My Gear – Canon L Primes

Life has been pretty crazy the past couple weeks gearing up to shoot “Absentia.” I am only a couple days aways from DPing my first feature film!

Here is the first of what will be several posts about the tools I typically use at a wedding and many of my film projects. I figured I would start off with my favorite lenses, my Canon L primes.

Shown from left to right are the 24mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.2L II, and 135mm 2.0L.

Fixed focal length lenses, or prime lenses, offer many advantages over zoom lenses. I think sharpness and a larger aperture are the biggest ones. Prime lenses are typically the sharpest lenses you can get. I shoot with my prime lenses so much that when I use one of my Canon L zoom lenses (post coming soon) the images almost look soft in comparison. The larger aperture allows me to shoot in lower light than I could with a zoom lens, it also allows me to get a shallower depth of field than I could get with a zoom.

Keep reading below for a few notes about each lens and a few favorite images I took with it.

Canon EF 24mm 1.4LEven though there are wider lenses, I think the 24L does pretty well. It gives you a nice wide view without as much distortion that you would get from a wider angle. I love using my 24L for many parts of the day. I most frequently use it while the bride is getting ready, but also for select portraits and details.

Canon EF 50mm 1.2LI most frequently use my 50L when the bride is getting ready, for select portraits, and details. The 50L focuses much fast than the 85L but I still think I prefer the compression and angle of view of the 85L compared to the 50L.

Canon EF 85mm 1.2L IIThe 85L is an amazing lens that requires much practice to master. The lens focuses really slow, due to the build and design used in this heavy lens yet allowing it to still stay relatively small. I tend to use my 85L most during portraits and the first dance, and details. If the room is big enough I also like to use it while the bride is getting ready. It also comes in handy in low light churches.

Canon EF 135mm 2.0LHonestly my 135L is one of my least used lenses in my bag. I had even considered selling it at one point. Most of the times I need to a lens longer than 85mm I am usually using my Canon 70-200 2.8L. I do love how fast the 135L focuses though, and it is nice to have the 135L in my bag as back-up for my 70-200. It was hard finding images I shot with the 135L. Here is one

I could nearly shoot a whole wedding just using the 24mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.2L, and 85mm 1.2L II. If fact if you ever see me working at a wedding or engagement shoot I probably am using one of those 3 lenses, since they are on my camera most of the day. If you are thinking about adding one of these lenses to your collection please use the links below.

Stay tuned for a post about my Canon L zoom lenses.

RUSTIN MICHAELAugust 15, 2011 - 6:28 am

Chris…. The 85mm 1.8 is a great lens! You have a couple options. Pick up an 85mm 1.8 new or used and sell it when when you are ready to upgrade as glass holds it’s value much better than camera bodies. I picked my 85 1.8 used, when I went to sell it a couple years later, I was able to get more for it, than I had originally purchased it for. You may also decide you love the 85 1.8 and hold off on the upgrade for a long time. Another option is to forgo buying the 85 1.8 and keep saving. for the 85 1.2 and 35 1.4. If I were you I would buy the 85 1.8 for now. If I were you, I would pick up the 85 1.8. At most you would lose 20% of your purchase price when you go to sell it, which isn’t bad for a long term rental. The 35 1.4 is a really nice lens! I used it while filming “Absentia”

Chris ShottonAugust 15, 2011 - 4:38 am

Hi Rustin,

Great to read your post. I am a photographer based in the UK, and wanting to purchase a new low light lense. Would love the 85mm 1.2, but just cannot afford it at the moment…is it worth buying the 85mm 1.8 or being patient and saving for the 1.2…keep in mind that I am also saving for a 35mm 1.4. As a tog, I currently use 70 – 200mm L 2.8, 24 – 70mm L 2.8 and a 50mm 1.4

Kind regards,


[…] might remember last year I posted about my Canon L prime lenses and my Canon L zooms.¬† This is the¬†third post talking about the tools I typically use at a […]

[…] with my Canon Prime Lenses, Canon sent me the 14mm 2.8L and the 35mm 1.4L for the […]

[…] might remember a couple months ago I posted about my Canon L prime lenses. This is the second post talking about the tools I typically use at a wedding and many of my film […]

janelleJuly 13, 2010 - 12:25 pm

thanks for sharing…if only i had the money for the 24mm!! that would be so wonderful =)

cgcervenyJune 17, 2010 - 3:25 pm

Wow, what a wonderful blog post. Informative and done at the perfect time. I have been trying to explain to my fifth graders how a blog should/could be used. Yours will be the feature of my last day tomorrow. Thank you!

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