I think I’ll try something different today. I’ve been pondering doing a post about my photographic gear for a while, but I’m not sure how much people would actually get out of looking at my kit. Instead I want to highlight just one piece of equipment in particular: Canon’s EF-S 60mm macro lens.
The motivation behind this post is that I’ve had several new DSLR owners ask me about lenses. It’s perfectly natural to want more than one lens after buying into a camera system. I got to thinking about what lenses I bought when I got my first DSLR, and what lenses I actually use most. It didn’t take much thought – my favorite lens, by a mile, is Canon’s EF-S 60mm macro.
This is actually one of the first two lenses I bought when I got my Rebel T2i. For under $500, it produces fantastic images. It’s sharp even when wide open, has great color rendition, produces nice bokeh, and resists glare and flare reasonably well.
Image quality isn’t the only area where this lens excels. On a crop body, the 60mm focal length is very versatile. It can serve as a portrait lens, performs decently in low light thanks to its f/2.8 max aperture, and is light and small enough to use on walkabouts. In fact I do carry this lens with my Rebel daily, though I don’t actually do much street photography.
The build quality is very good – more than adequate for studio work, though I’d be more careful with it in inclement weather or tough field conditions. This isn’t a rugged, weather-sealed L lens after all. Luckily there really isn’t much to go wrong with this lens. Above, you’ll see the only two controls: the focus ring, and the auto/manual focus switch. The focus ring has a nicely damped action that you can use fairly precisely.
A gold band circles the front of the lens barrel indicating the presence of Canon’s USM autofocus motor. It’s fast, silent, and very accurate. Another benefit of USM is that it allows full-time manual focusing, so you don’t have to worry about toggling the autofocus switch. You can also see a distance scale. Many of Canon’s cheaper consumer-grade lenses don’t have one (or don’t have as nice of one). I rarely use it myself, but some people will be glad to see one here.
Above you can see the reason behind the EF-S designation. The protruding rear element reduces the distance between lens and sensor, allowing for smaller, lighter, and cheaper lenses to be made.
So basically, this is the lens I cut my teeth on. I’ve used it more than any other lens (at least for figure shots). Many of my favorite shots and photo sets were taken with it. To name a few:
Part of the set for Yamato’s Cammy
…and certainly many more. So that’s why, whenever I’m asked about lenses, I say to find a 100mm macro or the equivalent for a crop body (60mm on a Canon APS-C body translates to about 96mm on a full-frame). You’ll get excellent image quality for the money, and a very versatile piece of kit.