What Lenses Are in Your Bag?

Self PortraitSelf Portrait Hosted on Zooomr

kenith_keniff writes:

“I was wondering what your bag of lenses contains that you mention in your profile..

I see you are a big fan of the 135mm f2 lens.. but can you tell me what other lenses you have and which ones you like to use..”

Hey Kenith,

Currently I’m using four prime (fixed focal length) Canon lenses: the 135 f/2 L Series lens, the 24 f/1.4 wide angle L series lens, the EF100 f/2.8 and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.

I’ve also got two zoooms, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L and the Canon EF 28-135mm f3.5-5.6.

I owned my zooms before I got into the primes and they never get used anymore. My 28-135 is semi damaged. And I’ll probably sell my 70-200mm when I get around to it.

My favorite lens is the one you mention, the 135mm f/2. This is simply a superb lens for photographing street photography, concerts, and anything where you would sit from 5 to 20 feet away from your subject. It does beautiful things with depth of field with trees and flowers and nature, etc. I use this lens more than any other.

My next most used lens is my 24mm wide angle. This lens is great for doing dramatic wide angle shots with architecture, landscapes, etc. At f/1.4 it is a super fast lens and so it is the one that I use the most at night when I am shooting in low light situations.

My EF100 lens is probably the best value of my lenses for what you get. It is a fantastic macro and portrait lens. My only disappointment with this lens is that the autofocus doesn’t work all that well. This would normally be a bigger problem, but most of the time when you are doing macro shots there is little movement or action and manually focusing while an annoyance is certainly doable.

My EF 50mm is a good and affordable (relatively speaking) lens. At f/1.4 it can shoot in lower lighting situations. I don’t use this lens much though because I like what I get from the 24mm better and because the autofocus in the dark is pretty horrible. It seems odd that Canon would make a lens as fast as f/1.4 with this 50mm and then have it do such a poor job with autofocus in dark lighting situations. Carrying a flashlight with you can allow you to beam a light to focus on with this lens, but this is not always practical when you are shooting events and stuff. Of course this lens is considerably cheaper at less than $300 whereas my 24mm L Series cost’s over $1,100.

Other than the above lenses there are probably only two others that I am really drooling over right now that I don’t own. Both are super expensive which is why I don’t own them just yet (well and one isn’t quite released yet). These would be the (to be released shortly) Canon 50mm f/1.2 L series. And the other would be the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L Series (super pricey at almost $4,000).

I doubt I’ll be buying the 300mm anytime soon given the steep price tag, but I might rent it and check it out soon. When I do I’ll do a write up on it. I probably will buy the 50mm f/1.2 though. I would suspect that as an L Series lens that it’s autofocus would be significantly better than my current EF50 f/1.4 and that I’d enjoy the f/1.2 a lot more than I enjoy the f/1.4 on my 24mm right now when shooting at night and in the dark.

Anyways Kenith, I hope this answers your question. I thought I’d answer in a blog post because I thought others might be interested as well. By the way for a great resource on checking out the various Digital SLR lenses out for your Canon you might want to check out this page at The Digital Picture. It talks about the various high end Canon L Series lenses and also has a section at the bottom where they review tons of other lenses.

I buy all my gear at B&H; Photo where I’ve linked the lenses. I find their customer support and prices to be very good.

I’d love to hear what Canon lenses other people are using as well and what their experience has been. I’d especially love to hear from anyone who’s tried out the new 50mm f/1.2.


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  1. Ray Booysen says:

    Hi Thomas.

    Great post on your lenses. I have a question for you though. 😉 I’m currently shopping around for a super wide angle lens and I’ve been looking at the 10-22m lens for my 350D. Do you have any suggestions for wide angles for the canon range?


  2. Ray Booysen says:

    On my lenses at the moment I use the stock 18-55mm that comes standard with the canon 350D. As in my previous comment, I’m hoping to upgrade to a super wide. I rented a sigma ultra wide (can’t remember the exact size) and I’ve never had more fun taking photos. 🙂

  3. LeggNet says:

    Thanks for the post Thomas, very interesting that you’re using mostly the primes.

    My day-to-day lens on my 30D is a 24-105 f/4L IS. I really like the range of this lens, though I’d like a bit more wide (due to the 1.6x on the 30D). The lens is a bit slow at f/4 but the IS helps compensate for that.

    I’ve also got the 70-200 f/4, but I’m thinking of selling it and going to the new IS version.

  4. Micha says:

    Thomas mentioned http://www.the-digital-picture.com
    which is a great place to read about lenses. Another place that I recommend is: Fredmiranda to read in-depth user reviews about lenses. See for example the review about the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM which is my personal favorite too.

    As for shopping: in addition to B&H; I can also recommend 42nd Street Photo, especially for online purchasing. They are quick to deliver and accept Paypal.

  5. Smiley says:

    Umm two part question:
    1) whats the minimum focus distance on that EF100?
    2) would the magnification factor (1.6) of my camera affect that minimum focus distance?

  6. I primarily use the 70-200 IS 2.8 IS with my Canon 20D. My second lens is the 17-85 IS

  7. BWJones says:

    Hey Thomas,

    I agree with your assessments on the 50mm1.4 and I do very much anticipate the coming f1.2. However, in addition to the other lenses you mention (particularly the macro 100 f2.8), I am rather fond of the robust and compact 70-300 DO IS USM when there is enough available light flux. It is a fantastically compact lens for its range and does not attract nearly as much attention as do the big white L series lenses in its range. Of course I am going to have to obtain the 70-200 f2.8 for birds and such, but the 70-300 DO has served me well.

  8. Jude says:

    I bought a Canon 350D in the summer, and it came with the standard 18-55 USM lens on it, and looking into getting more of a telephoto lens…

    Just starting to do the research now…

    I’m thinking I’ll want a zoom that reaches 200 or 300, but still gives quite a wide range… So it’s an all-in-one lens. I do quite a bit of my photography indoors, so one that works well in low-light’d be good too!

    My questions is what is the actual difference in quality between Canon lenses and others such as Sigma?

    As we all are, I’m on a budget [as a student!] but I don’t want to skimp on it and be disappointed..

    Any ideas?

  9. Anonymous says:

    By far my most used lens is the 24-70 F2.8L. Excellent, sharp lens, good range for portraiture and even walking around. The downsides are the weight and the cost.

  10. hi thomas!

    thanks so much for a great in depth view of your lenses! it’s so interesting to hear your comments and read people’s replies too.

    i’m using, with my 20d, the 17-40 f4 L lens a fair amount at the moment.. i’m saving up for the 70-200 f2.8 L IS at the moment, as i take quite a few indoor shots of speakers, from about 8m away and need to replace my sigma 70-300 f4.5-5.6 APO asap!!

    then i’d really like to get the 135mm f2 L as, like you say, it does such great things with depth of field and the sharpness is awesome!

    thanks once again for sharing your knowledge and great work for us to enjoy and find inspiration from.

    cheers 😀

  11. Peter Norby says:

    I’m currently fond of the Sigma 30/1.4 for indoor use and the 70-200/2.8L IS for outdoor use. The 50/1.4 is just a tad too long for close work w/ the 1.6x factor (it would otherwise be perfect for full frame, and the 24 or 35/1.4L more fun for wider stuff.

    From what hearsay I’ve heard about the 50/1.2L, it isn’t that fast, just as the 85/1.2L is not the speediest of Canon’s lenses to focus. All second to third hand though.


  12. Paul says:

    Just out of curiousity – do you use lens hoods? I go back and forth on it myself, especially with wide angles hoods, which seem nearly useless.