When we think of "need to own" lenses, sometimes we ignore the utility for the aesthetics. Other times, when looking at new equipment it really comes down to the usability of a lens and whether it should be taking up space in your bag. If you’re trying to make those decisions now, Pye Jirsa may be able to help.
The utility of equipment is different for everyone, and in the case of wedding photographer and owner of SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa, it really is about what lenses can reap the highest benefit to not only the style of his work but to the clients he works with every weekend. Jirsa has gone through his catalog of 2018 images and noticed a striking realization, that 65 percent of his images are taken with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. If you’ve ever watched or listened to Jirsa previously, you’ll likely remember his personal disdain for the 24-70mm lens. Even with this acknowledgement, the versatility of lens and focal length cannot be overlooked.
One of my favorite lenses ever, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, is the second lens that Jirsa believes should be on your list of must own equipment for any event or portrait photographer. The complementary zoom range and fast aperture make this lens a must have for photojournalist and portrait photographers alike. Coming in second in his catalog with 25 percent of all his images being taken with the 70-200mm, it shows with its ability to separate the subject from the background while eliminating distracting elements from your subjects. Though on the heavy side, the telephoto zoom is a lens that deserves to take up space in every photographer's bag.
Jirsa promises to reveal a separate video to round out the primes he uses as well as reveal how those lenses break down into the other 10 percent of his catalog. I’ve never been a fan of the 24-70mm lens for event work, but have routinely used the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens for events when I knew that lens changes would be too slow. It’s not the fastest lens nor the sharpest and probably the lens I most loathe in my bag (even though I use the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM much, much less). The focal length starting at 24mm and reaching out to a portrait length lens is just incredibly versatile for most event work and keeps you from missing a moment.
So, how do you feel about the 24-70mm lens (or the 24-105mm focal length for that matter) and do you think you share the same usage amounts in your own work as Jirsa? Is there a different lens that you own that you don’t love but can’t live without?