What lens do you use the most?

One of the powerful features of Lightroom (and incidentally, one of the reasons why I started using it) is its ability to read the EXIF data from each photograph, for photographers to be able to sort images easily and stay organized, and to quickly find specific photographs without going through thousands of pictures. Lightroom stores its catalogs in a database, which is designed and optimized to index all relevant fields such as Camera type, Lens type, Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, Keywords and Collections, in addition to storing information about every single picture (note that the pictures themselves are not stored within the database). This index is used by Lightroom extensively – every time when you access an image or work with “Collections” and “Keywords” to tag your photos, this index is read from and written to. This database is also the reason why Lightroom gets much slower overtime as you add more and more photographs to it, since it stores so much information about every single photo.

At the end of each year, I go through my Lightroom catalog to see my “photo statistics”. I do it through the “Library Filter” feature on top of Lightroom’s “Library” module:

Lightroom Library Filter

Simply click on the word “Metadata” and the menu will expand with four default columns: Date, Camera, Lens and Label. If you see anything different, click on the top-right menu right next to the lock and select “Default Columns” to reset the columns. You can add or remove the default columns by clicking the little dots on the right side of each column and selecting “Remove this Column”. Here is how mine looks with just the “Lens” column:

Library Lightroom Filter by Lens

Now here is the important part – in order to see the full stats for the whole year, you have to be at the root level of your catalog. For example, if my root folder where I store all of my 2010 images is called “2010” and I have all pictures underneath, I have to select 2010 before I go to the Library Filter.

Once you do that, take a look at the “Lens” column and see the numbers. In my case, as you can see above, Lola and I shot with 26 different lenses in 2010, with a total of 50,623 pictures so far. Our #1 used lens is still our favorite Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, with 10,487 images. The #2 spot is taken by my favorite Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, with 8,635 images. And the #3 most used lens is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, with 6,000 images. Unfortunately, there is no way to sort lenses by the numbers of pictures taken.

So, what is your most used lens in 2010 so far?


  1. 1) Pawel Rutkiewicz
    November 29, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Its Nikkor 35mmDX 1.8, mostly because its my only lens :)

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Pawel, and it is a great lens, I love the 35mm f/1.8G!

  2. 2) Rahul
    November 29, 2010 at 6:08 am

    18-105mm , because it’s the most versatile lens I have for general photography.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Rahul, I have not written a review on the 18-105mm lens yet, but it is certainly a good lens for everyday photography.

  3. November 29, 2010 at 6:58 am

    (FX:) (1) 180mm f2.8, (2) 105mm f2, (3) 17-35mm f2.8 or 300mm f2.8 if you include 300mm f4 from earlier in the year.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

      Murray, I am assuming you primarily shoot portraits and wildlife? :)

  4. November 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

    no contest… the only one I shoot with is the Nikon 50mm f/1.4… you were right to encourage me to get that and not the 1.8… next purchase is the macro lens… which is best for that???

    • 4.1) Grey
      November 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm

      For a macro lens, I love my 105mm f/2.8, but I’d love to see a comparison against some of the other macro lenses.

      (I have the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.)

    • 4.2) pasquier
      December 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

      If you already have the 50mm f1.4, I would rather get the Nikon 105mm Micro lens or 90 mm Tamron Macro etc, as it permits a different perspective, and doubles as a handy portrait lens, rather than get a Nikon 60mm Micro.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      Deana, I’m glad you like the 50mm f/1.4! As for macro, I would choose the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR as Grey and Pasquier indicated below – it is a great macro lens!

  5. 5) BRob
    November 29, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Lately, no doubt about it. Nikon 50mm f/1.4
    Same as my previous colleague.

    Waiting for my 24-120 f/4 to reverse it. :)

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      BRob, looks like the 50mm is the favorite of many photographers here ;-) Let me know what you think of your 24-120mm!

  6. 6) Mark de Vrij
    November 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

    70-200mm f/2.8, mainly used for my clubs local Rugby matches but also used it to get some superb pics of the St Moritz White Turf horse races on the lake (on an DX Camera) and some quick shots of damselflies in summer.

    I think the next one will be the 28-120mm f/3.5-5.6 D, although I’ve only had it since August it’s a very handy travel lens.

    I’ve also used alot a Minolta 50mm f1.4, not that I have a camera to use it on since I stopped using my seagull film camera 6 years ago. However It’s proved a great lens for using for reverse lens coupeling for photographing incects and flowers with the above lens – a good case for never getting rid of anything!
    Actually, I probably do still have the body that goes with it somewhere. I think a trip to the attic awaits.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      Mark, the 70-200mm is a magical lens, love mine!

  7. 7) Paul
    November 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I use my 50mm 1.4G the most. I like the DOF control that you get with a fast prime, and the fixed focal length makes me move around much more.

  8. 8) Grey
    November 29, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    This is really interesting! And, it validates what I told a friend regarding which lenses to get first as a beginner. I use my 50mm f/1.4 (Nikkor) most often too and then next the 17-70mm f/2.8-4 (Sigma).

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      Grey, yes, the 50mm is one hell of a lens – as you can see, most people here love it too!

  9. 9) [Gm]
    November 30, 2010 at 4:05 am

    I only have three lens.

    Previously, it was Nikkor 35mm f1.8D that is always on the camera. However, starting in August 2010, Nikkor 85mm f1.8D is the default lens that is always attached on my camera :D… Personally, I think it has better focal length and workable DOF for my needs :-)…

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      GM, the 85mm f/1.8D is a great lens for portraiture!

  10. 10) Peter
    November 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I have two default lenses on my cameras: the 18-200 on the D300 (never take it off) and the new 24-120 on the D700.

    Based on the subject matter, I may change to other lenses when using the D700: 20, 17-35, 35-70, 105, and 70-200, all f2.8. However, I’m beginning to wonder why I need some of these lenses.

    I am going to be very interested in seeing Mansurov’s upcoming lens analyses, because I think, from a practical standpoint, most lenses are “B+ to A” quality. “Lens lust” seems to be a human failing of most serious photographers (me included)…it’s the old issue of “need” versus “want.”

    • 10.1) Rahul
      November 30, 2010 at 8:19 am

      I whole-heartedly agree ! I have 3 consumer grade lenses – 18-105, 50mm 1.8D and 55-300. Though I notice their short-comings and wish I had more money to buy the exotics like 100-400, 14-24, 17-55 I wonder given that their USP is wider aperture, which makes them bigger , heavier and costlier but still would fall short sometime when the light is still too low and then again the wider aperture results in limited DOF so you might end up shooting at F/8 to get better sharpness all round : the law of diminishing returns.

      What we really need is a revolution in sensor technology, that has exponentially greater sensitivity and fixes the need for bayer array, AA filter and can read/convert huge chunks of data from the sensor while eliminating noise caused by high ISO/long exposures….and still be affordable . Then we can all take great low light action shots at 1/1000 sec at f/11 , ISO 800 .Tall order, huh ? Maybe in 20 years it will be a reality.

      • 10.1.1) Peter
        November 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

        You’re right. The bottom line “is a revolution in sensor technology.” I believe, however,that it will come in the next 5 years.

        • Mark de Vrij
          November 30, 2010 at 11:22 am

          Guaranteed it will come the day after I splash out and upgrade my camera body.

      • December 7, 2010 at 7:35 pm

        Rahul, what we need is a revolution in lens technology, since optics have been pretty much the same for the last God-knows-how-many-years :) Maybe they will find ways to make very small lenses with water instead of glass (bubble-free) or some other material to make lenses lighter, smaller and CHEAPER! :D

        • Rahul
          December 8, 2010 at 7:55 am

          Hi Nasim,
          I suppose the reason for that is optical transmission efficiency, maybe the plastics absorb too much light compared to glass . There are other optical materials : carbon/plastic based transparent/translucent material like perspex, polycarbonate and acrylics used to make windscreens, eyeglasses, and helmet visors and they are lighter but have not replaced glass. Water ? Unrealistic – it’s heavy and will move under acceleration, I don’t want wobbly images , and solids have higher refraction than glass – how much thicker would water have to be than glass for the same FOV , I can’t say.

          The reason I can surmise is they are less optically efficient at a thickness that can achieve the same refractive angles as glass – not sure as I didn’t try plastic eye-glasses myself despite the weight being lower ! And glass is still the most resistance to corrosion and scratching.

          Why sensors as subject for revolution ? While today’s cameras often show up a brighter night-time image than the eyes can see, the sensors still lag behind in terms of sensitivity – we need a long exposure to gather enough light, whereas the eye is instantaneous , like a video camera. What I’d like to see is sensors that can see in near darkness like say a cat, while having no false signals/noise – and at respectable sizes to have pocketable cameras ! Then even a consumer lens can take great images. With a nice senstive sensor you spend your money once – with lenses, you have to buy many fast lenses . I’d rather pay a premium of say 40% for a sensitive sensor once, than pay 40+% several times over for each wide aperture lens bought !

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm

      A nice collection of lenses you have there Peter! And yes, NAS (Nikon Acquisition Syndrome) is almost incurable, LOL :) Glad my wife is into photography – otherwise I would have to come up with all kinds of explanations for spending more and more money on lenses :D

  11. 11) Michel
    November 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I like most my macro lenses for their sharpness, even for portraits : 105mm F/2.8G AF-S VR and a used 60mm F/2.8D AF Micro witch is maybe my favorite. I don’t know why I love this 60mm so much ?
    I like also my 50mm 1.4G but it’s not as sharp as the other two.


    • December 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Michel, macro lenses are great – I know one photographer that uses the 105mm for pretty much all of her portraiture work and she is very happy with it!

  12. December 1, 2010 at 5:06 am

    My most used lenses on my D5000 are my Nikon 18-55mm kit lens followed by my 35mm f/1.8 DX. I’m about to splash for the D700, so I’m guessing my most used will be the 50mm f/1.8.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      Jeremy, the 18-55mm + 35mm f/1.8G is a great combo! Are you taking advantage of the current instant rebates on the D700? If you live in Colorado, I have a friend who wants to get the new 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II and he is willing to split the $400 with a person who wants to get the D700 :)

      • December 8, 2010 at 4:57 am

        Oh no! I had no idea about those instant rebates, and I ordered my D700 within a few hours of my comment here. I would have gladly split the order with your friend as well, even though I live in Tennessee. I don’t think there would have been a special on the D700 + 50mm f/1.8 D anyhow ;)

        Thanks for the tip, regardless. Love your work here as well. I get a lot out of each article I read.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          December 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

          Jeremy, that’s all right :) If you have someone who needs a lens, you can return the D700 or cancel the order and then reorder it to get some more savings.

  13. 13) Noreen
    December 1, 2010 at 9:04 am

    i used 50 mm f/1.8 most of the time..but i still use my kit lens 18-55mm and 55-200 mm…i am still in the works of alluring my hubby to get me a macro 105 mm f/2.8…but i think it’s still on hold since he let me choose from between the lens or our plan to go to the philippines…but since i haven’t been back in almost 4 years, i think i’ll pass on that..but we’ll see…:)

    • 13.1) Peter
      December 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      However………..I was researching the distortion levels of some of the lenses I own, and the 105 f/2.8 macro VR “has no visible distorion.”

      It has 0.0 distortion at infinity, 30′, and 10′.

      I think I will designate this as my prime portrait lens. I was surprised.

      Maybe you can get a deal in the Philippines.

      • 13.1.1) Noreen
        December 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

        Peter, thanks for the insight!!! getting a 105 lens this season is not feasible for me. i opted the trip!!! I am happy with the prime that i have. although the 105 will still be in my wishlist! :)

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      Noreen, don’t let the gear stand in front of your relationship, seriously :)))

      • 13.2.1) Noreen
        December 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

        oh no worries, Nasim! I was just trying if alluring him will work! :)..of course, i opted for the trip. but it won’t happen not until mid next year!

  14. 14) Peter
    December 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Pass on the lens. I have the 105 and rearely use it.

    Enjoy your trip.

  15. 15) kristi
    January 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I just found your incredible blog! Wow! Why did I not find this months ago?!!!

    After reading your amazing review of the nikon 85mm lens, how will that rank in your favorites lenses this year?

    I love my Nikon 35mm 1.8. But, I’m seriously thinking about the new 85mm lens. After your raving review, I figured it would be your favorite but after reading more current posts it seems the 50mm is still your favorite. Is there a reason why? I’d love to know!

    We leave for Israel in 5 weeks I would really like to simplify my camera gear. For landscapes and family photos in Israel, what would be your go to lenses?

    • February 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Kristi, I apologize for a late response – been super busy lately.

      In terms of 85mm vs 50mm – I love both lenses, but the 50mm is very compact and “normal” in terms of field of view on full-frame. I carry the 85mm with me when I need to shoot portraits only, while the 50mm works pretty much for anything, except wide-angle shots :)

      As for family and landscape photos in Israel, I would just go with a zoom lens like the 24-120mm and your 35mm prime.

      Have a safe trip!

  16. 16) Malcolm McKay
    February 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Wanna say you are the master at landscape. Couldn’t find anywhere for praise on your landscape section so I’m doing it here.
    I wondered just how hands on you’ve been, you know whether you actually walked on those sands dunes or waded in the water to achieve your images, but then I saw your last image of the road cut into an awesome landscape – a road was the last thing I expected to see. Have you taken your images without having to do too much exploration on your feet.
    I say this cause I have a mobility disability and am especially interested cause I’d love to try my hand at this type of photography. You sure are blessed with some incredible places in the ole U S of A (I live in NSW, Au)

    • February 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Malcolm, I have a long way to go for a “master”, but thank you for your feedback :)

      As for traveling, there are many places in US where you can take pictures from your car or by taking very short hikes to observation points. I love hiking, so I often end up going to different places to get new angles, but many of my pictures were shot from well-known spots that are very close to roads. You should definitely visit the US if you can!

  17. 17) Aggie
    March 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I can’t believe that I haven’t been on this blog for months!

    Btw I LOVE my Nikon 50mm f/1.8D. Sure it’s cheap and since I’m using it on my D3000, there’s no auto-focus at all but it’s is fine by me because I’m a control freak.

    I’ve always wondered if I should invest in a 50mm f/1.4. I’ve tested it and I don’t see much of a difference compared to the f/1.8 (although the f/1.4 is almost triple the price of the f/1.8). What do you think?

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