My Three Favorite Lenses

Crepuscular rays and spring wildflowers in the Palouse Region of Washington State.

Canon 11-24mm f/4L

The first on my list of top three favorite lenses is the Canon 11-24mm f/4L. This is the lens that I use for 90% of all my photography. The incredibly large field of view allows me to exaggerate leading lines and take advantage of dramatic skies and interesting foregrounds. Because of the extremely close minimum focusing distance with this lens, I’m able to get up close and low to create artistic shots with lots of depth and interest. Because of the extreme angle of view, I need to be careful not to include too much in the frame.

Death Valley Dune Storm

Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS

For situations when my wide angle lens takes in too much of the scene, I turn to my Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS. This is an excellent lightweight lens for carrying and shooting with or without a tripod. As a landscape photographer, I initially didn’t think that the IS, or image stabilization, was an important feature. I’ve since found that I often use this lens hand-held, so this feature has come in handy many times. The thing I love about this lens is its versatility. At 24mm I can shoot scenes that are fairly wide angle and at 70mm I can shoot scenes that are starting to enter the telephoto range. 50mm gets me just about what the eye sees. I think, if I were only able to carry one lens, this would be the one.

Frosty Morning Palouse

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS

Last on my list of favorite lenses is my Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS telephoto zoom lens. I love the ability of this lens to change the perspective and compress scenes, making distant elements appear closer together. It’s lightweight and I’ve found the image stabilization useful in quite a few situations where hand-holding has been necessary. This lens was particularly useful in the Palouse with its endless rolling hills. A perk with this lens is the ability to pair it with a 1.4x tele-extender, giving me 280mm on the long end. As with the previous two lenses, this lens has f/4 as its widest aperture. This cuts down the cost and weight of these lenses considerably. I rarely shoot below f/5.6, so I just don’t find it necessary to carry around the heavy and expensive f/2.8 alternatives.

What lenses do you use? Feel free to share your thought in the comments below.

About Author Chip Phillips

Spokane, Washington based photographer Chip Phillips began his relationship with photography in 2006 when his father gave him his old Pentax Spotmatic film SLR camera. Chip was immediately hooked, and soon made the transition to digital. Given his lifelong love of the outdoors, he naturally made the progression to focusing on landscape photography. A professionally trained classical musician, Chip performs as Principal Clarinet with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, and is Professor of Clarinet at Gonzaga University. Chip’s images have been published in various books and magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, National Geographic, Popular Photography and Imaging, Digital Photography, Digital Photo, and Digital Camera Magazine. In 2009, Chip won first and second place in the landscapes category of Digital Camera magazine's Photographer of the Year contest. Chip is proud to be a founding member of PhotoCascadia, a group consisting of some of the top landscape photographers in the Pacific Northwest.