Canon Ambassadors and the Lenses They Can't Shoot Without

Leading pro photographers reveal how they capture world-class images using Canon lenses.

Published 18 May 2018, 13:53 BST

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.

Alessandra Meniconzi – Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/60 sec; f/6.3; ISO100.
Photograph by Alessandra Meniconzi

Take this impactful profile, shot by documentary photographer and Canon Ambassador Alessandra Meniconzi, of a Mongolian eagle hunter. Alessandra had wanted to photograph these hunters for 18 years, having become fascinated with their hunting techniques after first meeting some in Kazakhstan in the late 1990s. In October 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 discrete. Moreover, the lens has been created for small details – the images really are razor sharp! And finally, you can get closer to your subject."

David Noton – Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 120 secs; f/2.8; ISO12800.
Photograph by David Noton

Another photographer making good use of Canon lenses is Canon Ambassador David Noton, who captured this shot of Durdle Door in Dorset 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, then focused on the lights in the distance, zooming in on Live View to check accuracy, then locked focus by switching to manual. I dialled in the settings, checked all was level, fine-tuned the composition and waited for the magic moment."

Guia Besana – Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens at 1/125 sec; f/5.6; ISO800.
Photograph by Guia BESAna

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. It also reacts very well when there isn't a lot of light."

Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and Canon Extender EF 1.4x III at 1/160 sec; f/8; ISO4000.
Photograph by Christian Ziegler

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."

Audun Rikardsen – Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/640 sec; f/2.8; ISO1600.
Photograph by Audun Rikardsen

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 its robustness, large aperture and accurate focus during low-light conditions. It always delivers, even in the most challenging conditions!"

Clive Booth – Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/250 sec; f/4; ISO32000.
Photograph by Clive Booth

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 ISO32000, 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."

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