In the past week I have had a rather large handful of enquiries from photographers asking what lenses I am using to achieve the photographs I am getting. This has been something I have been meaning to share for a while but now seems like the perfect time to share what camera lenses I use and perhaps more importantly, why I use it in the hopes that it helps someone else with their photography.
Firstly, I am a big believer in being a minimalist and this is a big part of my brand. So much so that I only use one camera body and don’t even have a strap on my camera. There was a time when I felt I had to have a lens just because other photographers did, even if it wasn’t right for me but I now know that prime lenses in particular give the look I want that I just don’t get from working with zooms. It is a mix of sharpness and the fact that I have to move my feet and get involved and seek different angles rather than just zoom in and out over and over again. So what is actually in my bag? These 5 bad boys.
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L
This lens was an accidental purchase and if you attend my workshop you’ll probably hear the story of how I came to own it. It is the only zoom lens I have in my bag and I really only have it on hand for situations when the 35mm is not wide enough and I can pull back to 24mm. That said, I have used this lens only once this year for a particularly small reception room but in the future I can see myself purchasing the 24mm 1.4 which will make this obsolete.
Canon 35mm f/1.4L
I purchased this lens just last September to give me a bit of a shake up. The 35mm is something I am using more and more in conjunction with my 50mm to bring a more candid and editorial feel to portraits in a horizontal format. It is a great lens for me to set a scene of during the getting ready stages, ceremony or reception and is beautifully sharp.
Canon 50mm f/1.2L
This is my absolute favourite lens. I could not shoot the way I do without this lens and to be honest, I have to push myself to take this lens off my camera sometimes. There is just something about it that clicks with the way I shoot and it allows me to get the creamiest skin tones and colours. I generally use it between an apeture of 1.2 and 2.8 and it is the lens I use for all of my detail shots and the majority of portraits.
Canon 85mm f/1.8
He looks like the odd man out being the only one that isn’t an L series lens but I kind of love it. I am using this lens more and more as I push myself but it was one of my first purchases I have had it for 4 years. Between the 85mm and the 50mm I have my perfect duo for portraits and in fact only take the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses with me on location for engagements. The 85mm is my longest lens (not counting the macro lens) and I use it for most of a ceremony as it allows me to get shot that are tight and close up but I still remain out of the way. I love this for portraits to get a different feel of the same pose or to give my subjects space if I feel they need it.
Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS
Until early this year I was shooting with the non-IS 100mm 2.8 macro and was dying to move on to a Macro with image stabilizer. I really only use this lens for the rings, jewellery, some stationery or engravings but I was spending so much time on trying to get that one shot by holding my breath and sweating bullets that it was worth the investment to upgrade. I am loving the crispness it gives when shooting diamonds and jewels and I usually shoot the rings around f/5.6 if I can.
At the end of the day I encourage any photographer to test different lenses out and try what works for them before investing if possible. You may find that you too prefer a particular look that a specific lens can give you and don’t need to over complicate things. Experiment and try out different lengths and apertures and you will find your own happy place.