Great Lenses Aren't Always Expensive

Waterdrops on My Kitchen Window

100mm f2.8 macro

I would like to think that I have a pretty respectable lens inventory.  Although I do not own any prime L-lens (Canons pro-line of glass), I do have several of their quality zooms that covers me from 17-200mm between that set.  However, I do have two of their standard line prime lens; and they are truly amongst my favorite, best, and cheapest of lens.  

I look at glass as a very long-term investment and therefore not afraid to spend some big bucks.  But, like many, I am going try and maximize my dollar and get the best lens line-up for the money.  Back in 2008, I switch from Olympus to Canon and had dedicated several thousand dollars to invest into that system.  My current system consists of a Canon 5d Mark II and the following lenses:

  • 17-40mm f4 L (MSRP $840)
  • 70-200mm f4 IS L (MSRP $1350)
  • 24-70mm f2.8 L (MSRP $2200)
  • 50mm f1.4 (MSRP $400)
  • 100mm f2.8 macro (MSRP $600)

I chose the 17-40 f4 L over the 16-35 L and the 70-200mm f4 IS L over the f2.8 equivalent because both lens are a $1000 less expensive compared to their 2-stop wider alternatives.   Where I sometimes have some regret on the 70-200mm, I pretty much only use the 17-40 for landscape with apertures set to about f8 or smaller, so a wider aperture would be a wasted expense.  

However, despite their costs, the 50mm f1.4 and 100mm f2.8 macro lenses I own are extremely sharp, have wide open apertures for paper-thin depths-of-field, and quite inexpensive by comparison.  I use my 100mm macro for both macro and studio portraiture work.  My 50mm is a great walk around lens and my go-to lens for candid portraiture work because of its ability to just melt a background away.

Wedding Portrait

50mm f1.4

The best part about these two lenses is their price.  Compared to Canon's L-lens line-up, these lens are amazingly inexpensive (the same goes for Nikon's equivalent lenses).   I don't believe you can find better lenses for the price and they are, in my opinion, lenses every photographer should have in their bag.  

Carl SanfordComment