If you could only use one lens with your DSLR, what would it be?
For myself, I'd go with a 50mm prime (80mm prime when converted to full frame), or Canon's 24-105mm L lens that I wish I owned (gdgt.com/canon/ef/24-105mm/f4l-is-usm/). I like using fixed focal lengths because it takes more thought and effort to compose a shot. Obviously using a zoom gives you a lot of added flexibility but I get most everything I need out of an old Canon 50mm f/2.5 (gdgt.com/canon/ef/50mm/f25-macro/) that I have.
A fast 50mm is on my short list of lenses, but I learned some lessons when I was shooting landscapes with a 20mm prime that may or may not be useful:
- While it is true that a prime will force you into more purposeful shots, it is also true that there are going to be times where you just can't get to where the ideal shot should be taken from with a prime. A zoom gives you more locations from which you can take that shot.
- Serendipity strikes suddenly. You have a better chance of capturing a unique moment if you don't have to navigate a crowd or the terrain to get into the right position. You may not have the time! Again, a zoom increases the odds that you are in a "good enough" position to capture the moment.
- At least in Canon's lens lineup, you are generally not sacrificing image quality versus a prime lens by going with an L-series zoom lens. In the case of the wide angle primes (24mm and down) and in my opinion, you are actually sacrificing image quality if you are not using the 17-40mm f/4L or the even better 16-35mm f/2.8L. Obviously, the same can not be said regarding the 50mm primes and the general purpose zooms; and, in most instances, you are giving up low light performance; but maybe not as much as one might imagine if vignetting is a concern
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The 24-70mm is also tempting but the extra cost compared to the 24-105 is what steers me away from it. If I was making money from my photographs, then I think it might be a different story, but because I only sell one now and again, it makes it tough to justify the extra cost.
Speaking of diffusers, I'll be trying Gary Fong's Lightsphere Collapsible soon. It looks like a fairly inexpensive and versatile solution for shooting portraits, and I know someone that really likes his. www.garyfongestore.com/
As for diffusers, I do like Gary Fong's product, it offer a very good return with its price.
Just my 2 cents.
My two favorite lenses are my 10-22mm and my 50mm f/1.8.
Right now I am leaning towards the 10-22mm. While the extreme wideness can cause distortion, when zoomed in that pretty much disappears. The reason I'm leaning towards this one is that the glass quality is far superior to the 50mm that I have so the colors and sharpness are noticeably better. It would also give me more freedom in a variety of situations.
Now... if I had the 50mm f/1.4... my answer *might* be different.
I don't have to throw everything out of focus so I don't feel the need to go for the absolute fastest lens with the loss of versatility involved.
I also got the other end of the spectrum recently, a Tamron 18-270 and as expected, it's probably a compromise too far. In theory it's a great all-in-one zoom lens, and I got it to see how it - plugged into a 60D - squared off against compact-sensor superzooms. Physically it's relatively easy to handle, but the optical performance is even with relatively little use so far mediocre at both ends in comparison to other lenses you could buy and it's functional performance is also equally mediocre. Not sure if something like the Canon 18-200 would fare any better but I think the overall behaviour would present issues if you were trying to use this as a true do-it-all.
So if I had to have one lens on a DSLR, I'd have a short, bright zoom with respected image quality. Then I'd cheat and get a superzoom to cover the rest of the focal range and a compact APS-C on which I can do my background throwings-out to my heart's content.
In fact, the Leica X1 for example positively *insists* on throwing the background out of focus in full auto even if I don't want it to. You'd love it, ryan ;) :p
So my pick—Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G