Leading pro photographers reveal how they capture world-class images using Canon lenses
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Every photographer has a go-to lens that’s a permanent fixture in their kitbag. Whether they’re shooting wildlife, sports, portraits or any other kind of professional photography, the quality and reliability of the lens is paramount to success.
In the field, in sometimes challenging conditions, professionals need a lens they can depend on to deliver precision autofocus, speed and weather sealing to truly make the difference between capturing an iconic image and a wasted opportunity. Professional photographers of all stripes naturally turn to Canon’s L-series lenses for their excellent quality and reliability.
To anyone who knows anything about lens manufacturing, that won’t be a surprise. Sci-Fi style robots, fault-hearing engineers, anti-static shoes – Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory is a hotbed of innovation and precision. Canon’s L-series lenses are known around the world for their professional-quality build and sharp results, but to produce such outstanding lenses requires impressive levels of craftsmanship, attention to detail and a few surprising practices, including the hand-testing and calibrating of every Canon L-series 16-35mm lens – not just the samples – ensuring that each lens meets the high standard expected in the premium line.
Here, the world’s leading photographers tell how the craft behind the lens helps them tell their story.
Audun Rikardsen – Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Norwegian photographer and Canon Ambassador Audun Rikardsen says that Canon L-series lenses help him capture the majesty of nature in his photographs of whales during Norway’s polar night. “In the last few winters, hundreds of humpback whales have arrived at Tromsø in Northern Norway to feed on overwintering herring,” says Audun. “They come during polar night, where there’s no sun above the horizon, making the light and the weather conditions challenging. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is my favourite lens for photographing the whales during this period because of it robustness, large aperture and accurate focus during low-light conditions. It always delivers, even in the most challenging conditions!”
David Noton – Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
Another photographer making good use of Canon lenses is Canon Ambassador David Noton, who captured this shot of Durdle Door in Dorset, England while the galactic centre (the brightest part) of the Milky Way was visible. “For night sky photography – when the maximum amount of starlight needs to be captured in an exposure lasting less than 20 seconds – quality lenses are a must, and the wider and faster, the better,” says David. “I'd previously tested the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens and been impressed by its corner-to-corner performance at its maximum aperture of f/2.8, even at its widest focal length of 16mm. This L-series lens now resides virtually permanently in my camera bag. “I had a composition in mind that would balance the arc of the Milky Way above with the sweep of the beach and Durdle Door below. With my 16-35mm lens at its widest angle and aperture, I composed, focused on the lights in the distance, then locked focus by switching to Manual, and waited for the magic moment."
Clive Booth – Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Canon Ambassador Clive Booth says that image sharpness is one of the key advantages of Canon L-series lenses for his work. “I was looking to take a Highland cow picture that was a little different, and on the way home from a day’s shooting on the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland, we came across this chap. It was late afternoon in February and he was backlit with a neutral background. I love the detail in this picture, shot at f/4 and ISO 32,000, in which you can even see single hairs attached to the end of the horns. Thanks to its sharpness, Image Stabiliser and the ease with which I can carry it, the versatile Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is always in my bag. With a wide aperture, world-beating optics and superb bokeh, this is often my go-to lens when I’m shooting in low light and need the extra reach. Even cropped, files remain sharp from edge to edge."
Alessandra Meniconzi – Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
This impactful profile of a Mongolian eagle hunter was shot by documentary photographer and Canon Ambassador Alessandra Meniconzi. She had wanted to photograph these hunters for 18 years, having become fascinated with their hunting techniques after first meeting some in Kazakhstan. In 2017, she travelled to the Altai Mountains in Mongolia to realise her dream. “The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is great for flattering facial proportions and the f/2.8 aperture creates excellent depth-of-field,” she explains. “It is also very light and discreet. Moreover, the lens has been created for small details – the images really are razor sharp! And finally, the focal length means you can get closer to your subject.”
Guia Besana – Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon Ambassador Guia Besana took this picture on a trip to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway on 15 February 2018. “I was heading towards the car after a five-hour walk and suddenly turned towards the sea to meet this Arctic deer looking back at me,” says Guia. “It was in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by such a delicate light. The Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens is perfect for taking this kind of shot because it’s a light lens to carry, it’s versatile, and silent. It’s one of those lenses that makes everything so comfortable that you never need to put the camera back in your backpack, so you don’t lose situations.”
Christian Ziegler – Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
Canon Ambassador Christian Ziegler, meanwhile, captured this stunning image while he was walking through the rainforest in central Panama, and a small group of white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) appeared. “A mother with her offspring was the last in line and I had just a few seconds to get the shot before they disappeared,” says Christian. “I took the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with me because it’s light but powerful. I usually walk a lot when taking wildlife photographs, and it’s hot and humid in the jungle, so it’s best not to carry too much weight and bulk.”
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