I’ve never considered myself a gearhead.
Yet inside my drawer, there are many lenses with different focal lengths.
I am fascinated by them and how each one allows me to see the world in a different way.
For my commercial work, I depend heavily on my zoom lenses. They allow me the flexibility I need when things are moving quickly, namely children.
Then there are the shots I never would have captured if it weren’t for my prime lenses. They handle low light so beautifully.
And don’t even get me started on my fun and funky fisheye, my Lensbaby Velvet 56, or my iPhone.
But there is one lens above all others that I use when I hit the street with my camera. It is the perfect lens for my travels, whether in my hometown or elsewhere. It’s the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens.
Would you believe I have named mine? His name is Morty, the Shorty Forty.
Yes, I’m declaring my undying love for Morty.
Here’s why I love my 40mm lens.
I love how this lens reinvents my camera. When I attach the 40mm, my camera feels new, smaller, but with all the bells and whistles I’m used to.
I’ve tried compact mirrorless cameras but none compare to the comfort and speed of the one I know inside and out.
I go unnoticed.
Size matters. People notice big lenses. They can be intimidating, not just with strangers but with family, too.
The 40mm is much friendlier and less obtrusive. Honestly, I was shocked at the difference it made when I first started shooting with it. No more stares when I raised my camera.
I guess that’s what happens when the length of your lens goes from 6 inches to less than an inch. Sometimes I still get noticed but it happens far less.
I stay light on my feet.
Weight is everything. To create my best images I have to be comfortable.
Lugging around a lot of gear is no fun. We’ve all been there. The “but what if I need this lens?” devil on my shoulder is pretty persistent.
I’ve found that when I didn’t have any other option, I made the most of the lens I had with me. Some of my favorite images have been made when there were no other options.
I make the dreaded TSA security check easy-breezy.
Traveling by plane can be a headache. It seems the rules are always changing. When you simplify your gear, you simplify your entire travel experience. By lightening your load you have less to worry about.
My last vacation I brought three lenses and guess what? I used the 40mm the entire time. It made things so easy. I could carry a small bag, and my camera was easy to stash in case of rain. Which it did, a lot! Lesson learned. Next time I’m a one-lens traveler.
I am one with the camera.
Because this lens is so small and discreet, I find myself not even thinking about the camera in my hand. My camera and I become one. Because of this, I am much more comfortable getting close to the scene, waiting for the decisive moment.
I don’t break the bank.
This lens is amazingly affordable. Never once have I looked at an image shot with this lens and wished I had another lens with me. Never! It’s fast and sharp, and for my needs, it totally rivals some of my favorite L lenses in the Canon lineup.
Things I think about before and while I shoot.
I make it mine.
I’m always looking for a way to make my images unique. So I ask myself, “How can I capture a scene in a fresh way that really shows my point of view?” The last thing I want is the typical postcard shot.
I have found that a great way to practice is to join a local photography group. After a shoot, it’s so inspiring to see the images everyone captured.
Even though we all took pictures in the same area, I learned to find my unique vision by seeing others’ work. So many times I would see an image captured by a fellow shooter and think, “Wow, I never even saw that!” By participating with others, I’m able to expand my vision and see things differently.
I shoot with intention.
Digital cameras make it way too easy to over shoot. I learned this the hard way when I returned home from vacation a few years ago with a crippling amount of images to cull. Nobody has time for that.
I try to keep in mind the end use of my images while shooting. I try to visualize my end product. It’s key for me to shoot for something. Do I want to create a wall gallery for my home? Perhaps a book documenting a particular trip or photography project? Or maybe I just want to shoot and share on Instagram right away. Thinking about the end result keeps me on point.
I take intention a step further.
In addition to having an end use for my images, I also try to have a concept or theme and shoot for it. I found that it can be freeing to look for something specific. The body of work will be stronger with a common thread.
When I first started shooting, I looked for patterns in my work and that helped me come up with a theme. For example, the graphic designer in me is drawn to messages, signs and words, and how they play against everyday scenes. My “It’s A Sign” series was a project born by shooting with intention.
I make it fun.
I do whatever it takes to keep it fun. This means simplifying and lightening my gear so I can focus on my environment. Like the saying goes, “The best camera is the camera you have with you.” Same goes for the lens. Make it the perfect one.
Words & photos by Sally Ann Field, member of the Click Canon 12
We love lenses! Don’t you? Here are a few more stories about lenses that we think you might like: How to create amazing photos with a tilt-shift lens, 3 surprising lenses pro photographers use everyday and Traveling with one lens: 4 reasons you should love zoom lenses. Plus, read more product and gear reviews here.