You’re welcome for that title.
Based off yesterday’s post, today I went through all my old lenses and cameras to see if I already had anything that could be a decent zoom lens for candids or walkabouts. Turns out I really don’t, unfortunately (although I did find a terrible Canon EF 75-300mm telephoto lens with no IS that I bought for cheap and was only ever able to take incredibly blurry shots with due to camera shake), so I will probably still at some point purchase one. But I did pull out some of the older lenses to snap photos with them and see if they were worth keeping. Since buying my 17-40mm I have used it exclusively, and feeling pretty spoiled by the L-series glass, I haven’t wanted to put any of the EF ones back on the camera.
One lens I dug out was an old Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II I bought two years ago; it’s a decent lens but in playing around with it this morning, I see no real reason to keep it. Although it gets lots of kudos for speed and clarity, I don’t see anything in the results that would ever motivate me to put it on the camera instead of my 17-40 – it’s a very inexpensive lens though, and well worth the purchase if you are in need.
Another lens I pulled out and was impressed with, though, was my Canon EF 85mm f/1.8. This is described as an excellent portrait lens, which is why I bought it, and I used it interchangeably with the 50mm until I bought the 17-40mm in 2012. The big deal about the 85mm is its relatively inexpensive bottom line (can be had for about $360) and the beautiful bokeh (blurred background) it creates. While bokeh isn’t important to me in most of my studio portraits as I use a solid backdrop, I’d rather forgotten how important it can be to a portrait in a candid or outdoor setting, when there’s a lot going on behind the subject. Also, it’s a pretty decent zoom length and could be used to avoid having to get right up on a subject to take a good portrait, which is something that bothered me about the 17-40 when taking photos on Christmas Eve. However, this is a prime lens, so I can’t adjust the focal length while taking shots, which means this still wouldn’t be a good walkabout lens in my opinion – I don’t want to zoom in on everything when I’m out and about, and with this one there’s no option. But in the future I need to keep in mind that I have this lens in my bag, and take it out when snapping shots of people in tight quarters, as it makes for a really pretty close-up shot.
For the hell of it, here’s a comparison of the blurring using the 18mm and the 17-40mm. These aren’t great photos or anything, just similar ones:
And here’s some more pics I took of the pets today with the 85mm, just for the hell of it – the more I work with the test shots I took using this lens, the more I like it. Focus can be tricky with this lens, since it’s so narrow, but I may want to take this thing out and about more to get a better feel for it and see if it could be of use to me in the future (all I ever used it for before was portraits, so I don’t really know what else it can do):