Sunday, March 06, 2011

Holiday Lenses


I've been renting camera lenses from for a couple of years now. I can't speak highly enough of them. The range of available equipment is incredible (by now way beyond just lenses), the price is right and the people are friendly and happy and helpful. When I worked at Google they were perfectly on the way between Mountain View and San Francisco, ideal for mid-commute pickups. Now I work at Twitter they have a pickup location in SOMA two blocks away. Sweet!

For the Hawaii trip I rented:

  • EF 100mm f/2; I thought I'd give this a whirl based on how much I love my own "nifty fifty" EF 50mm f/1.4. This basic range of affordable primes from Canon (35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm) is widely lauded and fantastic value: each one sharp, lightweight, fast, and with great autofocus. I rented the EF 50mm f/1.2L ($1,500 to buy) back in the day and the autofocus is every bit as sluggish as all the reviews say (a great studio lens, no doubt, but out and about it's a pain—and heavy too). Afterwards I bought the nifty fifty ($399) and never looked back. Almost all of the bean shots are with the 50mm.
  • EF 16–35mm f/2.8L II; such a fun lens on a full-frame camera. I rented the first version a couple of years ago, again a little later, and I've pined for it since. For whatever reason, I rarely feel a need for anything longer than 100mm or so (although I had fun at Carnaval one time with the EF 300mm f/2.8L), but I'm a sucker for super wide angles. If I ever have budget for an L lens again, this'll be the one I buy.

Since I'm on it, I'm also taking (of my own)

  • the "nifty fifty" EF 50mm f/1.4. Sure it's made of plastic and doesn't have a red ring on it, but it's a fabulous sharp prime with fast autofocus and it weighs next to nothing. Such a super lens, I couldn't be happier with it. Great for bean shots.
  • TS-E 24mm f/3.5L; I bought mine second-hand from after renting it a couple of times. Tilt-shift lenses are a lot of fun and (almost literally) add a new dimension to photography. This one's a tad wide for executing the infamous "miniatures" (though you can just about pull it off) but I love it for striking portraits, moody stuff, unusual perspective or just interesting opportunistic snaps. I've used shift (rather than tilt) about twice.
  • EF 24-105mm f/4L; no denying it, this is a fine walkabout lens on a full-frame camera. Constant aperture across the zoom range, sharp similarly, solidly built (like all L lenses), and autofocus plenty fast enough. It doesn't really excel at anything, though (apart from being general purpose) so it's the lens I use the very least.

If I had to leave one behind, it'd be the 24-105. If I could take only one... gosh it'd be a struggle but it'd probably be the 16-35. This is Hawaii, after all, and I'm expecting some fantastic vistas.

We're setting off tomorrow morning. With luck I'll post some photos soon.

1 comment:

Theodore Smith said...

They look amazing, thank you very much for sharing.
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