Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Lens Lineup

A QUICK briefing on my current lens lineup and bodies I take on my shoots, as well as a small explanation. I own all of the gear listed here:


canon 5d mark II frontcanon 5d mark II backI own dual 5D Mark II's: Full frame, 21 megapixel, 1080P HD video at 24FPS or 30FPS, ISO 50-26500, self-cleaning sensor, live-view, the most comprehensive professional camera on the market for weddings and landscapes.


14mm F/2.8L II:
canon 14mm F/2.8L II ultra ultra wide lensCanon's premier ultra-ultra wide. Wider than the 16-35 (by a full 6 degrees) and no distortion like the fisheye. Used for getting ALL THE WAY up to the subject. DO NOT USE THIS LENS for 'getting it all in'. Ultra-ultra wides are the hardest lenses to use correctly. Zero distortion, F/2.8, 108 degree field of view, and worth every penny of it's $2400 price tag. The shots with it are unmistakable and amazing. Good for both weddings and landscapes. I wrote more about this lens in an earlier post.

15mm F/2.8 Fisheye:
Canon 15mm F/2.8 fisheye180 degree views for a creative angle. Canon (until January 2011) didn't make a fisheye "L" lens- this is my only non "L" lens. Creates uniquely distorted images and allow the user to expand creatively. It's also my least expensive lens - you can pick up one of these bad boys for about $600.

17-40mm F/4.0L

In my experience, this is much sharper and more accurate (focusing) then the 16-35mm F/2.8L II, which is why it's also my favorite landscape lens.  Must have if you shoot landscapes

16-35mm F/2.8L II:
16-35mm F/2.8l II canon wide angle lensultra wide, a full stop faster than the 17-40 F/4L. The widest of my zoom lenses, and until January 2011, the widest of any zoom lens. This lens is awesome for landscapes and weddings, but I recommend using distortion correction software such as lightroom or DXOptics because of the distortion this lens carries. I talk a bit about radial distortion (barrel and pincushion) in this blog post, and this lens has both. If you can get past the distortion it takes great photos, an essential wide angle for any landscape and wedding photographer. The 24mm just won't cut it, and sometimes the 14mm is too wide, this is a very happy medium- perfect and little distortion when shot between 20 and 24mm, an ESSENTIAL focal range, which is the main reason I own this lens.

TS-E 24mm F/3.5L II
Tilt-shift lenses are beasts in their own right.  Excellent for what they are designed to do - correct distortion and change the plain of focus.  This wide-angle tilt shift has quickly become my new favorite for personal and creative work since adding it to my lineup in June of last year.

24mm F/1.4L II

Yes, it's true - I own five "L" lenses that cover the 24mm focal range, but it's not excessive.  Each one has it's own purpose.  This is my prime 24mm, ultra fast at 1.4, it's my wedding 'rock star'.  The TS-E is slow (F/3.5), and not as sharp as this lens even when stopped down, and my three zoom lenses that cover this focal range I use for landscapes.  This is my wide-angle wedding go-to lens

24-105 F/4L IS:
Canons "stock" L lens. A little wide angle, a little telephoto, and built in image stabilization. A nice all around lens. However, this lens went with me to ZERO weddings in 2009. None. Why? It's a LANDSCAPE lens. This lens is not a people lens. If you use this lens (or the 24-70 F/2.8L) for shooting people, don't quit your day job. A few things make this lens a remarkable landscape lens:

Range - 24-105 is such a huge range, 84 degrees at it's widest, 23 degrees at it's narrowest on a full-frame sensor.

Aperature - This has the smallest minimum aperture in it's class (f/27). All the other lenses max out at f/22. The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field. Let's be honest- f/27 = sexy.

IS (Image stabilization)- Landscapes hold still. Therefore, having a fast lens isn't a necessity or even a commodity. Having a lens that allows for the smallest possible aperture is very preferable when shooting landscapes. When using a tripod (ALWAYS the first choice) isn't an option, as is the case when I'm flying in a helicopter shooting aerial shots of Seattle or when I'm underwater taking pictures of a surfing bride, having in-lens image stabilization is SO valuable. The 3rd generation image stabilization technology in this lens helps hold the lens element still for the ability to shoot 3 stops down. Thus, I'm able to shoot at F/22 rather than F/8 (on any other lens without IS) when hand holding, a benefit that is absolutely priceless.

L - supreme optics with 13 groups in 18 elements, as well as a super fast focusing speed. Excellent color rendition and image quality help capture the finest details of the landscape.
This is essential to any landscape photographer, and more useful than all other lenses within this focal range (16-35mm F/2.8L, 17-40 F/4L, 24-70 F/2.8L 24mm F/1.4L and 14mm F/2.8L II). 14mm is too wide and without the ability to zoom if the item you're photographing doesn't fill the frame. 24mm F/1.4L is a great prime, but who care's about an F/1.4L when you're shooting at smaller apertures? The 16-35 and 24-70 don't have IS, and are a full stop faster, something not valued in the landscape world (tripods required). The focus and zoom rings are smooth and the entire lens feels just right and handles nicely. I really like the size and weight of this lens when I'm out in the field. The weather sealing also comes in handy if you are hiking/shooting in humid conditions but note that Canon recommends a UV filter for maximum weather sealing on this lens. So, good for landscapes and being outdoors. Bad for low light, weddings (distortion, aperture).

50mm F/1.2L:
My favorite low light lens.  Ultra shallow depth of field, zero distortion, unbeatable low-light performance. The perfect wedding lens. Some of my favorite shots ever were with this lens.

50mm F/1.0L:
My newest lens is also the oldest.  I purchased the 50mm F/1.0L lens in March, although Canon stopped making them in 1991.  It's the fastest lens in the world for Canon or any major digital camera company, and it's truly one of a kind.  Despite it's $4,500 price tag, it's really only good for one thing: shooting wide open.  It's very soft, even at 1.0, and throughout it's not as sharp as the 50mm F/1.2L, but when shot wide open at 1.0 it's truly amazing.  It's more of a novelty lens then anything practical, thus it's one of my least used lenses.

85mm F/1.2L II:

The fastest lens in the world in this class. Nikon and Sony only make a 1.4, but that's A FULL 2/3 stop SLOWER. It has some major drawbacks: it won't focus at anything closer than 3 feet, and it's autofocus (although remarkably faster than the original 85mm F/1.2L), is VERY slow compared to other lenses. It is also a beast, weighing a hefty 2.25 pounds (1025 grams)- I need a nap after picking it up. Remember that 85mm at F/1.2 means it's more than seven centimeters wide, that's a LOT of glass. The reason I paid the $2200 price tag for this lens is simple: when it hits, it hits. It is the fastest lens in it's class, the depth of field SO SHALLOW- inches even at thirty feet out, allowing for complete subject isolation and unbelievable bokeh even across a large room. I shoot less than 10 percent of all my wedding photos with this lens, but when I use it, it takes the most remarkable photos.

70-200 F/2.8L IS:

canon lenses, canon lens 70-200 F/2.8L IS USM
The 70-200 F/2.8L IS. Currently the best telephoto zoom lens in it's class. F/2.8 and third generation IS (image stabilization) allow for primo photos with excellent bokeh and subject isolation. This lens is called by "the most all-round accomplished full-frame 35mm fast telezoom currently available" and performed much better than the price-comparable Nikon AF-S VR 70-200 F/2.8D VR in every aspect on a full-frame body. It is, quite simply, the highest quality telephoto zoom lens in it's class. Good for: weddings, wildlife, low light (F/2.8 and IS), bringing in backgrounds for portraits. I believe telephotos go underused by most wedding photographers. I use this one extensively at any given wedding.

I also own: PocketWizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5, Canon 530 EX II and two 430 EX II flashes.

View more specs on all of Canon's lenses here