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Lenses I have known and loved

I’ve used a number of Canon lenses since I switched in 2003 from medium format film to digital photography. I don’t always carry the full complement (too darn heavy) and some of them I’ve sold, but when I go out I always have two fixed focal-length lenses or one zoom. My wedding/event kit consists of the 16-35, 24-105, and 70-200. My low light kit has the 28, 50 and 90 in it. My concert/theater bag adds the 70-200 to the low light kit. For architectural assignments I take the 16-35, 24-105 and 100-400. For nature photography, I add the 90mm macro to the architectural group.  Here is everything from wide to long - first the zooms, then the fixed lenses.

The lens that I couldn’t do without. I use it for weddings, portraits, events, and traveling. The Image Stabilization and f4 aperture make this a versatile lens. The only time I don’t take it along is for low light work. I’d have two if they weren’t so darned expensive.

Low light events such as plays, concerts and dance events need a long, bright lens and this fits the bill. It’s not long enough for wildlife or inaccessible architectural details, (the 100-400 is great for that) but as my second most used lens, it’s earned its place in my kit.

Light, small and possessing a good range from wide to short telephoto, this fast-focusing, sharp lens rides along in my backpack (if I only carry one camera and lens) & is used by my assistants (but I’d rather have a second 24-105 f4 IS).

It’s not too sharp wide open (I usually shoot at f2), but it makes subject/background separation an easy task! I took 320 photos with it (out of 2798) on my recent trip to the UK. You can get the 50mm f1.8 for one third the price of this one, but it doesn’t have the ultrasonic focusing or a metal lens mount (the mount of the f1.8 is plastic, like the inexpensive kit lenses.

Yes! It’s bright, sharp, fast focusing and light weight. Perfect for tight corners or open spaces, it really shines when light is dim.

If you want to pursue wild life, this is a robustly-built and fast zooming lens. I use it a lot outdoors, to give me tight depth of field and to get me close to the action, and indoors, in large buildings to bring small details into high resolution.

Originally part of my low light trio (with the 28 f1.8 and 50 f1.4) I’ve replaced it with the much closer focusing (and sharper) 90mm f2 Olympus Macro, an older, manual focusing lens designed for the Olympus OM system. Another good choice is the Canon 85mm f1.8.

Super is the best way to describe this wide angle zoom. I use it a lot for architectural work, and scenes that require extreme foreground to background sharpness. It does require careful focusing and shooting at f5.6 or smaller for best results. I keep it on hand for travel, nature, documentary and wedding work.

This was my first general purpose lens for my Canon cameras. It’s sharp and responsive with a great range on a full frame camera, but like the 24-85mm, the build quality isn’t up to professional standards. I wore my first one out and am on my second

Zoom Lenses

Fixed focal length Lenses

From wide open to f22, this is a great lens and indispensable for nature photography. I could have bought a Canon macro lens, but since I already had three of these, I could’t see the point. The focusing, though manual, is smooth and easy, and the images contrasty and sharp. These are flat field lenses, ideal for copy work.

Designed for the 1970’s Olympus OM 35mm camera system, this manual focus, manual aperture lens has a well deserved reputation for sharpness and contrast. When quality counts more than versatility & speed, this is one of the lenses I employ.

I bought this to replace my 100mm f2 Canon lens (the Canon didn’t focus close enough for my taste and the auto focus wasn’t particularly accurate wide open at f2. This is my low-light, head and shoulders portrait lens, and it’s a beauty!

90mm f2 OM Zuiko Macro

21mm f3.5 OM Zuiko

50mm f3.5 OM Zuiko macro

Specialty lenses (AKA Alternative glass)

The tilt/shift lenses have been around a while, but this super wide version from Canon, is a new beast. It’s a great interior lens and good for exterior shots when you can’t back up from the subject very far. When 17mm is too wide (104 degree diagonal view) it can be used with a crop sensor camera (such as the Canon 7D), it offers roughly the same angle of view as a 28mm (75 degrees, diagonal)

17mm f4 T/S

More old lenses put to new use. Fixed focal length lenses are much smaller than zooms covering the same angle of view, and generally offer one, two or even three f-stops more light. Many of the older primes  are also sharper than the more modern zooms!

24mm f2.8 OM Zuiko

28mm f2 OM Zuiko

35mm f2.8 OM Zuiko

This lens I’ve had for a while - it’s a bellows lens, requiring a separate focusing adapter (either a bellows or the OM auto extension tube). I was impressed with it back when I was shooting slides, and I’m still wowed by the quality of the images it produces!

135mm f4.,5 OM Zuiko Macro