I’ve always been a practical photographer: I had to have two lenses with me that cover the biggest focal range. Those two lenses were the 17-40mm f/4 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 (both Canon’s). There is a big gap between the 40 and the 70mm, but I would fill it with the 50mm f/1.4 from Sigma. I always had to have the widest and the longest focal length with me, just in case!
Through my career as a photographer, I always had at least one prime lens, and that was the 50mm. First the Canon 50mm f/1.8, and the last couple of years I have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. At some point in my life, I also had the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 (a long time ago, unfortunately it broke down), Canon 100mm f/2.0 (sold it) and the Canon 85mm f/1.8 (bought a used one, sold it, and a couple of years later bought a new one, and I’ll use it until I have a chance to buy the new Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART). Today, my prime lens setup is: Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and Canon 85mm f/1.8.
In October 2016, I climbed to the TV tower Sljeme, on the Medvednica hill, and my plan was to make a photo story for the website Lice grada. I was excited to climb up there and make killer wide angle photos, I knew it would look awesome!
Unfortunately, as soon as I climbed up there and put that 17-40mm f/4 on my DSLR, it started messing with me. It couldn’t focus, the aperture got crazy, and it started showing me error on the display of my DSLR. I tried everything at that moment: pulling the batteries out, turning it on and off, removing lens… Nothing helped. Fortunately, before I went up there, I had to photograph Honda Civic so I took all of my lenses with me, which doesn’t happen very often. So, I replaced my 17-40mm f/4 with the Sigma 24mm f/1.4. It wasn’t as wide as I expected, but it did the job.
When I got back in the city, I immediately went to the Canon service and left it there. To make the story short, that 17-40mm f/4, for some reason (luckily!) started working when they tried it, so I didn’t have to pay for the repair. But, while I was without it (for two weeks, I think), I used the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 more often. Then I realised something… In the last couple of months, I was more and more impressed with the image quality and that special effect of the prime lenses, so I started using them more often.
Today, when I’m doing a photo story for the Lice grada or photographing car for the AutoIQ Magazine, I’m only using my three prime lenses: the 24mm, the 50mm and the 85mm. I think that range is pretty cool, but I wouldn’t mind having the 135mm also, just for more reach, but my next goal is to replace the Canon 85mm f/1.8 with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART.
Why prime lenses? When I know that the reach between 24mm and 85mm will be enough, I take only them (exceptions are sport events or similar things, then I take my 17-40mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/2.8 with me). I learned that prime lenses make you think more, use your feet for “zooming”, thinking about the right frame. Reward? Amazingly sharp images (even at aperture wide open, and I keep it opened 99% of the time!) and amazing background blur.
Carrying those three lenses makes me feel more like a photographer, and a bit less like a control freak who needs to have focal length from 17mm to 200mm all the time!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE wide angle images I get with the 17-40mm f/4 and the shots that only 70-200mm f/2.8 can produce, but at this moment, I love the storytelling experience I get with my three prime lenses