dPS Writer’s Favorite Lenses: I’m Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

My Favourite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

I use my 50mm lens almost exclusively when I’m shooting abstract images.

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.

My Favourite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

This image was shot with my 50mm lens. It was one of my first attempts at fine art photography. It’s so sharp.

My Favourite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

The large aperture of the 50mm allowed me to shoot during low-light situations.

It all started with the 50mm lens

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.

My Favourite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

The 50mm lens is ideal for portraits. It’s lightweight and easy for me to move around with.

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?

My Favourite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

This is one of the rare times that I was able to use my 50mm with my family.

My second love – the 70-200mm f/2.8

I love the bokeh in this shot. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is awesome for this feature.

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.

dPS Writer's Favorite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

The focal length of the 70-200mm is perfect for so many types of shots including street shooting or silhouettes at the beach.

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.

dPS Writer's Favorite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

I like shooting landscapes with the 70mm range on this lens.

There are emotional ties to this lens

dPS Writer's Favorite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

He was just having fun. He wasn’t aware of my presence with my camera. Yes, his face is a little soft, but this shot is emotional and personal, not professional.

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.

dPS Writer's Favorite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

Capturing joy; I think it’s a great reason to love this lens.

dPS Writer's Favorite Lenses: I'm Torn Between My Nifty Fifty and 70-200mm F2.8

I could have zoomed in more, but I wanted to capture the environment too.

Your favorite lens

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?

My teenager has become so jaded that my 70-200mm is the only way I can capture images of him.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Erin Fitzgibbon is a freelance photographer, writer, and teacher, from Ontario, Canada. She specialises in portrait, sport, and fine art photography. In her free time, she escapes to the backcountry or the beach with her family.

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  • The Kooky Kiwi

    Thank you for a wonderful artical that discusses photography.. as opposed to technicalities. I too have a family and subject group that are camera shy.. for which my 75-300 lens gets employed frequently. My other favourite lens atm is my kit 18-55mm. For a beginner on a budget, I find them to be a versatile combo.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Those are great lenses too. When I got my first Canon Rebel, all those years ago I had both of those lenses. Funnily enough, I still have the 18-55mm I use it sometimes on my Canon 50D. :)))) Thanks for sharing

  • I’ve profited $104,000 in last twelve months by doing an on-line job from my house and I did that by w­o­r­k­i­n­g in my own time f­o­r few hours every day. I’m using work model I came across online and I am so thrilled that i was able to make so much extra income. It’s very newbie friendly a­n­d I am just so thankful that i found it. This is what i did… http://secure02.weebly.com

  • This was a beautiful article, Erin. Thank you for writing it 🙂

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Thanks so much Simon. So happy you liked it.

  • Vladek

    yeah, my 70-200 is my workhorse too

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    I find the lens addictive. If I’m not using it I feel sort of lost. It’s like a comfy pair of shoes with holes in the toes. Perfect…. My other lens I have to reorient to them before they become comfortable to use.

  • waynewerner


    Yup, that’s a 40mm f2.8 and its really the only lens I use. Occasionally I’ll pull out something like my 70-300mm kit or lensbaby spark, but mostly it’s the 40mm. I also will throw some cheap extension tubes on there occasionally.

  • Mark

    Great article that I can relate to. For years my favorite lens was my Nikon 80-200 F2.8 push/pull lens that was purchased used over 20 years ago which I still have and love. It’s old school, no VR, primitive glass coatings etc it’s still used regularly with great results. Despite that however my new fav lens is the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 that i’m currently using on a DX body with excellent results. This lens will shine however once used on a new FX body which I will be getting soon.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Great choice. Love the pic that goes with it. So nice to see someone using almost exclusively a prime lens;)))

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    I’m so glad you can relate! I try to make my writing accessible. By the way old school is the best!!. Thanks for sharing your favourite.

  • Agreed. The 50 mm f1.8 was one of my first lenses, and I still own mine. I have rented the 70-200 f2.8 and found it to be a delight to use. I owned the 70-200 f4, but it didn’t focus as fast and the one stop difference makes all the difference.

    But the love of my life is my 135 mm f2 from Canon. It is wickedly sharp at f2, produces better bokeh than my old 50 mm f1.0, and focuses in a flash. I’ve tried to like zooms, but the 135 is where I end up every time I leave the tripod behind.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Then it it’s part of your methodology for shooting so I say go with it. Instinct in my opinion is always better than calculated and deliberate actions. If your instinct says use the 135 then for it. I must admit it’s a lens I’ve never tried. I might just have to give it a whirl :))

  • Tracy Bachellier

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6df8ab99c57ee6685a061354f82f0cea2f26a6743e8b9c51185aaaf35de63d0a.jpg I downsized a ton of dusty, unused, old gear and limited myself for a year to this lens and camera – challenging myself once and for all to break out of auto mode and finally learn how to use my Sony (I was an old Minolta girl :). Don’t be fooled by the “Macro” designation of this lens! What a versatile 50mm: portraits, landscapes, general photography, you name it, but most of all, magnificent macros! I think this will always be my baby as it’s the first lens I learned on. I only recently bought a second lens, but still find it hard to put down my 50mm!

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    When we have our favourites it’s hard to put them down. Beautiful choice. I can tell how fond you are of this equipment.

  • Newbom

    My favorite lens is my 28 mm f 1:1.8. I use it quite often in low light situations and it’s always tack sharp. I also have a 50 mm f 1:1.4 that’s quite sharp but I find myself using the 28 more often.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Beautiful choice. I’m surprised by the number of people who are gravitating towards prime lenses. I think it says something about their quality and usefulness.

  • EE

    My Nikon D5500 came with the standard kit lens. The first lens I purchased was the 35mm 1.8. Great lens with lots of potential. Super sharp and wonderful low light capabilities! The second lens I purchased was the 18-140 3.5-5.6. If I could only choose one lens, the 18-140 would be it. Not as fast as the 35, but it has captured some of my most captivating images. It lends itself well to capturing nature where approaching too close will spoil the opportunity. As the article mentions, subjects are less (or un) aware of your presence allowing for more natural and emotional candid shots. So, all things considered, the 18-140 is far and away my favorite. I’m just glad I don’t have to choose between the two.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Thanks so much for your insightful comments. I love that we are getting information about both Nikon and Canon lenses.

  • David Hodge

    Thanks Erin – great read and wonderful photos.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Thanks so much David. Glad you liked it.

  • Wheely Wong

    Hard call. For arty portrait stuff my 85 1.8, landscape 24 1.8 and the amazing 80-200 2.8 for just about everything else

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    All great lenses. The 85 is fun to play with for sure.

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