As more people see my work on Instagram and Facebook, I am getting more and more questions about photography and photography equipment. The question that usually follows on from, “Can You Recommend A Good Camera For A Beginner?” is usually to do with lenses. I have touched on this before with a previous blog post which looked at Camera and Lenses, however, I have made some updates to my camera bag since then so I thought that it might be useful to look at each lens in turn.
Before I begin, I will start by saying that I mostly shoot with Prime Lenses. Prime lenses are lenses that have a fixed focal length and therefore do not zoom in and out.. you physically have to walk towards or away from what you are photographing to zoom in and out or simply change lens. This is the opposite of a zoom lens where there is less leg work and you can stand on one spot and zoom using the camera lens. I mention why I prefer prime lenses in my previous Camera and Lenses post.
So here goes…
As you can see, my 50mm is a bit worn, but it will always be my first love. It is especially great for portraits and creates lovely dreamy pictures when used at the widest aperture. On wedding days, I use this lens to shoot the bride getting ready, bride and groom portraits, table decor and guests as they arrive, it is a very versatile lens and also great in any low light situation because of its wide aperture (F1.4). I also use this lens a lot for engagement shoots. Whenever I return back to this lens, I can instantly see why it is the lens that is usually recommended as it is great for producing images where the subject is separated from the background with that much sought after “bokeh” effect.
I LOVE the 50mm but sometimes it can be a bit too close when photographing in tight spaces. I was finding that I needed a lens that was a bit wider especially when photographing more than three people full length together. The 35mm was recommended to me and I have been in love with it ever since. It is also a great lens to travel with as it is so light. It is fairly similar to what your eye naturally sees and you can focus closer up than what you can with the 50mm. So for example, if you wanted to take a selfie using your 50mm, your camera would struggle to auto focus, however with the 35mm attached no problemo. Selfies aside, this is a great storytelling lens, because it is slightly wider you can often capture multiple stories as different moments unfold at the same time within the frame. This lens is my most used lens and I’m looking forward to upgrading it to the Sigma F1.4 Art Lens which has got great reviews and has an even wider aperture which will be undoubtedly amazing. *UPDATE: I now use, Sigma F1.4 Art lens *
The 50mm and 35mm are fairly similar and I wanted a lens that offered more diversity to my lens portfolio, so my next purchase was the 85mm. The 85mm is a lot more zoomed in, so you have to stand further away if you want to get a full length shot of a person, that said I love the photojournalistic feel that you get with this camera when you are photographing events as they unfold. I like to use it during the wedding speeches as it allows me to be less obtrusive and I capture for example the bride’s Dad giving a speech and his daughters reaction in a nice tight frame. Everytime I put this lens on my camera, I wonder why I don’t use it more because it produces really lovely pictures. Perfect for portraiture especially if you have space, not so great if space is limited. I like to use this lens for engagement shoots, initially with me shooting from a distance while I get the couple to walk hand-in-hand together while they get warmed up to being photographed.
My 100mm is a macro lens which means that it is great for producing sharp images of things really close up. I use it to photograph wedding rings which used to be a struggle with my 35mm. I also use it for photographing other details such as the table decor, wedding shoes, wedding favours, invites and jewellery and occasionally during the wedding ceremony and speeches. This lens is also a great for portraits if you have the space to get back far enough. I used my 100mm on the Fashion Portrait Shoot I did with Stylist, Shaunna Henry.
For a long time my 35mm was my wide angle lens but the more weddings I began to photograph the more I realised that I needed a wider lens in particular for group shots. I went to my local camera shop, Calumet and asked for their recommendations. They suggested buying the Canon 17-24mm L. This was my first proper “zoom” lens and I haven’t bought any more since. It is a great lens, especially at Asian Weddings that tend to have big family portraits. Usually, I wouldn’t entertain a lens where the lowest aperture is F4 as I like to shoot at F2.8 and below but, with classic group shots and family portraits, ideally you want everyone in focus, so you wouldn’t generally go below F4. This lens is also good for getting big wide shots of venues and also dance floor shots. I don’t generally use it for anything else.
I came across this little lens while browsing in The Real Camera Shop in Manchester and couldn’t help but buy it knowing that it was a Prime Lens (which I love) and wide angle so this has become my latest addition to my lens collection. I use this lens where possible instead of the 17-40mm when I know there won’t be too much of an issue moving backwards and forwards to zoom in and out to get the closer shots. The wider aperture is great in low light situations and creates punchier images in comparison to the 17-40mm. At 24mm there is no wide angle distortion, so no dodgy looking extra wide people at the edge of the frame. I am not a fan of the extra wide angle almost fish eye look and so using the zoom lens I have to be very aware of not zooming out to much. With this lens, because it is fixed, I do not need to worry about that. It is also lighter weight, so great for me – working with heavy lenses can get tiring, which is why I am not a fan of the usual 70-200mm go-to wedding and portrait lens. I like to use it for family portraits if there are lots of people in the shot (and the 35mm is a bit of a squeeze) or on the dance floor where it looks great to fill the frame with lots of activity. I also like to use it for entrances, for example when the bride and groom re-enter the reception room for the first time as Husband and Wife so that I can capture the reactions of their guests, equally so when they are exiting the church for a documentary feel.
I use these lenses on my Canon 5D Mark iii DSLR.. for more information on which cameras I use, please check out my, What Camera Do You Use? post.
I hope that helps 🙂
Photography: Tanya Weekes