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If You Could Only Have One Lens, What Would It Be?

Creative Commons Copyright Steven Wong

Creative Commons Copyright Steven Wong

It’s time to open up your favorite photo gear catalog and pick a page!  My question to you is this: If you could only have one lens for the rest of your days, what would it be and why?

The reason I ask is because the bittersweet decision says a lot about a photographer and their style.  When I’ve asked other photographers it’s helped me to understand more about them and the art of photography.  For instance, those that want a simple 50mm lens tended to be more practical and versatile in their approach.  While others hooked on wildlife photography long for a coveted 600mm unit of the finest quality.  Other’s still insist on a wide angle zoom or telephoto zoom.  I’ve also found that it forced those I asked into truthfully evaluating what was important to them.  What type of photography was paramount in their mind if they were faced with such a choice.

Sure, it’s hypothetical.  But exercises like this, I feel, help stop my quest for the next-best-thing and really simplify.  What is the minimum I need to enjoy photography.  The rules are simple for this mental drill.

  1. Price is no object.  The sky’s the limit and this includes telescopes on the top of Mauna Kea. 🙂  It can also be a lens you already own.
  2. Please specify a particular lens.  Yes, I know there will be new lenses in the future, but let’s just deal with what’s available today.
  3. Most importantly, let us know why you chose the lens you did.

For me, it’d be a Canon 28-300mm L.  I already own this lens and it has been a super lens to use while traveling.  While I can nit-pick about what needs improving, all in all, it has been a solid performer once I’ve learned its limits.  And I admittedly love zoom lenses when I don’t have space to pack multiple prime lenses.

Your turn!  Use the comments below to let us know which lens you’d pick and why.

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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