[Poll] The One Lens to Rule Them All

[Poll] The One Lens to Rule Them All

Ok, so the Lord of the Rings reference is a bit dramatic. But photographers ask this question of each other all the time: "What lens could you not go without?" Imagine that you had to pick one lens for your camera for the rest of your life. Which lens would that be? Could you be completely satisfied with an 85mm f/1.4, or would you grab the 70-200mm f/2.8? Decisions decisions...

In speaking to instructors and photographers from all over the world, this is what I call the "desert island lens" question. It is of course a preposterous situation, but it's interesting to hear the rationale behind choices from photographers of different backgrounds and professions. I put together a short list of some of the most popular lenses, each with their own merit. Any one of us would likely be happy with all these lenses for specific situations. They are all great lenses. But if you had to pick only one, which could you make work for the rest of your photographic career? Let us know in the poll and then tell us why in the comments section below.

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52 Comments
Chris Whonsetler's picture

50 Prime on a full frame! Jump into DX mode & change it to a 75mm for free! Perfect for low light & the perfect focal length

Wait, What about the 35 1.8?

70-200 f2.8.. But just the Nikon version :-p

Stephan Mantler's picture

The only lens I really could not go without is the one in my eye...

Nick Viton's picture

24-70 2.8
so obvious

Mikael Månsson's picture

Canon 35 1.4L

these all are canon lenses so, 50 is sh*t, 85 is long for every day use, 70-200 same, 18-85 no, So we have 16-35, 24-70 and 24-105. 16-35 a would love that-but it's wide for everyday use. 24-70/24-105? my choice is 24-105, it has IS, good quality and range.

Jason Kessenich's picture

I voted 24-70 f/2.8L.  The 35L would be a close second.

24-105! Although I would probably say 24-70 if it had stabilization.

Laura Eliza's picture

70-200 2.8 for me. I don't think I could live without the low f stop, and I love the compression for portraits =) 

Aaron Pelly's picture

24-135 f/1.4. If I'm going to be stuck in a preposterous situation, I might as well have a preposterous lens. ;-)

That said, I'd pick a 24-70 for the all-around usefulness, though 70 would be a bit shorter than I'd want.

Nyaj Timautes Yaaj's picture

24-70mm 2.8. Wide enough to shoot landscapes and indoor shots, but versatile enough to zoom in for closer shots of people. Not to mention the 2.8. If the 24-105 had that i would have choosen that one instead.

Jens Marklund's picture

Uhm, I chose the 50mm 1.8. But I guess it's easy to pick the 24-70 as it covers such a wide range. Then again, it's pretty heavy. 

Nikkor 300mm F2.8.... owns portraits and sports.

50mm 1.2 !!!

Martin Ellard's picture

 Never leave home without it :o)

RUSS's picture

24-70 2.8 is closest to my  Nikon workhorse 35-70mm  F/2.8D

Garrett Graham's picture

The 35mm 1.4 would be a nice choice, but I would still pick the 24-70 or the 70-200.

Tobias Solem's picture

24-70mm f/2.8

Martin Walter's picture

Nikon AF-D 50mm f1.4 :)

24-70mm 2.8   

Charles Como's picture

I had the 24-70 2.8 but the weight really got to me and I have since switched to the 24-105. A lot easier for myself and my girlfriend to carry around and she gets amazing shots even without that extra f-stop.

Luke Stevens's picture

70-200 2.8, or as I like to call it: The Equalizer.

Not all men are born equal, but thanks to The Equalizer's girth, everyone knows what a big man I am.

Seriously though, I hate using it for the above reason (I've had more than a few comments!), but God damn I couldn't live without it. I guess it's not about how I look, but how my pictures look. Such a nice lens.

Stefano Druetta's picture

we need a 35mm option, ANY 35mm would be THE option! 
please feel free to give me an EF 35 1.4 for free, all my contacts can be found here: www.stefanodruetta.com. thank you!! :D

Mr Blah's picture

105 macro from Nikon. amazing portrait, macro capability like none other, VR for low light..

Vincent Hofer's picture

Well mine is not in the list! What about the 85 1.2! It never leaves my camera!

Vincent Hofer's picture

and the canon NP-E 65 for ultra macro!

Colin Feldhaus's picture

where is the 35 1.4?

My Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G, properly universal on D3s :)

Andy Lalaguna's picture

and no 85mm F/1.2, if I could only use one lens for the rest of my life... why bother with anything else...

Joël Trousset's picture

135 f/2 L - Already can't detach it from by dslr :)

Marcel Irigoyen's picture

I voted for the 
24-70mm f/2.8 but I wish there was a 17-70mm f/2.8 
EF/FX with IS.

superdan_x's picture

Okay guys!!   It's time to stop with this "desert island lens" question!!   Can we call it something more realistic and relevant like the "space station lens" question?    I thing that would be a harder choice!!!  

watisthisidonteven's picture

35 f/2.

anitathuna's picture

35mm 1.4

Luciano Barreto's picture

35 1.4

theauditorynerve's picture

Mamiya 80mm f2.8 AF

35mm f1.4 on full frame, that is the perfect lens for day to day shooting for me!
 

Dennis B.'s picture

300mm 2.8 - great for landscape, wildlife, details... and you can abuse it for portraits!

50mm f/1,2

i think 35mm f1.8 made in china would be a choosen one!

Sieg Martil's picture

24-70 2.8

Rafael A. P. Maduro's picture

for the price of the 24-70 2.8 ill get a 14mm 2.8, 35 1.4 and 85 1.4 their are lovely and very cool for my hddslr workflow, and still have room for a nice set of CP for each one of them, but if it comes to only one well 24-105! 

I couldn't vote because the 85mm 1.4G wasn't on there.

Pieter Westerbos's picture

I voted for the 70-200 because I shoot portraits.  Everyday use is done with my phone. Work/Career is just portraiture, so hands down, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

JimmySchaefer's picture

A 24-70mm f2.8 could be used for a lot of things up close or far away. Plus its gonna be a bit better for those who own a C-size sensor cause you will gain that extra zoom.

Kurt Stevens's picture

Oh yes where is my 35 1.4L? :|

Yael Paris's picture

I love the quality of prime lenses but if I could have only one lens I'd take the 24-70 !

Daniel Yu Suzuki's picture

The poll should say 24-70mm 2.8 II. Otherwise the 24-105mm is sharper.

Ali Reza Zamli's picture

24-70.... great all rounder especially on a full frame

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