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Do you struggle to choose the right lenses? Do you feel like you’re always in need of another lens? Do you get tired of hauling around prime lenses in the field?
You’ve come to the right place.
Because in this article, I’m going to tell you about a way to cover every key focal length with just three lenses:
The holy trinity of lenses.
Now, the holy trinity is designed so that you cover a huge focal length range–from ultra-wide to telephoto–using just three lenses.
And if you choose your holy trinity carefully, you’ll get professional quality glass, combined with the convenience to shoot pretty much any subject.
Let’s take a look at the holy trinity of lenses in more detail:
What is the Holy Trinity of Lenses?
The holy trinity of lenses refers to a three-lens set that covers a huge focal length range. With a holy trinity, you can go from an ultra-wide focal length (starting at 10-16mm) all the way to a long telephoto focal length (200mm).
Note that the holy trinity is also designed to cover almost every genre of photography.
So you can use the holy trinity to shoot portraits, landscapes, travel, architecture, products, sports, and more.
And the best thing about the holy trinity:
You can assemble it for almost every camera brand–in fact, you can find a lot of excellent third-party offerings that’ll give you your holy trinity at a much reduced price.
1. Ultra Wide 16-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens
The first lens in the holy trinity is an ultra-wide angle zoom with an f/2.8 aperture. With a lens like this, you can capture gorgeous, sweeping landscape images, architectural shots, and astrophotography photos, as well as creative wide-angle event and portrait images.
You can also use a lens like this for wider street photography (and the f/2.8 aperture will allow you to shoot even as the light gets low).
2. Mid-Range 24-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens
The next lens in the holy trinity is a midrange zoom, spanning from around 24mm to 70mm. This lens is great for tighter, more intimate landscape and travel photography; it’s also a great walk-around street photography option.
Plus, the f/2.8 aperture will give you a lovely background bokeh, making this a great portrait lens, and the corresponding low-light capabilities turn this lens into a great choice for event photography.
3. Telephoto 70-200mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens
A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens completes the holy trinity, giving you the ability to shoot tighter portraits and headshots, as well as compressed landscapes and abstract architecture.
A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is also a fantastic option for sports photography, because the f/2.8 aperture allows you to shoot at fast shutter speeds, while the 70-200mm zoom ensures you can isolate your subjects while working from the sidelines.
Plus, slap on a 1.4x teleconverter and you’ve got yourself a decent lens for wildlife shooting.
Advantages of the Lens Trinity
If you’re still on the fence about getting a holy trinity of lenses, then you’ll want to know all about the key benefits that come from such a kit:
1. Impressive Reach
First, the three holy trinity lenses cover a lot of ground. You get ultra-wide angle focal lengths, all the way out to telephoto- while spanning every focal length in between. You’ll rarely run into situations where you wish you had a different lens.
2. Easy to Extend
And, for situations that require greater reach, you can extend your 70-200mm f/2.8 using a teleconverter (either a 1.4x or a 2x option). That way, you can shoot wildlife and birds without needing to purchase an additional lens.
Note that the holy trinity uses f/2.8 maximum apertures. This is because the wide aperture allows you to shoot in low light with ease, plus it’ll give you a creamy background bokeh for portraits.
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Also, because each of the holy trinity lenses goes to f/2.8, you can use the kit for pretty much any type of photography – from landscape to portrait to wildlife to sports.
Disadvantages of the Holy Lens Trinity
While the holy lens trinity is great for most applications, it does come with some drawbacks.
1. High Cost
First, the trinity is expensive. Lenses with an f/2.8 maximum aperture are never cheap, and even third-party options won’t stop you from having to pay a significant sum. That said, you’re also paying for quality; you can get some truly superb optical capabilities from the lenses I’ve discussed.
Second, the holy trinity is big. Lenses with an f/2.8 maximum aperture tend to be on the large side, which means that you’re going to need a lot of space in your bag. On the other hand, if you want to go from 16mm to 200mm using primes, you’ll need about ten lenses–so you’re saving on size, in a way.
Note that the large size of f/2.8 lenses can also be an issue when doing certain types of photography; street photographers, for instance, may feel uncomfortable working with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, because the size makes their setup far from inconspicuous.
Third, the holy trinity is heavy. Each f/2.8 lens will be pretty hefty (though note that the combined holy trinity is lighter than a similarly-versatile prime kit!).
Finally, the holy trinity uses a “just in case” approach to lens selection. It allows you to cover all focal lengths and most apertures, but you don’t always need this much flexibility, especially because flexibility costs in terms of money and size. So you’ll sometimes be better off working with primes or smaller zooms, rather than the big, expensive holy trinity.
Variation of Holy Lens Trinity
If you think the holy lens trinity is too expensive, too big, or too heavy, then you have a very viable alternative:
An f/4 lens trinity.
In other words, you can create your trinity with a 16-35mm f/4 lens, a 24-70mm f/4 lens, and a 70-200mm f/4 lens.
These are lighter, they’re much cheaper, and they can still offer the stellar optics you can get from an f/2.8 lens.
You’ll sacrifice, however, when it comes to low light capabilities and bokeh quality. While an f/4 lens is fine for many applications, it won’t get you the shutter speeds you need for low-light sports photography or low-light event photography, nor will it offer the same creamy bokeh as an f/2.8 portrait lens.
Hence, if you go for the f/4 lenses, you get a trinity–but not a “holy” one!
Fujifilm Lens Trinity
Fujifilm is the only brand that offers the holy trinity of lenses in APS-C format.
Filter: none, Min Focus Distance: 10″/25cm, Weight: 1.8lb / 805g, Dim: 3.5 x 4.8″ / 88 x 122 mm
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 12″/30cm, Weight: 1.4lb / 650g, Dim: 3.3 x 4.2″ / 83 x 105 mm
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 3.3’/1m, Weight: 2.2lb / 995g, Dim: 3.3 x 7″ / 83 x 176 mm
Fujifilm “unholy” f/4 lens trinity:
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 9.5″/24cm, Weight: 15oz / 410g, Dim: 3 x 3.4″ / 78 x 87 mm
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.2″/35m, Weight: 16oz / 440g, Dim: 3.1 x 3.5″ / 78 x 89 mm
Filter: 69mm, Min Focus Distance: 3.6’/1m, Weight: 20oz / 580g, Dim: 3 x 4.7″ / 75 x 118 mm
Canon Lens Trinity
Filter: 82mm, Min Focus Distance: 11’/28cm, Weight: 28oz / 790g, Dim: 3.5 x 5″ / 85 x 127 mm
Filter: 82mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.3’/38cm, Weight: 1.8lb / 800g, Dim: 3.5 x 4.5″ / 86 x 113 mm
Filter:77mm, Min Focus Distance: 4’/1.2m, Weight: 3.3lb / 1480g, Dim: 3.5 x 7.8″ / 89 x 199 mm
Canon “unholy” f/4 lens trinity:
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 11″/28cm, Weight: 1.3lb / 615g, Dim: 3.3 x 4.4″ / 83 x 112mm
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 7.9″/20cm, Weight: 1.3lb / 600g, Dim: 3.3 x 3.7″ / 83 x 93mm
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 2.3’/1m, Weight: 1.8lb / 780g, Dim: 3.2 x 6.9″ / 80 x 176mm
Nikon Lens Trinity
Filter: none, Min Focus Distance: 11″/28cm, Weight: 2.2lb / 999g, Dim: 3.9 x 5.2″ / 98 x 132mm
Filter: 82mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.6’/38cm, Weight: 2.4lb / 1070g, Dim: 3.5 x 6.1″ / 88 x 155mm
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 3.6’/1.1m, Weight: 3.2lb / 1430g, Dim: 3.5 x 8″ / 89 x 200mm
Nikon “unholy” f/4 lens trinity:
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 11″/29cm, Weight: 1.5lb / 680g, Dim: 3.2 x 4.9″ / 82 x 126mm
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.3’/38cm, Weight: 1lb / 465g, Dim: 3.1 x 3.2″ / 78 x 82mm
Filter: 67mm, Min Focus Distance: 3.3’/1m, Weight: 1.9lb / 880g, Dim: 3.1 x 7″ / 78 x 179mm
Sony Lens Trinity
Filter: 82mm, Min Focus Distance: 11″/28cm, Weight: 1.5lb / 680g, Dim: 35 x 4.8″ / 89 x 122mm
Filter: 82mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.25’/38cm, Weight: 1.95lb / 888g, Dim: 3.5 x 5.4″ / 88 x 135mm
Filter: 77mm, Min Focus Distance: 3.2’/1m, Weight: 3.3lb / 1.5kg, Dim: 3.5 x 7.9″ / 88 x 200mm
Sony “unholy” f/4 lens trinity:
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 11″/28cm, Weight: 18oz / 520g, Dim: 3.1 x 3.9″ / 78 x 99mm
Filter: 67mm, Min Focus Distance: 1.3’/40cm, Weight: 15oz / 430g, Dim: 3 x 3.7″ / 73 x 95mm
Filter: 72mm, Min Focus Distance: 34″/1m, Weight: 1.9lb / 870g, Dim: 3.1 x 7″ / 80 x 175mm
Now that you’ve finished this article, you should know all about the holy lens trinity–and whether it makes sense for your own shooting style.
If you’re looking for a great way to cover lots of ground, the holy trinity is a fantastic option. But if you’re in need of smaller or cheaper lenses, the f/4 trinity is a viable choice.
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