Some Thoughts On Lenses

I am of the belief that the selection of lenses you purchases will be the single most important tool you purchase in photography. For me (I’ll post the focal lengths for the full Frame Field of View, convert if you use a crop camera).

Taken across a busy road with a zoom lens

My thoughts on a “standard” kit. I have some primes by where and how I image makes me mostly a “zoom” guy.  I find that 24mm on the short end of a standard zoom is perfect for landscapes.  And somewhere between 70 and 120mm for the long end, depending on your subjects and size of lens you desire. Then for a long lens (not my birding lens) I find that something in the 70-200/300 range covers most of my needs in the city/landscapes/large mammals (close large birds). In such a standard kit I use a dual element macro filter that fits the longer zoom and can be used with the shorter zoom with an adapter.

Final, I carry something in the 20mm range, be it a prime or zoom that covers that range  – this is essential for in city work I think.

It’s not that I don’t like primes, I have and use 3 of them. It’s that when one is starting out and doesn’t know why type of photography they are going to fall in love with, that a range of zooms (it used to be that consumer zooms (heck even Pro zooms) were nowhere near as good as primes. Today that is no longer true in my experience. A friend of mine recently bought a Nikkor 75-300 E full Frame lens, and it is very, very sharp. For my M43 kit I have a very small 35-100 (70-200 FF Fov), and while it is not a range I use a lot, it is very light and small while being extremely sharp. I do not hesitate to use this lens on any trip for in city work.

Where I live (Western United States) oftentimes you cannot “foot zoom” and thus zoom lenses allow you to compose compelling images that otherwise would be beyond the range of a fixed lens. Additionally, by using zooms you are not exposing your sensor to some of the very abrading sand of the west.

Because zooms are larger than fixed length lenses in general, you want to pick your zooms carefully as they can be heavy compared to other lenses. I often use 2 bodies each with a zoom and thus never worry about the changing of lenses in near the ocean or in the desert.

My next series of posts will be about using zooms for specific purposes and what my experiences have been.