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I won’t lie to you, I’m genuinely torn here. There are two lenses that I could probably say were my favorites. One of those lenses became my favorite out of necessity. It was the only one I owned when I first started shooting with a DSLR. The other became favorite because of its versatility and something much more personal than professional.
Let’s head back in history to 2006 when I bought my first DSLR. I found a used Canon Rebel for sale online for $200. It came with a 50mm prime lens. That was fantastic; it was in my budget. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time as I was raising three kids under the age of six. I struck a deal with the seller, and I was in business.
When I went to my first camera course, the instructor laughed when he saw my gear. I thought, at first he was making fun of my gear. But, I was wrong, he was excited for me. He said having just the one lens would push me to be creative and to learn and find out how to take great photos. I would have no choice but to think about my composition because of the limitations of my gear. He said he wished all of his students were as limited as I was and that relying on gadgets and a zoom lens stunted creativity. They could essentially cheat instead of learning to see the photograph and position themselves correctly. He inspired me to push myself to learn everything I could about 50mm.
I shot landscapes, portraits, macros, and everything in between. I love my 50mm lens because it’s light-weight and affordable. But, I love my nifty 50 because my photos are tack sharp. The bokeh with it is beautiful too, and I love experimenting with the larger aperture. The lens offers photographers so many creative possibilities. Seriously, what lens could be better?
Well, it’s time for my second love to make an entrance. I love my 70-200mm f/2.8. This lens was also my first big glass purchase. I scrimped and saved for months to be able to buy it. At the time it seemed like an immense sacrifice, but it was worth it.
The lens is very versatile. I can use it for portraits, indoor sports, macro shooting, and candid images on the street. Really, I can use it for anything. It’s not overly heavy so I can hand hold it for extended periods of time, which is very nice. The large aperture is helpful for low light situations or when I need a fast shutter speed. It’s tack sharp, and the bokeh is beautiful. I take it everywhere. My 70-200mm has been on canoe trips and suffered rainstorms (albeit covered with a large garbage bag). It is my workhorse.
All the reasons I listed, however, are not why this lens is my favorite. There is one thing about this lens that makes it unique. This one thing is more personal than it is professional. Those of you who have children will totally connect with me on this element. The longer focal length of this lens means that I can capture authentic images of my family.
My kids are very much sick of their mother taking their photos. They’ve been there and done that far too much. I can never get them to cooperate when I use my 50mm. Instead, my 70-200mm allows me to capture them from a distance. I can be discreet and not invade their fun. I can catch them laughing and acting naturally. Some of my most cherished shots have come from moments like this.
I’m sure my family knows I have my camera out and pointed at them, but because I’m not right in their faces they forget about me. Or at the very least they can ignore me. It’s the one thing I can’t do with my 50mm, and for this reason, the 70-200mm wins a special place in my heart.
Forget all the features and the specs. I’m not overly worried about chromatic aberration or vibration reduction controls. The 70-200mm holds a place in my heart because it allows me to capture the love and adoration I have for my children. I can make precious memories. My 70-200mm is an emotional favorite. It’s a very personal preference. It is a beautiful, durable, incredible lens that helps me succeed in my business – but it also helps me to capture personal memories.
What’s your favorite lens? Share it with us in the comments below. Maybe you love your inexpensive 18-55mm kit lens. Tell us why. We want to hear your stories. Forget the specs, what kinds of joy does the lens bring to your life?