else. I have a fairly large array of lenses but I did not buy them all in one go. I’ve collected most of these over a period of ten years, upgrading a few lenses along the way. I often get the question what lens to buy when you’re starting out and that is not an easy question to answer. There are so many variables to take into account that I’ll start with the questions you need to ask yourself first.
1. Budget – this is a big one as I cannot peek into your wallet but it’s a crucial question to ask yourself how much you want to spend on your lenses.
2. Use – what is your main topic? People? Food? Landscape? Birds and bees? Each topic has its own requirements in terms of gear.
3. Ease – be realistic. If you’re the kind of person that hates to carry heavy stuff around, it might not be a good idea to carry 5 different lenses or to have to change your lenses between shots. Choosing one good zoom might then be a better option then picking several primes.
4. Quality – while it is true that L-lenses or prime lenses have much better optical quality, if you’re only ever going to use your photos at a size of 620 px wide on your website it might not be the right investment to spend a fortune on heavy glass, so again be realistic to what you really need.
Now over to what I have and use most for what.
First ofcourse my camera: I own a Canon EOS 5D Mark III . It’s a full frame camera but it comes at a steep price ( body only is around 3000 dollar) Worth the money if you can afford it, but maybe not the right choice when you’re just starting out.
There is always the Nikon/Canon debate. As you figured out I am a Canon girl, but Nikon makes equally good cameras so either of the two are great brands. The only thing I will say is that I think the menu structure of a Canon camera is much more intuitive than a Nikon. More user friendly so to speak. Up to you to make the decision.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro
– I have the older version without the IS but I looooove this lens. It’s a perfect quality, sharp, easy to focus and I love the perspective. I use this lens almost exclusively for food. It’s not ideal to handheld for close up shots, although that would work for portrait shots. I have used it in the past for close up model shots too.
24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Again, I have the old version. The new one is very expensive around 2000 euro, but it’s a great lens. I have to confess that it took me a while to get used to it after having used the 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
for a long time. I use it for wider food shots as well as general scenes when away on vacation. One thing I love about this lens is the ability to focus fairly close. It’s not a macro lens but I can get close to my food when I want to.
50mm f/1.4 USM
– perfect for photography late at night without flash. It’s small and unobtrusive. I literally carry it (and my camera) in my handbag when we go out. Still a fairly heavy combination in a handbag but hey, better than to be without a camera or better than having to carry a camera bag around all the time. I use it in restaurants and general scenes. Very sharp! I also own the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
which is also a great buy and because it is so cheap it is the perfect lens to start with. Plastic fantastic. The 1.4 is a lot more sturdy and is a bit better in focusing in low light situations but if you cannot afford the extra bucks, go for the 1.8
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
– heavy but beautiful lens. I used it all the time when shooting weddings and portraits in the studio. I use it less now but it is still one of my favorite lenses. Very sharp, even at 2.8. and ideal if you want to shoot people without getting in too close.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
– This is the sister to the 50mm 1.8 and while more expensive than that one it is also a lot more sturdy and I looooove this lens. I use it a lot when traveling. The depth of field and bokeh is beautiful here. The only down side is that the minimum focusing distance is 85 cm so that is quite far away. If it would be closer I think this lens would never leave my camera. It’s very sharp too…
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash
– this one will probably be upgraded at some point to the new flash that came out with the mark III, but for now it is a great flash with a big range. While I don’t use a lot of flash it is sometimes an under appreciated accessory. When used badly it creates horrible results but when used in the right way it is a very handy tool to have. When there is no light, you sometimes just have to use flash or take no pictures. While my new camera goes up to a whopping 102.400 iso, you seriously don’t want to go there. It’s gonna be interesting to find out how my new baby compares a high iso settings but we were talking about flash!
I would say, never use your build in flash if you have it and can avoid it. It’s just awful most of the time. A separate dedicated flash is the way to go and if you do buy one get one with a head that can swivel.
I have a few other lenses such as the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
and the 100-400mm and a Lensbaby The Muse
that I don’t use that often and are probably not your lens of choice if you’re just starting out. One more mention though for my trust 24-105mm f4.0. I have used this lens for a long time and love it. It’s a great allrounder at an affordable price (still about a 1000 euro) with great quality! I still use it from time to time!
So that’s about it. Lengthy post but let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to answer them!
The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links which means that if you click a link and buy something on amazon I might get a few cent from that purchase..