For the Love of Lenses.
The list of reasons I love photography and cameras is long, but lenses ranks high on it. Although there are many great cameras out there, I’ve been shooting Canon for most of my career (and then some) so this post will be focused on modern Canon DSLR camera mounts.
The best part about a camera with interchangeable lenses: it allows you to truly customize the camera to suit yours and the subject’s needs. Taking landscape photos? Go for more of a wide-angle lens. Sports or Nature? Telephoto lens. Portraits and kids? Prime lens or zoom lens. Part of the fun is playing with as many as you can get your hands on!
Let’s Talk Lenses.
Rent before you buy.
These chunks of glass don’t come cheap, though. Fortunately, there are some great places to rent lenses to play with before you buy. Also, if you’re not sure how much you’ll use the lens, but you can find a great deal, buy it used! Buying a lens used is sometimes more cost effective than even renting.
Before buying I almost always rent or try out a lens first. Not all lenses are created equal, and not all lenses work well with your style or for your purposes. I’ve often gone to try out a lens and, instead of using it for what the lens was made for, found success using it creatively.
Where to rent lenses?
Here’s a list of places I have rented from and had great experiences with:
- Southeastern Camera in Raleigh, NC – rental website
- Lens Pro To Go
- Borrow Lenses
- Canon Professional Services – Evaluation Loans
Before we go further, we do need to go over which type of lens will fit on your camera. If you already feel confident about knowing what fits what then scroll down a bit to see my favorite lenses and the images I’ve taken with them!
Lens & Camera Compatibility
First things first: When you buy a camera lens, you need to be sure it will fit on your camera. Not all lenses have the same mounts. If you’re buying locally in a retail store then checking to make sure a lens fits is as easy as trying it on. But if you’re buying online, check, recheck, then confirm the compatibility!
The top 3 places that I buy camera lenses (and other gear) are:
*This website may contain affiliate links for your convenience. I only recommend products I love & use myself.
Full frame vs. Crop Sensor
You first want to make sure the lens is going to fit your mount. My camera is a Canon 5D Mark IV, so the lens mount is a full frame Canon, also known as an EF mount.
Now, to get even more confusing, an EF lens is universal… meaning it will fit on both the APS-C and Full Frame cameras. An EF-S lens only fits on the APS-C (crop sensor) camera.
We’re moving on to more fun topics now so hopefully I haven’t lost you yet! My favorite lenses.
My Absolute Favorite Lenses.
Remember, EF Lenses can be used with any Canon DSLR camera, but if you use an EF lens on an APC-S (crop sensor) camera, the focal range will change.
Canon Wide Angle (16-35mm)
My daily go-to lens is the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens. As my workhorse lens, I have probably used it more than any other and am most comfortable with. Since it is a wide-angle zoom lens for a full frame camera, it is ideal for landscape and real estate photography. You can also use it for architecture and interior photography (but most people prefer a tilt shift lens or 24mm for those shots).
My love for the Canon 16-35mm runs deep, and if you’ve read some of my other blog posts you’ll be very aware of the relationship I have with this particular solid piece of glass.
Sigma 35mm Prime Lens
This is a lens I absolutely love. Between the range of aperture, being able to shoot more open, and its sharpness, the 35mm is wide enough to be comfortable but still gives me some unique shots than what I would be able to take with a zoom lens.
Canon 24-70mm Zoom Lens
This lens is newer to my lineup but has quickly become a valuable player. I bought the first version used from Southeastern Camera because I wasn’t sure how much use it would realistically get. What a happy surprise to find out that it’s incredibly versatile lens that I use all the time. At some point I’ll have to upgrade it to the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens. That is, unless I find another great versatile lens to add to my collection…
Canon 70-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens
I think the images speak for themselves with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens lens. It’s a magnificent lens. And it’s unfortunate I don’t get to use this type of lens often at all. Whenever I need its awesomeness, I rent. The f/4 version is easier on the wallet, but its depth is not nearly as exciting.
Lest we forget, the EF-S Lenses are compatible only with Canon APS-C DSLR cameras.
Tamron 10-24mm Wide Angle Lens
I haven’t used crop sensor lenses in a while, and when I do use my APS-C camera it is with the EF lenses. However, who can forget their first love? And my first lens love was for the Tamron 10-24mm lens. The images that this lens can take are phenomenal… but, what’s that they say about pictures being worth more than words? See for yourself!
Canon 50mm Lens (aka “Nifty Fifty”)
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is actually an EF lens, but I use it more on my APS-C crop sensor cameras than I ever have on a full frame camera. At $125 it’s a great price and definitely worth purchasing to play and learn on for anyone new to prime lenses. It’s a sturdy lens capable of taking some really fun images. I’ve gone through at least 3 of them! They are so small that I have misplace a couple. Which is another great feature of this lens. You can add to your bag with the Nifty Fifty without adding extra pounds.
For a slightly larger aperture, you can go with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM which costs around $350.
Expensive lenses do not = Love.
Best example of this is a fish eye lens… (Cost is around $1400) and every time I use one I try to make it a regular wide angle instead. It’s just not a good fit for me. Here’s a couple examples of me working with the Canon 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye:
You can see where I much prefer my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Canon in the third photo vs. the first two. It’s way more my style and the kind of images I enjoy creating. Of course, I’ve seen amazing images taken with a fish eye lens and I do enjoy seeing what others have created with that ultra wide angle.