I go for primes rather than zoom lenses. For me, this started two decades ago, when the photography professor taught us that primes are better quality lenses. Now, with a lot of experience, I can confirm, I am happy with that choice. You need to find out which focal lenses work best for the look you want to achieve. And by using prime lenses, I was able to do so more easily.
As I switched to mirrorless almost three years ago, I said good-bye to all my Canon L glass. Those were great lenses, but I did not want to use an adapter with my camera. Call me odd, because I don't have good arguments for this, I just don't like putting on additional things on a camera that don't need to be there.
So, my gear is rather new and fresh now. My favorite focal lens is still more or less the same. It's a standard length, similar to what we see with our eyes. Some call this boring, but it suits my type of photogaphy. With my camera I am rather witnessing a moment than staging a scene. I don't like too artificial looks, so the Sony SEL-55F18Z Zeiss 55mm/1.8 is a great lens for me. Especially, because it is very sharp at f/1.8 already. While I used not to dare to go wider than f/5.6 when working commercially (for a client) in the past, I did take many pictures at f/1.8 with this lens that were published full-size.
In 2015, Alexei Bazdarev introduced me to Sony mirrorless when we met for a beer in Vienna. We both had our photography bagpacks with us and mine was awfully heavy, while his was small and light. He unpacked his camera and my first thought was: Damn, this small piece of plastic is good? Knowing his photographs and the quality of his images, it convinced me, this can't be wrong.
Therefore, the Sony SEL Zeiss 35mm/2.8 was my choice for a wide angle. I don't shoot with this lens very often. Only when the location requires it. So mostly, when I am inside a small bedroom or something. Such a tiny lens has not a great bokeh, but this is simply something you cannot expect from a wide angle lens anyway, I believe. Stopping down to f/2.8 also is absolutely fine for me. And it's also a great lens for filming.
When I work outside and have the freedom to keep a higher distance to the model, I love to work with 85mm. I was lucky, the Zeiss Batis 85mm/1.8 was announced right when I needed this length. I bought it a while ago and used it for the first time at a shooting for Playboy in 2016. During this production, this was my most used lens. It has a fast autofocus, feels nice in your hand and the sharpness is amazing. The bokeh is very smooth, too. But honestly, I have to smile a bit when photographers throw the word 'bokeh' into a discussion. To me, it's more important what's in focus than what's out of focus.
Personally, I believe it is very important to be familiar with your lenses. If you already know what you will have in frame with a specific lens, it gives me security. I move around a lot during a shooting, especially, because I like to chase new perspectives. I climb chairs, tables, walls (cha, right!). And with a 55mm lens, I can have a perfect distance to the model. I am still close, but not too close. This is very important for intimate boudoir shoots.
Sorry, to all the people I have disappointed with this post. There are simply no surprises in my bag. Nothing fancy, just three focal lengths: 35mm, 55mm, 85mm. But I don't need anything else for the nudes I photograph.
P.S. The only thing I don't like about the Sony lenses is the fact that the serial number is just a sticker put on the lens. Looks a bit cheapass not to have it engraved into the product.
Simon Bolz, Frankfurt
Tel.: +49 (69) 95 82 02 12
Mob.: +49 (172) 620 55 18