I figured instead of just making a list of all the crap I have (because, how does that really help anyone?), that it would actually be more helpful to explain why I have made some of the choices I’ve made. I’ve bought and sold a ton of gear over the years both in an effort to find what I like, and to adjust to my developing style. I hope my experience can help someone else who is making gear decisions. Keep in mind that the gear probably doesn't matter. It's nice to have a lot of different tools available to you, but I've seen people do amazing work with much less stuff. If I had to sell it all except one body and one lens, I'd probably keep the 5D MKII and 50L, and I honestly don't think my work would change that much.
I mostly shoot people, weddings, and landscapes. I haven’t gotten into wildlife much (though I would love to) and I never shoot sports.
If you have questions about any of this, shoot me a PM or email.
Canon 5D MKII: I currently shoot with 2 5D MKII’s as my main bodies. After owning the previous version 5D for a couple of years, I jumped at the chance to order the new 5D’s as soon as they were available. It’s a body that I’m very comfortable with and really enjoy using. I love the flexibility of shooting at super high ISO’s, and still producing clean 21 megapixel files. There have been quite a few complaints about the auto-focus, and while this is an area that can definitely be improved upon, the autofocus in the current model really isn’t that bad.
Canon 7D: Giving this camera another shot, not sure if it will stick around.
Canon 50D: Actually I recently sold this, but leaving up for now because, even though I bought another 7D, my thoughts on this haven't changed. I think I'm on my 3rd 50D. I pretty much use my 5D's for everything, but I like having a crop body for backup and for the couple times a year when I need a little more "reach" or speed. When the 7D came out, I was really impressed by the specs, and I was able to get my hands on one at a nice discount, so I sold the 50D that I had and got the 7D thinking I would work it into my usage more than I had with past crop bodies. Well, not surprisingly, I never used it. After a couple months with it I had only put about 350 clicks on it, so I sold it and got another 50D. I can live with letting an $800 camera sit in the bag, but not a $1700 camera. The 7D is definitely a really nice camera, and if the next 5D is simply a 7D with a FF sensor I'll be a happy camper, but it was just more than I really needed in a crop body. The 50D actually makes a nice backup to the 5D MKII, since they share most features, and they're laid out very similarly. However, it does create pretty noisy files and it's not a camera I would chose for shooting over ISO 800 a lot.
Grips: One word of advice - don’t let people talk you into getting battery grips. I wound up selling mine. Think about whether it works for you--I honestly think that most people get them for looks over function. It's a personal decision, try one out first if you can.
I shot with a 3 zoom kit for quite some time and thought it was all I ever needed. I then picked up a couple fixed lenses thinking I would use them for low light conditions. I then started using them more often, and the more I used them the more I got to appreciate the simplicity, the smaller size, and the DOF control. I now use primes 98% of the time. I definitely do not think that using primes is for everyone, but it has been the right choice for me. So here’s the lineup:
Canon 14 f/2.8L II: The 14L isn’t a lens I use terribly often, as I think it could really be classified as a specialty lens. I LOVE shooting wide angle lenses, but I also think it can be easily overdone. For me, there are few scenes where a lens this wide really adds something. I have quite a bit of experience with Canon’s UWA zooms, the 17-40 & 16-35, and this lens definitely trumps them when it comes to IQ. It’s very sharp, even in the corners, and there is very little distortion. The lens is fairly compact, and built very well.
Canon 24 f/1.4L II: I purchased this lens as an upgrade from the original 24L that I had. The II version of this lens is a really nice upgrade. Both the IQ and the build quality were considerably improved in the new version. This is a great lens for shooting people in bars, at parties, weddings, etc, especially when light is low and you want to leave the flash home. Of course, it’s also great for landscape and street shooting. All of that said, if you’re on a tight budget the original 24L is still a great lens.
Canon 35 f/1.4L: Not sure if this lens lives up to ALL of the hype, but it's very nice. IQ is really nice, but the build leaves a little to be desired. I consider the 24 and 50 my primary lenses, but the 35 makes a nice go between, and pairs up with the 85 well. It's a nice prime to take the place of a mid-range zoom.
Canon 50 f/1.2L: The 50L is hands down my most used lens. While I have no doubts that there are 50L’s out there with focusing issues, I can find no fault with mine. I use this lens for everything! The 50L has amazing color and contrast; photos taken with this lens always seem to need less processing than photos taken with other lenses. My typical setup for weddings and events is 2 5D’s with the 24L II on one and the 50L on the other. I will swap out for something longer or wider for a few shots, but I could probably do the whole day with these two lenses and not feel like I’m sacrificing anything. My advice to anyone looking to buy a 50L: when you get it, just go out and shoot with it! Don’t set up a bunch of test shots and start looking for problems. Just go out and shoot with it like crazy and see how it goes. This lens does not go over well with ruler photographers.
Canon 85 f/1.2L II: For the most part, this lens deserves most of the hype that it gets. It’s wonderful. However, it’s expensive, it’s big, and the autofocus can put some people off. Here’s my take on the autofocus: when the autofocus needs to make a full rack from MFD to infinity it takes a while, but in use when making small autofocus changes, it’s really not that bad. If you need a lens with consistently fast autofocus, you may want to look at the 85 f/1.8 or the 135 f/2.
Canon 135 f/2L: I mostly use the 135L for portraits, headshots, kids, but it really is a versatile lens for telephoto applications. It focuses very fast, has beautiful image quality, and its pretty light and compact.
Canon 15 f/2.8 fisheye: Fisheye lenses are very easy to overuse. In my opinion, there are very few applications where the fisheye really works. I usually find it works in compositions where there is some good symmetry. The Canon fisheye, while a very old design, is actually a nice lens. If you can live with the buzzy autofocus and older build design, the lens offers great IQ and is very compact. Here's a tip--the lens cap on these is notorious for coming off and scratching the lens. I keep mine in the pouch that Canon gives with the 1.4X TC and it fits perfectly! Now I can pop it on the bag and not worry about it.
Canon 24 f/3.5 ts-e II: This is hands down my nicest lens. It’s amazingly sharp wide open across the frame, and it’s built like a tank. Obviously it’s kind of a specialty lens, but if you’re looking for a super sharp wide angle lens, this is it.
Canon 100 f/2.8L is macro: The 100L Macro is still pretty new, but in the short time I’ve had it, it holds a lot of promise. Sharp wide open, compact and lightweight. I previously owned a 180L Macro before this lens, and I didn’t use it much because it was such a big, heavy lens and the autofocus was pretty slow. The 100L Macro’s autofocus is fast enough to allow this lens to pull double duty as a macro lens, and a compact telephoto lens. The autofocus isn’t quite as fast and predictable as the 135L in low light, but it is usable if the shots aren’t critical.
Canon 17-40 f/4L: I've had a few copies of this lens over the years, and have always found that they offer a good bang for the buck. I've also owned a couple 16-35 II's, and found that the 17-40 holds up very well by comparison, at comparable apertures. However, the 17-40 is smaller, lighter, and costs half as much. If you don't need the extra stop, buy the 17-40.
Canon 70-200 f/4L IS: I’ve owned all of the 70-200’s Canon has to offer. I’ve owned the f/2.8 IS version twice, and I’ve owned the f/4 IS version three times. Unless you NEED the extra stop, don’t bother with the f/2.8 IS. The f/4 IS is a gem, but for some reason it took me a while to realize that. It’s fairly compact, lightweight, and offers stellar IQ. The f/4 IS is as sharp at f/4 as the f/2.8 IS is at f/4! I know sometimes the machismo get’s the best of us and we think the bigger and more impressive a lens looks, the better it must be, but if you find yourself using your f/2.8 at f/4 or lower, sell it and get the f/4 IS.