When I first started my photography business I was really overwhelmed with the many choices I had on lenses. I knew the kit lens wouldn't cut it, but where was I to begin? So I wanted to share what my lens lineup is. Keep in mind, these work for me and everyone is different, so don't just take my advice. I always, always, always do extensive research before any equipment purchase and you should do the same. A site that I was recently introduced to is DXOMark - it's a great starting point. Also keep in mind that I rented the lenses I needed for a wedding for a long time. It not only saved me some cash, it also really showed me what I like and don't like.
I was told to invest in my lenses before my camera body and I am still so glad for this advice. Though I have since updated my camera body to a Mark iii, I still use every single lens I had purchased before that upgrade. So, what do I have? From right to left (because that's how I roll and it may or may not be from favorite to least favorite):
Canon 50mm 1.4: My first lens purchase and my second (first?) husband. I am not kidding, I am still so in love. It's tiny, fast and everything I dream about in a lens. I chose time and time again not to upgrade to the f/1.2 simply because I am just that happy with it. It's the only lens I took to Europe and the one I shoot with almost every day. For most of the wedding day, this baby is on my camera.
Sigma 85mm 1.4: So, truth be told, I literally just got this one. Like, yesterday. I wanted another portrait lens and I can't wait to test it out at this weekend's wedding.
Canon 100mm: This baby was also a new addition this year, replacing the non L version because I realized I really love it for portraits, but needed the image stabilization. I am shaky, y'all! I've played with it already and it's just a dream for details and bling bling!
Canon 16-35mm: This was my second lens purchase and I still use it today on my Mark iii. I love it for the reception, especially those dance photos. It just gets it all into one frame, though there is quite the distortion, so I hardly use it for anything else.
Canon 70-200mm: My least favorite only because it weighs as much as an elephant. Holy moley, that sucker is heavy, but without it I wouldn't be able to capture amazing ceremony images while being a fly on the wall. Like I said, ceremony is what I use it for most, but if my second shooter has a Canon camera (so if Luke shoots with me) he uses it throughout the day for some sneaky close ups during the reception or throughout the day.
Not pictured: the Canon 50mm 1.8, which I used to take these pictures and is on my backup body.
So, I know some will be curious as to why I roll with Canon all day long and then bought a Sigma lens. Well, let me tell you. Why the Sigma 85mm 1.4 and not the Canon 85mm 1.2 or 1.8? I am going to squash the biggest point right now: Money. It wasn't a factor. Sure, I was glad not to spend $2000 on the Canon 1.2, but truth be told, I walked into Dodd Camera Store expecting to buy the Canon 1.8, which is less than $400. So no, money did not alter my decision at all and I actually spent more than I was expecting to that day with the Sigma sitting right in between the two price wise.
What WAS a huge factor was the focusing speed. I knew the Canon 1.2 was slow, but I was amazed just how slow it really was. That's why I always recommend going to a Camera Store and testing out the gear if at all possible. Within 2 minutes that 1.2 sat back on its' shelf (though it really does look kick ass on camera). So it was down to the Canon 1.8 and the Sigma. How did the Sigma win even though it was more expensive, heavier and sliiiiightly slower on focusing? It all goes back to reviews. I had an awesome sales guy at Dodd Camera (if you're in Cincinnati, check them out at the Kenwood store) and he pulled up the comparison on DXOMark. The Sigma actually rated better than either one of the Canons. So I stared at them for a few more minutes, played with them some more and then pulled out my money. It really was a no brainer for me.
I'd also like to note that I hardly ever shoot that wide open, so the 1.2 would really never get used, making that a useless selling point. Again, this is what works for me and so I went with what I honestly liked the most.