FAQ: What are Your Favorite Lenses?

What is your absolute favorite lens? If you only could pick one, what lens would it be? I get this question via email from readers all the time, so I thought I would not only survey all of you but share my answers.

This question is a really hard one for me as I change what is my favorite all the time.  I will tell you in a time line what my favorites were…

When I just started out, I had no favorite.  I really did not understand the differences enough to know. I had a Canon 20D, then 40D and now Canon 5D MKII for cameras.

As time went on I LOVED zoom lenses and my favorite was the 24-105L (I still have it though I am in the market to sell it if any of you zoom lovers might be interested).  It was a great walk around all purpose lens.  And it never came off my camera. Until…  I fell in love with shallow depth of field.  Yep – I caught the bug.  I have tried many, but certainly not even close to all of Canon’s prime lenses.  My first prime was the lens every just starting out photographer should own – the 50 1.8 (which can be found for under $100).  It is the best value in Canon’s lineup.  If you get into photography more seriously than you can do as I did and upgrade to the 50 1.4 and 85 1.8, which were my next two primes.  I loved both – but I found true love and my next favorite lens when I got the 35L 1.4.  It was my favorite prime lens for a while.  I still love it, but new favorites emerged since then and I do not use it as much as I use to. There is just something magical about Canon L Glass, especially L Primes.

As of today, and with my long answer to a short question, my favorite lens (and most used) is the 50L 1.2.  It is incredible and versatile. And it is on my camera the most (I should add that the 35L lived on my camera when I had the 40D, so it must be I like this focal length since the 50L is now what lives on my camera.


I do switch lenses and have many.  To me you can never really have too many lenses as long as you understand which lens you would want for a particular shooting situation and why.

I love my 85 L 1.2 for when I want closeups inside, so beautiful and creamy.  I do not use this lens a lot even though it is amazing.  It is not a good shape for me.  Yes, I must be weird, but it does not feel right in my hands.  But when outside or if given enough room inside, the 135L 2.0 is a dream. It is just the right shape for my hands, feels like when you have a pair of jeans that fit just right with a tiny bit of stretch.  You know the pair? This lens is incredible for closeups. Now, what if I need a travel lens?  Then I turn to my Tamron 28-300. It has an image stability system and is the most versatile lens I own, as long as there is a lot of light.  I will not get the same background blur or razor sharpness as a prime, but the trade off is I can go from 28 to 300 in a millisecond. So for vacations and travel, I often will bring my Tamron zoon, plus my 50L and I am in perfect company.

So now it is your turn to share “what is your favorite lens and why?”

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 7


    I only use three, in order of most (by far) to least (by far): 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 4.0L and 50mm 1.4. Very very rarely I'll use the 17-40 4.0L but not a big fan of wide angle stuff…

  2. 10


    I go in spurts, but RIGHT now, the fav is the Canon 70-200L IS 2.8. Other than that, it's the 50 1.2 the 85 1.8. I really need a fisheye – anyone have any recommendations? Has anyone tried Lensbaby?

  3. 20

    Brenda says

    My favorite lens is my 50mm 1.8 because it makes me walk around and really consider how best to frame everything. But the lens most often on my camera is the 18-55 kit lens that came with it. Go figure!

  4. 24


    I know Nikon makes some great zooms but I love the 50mm 1.4G. Its not the fastest to focus but it is razor sharp and extremely light weight and versatile. It stays on my D700 the most.

    • 26

      Misty says

      I agree. Have had that one about a month and I LOVE IT. Really debated between that and the 24-70 but on a crop sensor, it made more sense. It is L glass and amazing.

  5. 27


    Well I have two kit lenses and a prime so not much to choose from but I love the 50 f1.8 that you mention. What a great lens for a great price! If anyone is just starting out this is a must have, especially if you’re on a budget. The lens I really want to get is the Canon 10-22mm…..someday.

  6. 28

    Heather Embrey says

    I would be very interested in your 24-105. I kick myself when I bought my camera that I didn’t purchase the kit with this lense. If still available please contact me via my email. With the details. Heather

  7. 30

    Crystal ~ momaziggy says

    I’ve had the 50mm 1.2L {traded for the 70-200mm 2.8L IS} and now the 50mm 1.8 and don’t care for either. I’ve always been a zoom shooter because I love the compression of the bokeh…not for the zoom itself. I always zoom with my feet. Never been a prime girl UNTIL I bought the 85mm 1.8. This lens has turned me into a prime LOVER. I also love my 100mm 2.8 Macro, but the 85 lives on my camera…which is now the 50D! I can’t wait to upgrade to the 85 1.2L. So my #1 lens is my 85 1.8 and one day will be the 85 1.2L! :O) And when I go full frame in a couple years I hope to have the 135L! So it’s safe to say this previous zoom gal is now a prime gal! :O) Wanna send me your 85 1.2L????? Ha!

  8. 31


    Hands down 50 1.2! I used to own 50 1.8 and loved it until dusts got inside (cheap plastic covering). I just got the 50 1.2 for my 30th birthday present! How awesome is that?!

  9. 33

    Alexa says

    Right now I LOVE my 50m 1.4. However, I am not shooting full frame. ( :( ) So, I am not sure if I made the switch to full frame I am tempted to say that my favorite would be a 85mm… I might just love my 50mm more though if it was a true 50mm! 😉 Can’t wait to find out.

  10. 34

    kc says

    My 50mm F/2.0 zuiko is my fav. Also the 12-60mm F/2.8 ( I use this more with families), next on my list is 35-100 F/2.0 (I shoot with olympus incase any of you were wondering what these lens are. :)

  11. 35


    I love The Composer by LensBaby right and feel like I’m learning constantly. No, I *am* learning constantly.

    I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of lens I want regarding zoom or prime for distance. My family wakeboards and by next summer I want a lens that I can use to get nice shots of the people behind the boat. I’m new to the SLR world though and don’t know what would work best for me.

  12. 37

    Susan says

    I just got my first L lens the 24-70 and it was worth the wait! I now totally “get” the big deal about L lenses.

  13. 39

    Sarah says

    Love my 50mm 1.8. But I’m craving something wider for my Nikon D80 (I’m guessing I would love a 35mm 1.4, or similar).

  14. 40


    I’m looking at adding a wide angle lens to my arsenal. What wide angle would you, and all you readers, recommend? I have a Nikon D60 and will probably be upgrading the body to maybe the 300 sometime within the next 12 months. Help please!

  15. 41


    I am jumping on the 50mm bandwagon too! I have a f1.8 and want a 1.4 or 1.2. Besides the great backgrounds that lens gives you, it also is so much less intimidating to children and babies than my 70 – 200mm 2.8 which is my next favorite lens. Plus it is not nearly so heavy to use and carry around, I am always bumping things with that long lens. I do not have a true wide angle, but did get the 24 – 700 2.8 zoom and while I like the zoom capability, I do not get the out of focus backgrounds and shallow depth of field that I love, even wide open. So, 50 is best — in lenses and ages! :)

  16. 44


    I just had to send my 50mm f/1.4 in for repair for a second time (same problem). I told them that if it’s not fixed right this time they are going to have to compensate by giving me the f/1.2. LOL! Yes – I love the 50mm. I love the 85 f/1.8, and just got the 12-24mm for some architectural work that I’m doing, so I love that lens for that.
    I guess it just depends on what I’m shooting, but overall I don’t think you can beat the 50mm. I’ve been lost without mine these past few weeks.

  17. 45


    I am a Prime girl all the way. I have a zoom that has never been used – lol! I have the 28 1.8, 50 1.4, 85 1.8 and 100 2.8 macro. My favorite used to be the 50, but I am starting to LOVE the wider angles of the 28. My next dream is the 24 – I’m seriously needing some L glass.

  18. 47


    i started out with the 50mm 1.8. great lens. i have two lenses that i use a lot now, the 85mm 1.8 and the 28mm 1.8. 85 1.8 is awesome for shallow depth of field and candids and the 28 1.8 for telling a story. next on my wish list is the 35 1.4l and a 135 f2l.

  19. 48


    i. I usually have my 50mm 1.4G Nikkor on my D700. Well built, does an excellent job and is light.
    ii. My second choice would be my Nikkor 70-200/2.8. It is too big and too heavy … but I always love the quality of the images it produces on my D700 and that keeps me going back time and time again to use it.

  20. 49


    Definitely love the 50mm 1.4. I took online friends’ advice when I first got my dSLR and ordered that lens instead of the kit lens, and am SO grateful I did! Soon afterward I also got the Tamron 28-75 2.8 and love that as a travel lens. There are others on my wish list, but I’ve really done fine with just those two the past two years! :)

  21. 50


    Right now, my go to lens is the 85mm 1.2 and in tighter spaces, the 50 1.4. Of course, this is until I get a 50 1.2. I’m a sucker for prime L glass.

  22. 52

    Lissette Q says

    I have the 35mm/1.4L, the 50mm/1.2L and the 85mm/1.2L II and I love ALL three equally, although the 50mm spends more time than the others on my 5Dmii. I have several other L lenses, but these 3 are my top peeps!

    • 54

      June Anderson says

      If you still have your Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for sale, I am very interested in buying it.
      Thanks, June

  23. 55

    Sherri SW says

    Well being that I only own 2 lenses at the moment I LOVE them both
    I have the 50mm 1.8 and the Sigma 24-70mm 2.8
    But the Sigma stays on my camera about 75% of the time so I guess you could say its my favorite for the time being

    Buying 2 more lenses this year as soon as Tax season
    just not 100% what I want yet – highly considering a good Macro lens

  24. 61

    Ginger Zagnoli says

    have a D90 and love it….I bought only the body and puchased the best value prime, 50mm 1.8…..I love it and have only missed one shot where I needed a wide angle. for 6 months I’ve lived with this prime and glad that I didn’t buy what I thought I wanted. I think I am going with either the Nikon 18-200 VR, or the Tokina 12-24mm f/4. The prime takes such great crystal clear shots, I can always crop to a closeup and still get that wonderful Bokeh.

  25. 63

    izzy says

    I’m getting my first nifty fifty – f1.4.
    Already ordered and just waiting for delivery.

    I’m very very excited hehe :)

  26. 67

    Jennifer Shannon says

    I about cried when I read this article… let me explain. My husband and myself had our own photography business, while I started to sore as a wedding photographer, my marriage was failing. Try taking pictures of love unfolding in front of you at a wedding when your husband is cheating on you. You can then say you have been a photographer under “all” conditions. In the divorce I had to sell my much loved Canon 5DMII, 50 1.4, L70-200, L17-44 that I worked so hard for, a price worth my now peace. Long and the short of it, it doesn’t matter what’s in my bag that makes me a great photographer, it is what’s in my heart!


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