Monday, December 16th, 2019

Choosing the Right lens

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Choosing the Right lens

Every owner of an interchangeable-lens camera is faced with the pleasant dilemma of picking the most appropriate lenses to buy, then deciding which to use. However, there are no rules to go by; much depends on your personal style and what you already own. To help you decide which lenses to buy and how best to use them, we offer the following.

Normal lenses: Today, many 35mm photographers opt for a short zoom instead of a 50mm, but both have their virtues. If you need a fast, general-purpose lens in the f/1.4-f/2 range for available-light work, nothing can beat a 50mm. Positives: Usually more compact, lighter than a short zoom; often less costly; generally very sharp; provides brighter viewing image. Negatives: No zooming; you must compose by moving the camera.

Short zooms offer framing flexibility, often in a package not much larger than a 50mm lens. A 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 is usually the smallest and least expensive, but a 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 is more useful for shooting interiors, vistas, and cramped quarters because it gets down to 28mm. If you shoot portraits, nature, or sports at close range, consider a compact 35-105mm or a 35-135mm zoom. Normal zoom positives: Equivalent to two or more single focal length lenses in a handy, responsive package, it provides intermediate focal lengths; there’s less need to switch lenses. Normal zoom negatives: Moderate aperture (typically f/3.5-4.5) limits low-light shooting and focusing precision with manual focus, affects viewing brightness. Zooms tend to be larger, heavier, more expensive than 50mm lenses.

Wide-angle lenses: They range from 24mm (bordering on ultrawide) to 35mm (bordering on semiwide). As with normals, the choice is between very compact, single-focal-length lenses of relatively wide aperture (f/2-f/2.8, a few f/1.4s) and moderate-aperture zooms (around f/3.5-4.5), which provide superior framing flexibility. For positives and negatives on both types, see normal-lens section above.

Many wide zooms, such as 24-50mm, 25-50mm, 28-50mm, etc., encompass normal as well as wide-angle focal lengths, which is an advantage. A few (for example, 21-35mm, 18-28mm) combine ultrawide (21mm and below) and wide focal lengths (see ultrawide section below). Many are not much larger or heavier than a 50mm. Although 25-50mm or 21 -35mm may not sound as impressive, it’s the zoom ratio (long divided by short focal length) that counts. If you need a really fast wide-angle (for example, 35mm f/1.4, 28mm f/2, 24mm f/2) for available light or shooting handheld with slow film, stick to single focal lengths.

Ultrawide-angle lenses: With focal lengths of 21mm and below in 35mm format, they provide extreme angular coverage of 90 degrees or more. Positives: Ultrawides, by virtue of low image magnification, provide great depth of field; more likely to yield sharp-looking images when handheld at slow shutter speeds. Excellent for expanding tight interior spaces, capturing vistas; for intimate photojournalism, street photography. Negatives: Apparent perspective distortion, though useful for dramatic or comic effects, is problematic in portraiture. Avoid placing subjects near edges of the frame or prominent features, such as noses, in the foreground.

Medium tele lenses: Sometimes called portrait lenses, these optics in the 85-135mm range are fine for portraiture, minimize apparent perspective distortion, and provide convenient working distance when shooting faces close up. Many tele zooms work well in this range, but they’re heavier, longer, and slower than single focal length lenses. If you shoot a large percentage of portraits, you should consider getting an 85mm f/2, 100mm f/2, or 105mm f/2.5, even if you own a tele. Positives: They allow discreet photography of people without the perspective-flattening effect of long teles; single focal length type combines fast aperture, bright viewing image, good image quality. Negative: For zooms, see above; for single focal length, fairly specialized.

Long tele lenses: Traditionally, any lens over 135mm for 35mm photography is a long tele. Today, the most popular by far are zooms in the 80-200mm or 70-210mm range. Unless you need a lens that’s very fast and very long (such as the optically superb but large, heavy, and very expensive 300mm and 400mm f/2.8s used by professional sports photographers), a tele zoom is the most flexible and economical choice. For many photographers, a 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 (especially one with macro) is the only long tele they’ll need. Positives: Reasonable size, weight, and price, wide range of uses–nature, sports, people, portraits, scenics. Negatives: Moderate and variable aperture; mediocre performance unless stopped way down. A number of surprisingly compact 100-300mm f/5.6s are now offered for those who need a bit more reach, and there are a few fine 200-500mm f/5.6s for those who need really long teles for such things as long-distance sports close-ups. Long tele zoom negatives: larger size and weight.

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Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
Psalm 104:10-13

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number living things both large and small.
Psalm 104:24-25

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.
Ansel Adams

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!
Ted Grant

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
Dorothea Lange

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
Ansel Adams

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
Ansel Adams

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.
Matt Hardy

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.
Elliott Erwitt

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.
Imogen Cunningham

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.
William Albert Allard

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.
Garry Winogrand

I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.
Anonymous

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
Ansel Adams

It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.
Timothy Allen


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