Is there just one lens to rule them all? The simple answer is no. It really depends on what you are shooting. Landscape photographers generally look for a wide-angle that is sharp. Macro photographers look for varying things, depending on what they are shooting. Nature photographers look for a variety of things too. Portrait photographers will tell you different points of view, too.
Me? I used to always shoot 50mm prime, but now I shoot predominantly 85mm prime. Let’s not even get into brands here. There seems to be a lens for everything these days.
So what’s the point I am trying to make? Have you got lenses that you rarely use? I know many people do.
Take stock of what lenses you have. Maybe you only have one, which is perfectly fine. Does it do everything you want it to do? Do you use it to its maximum potential? What about your other lenses? Have you tried using lenses for something other than what you may have originally bought it for — 300mm for macro or a wide-angle for portraits? It may sound strange, but experimenting with other lenses can achieve surprising results.
Just grab one lens
Next time you are out shooting, just take one lens. Perhaps even one you rarely use. I recently visited my favorite gardens for some autumn color. The only lens I took with me was my Tamron 70-300mm and my Vello extension tubes. I had every intention of practicing my macro shooting with that lens.
A 300mm? For macro? Sure, why not? I adore the creamy bokeh I can get on this lens, and using the extension tubes allow me to get in much closer than without.
I shot mostly at f/5.0–6.3m which made things a little easier on myself. I’ve found that shooting at a narrow aperture with extension tubes to be a little challenging to hit the right focus. Using a slight wider aperture makes life a little easier.
Don’t stop there
Changing lenses can give you opportunities for different types of shots and composition, but challenging yourself to just one lens makes you think creatively. Especially if it’s NOT a telephoto or zoom lens. Move your feet, not the lens!
Grab a lens you have not used for a while, or even better if you have bought a new lens, use that. Once on your camera leave it there. Really explore the lens in different environments. Really learn about its benefits, flaws and pitfalls.
On this portrait session I only used my Sony 85mm lens, which is quite challenging at times in my small studio. I have even tried using a wide-angle on portraits. Things like milk baths where you are shooting over the model, a wide-angle can be quite handy. Just be wary it can distort the features a little.
So, is there just one lens to rule them all? No, but don’t let your lens range limit you in what you want to shoot. There is no reason why you can shoot landscapes with a 50mm prime. Or use a 300mm to shoot macro. Sure they may not the correct lens for the job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.