Q: What lenses do you use?

Q: What lenses do you use / recommend?

 

CuriosityCuriosityBurrowing Owl
Southern United States

Photographed with the Sigma 50-500mm lens

 

  • Quick tip: Prime means that a lens has a fixed focal length, or one view. Zoom lenses can change their view to get visually closer or farther from the subject.

 

Lenses all depend on what you want to photograph. I have wide angle lenses for landscapes and telephoto zooms lenses for wildlife. I recommend zoom lenses for wildlife rather than primes because wildlife do move around and at only one fixed focal length you can miss so many great shots. Back in the day zoom lenses were not as sharp as primes but not anymore. Now newer zoom lenses are just as fast and sharp as anything on the market!

If money is a factor I highly recommend the Sigma 50-500mm OS which goes for about $1500. It has amazing bang for the buck as the image quality is on point. This is the lens that I use and I love it! If you check out my Wildlife gallery almost every single photo was taken with that lens. Many times I have shared a photograph with another professional photographer and they are shocked and surprised to find that I took it with this lens. I consider it an anomaly of glass as usually super zooms at that price range aren't high quality but it exceeds expectations and outperforms many more expensive lenses.

 

Brown Bear Cub
Alaska

Photographed with the Sigma 50-500mm lens

 

Real deal high quality telephoto pro level lenses are all extremely expensive and rightfully so. You really do get what you pay for. Most of them are $10k and up. If you have that kind of cash to burn take a look at the new Canon 200-400 f/4 IS L. It has a built in 1.4x teleconverter that turns it into a 280-560mm. The quality of this lens is breathtaking. It is amazing and I definitely want one.

Another option is to get a prime lens and use a 1.4x tc to get extra reach when you need it. This is a tried and true method, the 1.4x tcs are very good. However, the 2x tcs which then double your focal length are not as good. You lose too much light and image quality for my tastes. But this option isn't exactly cheap either. For example, you could grab a 300mm f/2.8L IS II for $6,600 and a 1.4x vIII for $450. The tc would then optically make the 300mm a 600mm f4. If you just bought an actual 600mm f/4 lens they run $12,000. So you have a lot of options with what to do for reach for wildlife. Again I still prefer zoom lenses over primes for the versatility.

 

  • Quick tip: IS and OS mean the same thing, that the lens has image (optical) stabilization built in! This helps keep the image sharp when you are hand holding the lens.

 

If this is a lot to take in, I say go with the Sigma 50-500mm. It is high quality but not as awesome as the $10k+ glass. Start there and then when you go on big trips if you want something even higher quality you can always rent a lens!

As for landscapes, I recommend having two wide angle lenses, one extra wide and one "normal." I use the Canon 10-22mm $650 and the Sigma 17-50mm OS $520. Also sometimes with landscapes I use a telephoto lens to zoom in on a mountain top or something that I find interesting in a scene. So in those rare circumstances I use my Canon 70-200 or that Sigma 50-500 to grab a shot like that.

 

East Fjords
Iceland

Photographed with the Canon 10-22mm lens

 

The final type of lens that I use are macro lenses. I have the Canon 100mm 2.8, the non IS version. It runs about $600 new and is tack sharp. The IS version goes for $950 and honestly with macro you are almost always on your tripod anyway so I think its better to save the extra cash and grab the non IS copy.

 

Gerbera Daisy

Photographed with the Canon 100mm macro lens

 

 

When I go adventuring I usually pack the Sigma 50-500, Canon 10-22, Sigma 17-50, my filter pouch with lots of fun glass, remote release, tripod, extra batteries, etc and hit the road!

The most important thing is just to find what works for you and your budget. At the end of the day your camera and lens are merely tools for you to craft your imagery. What matter is that you are out there having fun!

 

Aerial Alaska: Glacial PeaksAerial Alaska: Glacial PeaksAn aerial view of the glaciated ridges and peaks of the Alaska range in Denali National Park.

Aerial image photographed with the Canon 10-22mm lens

 


 

 


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