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01-28-2011, 06:27 AM   #1
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Choosing a Lens

I wanted to start a question, not to see what lens I should buy next, but to question how you decide what lens (or perhaps lenses) you choose to take along when you are going out. Do you pick a zoom lens versus a prime lens? Telephoto or wide angle? Do you feel frustrated with the lens that you picked?

I tend to choose a normal zoom, like the kit lens, or DA *16-50, but there are times when I wish I had brought something longer along, at the same time, there are plenty of times that I start off with a longer lens and wish that I had something wider. I feel like this is silly waffling on my part and that I would do better just to take photos with the lens I have with me, rather than wish for the one I don't have.

Anyway, how do you choose?

01-28-2011, 07:21 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I don't regret not owning a particular focal length for my all primes collection. And I never regret not having the right prime on there for the moment.

I just don't care.

The next time I go to the Zoo and want to shoot, I'll bring my 35, 50 and 200.

If the ape is too far away for 200, screw him.
01-28-2011, 07:24 AM - 1 Like   #3
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If you're going out with a specific target in mind, then naturally you should take whatever focal length(s) are appropriate.

If you're just going out to see what serendipity puts in front of you.....then it really doesn't matter. Part of the fun/challenge is seeing what you can get with what you brought with you. The world won't stop turning if you "miss" some shots due to having the wrong lens along.

In other words:

With a specific subject in mind, match your gear to the shot. Without a specific subject in mind, match your shot to the gear.

Ira said it better than I did. If you can't shoot the ape with what you have, screw him; shoot something else. If I just have to see a photo of an ape I'll hunt one up online when I get back home.
01-28-2011, 07:29 AM   #4
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I have purchased lenses to serve specific purposes, no lens in my kit is there without a reason. So for me it's easy to select the right lens for each shooting occasion.

If I don't know what I'm going to shoot, however, I bring the Sigma-17-70 and often the FA 100-300. Most times when I bring those I bring my large bag, and the F50 and DA21 are always in that bag anyway, so I'm all set.

You could say that I pick up the DA 18-55 WR, FA 50 macro, or M150 when I have a reason for doing so.

01-28-2011, 07:35 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
With a specific subject in mind, match your gear to the shot. Without a specific subject in mind, match your shot to the gear.
QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
turning if you "miss" some shots due to having the wrong lens along. In other words: With a specific subject in mind, match your gear to the shot. Without a specific subject in mind, match your shot to the gear. Ira said it better than I did. If you can't shoot the ape with what you have, screw him; shoot something else.
This is how I picked some lenses for myself, when I started to develope my skills I bought a long range zoom(24-135mm or 55-300mm) first and take it with me all the time whenever I go out shooting some pics. Then I picked out pics I really liked to print or re-touching etc. After that I started to sort all of pics by focal lengths for a few months and found out which focal length I used the most. After that, I bought DA35mm F2.4 and DA*200mm 2.8mm. It worked out perfect to me.
01-28-2011, 07:53 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
I don't regret not owning a particular focal length for my all primes collection. And I never regret not having the right prime on there for the moment.

I just don't care.

The next time I go to the Zoo and want to shoot, I'll bring my 35, 50 and 200.

If the ape is too far away for 200, screw him.
Oh Ira, what an attitude you have. That's no way to promote LBA! If you are going to the Zoo, it's time for a Vivitar 650-1300 f/8, then you KNOW that Ape ain't gonna be too far away!
01-28-2011, 08:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DigiMack Quote
Oh Ira, what an attitude you have. That's no way to promote LBA! If you are going to the Zoo, it's time for a Vivitar 650-1300 f/8, then you KNOW that Ape ain't gonna be too far away!
LBA needs help propagating itself about like ebola needs help.
01-28-2011, 08:19 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
LBA needs help propagating itself about like ebola needs help.
But LBA is much more fun!

01-28-2011, 08:33 AM   #9
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There are basically two ways to select and acquire a new (to you) lens:

1) You carefully choose it.
2) Fate throws it at you.

I use approach #1 for anything over US$50, and approach #2 for anything cheaper. My rule of thumb (ROT) for lens-buying is: If it costs less than a sandwich or burger, buy it. If it costs more than a large pizza, think REAL HARD about it.

It can be hard to pre-visualize your lens needs or desires. That's why I started with the DA10-17, DA18-250, and FA50/1.4, to cover most bases. Since then I've acquired a zillion lenses. Very few were selected for specific purposes. Most were just, "Hmmm, I wonder if that'll work for me?" So I buy mostly cheap old manual primes, and if they're not right, I sell them, mostly at a nice profit.

How to select a lens? Ask yourself, What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have now? And what will let me do what I want? And what can I afford? The answers will drive your decisions.
01-28-2011, 09:00 AM   #10
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As a corollary to what Rico said, nobody ever said on his death bed, "Boy, I sure am glad I didn't buy that lens" or "Boy, I sure am glad I sold that lens."
01-28-2011, 09:12 AM   #11
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I actually don't have LBA at present. I am pretty happy with my lenses and feel that the limiting factor on my photography is me, not my gear. At the same time, there are plenty of times that I go to the zoo with my wife and kids and I decide that I am going to shoot with my DA 55-300 and then realize halfway through that I am only getting photos of the animals, because the focus is too slow on it to track my kids and its really too long for that as well. On the other hand, I'll go out with the DA 40 and wish that it was about 100 mm long to shoot the animals.

Maybe I'm just too indecisive, but I don't really know about that either.
01-28-2011, 09:28 AM   #12
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I have been going through this for a while now.

QuoteQuote:
I just went through the stuff at photozone, as much as i could tolerate in one sitting. SO long story short, if there was one combination of lenses to buy, I'd probably go 16-50 and 60-250 zooms, very good numbers across the board, and better almost all the primes I looked at. I mean really look at the numbers for the 200 prime and the 60-250 at 200 side by side. The f2.8 is the only thing that could sell you the prime.

For the absolute sharpest images possible the 43 Ltd, the 77 and the 31 all have one great center sweet spot that might be worth buying the lens for. The 70mm is also a great lens.

So put a wad of cash in my pocket and send me to the camera store, and given my current lenses, the Tamron 90 ,macro would be my purchase.

Starting from scratch, looking at the numbers. Pentax 10-17, 16-50 , and 60-250 would be my main arsenal. I'd still have my Sigma 120-400 for it's reach and I'd probably still get the 31, 43 and 77 ltds for their sweet spots, but the Tamron 90 would still fit as the macro lens or fast mid-prime even though the 60-250 would surpass it in it's role as a prime after f4.
There are further responses in this thread on specific issues as well, that might be worth reading. The origianal thread was on the Tamron 90mm macro lens but it spread out at the end.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/105660-tamron-...x-mount-2.html

It's only a few people, but we do touch on some issues of interest.
01-28-2011, 10:25 AM   #13
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I've got all focal lengths covered from 10 thru 300 (and add on a x1.4 and the AFA x1.7 to that) so firstly I choose my lenses (I usually always take 3 or 4 and a TC - even to work) for the subject and then maybe something as a back-up if there is an opportunity for something else along the way.

Now when I'm thinking of buying a lense I think of two things a) is it sharper / faster than what I have now or b) is it capable of doing something none of my current lenses can do.
01-28-2011, 11:20 AM   #14
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@Frogfish,
I mostly carry around a select subset of lenses. Plus a lens-of-the-day or two, to re-try lenses that aren't used enough. For long drives, I'll also have a bag or two of other lenses, for coverage from 10-1000mm plus 180-degree fisheye and more. That extended kit may contain multiple 28's, 50's, 100's, 200's, macros, whatever, some fast and some slow. Experimenting with them is fun. I've gone beyond just coverage, to character.

Now when I consider buying a lens, I ask: 1) is it cheap enough, and 2) will it be *different* from what I have? Some are promoted to regular carry-arounds because they're small and weird, like a tiny aluminium CZJ Tessar 50/2.8 in Exakta mount (12 iris blades) or an even tinier Enna Tele-Sandmar 100/4.5 in Argus C3 mount, both around US$8. Neither is perfect; both are fun. I buy enlarger and projector lenses for such individual qualities, not because they're the fastest or most prized.

Modern optics are great. Highly-corrected modern optics can also cast a sameness on images. That (and budget) are what drive me to older imperfect glass.
01-28-2011, 11:33 AM   #15
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When I know what I'm after I select a few primes.
For landscapes a moderate wide, 20mm and a tight normal, 40mm.
For people a widish normal 28mm, a tight normal 40mm and a 58 potrait lens.
For animals mostly a 58mm; a 85mm and a 135mm depending on the animal's behavior.
When I don't know what to expect to happen exactly, I take the 16-45 and 45-125.
When I have not much time to change lenses, zooms are my first choice too.
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