InPix – Photo editing service for film & digital photographers

How to buy a lens and not be disappointed

Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed his entire life with one lens, a normal focal length fix. The average wedding photographer brings at least three lenses for five hours of shooting: 35mm, 85mm and 70-200mm. And who knows how many more lenses are left at home, not fit into the photo backpack. 

In fact, both photographers aren’t willing to learn for years, and photographic giants are producing new lenses by the dozens, advertising them left and right. Add in the purchased reviews of photography bloggers and it’s clear that today’s photographer is doomed to a relentless search for the perfect lens. How disappointed I was with the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM, it’s a good example when a photographer’s lens isn’t up to the task.

How do you keep your sanity in a world of marketing chaos and not get distracted from what’s important – photography? How to manage to survive when Canon is selling 200 lenses simultaneously and is updating its lineup? How to buy a lens without being disappointed in it?

how to buy a lens without being disappointed in it?

Choose a lens for its intended purpose

The purpose of the lens is your genre. Let’s say you’re a landscaper. You’re used to a wide angle of 24mm or less. How do you choose a new lens? Instruction from my bell tower, I act like this:

  1. If I need 24mm or less, I cut off anything that’s much larger. And if I decide on a fix, I don’t look at lenses with longer focal lengths at all. Otherwise I’ll get carried away with the gorgeous 35mm and who knows where I’ll go. By narrowing my choices with such a limitation, I’ll come out with 2-3 models. Agree, a radical filter.
  2. I’ll read reviews in at least five places. I will be most critical of the rave reviews and scrutinize the negatives.
  3. I will look at examples of photos. Prioritize my genre. I’ll pay attention to post-processing – bad lenses have a lot of photoshop, good lenses and b/w get realistic.
  4. I will try to try the lens without buying it. It’s not hard: there are rentals and photographers I know.

How to choose the wrong lenses

Buy Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM: a great macro lens, and 100mm is good for portraits.

Not suitable for portraits. It’s an ultra-detailed lens, it shoots portraits so much that girls go on a depression binge afterwards. It’s not every day that you see the imperfections of your skin under a microscope.

I chose the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM. Now I have a versatile zoom for everything from 24 to 70 mm.

Wrong. Now you have a versatile reportage zoom at focal lengths from 24 to 70 mm. Sharp, fast and ruthless to beautiful faces.

By all parameters, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM would suit me as a tripod. It’s bright (bokeh), versatile and cool. Now both landscapes and portraits.

Only a specific photographer should use this lens as a tripod. 35mm is not a portrait focal length, distortion turns portraits into caricatures. The f/2.8 doesn’t blur the background at such a small focus, and all the tests show that Canon, by increasing the resolution of new lenses, kills the bokeh. So there is zero artistry in it.

I have a little active baby and I want to take beautiful pictures of the baby running around with lights in the background. I chose the Canon EF Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM, all photographers praise it for the picture. I have a Canon EOS 650D.

You are in for a real disappointment: with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM you take static photos and you learn it for a long time. And on a cropped 650D you’ll have 135mm instead of 85mm and you won’t have half the beauty of a picture which is hidden just in the edges of a full-frame picture.

I’m a wedding photographer now and I need a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.

You don’t need it. It’s not a creative lens, and it doesn’t have the right focal length for this kind of work. I consider the Polentin to be the most suitable lens for weddings: full contact with the subject and the right geometry.

how to choose a lens wisely


It’s wrong to be guided by someone else’s opinion when choosing a lens. Just because someone likes taking portraits with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II doesn’t mean you’ll like it. While it’s a very good lens, it’s not designed for portraits. And anyone who uses the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II for that and still praises it is a big enthusiast or a liar. Either way, you will be disappointed to imitate it. You can take good pictures with any lens, but it’s easier with the right one. Choose the right lens, have fun, and take great photos!