Last year I wrote about my love affair with my 24mm 1.4. It is an amazing lens, and I am still quite fond of it, but I’ve found myself leaving it at home more and more. My style is always evolving, and in the last six months I’ve fallen in love with a new lens: the 60mm 2.8.
John got the 60mm 2.8 for me for Christmas last year. I’d wanted a new macro lens, as my other macro lens – the 105mm 2.8 – doesn’t do well in low light. I LOVE my 105mm – it is a gorgeous portrait lens – but it’s not ideal for the often small and dark hotel rooms I find myself working in, in New York City. I found myself shooting at 2000 ISO or higher more often than I’d like, because I couldn’t lower my shutter speed and keep the 105mm steady – it’s huge and heavy. Enter the 60mm.
At first I found myself only using it for the purpose I’d originally intended – macro shots. I’d pull it out once or twice during an elopement, and that would be it. But then earlier this year, my 50mm 1.4 mysteriously stopped working. It just wouldn’t communicate with my camera, and so I took it in to be repaired, and figured I’d use my back up 50mm 1.8 while I waited for it to be fixed. But after not having used the 50mm 1.8 in so long, it felt like a cheap, plastic toy on my D800. I wasn’t loving the results. I considered my other lenses, and thought I’d try out the 60mm 2.8 as a portrait lens while I waited to get the 50mm 1.4 back.
I was immediately blown away. The quality of the portraits – the richness of the colors – the sharpness… the 60mm was the greatest portrait lens I’d ever picked up. I was annoyed with myself for not trying it sooner as a portrait lens. The 60mm was tailor made for me and my particular style. I was in love… big time.
When I finally got the 50mm 1.4 back, good as new, I found myself hesitant to pick it up again, and I’ve found myself shooting most of my portraits with the 60mm. I have absolutely no idea what it is, but there is a quality that the 50mm 1.4 cannot replicate, no matter how I try. The 60mm just delivers the look I’m going for so perfectly.
Of course, I won’t be leaving the 50mm 1.4 at home any time soon. It’s a solid, work horse of a lens, and no kit is complete without it. The 60mm can’t work in low light the way the 50mm 1.4 does, and the 50mm 1.4 is infinitely faster than the 60mm. I would never shoot a ceremony with the 60mm; it is way too slow. But – especially in bright sunshine – the 60mm renders colors in a way the 50mm 1.4 just can’t. For portraits, I think it’s unbeatable. Somehow, completely unexpectedly, it worked its way into my heart, and has truly become my favorite lens this year.
A few of my favorite recent images from the 60mm 2.8: