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Conflicted with kit. Looking for suggestions!


So let me start by showing my current kit.



Canon 24-70L 2.8 II

Canon 85 - 1.8

Canon 50 - 1.4


I shoot portraits, street photography, and indoor sports mainly.

Also enjoy shooting indoor family events.. would also like the option to capture some good landscape images, as I do plan on traveling soon.


I've recently found myself a bit bored with the 24-70, as it doesn't create the dreamy effect of the other 2 primes.

I have been looking into the newer sigma 135 1.8 Art lens for quite some time and am really wanting to pull the trigger.. but I'm also looking at the 70-200 IS II, given the versatility and ability to achieve similar results as the 135. (from what I have read at least)

Additionally, I have been eyeballing the canon 35L 1.4 II..


Ideally, I'm thinking of having a future setup as follows, moving toward a trinity of primes:


Canon 35L 1.4 II

Canon 50 1.4 (First lens ever shot with, why get rid of it? On the back burner though.)

Canon 85 1.8

Sigma 135 1.8 Art


Is this a decent setup with the 5DMK4, would you switch up or add anything into the mix?

I would love to hear what you guys have to say, also new to the forum!

Disregard budget please.


Thanks in advance everyone!



"Canon 24-70L 2.8 II

Canon 85 - 1.8

Canon 50 - 1.4"  or switching to this


"Canon 35L 1.4 II

Canon 50 1.4 

Canon 85 1.8

Sigma 135 1.8 Art"


First there is no way I would opt out of owning the ef 24-70mm f2.8L II.  And the lens I would add in favor of the ones you selected is the ef 70-200mm f2.8l II.  The 70-200mm f2.8L is the best portrait lens I have ever used.  It has gained an outstanding reputation among the pros as the goto portrait lens.

I either have or I had all the lenses you listed and can easily say the ef 70-200mm f2.8l II is the way to go.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


The "dreamy effect" of the other two primes you refer to is the background blur associated with a shallow depth of field.  


THREE factors contribute to the depth of field... and a shallow depth of field with a close subject focus will increase the background blur.


These three things are:


1.  Focal ratio... LOW focal ratios (like f/1.4 and f/1.8) contribute to a shallow depth of field.  High focal ratios (e.g. f/16, f/22) help achieve a very broad depth of field (nearly everything in focus).


2.  Focal length... LONG focal length lenses decrease the depth of field.  Short focal length lenses create a broad depth of field.   E.g. I have a 14mm lens... nearly everything is in focus (you almost don't need to focus it and it almost doesn't matter what f-stop you use). 


3.  Subject distance.  Focus on a subject at a CLOSE distance to the camera (with a distant background) and the background will be out of focus.  As you move the subject farther away, the background starts to become more and more in-focus.


To maximize the effect... a long focal length lens with a low focal ratio and a close subject distance would produce extreme amounts of background blur.  


I have a Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM ... and the combination of 135mm and f/2 create EXTREME background blur if I focus the subject relatively close to the lens.


I also have a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM... and that produces the strongest amount of background blur.  I warn people that images from that lens are so sweet & creamy that you can get diabetes just looking at the photos.  😉


The reason you aren't seeing the effect so strongly with your 24-70mm f/2.8 (even though that's qutie a versatile lens) is that below 70mm... f/2.8 is not a partcular LOW focal ratio (but f/2 and f/1.4 are).


But above 70mm... f/2.8 is actually pretty good.  The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II is a favorite lens for portraiture because when you use f/2.8 at the 200mm end of the range ... and just step back from your subject, you can get fairly strong background blur.


You'll also probably love the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II for indoor sports.  (it is THE favorite lens for indoor sports and it blows away all the competing lenses on the market for sports as well as portraiture (Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 is the only 70-200mm f/2.8 on the market that doesn't have a severe focus-breathing problem.  Canon's lens has extremely little focus-breathing.  Focus breathing means that as you change focus, the actual focal length of the lens changes.  Even though you zoom to 200mm and focus on a close subject, on a 3rd party lens the true focal length drops to around 140mm or less.  On the Canon lens it only drops to about 190mm (which is excellent).  All lenses breathe at least a tiny amount... but Canon does quite an impressive job of controlling the issue.)


I'd put the 70-200 as the #1 lens on your list (it's the lens that lives on my 5D IV.)


I think you'll really enjoy the 135mm f/1.8 Sigma Art lens.   I use mine (the Canon) mostly for concert (extreme low light) events ... not so much for "portraits".  BUT... be warned that to shoot portraits with this lens (or the 70-200mm f/2.8) you'll probably mostly use them for outdoor environmental portraits.  To use them you'll need a lot of space (more than you typically have when shooting indoors ... unless you have a huge room.)


You may not necessarily be impressed with the 35mm f/1.4 if what you want is a strong background blur.  You CAN get strong background blur with this lens IF you use a VERY close focus distance (think "close up" photography like flowers that nearly fill the frame).  Once you have even a moderate amount of subject distance that background blur is going to drop off.  This is because while you have focal RATIO working FOR you... you have focal LENGTH working AGAINST you... so now you need subject focus DISTANCE to tip the scales in your favor and get the subject extremely close.


Also be aware that the "normal" focal length for a full-frame DSLR is about 43mm...anything less than that is "wide" angle.  At 35mm you are moderately wide... but not extremely wide.  But "wide" lenses "stretch" your sense of distance (shooting a room with a moderately wide lens makes the room seem larger).  It creates a kind of distortion that can be unflaterring in portraits becuase a subject's nose is closer than their eyes is closer than their ears, etc.  and this "stretch" elongates their face in an unflattering way.  At 35mm you'll just get a touch of this effect... but be aware of it.


Landscapes usually favor moderately wide to wide focal lengths to "take in" the dramatic scenery and stretch the sense of depth... but just occasionally the opposite is desireable (to create "compression").




What I might suggest... is that you rent a few lenses you are thinking about buying... try them out.  


You can rent from vendors such as LensRentals or BorrowLenses.  Many local camera shops also rent lenses (if you happen to have a nearby store that does this... it would have to be a "real" camera store... not a big-box store that happens to sell lenses.)


On the high-priced and a bit more complicated side... are the tilt-shift lenses.  Originally tilt-shift lenses are designed to correct for perspective distortions as also to tilt the focal plane to lay along the subject plane (for example in a landscape) WHILE being able to shoot at a low focal ratio.  But many photographers invert this (deliberately) because you can use a tilt-shift lens to force a shallow depth of field (often to create the "miniature" effect.)   One of my favorite portraits (not my own) used a 90mm tilt-shift and was adjusted so half the subject's face was tack-sharp... the other half was strongly blurred.


Just be warned that all tilt-shift lenses are manual-focus only (there is no such thing as an auto-focusing tilt-shift... it would be completely impractical) and they are not intuitive lenses.  It takes a while to learn to use them.  Also they aren't cheap.


I have the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lens and Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L tilt-shift lens.


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da


Given that you're branching out from portraits to travel and landscape photography, you cannot get rid of the 24-70mm.  The 24-70mm f/2.8L II is the very best lens Canon makes.  Droves of people abandoned their primes because of this lens.


You appeared obsessed with the extreme bokeh offered by aperture under f/2 and I can understand that.  After all I have all of the lenses you stated.  And I'm also obsessed with bokeh (who isn't?).  However, this will only work with single person portraits, generally.  For anything else, f/2.8 is plenty good. 


Your choice of the 35mm 1.4 is a poor one imho.  35mm is a poor FL for portrait as it unpleasantly distort the model's face and features.  35mm is also not wide enough for most landscape shots and you don't need f/1.4 for anything but single person portrait and for astrophotography (e.g. milky way) - then again 35mm is not wide enough.


If money is no object as you stated, I'd get the latest 85mm f/1.4L IS or the 85mm f/1.2L II and the 50mm f/1.2L.

The 70-200mm f/2.8L is also a very versatile lens for portrait and others.  Remember Depth of Field/ bokeh is not only a function of apertures but also of focal length and distance to the subject.  In short 200mm @ f/2.8 can give you better bokeh than 35mm f/1.4 any given time.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

As for the Siggy with a 5d4:  My Sigma 35 Art was making hard dark circles around the images. Turns out you have to disable peripheral illumination in the camera because the software in the camera doesn’t play well with the lens. I don’t have the dock but as far as I know Sigma doesn’t have a patch for this anyway. 


Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

" I'd get the ... the 85mm f/1.2L II and the 50mm f/1.2L."


I love these two lenses but no way would I get them in favor of, or instead of, the ef 70-200mm f2.8L II.  Just, MvHO, though.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
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