Time for a discussion about lenses. I am a Canon person so for obvious reasons we’re going to talk about them.
Now I know we’ve all heard the comment banded about that its the glass that matters when you are taking photos. It’s true mostly. Now there is obviously going to be a difference between a 6 megapixel camera and a full frame 22 megapixel camera, but all things considered the lens is going to make the biggest difference.
I for one probably have more lenses than I truly need, but I find they all have their uses.
Lets talk about prime lenses first. For those of you that took photography in high school you’re probably acquainted with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The canon version if this lens is very inexpensive in comparison. The current version II runs approximately $130 as compared to the f/1.4 which is currently listed at $389.99. There are multiple reasons for the difference in prices. One is obviously the difference in the aperture, the construction is another, and the final is the USM motor in the 1.4 version. The USM or ultrasonic motor is faster and quieter then the alternative. 50mm is considered to be the ultimate in portrait lenses. Personally I like it for the shallow depth of field as well as its low light capabilities. It is my go to lens for shooting concerts and other limited light events. The main drawback to this lens is the obvious, you have to zoom with your feet.
There are several lenses in this category. The ones I love are the 28mm, 135mm soft focus (great when you want a glow, beautiful on portraits as well as weddings)
Next in the line-up is the telephoto lens. That is anything longer (higher number) than a 50mm lens. Many people assume that any telephoto is a zoom lens. Not true. The “zoom” part is exactly what it implies. You can “zoom” in and out, saving your feet and allowing you to get closer to your subject without physically moving closer. Some of you might think “duh!” but you would be amazed by the people that do not understand the difference. My favorite telephoto zoom lenses are the 70-200mm L. f/2.8 IS II, and the 100-400mm L f/4.5-5.6 IS. These are both fairly heavy lenses, but are worth it for their clarity. For shooting in low light the f/2.8 with the image stabilizer make it a go-to lens. Though it is not cheap by any stretch it is a worth while lens to have in your arsenal. There are those that say that an image stabilizer isn’t necessary, but I would say they are wring. Unless you are very physically stable and can hold 52.6oz plus the weight of your camera for however long your event lasts, you need the IS or a monopod. I prefer the IS as there are places that don’t allow monopods, and I’m not all that stable. The 100-400 is great for nature and I love it for the zoo and general animal (and small child) photography. It gives me the ability to zoom through the fences and get close in without entering their sphere of influence.
Lastly (in what is condidered the “normal” lens categories) we have the wide-angle lenses. Anything wider than 50mm is considered a wide-angle. I have three favorites. The first is the 24-70mm f/2.8 L, the second is my 17-40mm f/4 L. On my 7D the 17-40mm isn’t all that wide, but on the full frame 5D mark II it is perfect. Again the L-series is probably the part I like best, but on the convenience part the 2.8 of the 24-70 is a must. It is my go to lens for most things at his point. My third lens is not only a wide angle, but also a fish-eye. Now I know there are people that use that lens for almost everything, I however see it as a play toy. It works really well for a different look on your wide-angle photos. On the full frames it is especially cool as it makes a complete circle. There are programs that will take the fish-eye effect out of the photos, but I find that pointless, defeating the reason for having a true fish-eye lens.
The other type of lenses that I find important are the macro lenses. I have the 100mm f/2.8 IS L. I love that lens. It works great for any number if things including, but not limited to macro photos. It is amazing the things that look like true art when photographed up-close and personal. There are other versions of macro lenses. Canon makes a 60mm, and a 180mm as well as the 100mm.