If you can only afford one L prime- which one do you choose?

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
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Which prime? Nobody can answer that question except for yourself OP. It depends entirely on your shooting style. One persons ideal prime might be a 14mm f/2.8 or a 600mm f/4.

With the exception of the big whites, primes have never made it to my regular working kit. I don't care what anyone says, the flexibility offered by zooms is pretty much unbeatable for busy professionals. My clients couldn't be happier with the output from the 16-35 f/4is, 24-70 f/2.8II and 70-200 f/2.8isII that 90% of my work is shot on, the balance coming from the big whites.

Canon is talking about a possible 120-300 f/2.8 zoom. Sounds awesome to me!

-pw
 
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CanonFanBoy

O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
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But the title doesn't specify RF, hence the confusion.
There would be no confusion if people would read past the title. ;)

"Been thinking about pulling the trigger on the RF 85 as there is a sale on here in Australia. Although it is a focal length I would use I’m hesitant because to be honest, as expensive as they are I can probably only afford one RF L prime. "

"I realise everyone’s use case is different (mine is primarily nightscapes and family/portrait) "


For RF prime "L" there is only the 50mm and 85mm right now. Not as fast, more money, and a zoom rather than prime = 28-70.

Why people are hoisting up the Super-tele lenses in this thread is the confusing part. :) He has not changed anything in his OP since I read it around 5:15am this morning.
 
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CanonFanBoy

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Been thinking about pulling the trigger on the RF 85 as there is a sale on here in Australia. Although it is a focal length I would use I’m hesitant because to be honest, as expensive as they are I can probably only afford one RF L prime. I shoot primes mostly and can’t afford to shell out for the whole set when they all come out.

I realise everyone’s use case is different (mine is primarily nightscapes and family/portrait) but was curious if anyone had thoughts on this (and whether it is a lens that is released in RF yet or not)

Thanks!
I will be completely honest. If you are going RF and you can only afford one lens... based on what you say you mostly shoot, get the RF 28-70 F/2L and you will be very happy you did. I have it and the RF 85mm f/1.2. I love them both. But if I had to choose between the two, I would take the 28-70 every day of the week. It is a spectacular lens and unmatched by any zoom I have ever had. IQ is as good as any prime, in my opinion. If you can only get one lens, a phenomenal zoom makes the most sense. I am mobile right now, so can't show an example. Go to the forum portrait thread and look for my posts of Izzi. I am not a professional, so take that into account. I know, not a prime and very pricey. But it will cover a whole lot more ground. Anyway, you asked about an RF prime. If you absolutely must go that way, get the 50mm. I do not own it, but 85mm can sometimes be a little long indoors. I own the 85mm along with the 28-70mm. Seriously, if you can get just one, do whatever you can to get the zoom. You won't find any need to buy a 35mm, 50mm, or even 85mm later. So in the long run, the zoom is a bargain.

Edit: Replied to the wrong post the first time. I'm stupid when it comes to smart phones. ;) Also posted an image taken with the zoom that I could not access on the road.
 

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scyrene

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Dec 4, 2013
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If I could afford one $13K Super Tele, I'd buy a whole host of lesser L Primes. The question does not make much sense, since the price varies by a very wide range.

I sold all of my L primes except for my 100L. Zooms replaced them. I guess 100L is my answer, I can't justify a $13K lens to use a few times a year.
Depends what you shoot, doesn't it? I can cover normal focal lengths in other ways, but a supertelephoto lens is unavoidable for my preferred subjects, and there's no non-L Canon option beyond 400mm*, so that makes the decision. It's just a bit of fun, anyway :)

*edit: come to think of it, can you even get to 400mm without an L? Not including adding extenders to e.g. 300mm. You get the idea anyway.
 
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JoTomOz

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Nov 21, 2018
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Sorry for the confusion, post could have been clearer for sure. Not that it matters at this point but the Idea was you may want/need a handful of lenses to cover your use case, but if you could only afford one really high end prime lens, like a pricey new RF lens, what would it be. And why- which I didn’t put in the post.
 
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JoTomOz

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Which prime? Nobody can answer that question except for yourself OP. It depends entirely on your shooting style. One persons ideal prime might be a 14mm f/2.8 or a 600mm f/4.

With the exception of the big whites, primes have never made it to my regular working kit. I don't care what anyone says, the flexibility offered by zooms is pretty much unbeatable for busy professionals. My clients couldn't be happier with the output from the 16-35 f/4is, 24-70 f/2.8II and 70-200 f/2.8isII that 90% of my work is shot on, the balance coming from the big whites.

Canon is talking about a possible 120-300 f/2.8 zoom. Sounds awesome to me!

-pw
Yeah, perhaps I am too hung up on the idea that primes are the way to go. Not only are the more versatile, they are potentially more value for money as they are like multiple lenses in one!
 

JoTomOz

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Nov 21, 2018
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I will be completely honest. If you are going RF and you can only afford one lens... based on what you say you mostly shoot, get the RF 28-70 F/2L and you will be very happy you did. I have it and the RF 85mm f/1.2. I love them both. But if I had to choose between the two, I would take the 28-70 every day of the week. It is a spectacular lens and unmatched by any zoom I have ever had. IQ is as good as any prime, in my opinion. If you can only get one lens, a phenomenal zoom makes the most sense. I am mobile right now, so can't show an example. Go to the forum portrait thread and look for my posts of Izzi. I am not a professional, so take that into account. I know, not a prime and very pricey. But it will cover a whole lot more ground. Anyway, you asked about an RF prime. If you absolutely must go that way, get the 50mm. I do not own it, but 85mm can sometimes be a little long indoors. I own the 85mm along with the 28-70mm. Seriously, if you can get just one, do whatever you can to get the zoom. You won't find any need to buy a 35mm, 50mm, or even 85mm later. So in the long run, the zoom is a bargain.

Edit: Replied to the wrong post the first time. I'm stupid when it comes to smart phones. ;) Also posted an image taken with the zoom that I could not access on the road.
Thanks CanonFanBoy, I think you may have convinced me on the f2 zoom.
 

CanonFanBoy

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Jan 28, 2015
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Thanks CanonFanBoy, I think you may have convinced me on the f2 zoom.
Believe me, this lens does not disappoint at all. As to the difference between f/2 vs f/2.8... people will say it is not much. Yes it is. I owned the EF 24-70mm f/2.L II and the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II lenses before my switch. The difference in bokeh is big too:

"f/2 is one stop or twice as fast as f/2.8, so in the same light you can:

Double your shutter speed (e.g. 1/60 instead of 1/30 sec)

Use your flash at 1.4 times (the square root of 2) the max distance you could at f/2.8, (say 20 ft instead of 14 ft)

Take a picture w/o flash in half the light (say one bright room light vs. two bright room lights on)
Use half the ISO speed setting (or film), (e.g. ISO 100 instead of ISO 200)."
From DPReview.

I have always said that I could be satisfied with two high end zooms. That's true. If I had to choose between just two lenses for what I do, it would be a short and a moderate zoom. f/2 convinces me even more. My favorite lens was an EF 135mm f/2 before I switched. When it comes out in RF, I will buy again. But a high quality zoom? So good these days that the versatility and bang for the $ is unreal.

By the way: The 28-70 is so huge you will feel like you really got your $ worth and you'll probably be the only guy for miles and miles that has one. :) I like big lenses. The 85mm is big too. I won't be buying f/2.8 lenses in RF. Not that they are not great, just that f/2 is more useful to me. The prices are not too badly different.

PWP (above) is a professional. He said: "With the exception of the big whites, primes have never made it to my regular working kit. I don't care what anyone says, the flexibility offered by zooms is pretty much unbeatable for busy professionals. My clients couldn't be happier with the output from the 16-35 f/4is, 24-70 f/2.8II and 70-200 f/2.8isII that 90% of my work is shot on, the balance coming from the big whites."

I'm a mortal. I'll never have the scratch to afford a big white. Wouldn't be useful to me anyway. Fast modern zoom? Hell yes! ;) Remember, a lot of people have not seen in the wild, much less used, what they might recommend. I am no pro, however, I shoot at a lot of model boot camps and fashion shows. I might make 3,000+ images in a weekend. Probably 2,950 are shot on zooms.
 
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stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
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Yeah in general I tend toward 35 and 85. It’s not that I don’t like 50, just that I am happy with what those two can cover and like a 2 lens solution for many outings.
As they might for me. Back in film days when I had only primes (for some obvious reasons), I gravitated toward taking the 28, 85, and 200mm lenses along. If I used anything else, it was because I knew there was some reason to use a different lens, so that is what I took.
 
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Quirkz

EOS RP
Oct 30, 2014
200
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If there were an rf35 1.2, I’d have jumped on it in favor of the rf50. As it stands, I got the rf50 and the rf35 1.8 - not quite as ‘wow’ inducing as the ef35 1.4L II, but excellent considering the price. Sold my old sigma 50 art. Kept my 35L. As for the 85L - as wonderful as it is; I just very rarely do portraiture, so it stays in a draw mostly. I find 35 & 50 more versatile. I doubt I’ll replace the 85L with the RF version. Not worth it for me. But I’ll never sell the EF85L either...

So, to recap my waffling: I personally prefer the 50 over the 85 for versatility; and if there were a 35, I’d have taken that instead. But it all depends on your needs. Maybe the 24-105 might be better yet. I was surprised to discover how good it was, and how much I ended up using it.
 
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Quirkz

EOS RP
Oct 30, 2014
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Thanks CanonFanBoy, I think you may have convinced me on the f2 zoom.
Not wanting to disagree with canonfanboy (that photo was compelling!), the 28-70 is large and heavy! If it’s around the house family portraits, then it’s fine. If it’s casual travel style family pics, then you might find yourself leaving it behind. Are you close enough to a store to try it out for size?
 

CanonFanBoy

O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
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Are you saying it's so massive that it bends light on the OUTSIDE of the lens?
Has it's own gravitational field. ;) Took a trip to Mississippi and Tennessee this past weekend. Two strangers walked up and asked about it. At a shoot here in Texas, another photog thought I was using a Sony body because it makes the R look so small. haha
 
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SteveC

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Sep 3, 2019
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Has it's own gravitational field. ;) Took a trip to Mississippi and Tennessee this past weekend. Two strangers walked up and asked about it. At a shoot here in Texas, another photog thought I was using a Sony body because it makes the R look so small. haha
Of course the true behemoth would be the 1200mm EF. It would leave a black hole in your finances though--if you can find one for sale.
 

JoTomOz

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Nov 21, 2018
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Not wanting to disagree with canonfanboy (that photo was compelling!), the 28-70 is large and heavy! If it’s around the house family portraits, then it’s fine. If it’s casual travel style family pics, then you might find yourself leaving it behind. Are you close enough to a store to try it out for size?
I have shot a few clicks with it at a camera store and it felt like a beast but not too heavy for me. But you bring up a good point- I have no issue carrying my r almost everywhere but with a lens that big- would it change that? or would I often just chuck an old non-L prime on the camera instead? I wouldn’t think so but will have to give it some thought.
 
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Kit Lens Jockey

EOS 7D MK II
Nov 12, 2016
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Between the RF 50 and 85, I would (and did) buy the 50.

If you can only afford one, you can shoot the 50 from the same distance away as you would the 85, crop down to the same framing, and get something pretty close to what you would have gotten with the 85. And if you ever get a higher MP RF body, it will still be pretty high resolution.

You can't widen up the 85 to be similar to the 50 in post.
 

Michael Clark

Now we see through a glass, darkly...
Apr 5, 2016
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Since you have clarified that it doesn't have to be an RF prime, I'd say the L prime I'd hate to be without the most is my EF 135mm f/2L.

It has a look none of my other lenses, prime or zoom, have.

Yes, it is the cheapest L prime ever.
Yes, it's more than a little long in the tooth.
Yes, there are other lenses in the short to medium telephoto range that score significantly better shooting flat test charts at relatively close distances.

But I don't desire a lens that can let me be the best flat test chart shooter in the world.
I desire more a lens that renders a three dimensional world the way the EF 135mm f/2L does.

Correcting the field of focus to be flat enough to score well all the way to the edges and the corners of a flat test chart seems to mean giving up the smoothest rendering of out of focus areas. Just look at the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS and see that Canon's designers sold its soul in order for it to perform better shooting flat test charts than the EF 85mm f/1.2L II. But where is the rendering of out of focus areas that the EF 85mm f/1.2L II can give (even when stopped down to f/1.4 or narrower)?