If you’re a Canon shooter who is contemplating which lens might best compliment your preferred aesthetic, there’s an intriguing, albeit clunky website designed to help narrow your choices from the sea of options. What The Lens offers up an assortment of photographs pulled from 500px with the instructions to click 20 of your favorites and then analyzes the EXIF data to determine the lens most frequently used in your selections.
It can offer an interesting insight, but it is certainly not without its flaws. What The Lens wouldn’t work when I first tried to use it on my mobile browser and it also failed, but in a different way, when I tried it using Safari on a desktop. The third time was the charm when I opened it on a desktop in Chrome. Finally, I was able to click the images and get the results.
The images themselves aren’t necessarily the crème de la crème of 500px either – some are wonderful, some are…not. Not to mention, there are potential factors at play in selecting favorite images other than focal length – subject matter, post processing, and whether or not it’s actually a good photograph to name a few.
Shortcomings taken into account, if you’ve got the patience to wade though “meh” photographs in order to choose twenty shots that really catch your eye, you can gain a little insight. I tried it twice (well, twice more if you count the times that were too glitchy to get a feel for the site.) The first time I browsed all the categories – the default option when you visit the site – and was recommended the 135mm f/2. A fine lens, to be sure. After that, I tried clicking around in the “people” category and was told I should look into an 85mm f/1.2L II, not surprising that it should be common in selections from that category given its popularity for portraits. OK, What The Lens, you win this round. I’ll take both.