Choosing and using lenses

Selecting and building a well-rounded set of lenses suited to the type of photography you do is essential for getting the most out of your dSLR camera. You may have started with a basic zoom lens that seemed to do it all, or you might have realized from the get-go that you needed a variety of focal lengths and lens speeds in order to accomplish your work. Whatever the case, if you’re like most photographers, you probably have your eye on a new or different lens or you want to tweak your lens lineup in one way or another.

Canon offers a tremendous variety of lenses for virtually any type of photography imaginable, ranging from inexpensive basic models bundled with entry-level dSLR cameras to high-speed, long telephoto lenses priced more like an automobile than camera gear. It’s very common for photographers to spend more on their lenses than on the cameras themselves, and I very frequently advise photographers who are gearing up, that budgeting for lenses is a bigger consideration than budgeting for cameras.

Every photographer — and I’m no exception — builds a set of lenses and accessories suited to his or her needs. I primarily shoot with 24-70mm and 70-200mm L series f/2.8 lenses, and I always carry an EF 15mm Fisheye for establishment and environmental shots. If I need other lenses, I rent them from professional photography outlets or borrow them from Canon. For fencing championships, for example, I really don’t need a super-telephoto lens (my 70-200mm lens suits my needs well) because I can usually get close to the action as in 6-1. My fast, high-quality zoom lenses allow me to cover everything from fast-moving action at quite close ranges to wide shots ranging from medal ceremonies to events and receptions.

Having a fast lens is almost always essential in any action photography. I took this photo at the 2006 World Wheelchair Fencing Championships in Torino, Italy, at a focal length of 165mm with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. I used a 1D Mark IIn at ISO 640, 1/500 second at f/2.8.

Everyone has to determine what their personal needs are when it comes to lenses, and sometimes the most interesting and unique lenses aren’t always the most practical. On the other hand, if you get called to do something specific while on a shoot — say, for example, to take a macro shot — you want to be able to accomplish the task professionally.

The posts below looks at the various lenses Canon offers and some related issues so that you can understand better what your options are and evaluate your own lens lineup.