The Holy Trinity…On the cheap


When it comes to camera equipment, and to Canon lenses in particular we are currently offered a vast selection of more than fifty different lenses ranging from the ultra wide circular fisheye zoom starting from 8mm up to the ‘I need a sherpa to carry my shit’ 1200mm ultra long zoom (now discontinued)

Within the world of fixed focal lengths I have often heard established photographers talking about the ‘holy trinity’ which is merely a fancy description covering three of Canon’s sharpest and most admired fixed focal lenses; 35mm f1.4, 85mm f1.2 and  finally the 135mm f2.0  – Personally I am hot sure how three very phallic looking barrels of metal and the word ‘holy’ should ever be used in the same sentence.

While I do not  disagree that the most recent version of the above lenses all are absolutely amazing lenses I am also aware that they will set you back more than $4k if purchased new and therefore  way out of reach for most non-professional enthusiasts and hobby-shooters.

If you are serious about your photography but on a tight budget, I can recommend the following three lenses which, are all EF lenses and lenses which I believe will be brilliant alternative (read: not substitutes) to the above lenses. Please note that I have choses these lenses based on the FX format (full frame bodies such as 5D, 6D etc)

Two Fixed and a Zoom

I am a big fan of fixed focal lengths and also a massive fan of wide angle lenses and i have spent the last three years working with a variety of lenses ranging from 14mm to 400mm so I believe I have the authority and experience to publish my picks.  I have chosen two prime lenses and one zoom, which I all believe are brilliant and worth every penny – even without having to break the bank!

17-40mm f4.0 

This lens from  was introduced by Canon ten years ago and is currently also the cheapest and lightest L lens on the market weighing in just below 500g which is not much considering it has three aspherical + 1 UD elements inside it (which is only one less than the 16-35mm f2.8)

This lens is beautiful for landscape photography and stepped down a a bit the CA is barely visible and can create some really amazing landscape shots. Before I added the 16-35mm mk2 to my camera bag this was my preferred UWA lens and with a suggested RRP of around $700.00 you can usually find secondhand versions in a very good condition for less than $500,

50mm 1.4

While Canon currently have four different prime lenses covering this focal lengths this is by far the one which I would offer the prize for ‘Best Value’.  Pick it up for around $380.00 brand new and you are set to go..  300g of bokeh-licious goodness with a maximum (read: not minimum) aperture of  f1.4 makes it one of my all-time favourite lenses to walk around with. Probably one of the best focal lengths for reportage, docu and video as well.  Unless you are a homeless student there are no real reasons why you would invest in the f1.8 over this and the price difference is well worth it – now, stop reading and go get one!

85mm f1.8 

If you are shooting portraits chances are that you already have an 85mm lens in your bag, and there are a very good reason why 85mm is such a great focal length for portraits as it creates a great perspective not just for the subject but also the background.  While not as sharp as the above mentioned f.1.2 version of this lens I have found this lens to be a very good substitute when working i  the field or studio and need to shoot a head/shoulder shot or travel portrait.  very lightweight lens and not least an affordable solution landing at just around $400.00 from new.


Other lenses which I find to be ‘underrated/great value for money’ includes the 15mm Fisheye (discont.), 24-105mm kit-lens and not least the entire lineup in the 100mm area

What is your favourite lens – comment below

Thanks for reading


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