I’m one of the fortunate photographers lucky enough to own three Canon lenses that together are referred to “the holy trinity”. The holy trinity means a constant aperture of f/2.8 from 16 mm up to 200 mm range.
Any owner of the holy trinity can boast about owning three of the finest lenses ever produced for the vast majority of all basic photographic needs; 16 mm for landscape at one end, and 200 mm zoom coverage for low range telephoto at the other end. These three lenses belong to Canon’s L series which is characterized by the red line around the front of the lens. The L series is aimed for the professional users with the highest demands in build quality, reliability and optical performance.
So why am I jumping ship on this dream kit that took me over 10 years of patient monthly savings to acquire? The answer is not straight forward, so let me explain. This is something that has been brewing slowly in the back of my mind for some time, and the thing that pushed me over the edge to make my decision was recently buying an all-round super zoom lens for my travel camera (Canon 200d). I bought a Tamron 18-400 mm f/4.5-6.3 DI VC USD.
After researching the lens and watching a lot of YouTube reviews, I also came across lenses by the manufacturer Sigma. Canon still holds the majority of the market for lenses made for their camera bodies, while Sigma and Tamron are going head to head to battle for market shares as third party lens producers. And, as I discovered, in recent years they are getting good enough to actually beat Canon lenses in some regards. Take a look at the video from one of the best reviewers; Dustin Abbott. In this review, he takes a detailed look at the Tamron 100-400 mm in comparison with the Canon 100-400 L II.
The conclusion is that the Tamron actually outperforms the Canon is some aspects, while in other aspects performs just as well. As Abbott says in the beginning of the video “this is an $800 lens competing successfully in a $2000+ category”.
That brings me to my next point. Now, let’s face it. The Canon L series is EXPENSIVE – on the definite border of over priced. I spent many years patiently saving to buy each of the holy trinity lenses one by one. When players like Tamron and Sigma come in and get good enough to compete (and sometimes even beat) the industry leader, while at the same time offering about half the price – how can I NOT react?
I quickly realized that for my three holy trinity lenses I can invest in at least 7 specialty lenses to broaden the kind of work I take on. And still have money left over. For example, selling the Canon 70-200 mm, I can buy a Tamron 100-400 mm (to use for sports, wildlife, travel) and a Sigma prime 85 mm f/1.4 (for portraits) and still have money left. I’d gain an extra range of 200 mm, and the possibility of an aperture of f/1.4 at 85 mm, delivered by the Sigma, which has been praised online for delivering superb sharpness and optical quality! As a portrait photographer like me, that’s a very tempting lens to consider.
And to be honest, I don’t use the Canon 16-35 mm or the 70-200 mm that much. I’m in no way dissatisfied with the Canon lenses I own, don’t get me wrong. They are great and deliver beautiful shots. But I could use the money more wisely. Better to sell them. I do need to invest in a portable solution for light set up to shoot portraits outside my studio such as in nature, or at a factory, gym, etc. That is something I could get if I freed some capital now locked into my expensive but hardly used L series lenses.