I have four go-to lenses. In no way is it essential to have four lenses to shoot great images, and in fact I find that 95% of the time I’m using the Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L IS USM. On occasion I find myself in a situation where other lenses better fit the job at hand. Below are the lenses I keep in my bag.
Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L – This is a high-quality, multi-purpose “walk around” lens that is my workhorse. It’s wide enough for most landscape shots that I want to take but has enough zoom to make it useful for portrait or studio work as well. While I could stand to have one or two additional stops, this lens does have image stabilization and focus quickly. If I had to choose only one lens to use with the 5D Mark III, this would be the one I’d get.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 – Great for portrait, low light situations, street photography and more, don’t let the plastic feel and low price of this lens scare you. You simply can not buy a better lens for $110.00. This 50mm lens is commonly referred to as a “nifty fifty” and is regarded as a great first lens. The huge 1.8 aperture will allow for extremely shallow depth of field (especially on a full frame camera) and beautiful bokeh.
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 – Canon makes some very nice wide angle lenses. Maybe one day I will invest in one but I find that they are just too expensive and I don’t use them enough to justify their cost. A very good alternative is this 17-35mm lens from Tokina. On a full frame camera, 17mm is really quite wide and makes for some really dramatic landscape shots. At around $500.00 it’s much cheaper than it’s brand name counterparts.
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 – I don’t own this lens, but I do rent one whenever I know I’ll be shooting subjects that are far away, or that I want to get up close shots of. Wildlife photography is an obvious use for this focal length, but it can also be quite nice for portrait or event use. Again, Canon’s zoom glass is quite expensive, so consider renting unless you find yourself needing this focal length on an often and regular basis.