What lenses should I buy?

When upgrading to the 5D Mark II some of my EF-S lenses had to follow my old 400D (EF-S won’t work on the full frame 5D). So I need to buy some new lenses to cover my needs. But I can’t decide. This is what I currently own:

What I've got

Canon 70-200 f4L IS
Canon 50 mm f1.4 USM
Canon 15 mm f2.8 fisheye

And after posting the following question on Twitter:

If you could choose three Canon lenses. Regardless of price. What would you choose?

Here are the results so far:


Seems like the 70-200 f2.8L IS is a favorite. I already have the f4L version of that lens. Mostly because it’s half the weight and half the size of the f2.8L. I like to travel light. And the f4L is razor sharp and very high quality. Here’s a set of favorites shot with that lens. So I’ll keep that one. The next is the fantastic 85 mm 1.2L. Is it worth the weight and the price? Anyone out there owning one?

Still the problem is that I don’t know if I want to go for a zoom or some primes. I need something wide that’s not as extreme as the 15mm. And probably something for portraits that is faster and hopefully smaller than the 70-200 f4L IS. A couple of alternatives:

1. Convenience:
The 24-70 f2.8L

2. Pure quality and speed:
24mm f1.4L II + 85mm f1.2L

3. Travel light + reasonable quality:
28mm f1.8 USM + 85mm f1.8 USM

I’m also considering the legendary 135 mm f2L when I need more speed than the 70-200 f4L can give me. Or how about the very versatile and razor sharp 100mm f2.8 Macro?

What do you think? I need some advice. And at this point I don’t want to spoil the party by talking price. I want advice on the best solution. Your favorites. Regardless of price. Links to reviews. Etc…

I’m carrying my camera in my bag more or less every day. I shoot lots of stuff in natural and low light. Don’t like using a flash. Currently I use the 50 mm 1.4 a lot because of the combination of speed and light weight.

What lenses should I buy?

Free, but not that free…

Tomorrow I’m off for Malmö and Media Evolution 2009 to listen to some excellent speakers. And I am honored to have been invited to contribute in a Blog Race leading up to the event. A blog race where we are discussing main speaker Chris Anderson’s thoughts on the economics of free.

Thoughts that are utterly scary for anyone making their living producing content. And for some parts of the media industry this is truly disruptive. I mostly agree with Mr. Anderson, but now when I have the possibility of raising some questions I’ll try to do so, and hopefully manage to start a discussion.

Let’s have a look at some of the most important parts of the media industry.



The cost of production decrease, but it’s not free. Back in 1990 when I started studying television engineering it was a huge advantage for me that I got access to professional production equipment. Now the visual language of 35 mm film is available to anyone affording a Canon 5D Mark II and some lenses. And editing? Free with any Mac.

But production in total is not free. Not at all.


Where the industry meets the most disruptive changes. Internet distribution is very cheap compared to the cost of moving plastic around in big trucks or paper around with an advanced system of paper boys. But it’s not free. You need servers and bandwidth.

How about filesharing and BitTorrent? That’s close to free? Yes, I should know. At the NRK we distributed one of our most popular television shows thorugh BitTorrent. Roughly 105 TB of data for a total cost of about $200,-

BitTorrent is effective use of bandwidth, but you still have to pay for your internet connection. So it’s not free distribution. It’s getting cheaper for the content provider because the end user shares his or her bandwidth.

Coca Cola in da house


Getting cheaper because of the low cost of distribution, but getting more expensive because of the abundance of content. Joi Ito mentioned something that describes this problem in his presentation at DLD last week:

“What used to be a distribution problem has become a discovery problem.”

Getting attention is harder than ever. But when you finally get it it’s easier and cheaper than ever to utilize it.


And the cost of creativity? Maybe you would say that the cost of creativity is constant. It’s still difficult to make truly original, high quality, provoking, emotional and popular content. Still, I would argue that even the cost of creativity is going down. By sharing ideas, learning from others, communicating and cooperating we have better possibilities than ever.


And I have experienced all of this. Through this blog, videos and images I’ve put up there for free. Most recently a certain video currently at more than 3 million views. Views demanding bandwidth that Google pays for through ads. A video that already gives me secondary income through presentations and business-to-business deals with television stations and ad agencies.

But let’s have a look at the bigger picture. Making content is cheaper. But it’s not free. Of course Mr. Anderson knows that. And he argues that parts of the business is getting so cheap that we can start making money on something else.

For some parts of the business that will work. You can find what Kevin Kelly calls “Better than free“. Music, television and movies? Anything in there that’s better than free?



The cost of production, distribution and marketing is lower. No doubt about that. And if we don’t want to pay for the copy. What would we want to pay for? Over at Amie Street I pay for music. Because they help me with the discovery problem. And they keep my music so that I can download what I have purchased as many times I want. They deal with the metadata and the backup problem. So, call it what you want: me paying for music, or music for free but discovery and backup at a fee.

And then you have the concerts, merchandise, business-to-business etc. We’ll probably loose Britney Spears, a couple of boy bands, Bono’s million dollar yacht and some other creations from the big labels. But people will keep making high quality music. And they’ll make enough money to make a decent living. Magnatune and Pump Audio are on to something.

And that very same Kevin Kelly is on to something as well. In his article about the fact that there’s something “Better Than Owning“. If the labels had decided to be brave they wouldn’t kill Spotify but helped it into a wonderful service that a lot of people would pay for. Either by cash or by listening to ads.

And my question to Mr. Anderson? The numbers! I’m only assuming stuff here. The record execs do the math and tell us that music will die. That my assumptions are wrong. Have you done some research on those numbers? The actual production cost. The possible income on the combination of concerts, merchandise and business-to-business through services like Pump Audio? Any current success stories?

Yes, a couple of bands that already got famous through the aid of a record company can give their music away. But how about that example of a new artist doing fine, producing high quality music, feeding his family. By providing music to the people for free?



That’s easier. They’ve been in the business of free for decades: Find quality content, combine it with ads and reach as many people as possible. Eventually they’ll get it. The fact that the traditional model of free TV will work on the web as well. The biggest problem? Media agencies and marketing execs. They need to think different. Beyond the 30 second spot, beyond the banner ad and beyond the boards by the highway. That seems to be the difficult part. Hulu seems to work pretty well, but they need to understand that the world is global now.

And the question? We’re here in scandinavia now. A place where the license funded public broadcasters are very strong. Will this future of free content kill the license funded broadcaster because it will be out competed by free high quality content? Financed by all sorts of strange new business models?

Will these new models be good enough to finance true public service content?

RED1 vs Canon 5D MkII


The good old days where you could charge several times for the same content will soon be over. First cinema, then DVD, then pay-TV and finally free-TV. No more. Driving trucks of DVDs around must stop. It’s not environmentally friendly. Distributing through the internet makes sense. But so far it makes no business model good enough to replace the old one. Not even close.

The movie industry is different. The production cost is higher. Much higher. Okay, we can still make movies, even if Tom Cruise gets slightly less for his next movie. But making a block buster is expensive. And according to a movie exec I spoke to recently about 60-75% of the income on an average movie is DVD sales. You know, that stuff that is going to be free now.

My question:
I have problems understanding how the movie industry will fit into that $0 future of business. By making the cinema a better experience?

Some bonus questions:


Not so free transistors?

Quoting “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business“:

“That meant software writers, liberated from worrying about scarce computational resources like memory and CPU cycles, could become more and more ambitious, focusing on higher-order functions such as user interfaces and new markets such as entertainment.”

My question:
Right now it seems like the biggest problem is performance. Seems like that transistor wasn’t that cheap after all. Lets make Google Chrome. Performance, not function. And the focus of WIndows 7 and Snow Leopard? Pretty high focus on performance… It went too far?

Micropayments work!

“The huge psychological gap between “almost zero” and “zero” is why micropayments failed.”

My question:
Yes, there is a huge gap. But I still think bad usability is why micropayments failed. I understood that when I met my new friend called AppStore in my iPhone. When it’s instant entertainment for $1 micropayments work. Or what?


And the obvious question that Chris Anderson must have got hundreds of times:
If your last book, “The Long Tail” was free. Would you have increased your speaking gigs to a level that could pay for the potential income the direct sales of the book gave you?

The other parts of this blog race:

Chris Anderson visiting Malmö
Keep what you got by giving it all away
People pay for context, not content
4 things for media to sell in the world of free

Soon off for Malmö. Getting answers…

Free, but not that free…

Images and videos from the DLD conference

(Founders of DLD, Stephanie Czerny and Dr. Marcel Reichart)

Just wanted to let you know that my images from DLD 2009 is up. Feel free to use them according to the creative commons license. Lots of famous internet personalities in there.

Last year I went to DLD for the first time. Rodrigo had told me it was a good conference, but I was blown away by the quality of the sessions and the speakers.

So when I suddenly got an invite this year as well it was no question about going to Munich or not. If you get an invitation to DLD you go! And of course my expectations where very high this time.

Slightly disappointed by some of the sessions at day one. But a disappointment that disappeared quickly. DLD is without any doubt still one of the best conferences I go to. And part of the fun? I don’t know if I’ll get an invite next year…

All the videos from this years conference is up. And here are some of my recommendations:

Knowledge in the Age of Abundance – David Weinberger

On Creative Commons – Joi Ito

About Robotics – Dan Dubno, Raffaello D’Andrea, Roth & Tevet, Sergej Lupashin, Amir Shapiro

New Media Models – Jochen Wegner, Jeff Jarvis, Tyler Brulé, Carolyn McCall, Michael Arrington

And my favourite quote from the whole conference is in this session. On the mandatory finishing question: “what will you do in five years?” Mike Arrington: “I hope I’ll be living on an island somewhere and have nothing to do with this conference”. And that’s after he has been telling Tyler Brulé and Carolyn McCall that they’re working on dying old media that will never work. More or less all the way through the discussion. And mostly I agree with him.

But, Tyler Brulé gets the best finishing line ever: “I’ve already bought my own island. And I did that with money from old media.”

(Mike Arrington)


A bonus video. Yossi and Gabemac conducting:

Direct link to video on YouTube
Download this video in HD.

Images and videos from the DLD conference