Let's Talk | My Lens Collection | Charlotte NC Photographer
I remember when I was working towards building a professional photography business finding the right gear was tough for me! Before I even established Melissa Lynn Hunt Photography I would stalk photographers at my friends weddings. I just wanted to get a close glimpse at what they were using to shoot. I would look at their camera body dials and try to guess which camera they were using. I would look for any markings on their lenses that would help me distinguish what I was looking for when I did a google search at home. It was exhausting. I'm not suggesting you should stalk. Promise.
What really helped me was taking photography classes and workshops. This allowed me to connect to other photographers and talk about gear. I learned the most from these experiences. Way more than I did stalking.
What I hope is that by sharing with you what I like to use, it might help answer a question you have or help guide you in the direction of a lens you have been on the fence about! I would like to put out the disclaimer that I do not know everything. I also don't know all of the "techy" things there is to know about these lenses. I will share with you what works for me! Deal?
So let's start with my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE LENS!
This lens is on my camera body 95% of the time. A few years ago it replaced my 50mm F/1.2. Listen, I had a major crush on my 50mm. The 50mm was the lens that converted me to a prime exclusive user. (Prime lenses have a fixed focal length - 24, 35, 50, 85, etc) The 50mm is not pictured above because it was used to shoot the image. I also haven't given a 50mm image example in this post because I haven't shot with it in 2 years. At least, I couldn't tell you when I last shot with it, therefore couldn't find an example to pull from.
When the 85mm joined by arsenal my photography life had changed forever. I absolutely love the compression and the bokeh created by this lens. For me it's a dream to work with. It's not too heavy either. I am not a fan of hurting hands after a shoot, and this lens does not bother me. I use the 85mm primarily for my senior portraits.
Below is a senior portrait taken with the 85mm.
This lens is a new addition. I bought it with the desire to involve more landscape in my images. I also feel as though I can capture great emotion with this lens without have the distortion on the edges. I will talk about that when we get to my 16-35mm.
So the reason I chose the Sigma over the Canon was for 2 reasons. First, I was going to save some cash. Second, my photographer friends had raved that the Sigma was sharp and easy to focus, which is something you usually give up on when you buy less expensive lenses. I have to say, I am more than pleased with my purchase!
Below is a senior portrait taken with the Sigma 35mm
The 16-35mm was one of the first lenses I added to my collection! I was primarily shooting weddings at the time and based on the advice of a friend I bought the 16-35mm to enhance my wedding reception images. Best decision I made for that purpose. There is a distortion along the edges of the images taken with this lens. It's as if the outer edges are being stretched. It looks awesome when people are dancing.
But because of the distortion, I don't prefer for it for my portrait work. I believe this lens is niche lens for sure. It has it's time and place.
Now, before I owned the 35mm, I did test out the 16-35mm. Below you will see a collage of images taken during my snowy senior session. I made sure to crop appropriately in camera so I did not distort her body. You can see, though, a slight pull in some of the images which gives the motion a neat effect!
The Macro lens was another lens I added to my collection when I was primarily shooting weddings. I wanted to capture the details so perfectly. In my opinion, there is no way around this lens. If you want crisp details with a gorgeous bokeh, you must have the macro. While, the 100mm macro is the only one I have ever used, I have heard from friends and have seen in their work the difference this lens can make. Again, I don't know first hand.
I have not used my macro during a senior portrait session yet, however, I have played around with it on an engagement session and it takes a killer portrait. It's gorgeous! Until I have a senior portrait example, here is a sweet little newborn for you. You can see how crisp and clear her sweet features have been captured using the macro.
This lens has been around since the beginning! I have a love - hate relationship with this lens. I love it's quality and hate it's weight. It's a heavy one.
So let's talk about why Tamron over Canon. I chose Tamron because I was at the beginning of my career, did not have a lot of money to invest in lenses, and my friend told me that this particular brand was an excellent alternative. My Tamron has been faithful to me for over 40 shoots. Because of it's weight, I avoid it. I truly do. I feel bad because it's a beautiful lens and has a gorgeous bokeh. I just can't handle the weight. However, it is a MUST HAVE if you shoot weddings. This lens allows you to get up close without having to get in front of the guests. The image below was shot from quite a distance. I was about 7 rows back on the right of the aisle.
I have friends who shoot portraits with their 70-200 and the images are amazing. I would highly recommend it if you aren't worried about it's weight.
I hope you find this helpful enough to guide you in your decisions! If you have any questions at all I would be more than happy to answer them. I know that purchasing such expensive equipment can be tough. If I can help you with a decision in any way I would be glad too.
I also shoot with over camera flash if you would like to know more about them.
If you want to email firstname.lastname@example.org directly with your questions you certainly can!
Melissa Lynn Hunt, Charlotte NC Photographer, is a wife, momma to Noah and a professional photographer specializing in senior portraits.