What to do? Lens kit simplification and improvement

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
So I'm on spring break with my daughter hanging our at home this week. I've been shooting a little and working with photos in Lightroom. I gazed upon my acquisition of many lenses over the last couple of years that started with a few low-grade non-L quality lens and slowly grew one at a time until I have what I have now (it's in my signature). I took a cursory glance at all the glass I've bought, tried and sold over the last 4 years since I got immersed in this new "hobby" and the list is long (http://thephotographerslens.com/gear/). What I'm thinking is...maybe it's time to sell off and simplify. Let me preface this whole thing to say that I recognize that in the grand scheme of things, I'm still a relative newbie here and appreciate the thought processes and wisdom of the collective here on this forum. To frame what I do: I shoot mostly sports (soccer) and some motorsports (auto racing)...a bit of portraiture and a fair bit of landscape and cityscape.

So here's what I'm thinking and I'd appreciate any advice or wisdom on whether or not it is sound:

I'm thinking of getting down to the holy trinity of zoom lenses at the expense of most all my primes I've worked to acquire over the last year. I would seek to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the 24-70mm f/2.8 II and EITHER the 16-35mm f/2.8L or the 16-35 f/4L IS.

I would give up (sell) the following in pursuit of the above: 70-200mm f/4L IS, 70-300mm f/4-5.6L, 17-40mm f/4L, 24-105mm f/4 IS, 35mm f/2 IS, 100mm f/2.8L IS, 50mm f/1.4

My rationale is that I think I'd be more effective with few lenses rather than more. Also the quality of these zooms is highly regarded. I've subscribed to the notion (and it's only a notion) that one can zoom with their feet, but when I pack a bunch of zooms in my bag, it requires too much fore thought and effort and have the assurance that one can "get the shot" when it materializes. I am often frustrated with fumbling around with my bag and other lenses trying to swap. I absolutely do love the simplicity of shooting prime, the low-weight and my perception that the quality is better.

Apologies for the large quantity of words here. I just have to believe that others have been through this endeavor and I don't want to overlook some sound logic as to why I may be chasing something that lands me in the land of buyers (and sellers) remorse.

Many thanks in advance for those who take the time to digest this and respond.

Greg
 

takesome1

EOS 5D Mark IV
Aug 23, 2013
1,545
199
100
None your business Alaska
gregorywood said:
I'm thinking of getting down to the holy trinity of zoom lenses at the expense of most all my primes I've worked to acquire over the last year. I would seek to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the 24-70mm f/2.8 II and EITHER the 16-35mm f/2.8L or the 16-35 f/4L IS.

I would give up (sell) the following in pursuit of the above: 70-200mm f/4L IS, 70-300mm f/4-5.6L, 17-40mm f/4L, 24-105mm f/4 IS, 35mm f/2 IS, 100mm f/2.8L IS, 50mm f/1.4

Sounds good to me. I would swap that way if I had your kit. The only modification I would make for myself is keep the 100mm macro and not get the 16-35mm.

Going forward with those lenses you can always add specialty lenses.

I never used my 16-35mm f/2.8L II once I bought the 24-70 II, I sold mine not long ago.

Maybe when the 5D IV is announced think about switching those two bodies for it.
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
takesome1 said:
gregorywood said:
I'm thinking of getting down to the holy trinity of zoom lenses at the expense of most all my primes I've worked to acquire over the last year. I would seek to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the 24-70mm f/2.8 II and EITHER the 16-35mm f/2.8L or the 16-35 f/4L IS.

I would give up (sell) the following in pursuit of the above: 70-200mm f/4L IS, 70-300mm f/4-5.6L, 17-40mm f/4L, 24-105mm f/4 IS, 35mm f/2 IS, 100mm f/2.8L IS, 50mm f/1.4

Sounds good to me. I would swap that way if I had your kit. The only modification I would make for myself is keep the 100mm macro and not get the 16-35mm.

Going forward with those lenses you can always add specialty lenses.

I never used my 16-35mm f/2.8L II once I bought the 24-70 II, I sold mine not long ago.

Maybe when the 5D IV is announced think about switching those two bodies for it.

Funny you mention the bodies. I'll eventually end up with a low use 1D or a 5D Mk 3.

Regarding the advice on the 16-35...it's far better than my 17-40 and I use that a fair bit. I can't see not have one of them.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
10,493
5,718
If you use the 17-40 a lot you will love the 16-35 f4 IS, it is way better than the 16-35 f2.8 II, way way better.

So yes, 16-35 f4 IS, 24-70 f2.8 II make huge sense as does the 70-200 f2.8 IS II, the only other lenses you have which I like a lot are the 35 f2 IS, the 15mm fisheye (it is so flexible with defishing software etc), and the 100mm L Macro, even though I have a 70-200 f2.8 IS I use the 100 more, I haven't used the two Sigma lenses. So if I were you I'd look in your EXIF and see where you are doing your shooting and sell the lenses you use least.

But the 17-40 -> 16-35 f4 IS is a no brainer.
 
Were you trying to make the switch without spending any money? If so, you may have to keep the 17-40, sell the rest and pick up the 24-70 and 70-200.

Currently, I have the 70-200II, 24-70II and I got them because it's easier to take pictures of running toddlers with zooms than primes. However, starting out in this hobby, I was all primes and loved them. Right now, I'm contemplating on selling the 24-70 and picking up a 16-35 and a new (hopefully) 50L (II). I had the 50L and loved it. The 24-70 although a great lens, I'm not in love with it like my 70-200.
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
privatebydesign said:
If you use the 17-40 a lot you will love the 16-35 f4 IS, it is way better than the 16-35 f2.8 II, way way better.

So yes, 16-35 f4 IS, 24-70 f2.8 II make huge sense as does the 70-200 f2.8 IS II, the only other lenses you have which I like a lot are the 35 f2 IS, the 15mm fisheye (it is so flexible with defishing software etc), and the 100mm L Macro, even though I have a 70-200 f2.8 IS I use the 100 more, I haven't used the two Sigma lenses. So if I were you I'd look in your EXIF and see where you are doing your shooting and sell the lenses you use least.

But the 17-40 -> 16-35 f4 IS is a no brainer.

From what I've read, I've gathered it's a must-have for wide angle and markedly better than the 17-40. This is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point that I'll get this lens and sell the 17-40.

I've considered the 24-70 f/4 IS over the f/2.8 version but then I open a whole other can of worms - the whole point being to not compromise and get the f/2.8 variant of both of the most common L zooms. And then I realize that I already have a pretty good spread of that in primes (35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4) and then I think to myself that it might be more versatile in the shorter focal length zoom to have the wider aperture in spite of having multiple lenses. It is easier to zoom with the feet (as they say) in that shorter range.

My greatest need is to have a better light gathering long zoom. The two that I have are great only outdoors on a bright day. Indoors they're utterly useless in most cases. The secondary is to upgrade the wide angle. I'm kind of on the fence in that middle range of the " standard zoom" range.

I'm thinking out loud a bit but figure it helps others to understand my quandary. I'd hate to overlook some obvious flaw in my logic that someone my see and say, "hey, consider this..."
 

slclick

PINHOLE
Dec 17, 2013
4,567
2,909
I did something very similar and now have the 24-70 Mk2, 70-200 2.8 Mk2, 16-35 f/4L, 100 Macro and the 40 Pancake.
Somehow my lens lust ended with this combo. YMMV.
 

Random Orbits

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 14, 2012
2,450
329
I'd do it piecemeal. Start with the 70-200 f/4 IS and 70-300L for the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. Then see if you miss the reach and possibly consider the 1.4x III. IQ will be similar to the 70-300L but the combo will be heavier and won't handle as well, but being able to use the 70-200 as a bare lens indoor is a big win.

16-35 f/4 IS is a clear win over the 17-40L, so I'd do that next. The midrange is trickier. You can cover it with the 24-70 or with primes. I used to travel with a 16-35/50/70-200, but then you find yourself bringing 2-3 lenses all the time. With a midrange zoom, you might be able to get away with just the 24-70 but you lose shallow DOF and low ambient light capability. I got the 24-70 II, and I use it about 30% of the time -- it is my most used lens, but I often find myself packing a fast prime with it for use indoors anyway.

If you have the money buy more equipment, then it isn't necessary to restrict yourself to a certain number of lenses. What you need is clear scenarios to use each one. The zooms get more use but they're generally used outdoors. Primes are favored indoors and for going for a specific shot. And just because you have more lenses doesn't mean that you need to bring all of them with you all the time. You will have more choices. I tend to think about what to bring more when selecting lenses for a trip, but once it's packed, I know which ones to use in which scenarios. Going to my kids' class functions: 24-70 and 70-200 (if in the auditorium). Zoo: 70-300L (and 100L for the butterflies). Family indoor party at night: 35 and 50 prime, etc.

If you can finance the difference, then I'd get the 16-35 f/4 IS, 24-70 II and 70-200L f/2.8 IS II and sell the 17-40, 24-105, 70-200 and possibly the 70-300L. Then see how you use the rest of your lenses for 6-12 months, and then reassess.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
16,694
1,652
I'd do your own thing based on what you use and need. We are all different. I had a huge number of lenses, and finally bit the bullet and sold many of them. I sold three 50mm lenses, my 35mm L, my 85mm 1.8, my 15mm FE, my 16-35mm L II, my 24-105mmL, 300mm f/4L, my 28-300mm L, I'm sure there were more.

I kept a old Tokina 17mm f/3.5 Prime, my 24-70mm f/2.8L II, my 70-200mm f/2.8L II, my 100mmL, still have my 135mmL, and sold my old 100-400mmL and bought the MK II. I also kept my two TC's. My 135mm L gets no use, so I'll likely sell it. For a few years, it was used most of all my lenses, but things change.

I have a 5D MK III and picked up a old 5D MK I which allows me to put both my f/2.8 zooms on the two cameras. The IQ of the old 5D MK I is actually better than the MK III when it comes to facial tones, so I'm really liking it for portraits in spite of its limitations.

I would like to have a close focusing zoom for product photography, I'm now using the 24-70, and at close focus its not at its best, and does not focus as close as I'd like. My 100L has too long of a focal length for my fixed distance product photography setup where I tether my camera to my computer and have my tripod head bolted to a heavy table. The 24-105mmL worked better for that use.
 

Mr_Canuck

EOS RP
Dec 17, 2013
216
0
Careful.

You'll never, ever finish your waffling dance between zooms and primes. Why? Physics and psychology. And creativity. That's why there's this forum, and lens buying addiction. There are different demands and limitations of different lenses in different situations for different people... depending on our whims and emotions and travel plans or customer needs. But who cares what focal length – really – when we're shooting for our own interests? As a hobbyist, which lots of us are on these forums, we're trying to simplify and limit things. But the demand of "get the shot in case" is so vastly different than "intentionally seek out a specific image". They're just completely incompatible intentions.

And so you'll miss your primes and wish you had them. But only when you want them. Just like you think you're missing those precious zooms that you don't have because you think it'll make your photography simpler or easier or more convenient.

Maybe hang on to a prime or two because it simply offers a different and often very creatively satisfying shooting experience. If it's for a gig or client or event, then do what's prudent and pays the bills.
 

fragilesi

EOS RP
Sep 2, 2013
468
1
Sounds like an excellent collection of lenses either way :)

Won't you miss the 300mm reach though if you're shooting football?
 

steepjay

I'm New Here
CR Pro
Oct 24, 2014
22
2
www.johnstone.photo
From past experience, I find the 24-70 doesn't get a lot of action with a 16-35 / 17-40 and 70-200 in the bag. I would suggest 16-35/4IS, 50/1.4, 70-200/2.8II and if you're missing a macro, pick up the 60mm. It fills out the focal length range nicely and gives you a macro. Although since you already have the 100, it's not really worth it to sell it to buy the 60, just keep it.

I like the suggestion to ditch the 70-200/4 and 70-300, get the 70-200/28II and just use your bag with 2 or 3 lenses for a couple weeks and see what you feel you're missing.

If you find you're missing 300, pick up a 300/4IS, there's usually a lovingly used one on ebay for reasonable.

My couple pennies.
 

bholliman

EOS R
Dec 6, 2012
1,473
0
USA
www.flickr.com
I'm fortunate to own the zoom holy trinity (16-35/4, 24-70/2.8 II, 70-200/2.8 II) but would hate to give up my primes.

My 35/2 IS is small and light and one stop faster than the std. zoom. The IS is great.

100L Macro does macro and focuses close. A nice 2- lens combo with the 35.

135/2 Is a light weight, faster alternate to the 70-200.

I use all of the primes (and zooms) frequently. I also plan to add a 50mm prime (either the Sigma Art or new Canon IS if it ever comes out) and a 300 or 400 prime at some point. Not sure my addiction to glass is going to stop anytime soon.
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
Random Orbits said:
I'd do it piecemeal. Start with the 70-200 f/4 IS and 70-300L for the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. Then see if you miss the reach and possibly consider the 1.4x III. IQ will be similar to the 70-300L but the combo will be heavier and won't handle as well, but being able to use the 70-200 as a bare lens indoor is a big win.

16-35 f/4 IS is a clear win over the 17-40L, so I'd do that next. The midrange is trickier. You can cover it with the 24-70 or with primes. I used to travel with a 16-35/50/70-200, but then you find yourself bringing 2-3 lenses all the time. With a midrange zoom, you might be able to get away with just the 24-70 but you lose shallow DOF and low ambient light capability. I got the 24-70 II, and I use it about 30% of the time -- it is my most used lens, but I often find myself packing a fast prime with it for use indoors anyway.

If you have the money buy more equipment, then it isn't necessary to restrict yourself to a certain number of lenses. What you need is clear scenarios to use each one. The zooms get more use but they're generally used outdoors. Primes are favored indoors and for going for a specific shot. And just because you have more lenses doesn't mean that you need to bring all of them with you all the time. You will have more choices. I tend to think about what to bring more when selecting lenses for a trip, but once it's packed, I know which ones to use in which scenarios. Going to my kids' class functions: 24-70 and 70-200 (if in the auditorium). Zoo: 70-300L (and 100L for the butterflies). Family indoor party at night: 35 and 50 prime, etc.

If you can finance the difference, then I'd get the 16-35 f/4 IS, 24-70 II and 70-200L f/2.8 IS II and sell the 17-40, 24-105, 70-200 and possibly the 70-300L. Then see how you use the rest of your lenses for 6-12 months, and then reassess.

I'm planning to sell off in phases so that I won't be missing anything. I'll start by shedding the 70-200mm f/4 IS, the 100mm f/2.8L macro and the 50mm f/1.4 (the canon - I bought the sigma and I'll keep it, for now). That gets me enough money to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8 II. I won't miss the macro as its a duplicate focal length and aperture at this point and I don't really shoot much macro stuff anyway. From there, is sell the 17-40mm and the 24-105 and buy the 16-35mm f/4 IS. Lastly, I'd sell the 70-300mm L for a 24-70mm, but only if I felt I really was missing a short zoom. If not, I'd sell it and buy a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter and put the rest in the bank.

For now, I'll keep the two sigmas - 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4, along with the 35mm f/2 IS and 15mm FE.

Thanks for taking the time to give a thoughtful response.

Greg
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
Mt Spokane Photography said:
I'd do your own thing based on what you use and need. We are all different. I had a huge number of lenses, and finally bit the bullet and sold many of them. I sold three 50mm lenses, my 35mm L, my 85mm 1.8, my 15mm FE, my 16-35mm L II, my 24-105mmL, 300mm f/4L, my 28-300mm L, I'm sure there were more.

I kept a old Tokina 17mm f/3.5 Prime, my 24-70mm f/2.8L II, my 70-200mm f/2.8L II, my 100mmL, still have my 135mmL, and sold my old 100-400mmL and bought the MK II. I also kept my two TC's. My 135mm L gets no use, so I'll likely sell it. For a few years, it was used most of all my lenses, but things change.

I have a 5D MK III and picked up a old 5D MK I which allows me to put both my f/2.8 zooms on the two cameras. The IQ of the old 5D MK I is actually better than the MK III when it comes to facial tones, so I'm really liking it for portraits in spite of its limitations.

I would like to have a close focusing zoom for product photography, I'm now using the 24-70, and at close focus its not at its best, and does not focus as close as I'd like. My 100L has too long of a focal length for my fixed distance product photography setup where I tether my camera to my computer and have my tripod head bolted to a heavy table. The 24-105mmL worked better for that use.

I bought the 100mm L as a portrait lens primarily and for the macro secondarily. The fact it had IS was a selling point for macro and video (both of which I do very little). I want image quality first and simplicity second. I don't need to have a lens arsenal and that's what I feel it's becoming.

Thanks for the input. Much appreciated!

Greg
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
Mr_Canuck said:
Careful.

You'll never, ever finish your waffling dance between zooms and primes. Why? Physics and psychology. And creativity. That's why there's this forum, and lens buying addiction. There are different demands and limitations of different lenses in different situations for different people... depending on our whims and emotions and travel plans or customer needs. But who cares what focal length – really – when we're shooting for our own interests? As a hobbyist, which lots of us are on these forums, we're trying to simplify and limit things. But the demand of "get the shot in case" is so vastly different than "intentionally seek out a specific image". They're just completely incompatible intentions.

And so you'll miss your primes and wish you had them. But only when you want them. Just like you think you're missing those precious zooms that you don't have because you think it'll make your photography simpler or easier or more convenient.

Maybe hang on to a prime or two because it simply offers a different and often very creatively satisfying shooting experience. If it's for a gig or client or event, then do what's prudent and pays the bills.

Wise words that I will ponder. I like gear, and I'm an opportunist. Not a healthy combo.
 

jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
914
276
gregorywood said:
I'm planning to sell off in phases so that I won't be missing anything. I'll start by shedding the 70-200mm f/4 IS, the 100mm f/2.8L macro and the 50mm f/1.4 (the canon - I bought the sigma and I'll keep it, for now). That gets me enough money to buy the 70-200mm f/2.8 II. I won't miss the macro as its a duplicate focal length and aperture at this point and I don't really shoot much macro stuff anyway. From there, is sell the 17-40mm and the 24-105 and buy the 16-35mm f/4 IS. Lastly, I'd sell the 70-300mm L for a 24-70mm, but only if I felt I really was missing a short zoom. If not, I'd sell it and buy a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter and put the rest in the bank.

For now, I'll keep the two sigmas - 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4, along with the 35mm f/2 IS and 15mm FE.

Thanks for taking the time to give a thoughtful response.

Greg

FWIW I reckon you've made the right call keeping those primes, at least until you have changed over the other lenses and you get a chance to see what you think from first-hand experience. I've been trying to cut down and simplify my kit for a while now (a year or two), and while I've reduced the number of lenses I own I'm finding the number is still bouncing up and down a bit. I was favouring good zooms and small/light primes, but I have to say I've been missing having a fast prime or two - so much so that when I saw a good deal on a second-hand Sigma 85 1.4 EX plus Sigma 50 1.4 EX recently I decided to grab them. Will test them out for a while and decide whether to keep the S85 or my old Canon 85 1.8, and whether to keep the S50 1.4 (likely to replace my 40 2.8). Anyway, I would agree with your thinking that keeping a couple of fast primes at the shorter focal lengths for indoor/low light and shallow DOF use is a good idea, since the times when you would use them are likely to be times when zooming with your feet is a practical option.