Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What's My Go To Lens?

24-105mm f/4 L
I was asked today what my "go to" lens is.  It was easy because I know off the top of my head which one I use the most.  It's the Canon 24-105mm f/4 L lens.  It's a great general purpose lens.  If I had to take just one lens with me on a trip this would be it.  It's light, small, has a useful focal length range, and can produce some really nice sharp photos.

But what about the other lenses in my bag?   I saw a blog this evening by Patrick Endres that showed how often he used his lenses and showed the numbers in a pie chart. His top lens was the 24-105 as well.  Since all my photos are in Lightroom it took me all of about 2 minutes to see how often I used each lens in 2014.  Only photos I have kept are included, but the numbers should be representative of how often I use each one.

So, my guess was right.  I used the 24-105mm for 54% of my photos last year.  I was surprised it was that high.  I thought I would have seen a more even distribution across the 5 lenses.   What really surprised me was that I used the 300mm for only 3% of my photos.  That's 1% by itself and 2% of the time I used the 300mm with a 1.4x teleconverter making a 420mm lens.

300mm with 1.4 Teleconverter

So, have my habits changed between 2013 and 2014?   The 2013 numbers show that yes, the lenses I use have changed.   I used the 300mm 17% of the time and the 24-105mm only 45% of the time.    When I look at what I used the 300mm for in 2013 wildlife was a small percentage.  I used it as a general purpose lens shooting everything from flowers and starfish to steam locomotives and civil war reenactments.   I didn't buy the 70-200 until September 2013 so those numbers were down that year.

What does all this mean?  One thing it tells me is I don't have to pack all my lenses when heading out on a photo outing.   If I take the 17-40, 24-105, and 70-200 I'm going to have most all situations covered.  I will probably take the macro lens on most hikes to capture wildflowers and small critters.   But what about that 300mm?  Is it a bad lens?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it's one of the sharpest lenses I have, even when I add the 1.4 teleconverter.  It's much lighter than the 70-200.  If I hope to photograph wildlife I'm going to take that lens along.  Being a prime fixed focal length lens it's just not as versatile as the others.

My numbers in 2015 will be different.  We are planning a big trip to Alaska this year.  You can bet I'm taking that 300mm with me with hopes of getting some wildlife shots.

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