Could You Live Without This 'Boring' Lens?

Some lenses are naturally exciting, the sort that inspire and excite you to go out and create images. Others are more pragmatic workhorses, and it can be easy to be tricked into thinking you can get away without them, especially when you have something like a bokeh monster in your bag. This interesting video examines one photographer's journey away from and back to an uninspiring but highly useful lens. 

Coming to you from James Popsys, this video essay details his journey away from the 24-70mm lens and back to it a year later. Like Popsys, I have never been particularly inspired by standard zoom lenses, though I will certainly never argue their usefulness. Nonetheless, I think Popsys makes a great point about examining your EXIF data. I did this in Lightroom with my catalog and noticed that I rarely used the widest focal lengths on my 24-70mm f/2.8 and probably wouldn't miss them if I got rid of it and used my 16-35mm lens when I really needed wide angles. I eventually sold it along with a few related primes and got the RF 28-70mm f/2L, which actually saved me money once I sold all my old lenses, and I find it far more fun, convenient, and inspiring to use. It's important to find what works for you, though, both creatively and practically. Check out the video above for Popsys' full thoughts. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Could I live without a 24-17mm zoom lens? Sure. I hav never had one, nor wanted one, anyway. I do own a 24-105mm zoom lens, but rarely use it. I mean, I shoot about 200 days each year, but the 24-105mm only gets pulled out of the bag about 10 days a year. And when it does get pulled out of the bag, it gets used for a specific shot and then it goes back into the bag and stays there for the rest of the day.

Anything shorter than 100mm is of very little use to me, so yes, I could definitely keep on living without a 24-70mm zoom. I can also live without having any prime in the 35-55mm range. And I can also live without any wide angle lenses ... although a wide angle that is a true 1:1 macro could be fun!

A rambling walk not really good to talk about zoom millimeters! For me my everyday carry in a teardrop bag, with big pockets on two sides a zipper pocket in one side and a slide in pocket in the back that is completely discreet with sailboats on the outside, is a Sony A7m3 with the Sony FE 24240 and another Sony A7m3 with the FE 1224 f/2.8 both fit. I go out for sunrises/sets but drive many backroads and walk many beaches but night shots of the city or Milky Ways can be done at a moments notice. The 24240, not talked about much, is great fast focus and great bokeh if center area focused even great in APS-C at 360mm great for birding or wildlife but also a far away subject. You are able to let your imagination roll with what you see both near and far. For many captures are at f/8 anyway.

I only own one lens which excites me when I use it. The focal length of my Voigtlander 40mm f1.2 could be considered ‘boring’ though. The 40mm focal length isn’t too wide or too long and doesn’t add anything to the image through the characteristics of the focal length like a wide or telephoto will. It looks close to what we see with our eyes. With street photography, I tend to shoot stopped down so even the character of the out of focus areas doesn’t distract from the overall image.