Yeah, I bought another piece of gear. Someone is probably thinking I have GAS. That’s Gear Acquisition Syndrome, not… well, you know.
GAS is serious. It’s the concept or preconception that having that one piece of gear will make you a better photographer, that you NEED that gear to do what you want to do.
Well… I have had GAS many times in my career, but lately… this isn’t GAS. I switched to Sony Mirrorless a little less than a year ago, and rediscovered why I love photography. Yes, photography in general, not just Weddings, though they are still the mainstay of our business and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
I bought a zoom lens first. A 24-105mm zoom. It wasn’t cheap, but it had great reviews, and I thought it was pretty well rounded, and… I used a similar lens when I shot Canon. This is still a wonderful lens, excellent in fact and it’s used at nearly every wedding to this day.
Then I decided to use primes. To those who are new to photography, primes are single focal length lenses, ie, they don’t “zoom”. You have one set focal length to work with. To the uninitiated, this seems like a limiting factor. To the creative mind, this is a window to see the world in a certain way.
You see… each focal length has it’s own… personality, and by having that one characteristic set for you, you use it to tell the story you want to, within that frame. Over time you begin to know and anticipate what that frame will look like and can get a sense of exactly where a shot should be taken from, how it will look, etc. We call this envisioning a photo. Instead of, “Hey, lemme stand over here and see how this turns out.”, it becomes, “Oh, I have this idea in my head of how I want this to look, let me go here, and do this….”. Yes, it will make you a better photographer.
Back to lenses. I bought a 35mm lens, then an 85mm lens. I had purchased a 28mm earlier on, but it’s really more of a backup now. Then… I needed wide angle, so I purchased an 18mm lens.
Before anyone freaks out… at this point I still had a full complement of Canon lenses and bodies too. The Sony was still in testing and we were building up tools to fully replace Canon.
Back in the day… I was known to shoot entire sessions and 99% of the wedding day with a 50mm lens. I think I did this so much I burned myself out on the focal length! I had a 50 in my bag for years afterward, but it rarely made it to the camera. I was just… bored with it I guess.
Well… recent ideas that ran through my head got me thinking, and a few situations where my 35 was a wee bit wide and my 85 a wee bit long made me look for a Goldilocks lens. One that would fill the space between the two and perhaps offer something unique on it’s own.
Enter the Zeiss 55mm f:1.8.
I looked at several 50mm-ish lenses before deciding on the Zeiss. First… I love Zeiss glass. All my lenses but the 24-105 and the 28 are Zeiss. There’s an indescribable feel and look to images from these lenses and I’d heard the 55 was no exception.
Sadly, not one of the other 50’s seemed to do what I need. That is… sharp from edge to edge, fast aperture (1.8 or faster), and super fast, accurate focus in low light. Yep, I want it all, I know. Well, one other lens did fit the bill… the Zeiss 50mm 1.4, but… nearly double the price. Since this focal length was a “filler” for me, and based on past history, I wasn’t even sure I’d use it that much… spending about $1500 didn’t make much sense.
Also… 5mm may not sound like much, but… 35 to 50 is very little difference honestly, and 50 to 85 is pretty big, well, relatively. So 55 is just a little further from 35 and a little closer to 85. My fear was this would make it a jack of all trades, master of none lens.
Well… it arrived and it’s been super rainy around here so I haven’t had much chance to try it out other than snapshots around the house, but I have to say… it’s quite the lens.
First… it’s small! Compared to my 35mm 1.4, it’s about half the size and half the weight. This makes it easy to hold all day long. The focussing is fast, as in, I don’t notice it being any different from all my other Zeiss glass. It’s accurate too, and dang this thing is sharp. No color cast either, that’s a big deal.
One thing I did notice right off… the framing. It just comes naturally. It’s like putting on an old pair of jeans, just that comfy. While I don’t see it as a lens I would use all day (though I have done that with the 35 even recently!), I do see it as a lens I will use a lot. It’s nearly perfect for groups, and couples portraits. It’s just long enough to be an unobtrusive candid lens, and just wide enough to take in a good part of the scene while still cutting out those things no one wants to see anyway!
So, what may have seemed like GAS, has passed and this new lens has found a home in my bag. If you’re in the market, I can’t recommend this lens enough.
If you do consider buying this lens… use the link here and we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you…