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02-11-2009, 01:30 PM   #16
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I really think, that for landscape photography the prime versus zoom question completely boils down to personal preferences - which also includes print size of the final image. If you print mainly 6x4, there simply is no quality issue with 99% of all current lenses. Small differences will only be visible at much bigger print sizes.

I personally love the Sigma 10-20 for shots, where I want to put a strong emphasize on the center foreground and the borders and corners of the image are not important. Also, I simply do not own a prime lens with 10mm focal length, so at times the Sigma is my only choice. On top, the Sigma is not that big and certainly not really heavy.

If I know, I am going after the ultimate quality in terms of sharpness and contrast across the full frame for a large print, I usually go with my old 15/3.5 or a 35/2.

During film years I found, that I could substitute basically 95% of my lenses for landscape photography with a 35mm and a 80-90mm lens - just two tiny primes. That would be equivalent to a 21mm and 50mm lens on APS-C. So this combination would be an option for myself - whether it is useable for you, I don't know.

Ben

02-11-2009, 01:48 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
The "intimate landscape" ala Elliot Porter has been less in favor--at least in American print media--the past 25 years, in favor of the Meunchlike "grand landscape" shot with ultra wides.
Ron,
thanks for the post it was refreshing to talk about photography from the viewpoint of something other than hardware.

It got me to thinking...

...a lot of the difference between the two could be explained by geography. Meunch is a Western photographer while Porter's heart was primarily in the East of the USA.

I wonder if Meunch, confined to Eastern deciduous forests, wouldn't take a more "god is in the details" a la Porter approach and start reaching for his macros more than he does now.

After all where is it written that "landscape" is defined by some particular angular field of view?

Right now I have glass from 18-1000mm and, as far as I'm concerned, all of them are suitable for "landscape" if I chose to use them that way.

Case in point:
Taken with a 560m glass at 15x not a macro nor a wide.
What could be more of a "landscape" shot than a butterfly in it's natural habitat?

Wildman

Last edited by wildman; 02-23-2009 at 05:02 AM.
02-11-2009, 02:27 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
I really think, that for landscape photography the prime versus zoom question completely boils down to personal preferences
I agree entirely. I am not fooling myslef for a minute into thinking I get better results shooting with primes - viewed on screen or in typically-sized prints, there is not going to be a significant difference at all. I just *like* using my primes more. Because I don't feel the need to cover every possible focal length with a prime, they *do* take less space than zooms of similar quality, and I'm more sensitive to weight on the camera than weight in the bag. but everyone feels differently.

Bottom line: if you're asking the prime versus zoom question and expecting the answer to have anything to do with results, you're asking the wrong question. It has nothing to do with *results* and everything to do with *process*. And while there are perfectly legitimate (if subjective) reasons why zooms are "better", there are equally legitimate (if subjective) arguments to be made on behalf of primes.

You might as well try to convince someone why Coke is superior to Pepsi. Or Canon to Nikon. Or Democrats to Republicans. Hmm, anything else I can throw in here to guarantee we'll veer off-topic?
02-11-2009, 02:40 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
You might as well try to convince someone why Coke is superior to Pepsi. Or Canon to Nikon. Or Democrats to Republicans. Hmm, anything else I can throw in here to guarantee we'll veer off-topic?
Mac versus PC?

I love shooting with primes most of the time. I agree that in terms of quality you're not going to see the difference that readily between a good prime and a good zoom on APS-C. Anyone serious is using a much larger format anyway, whether on film or with a large digital back. Because landscapes is where extreme detail really shines through, not just because the detail is there in reality and needs to be represented, but because one tends to want to make larger prints.

Panoramic stitching deserves to be mentioned, as it has really changed the ball-game for a lot of people. Stick with your freaking good fast 50 and stitch together as many shots as you need.

02-11-2009, 04:11 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone, great responses. I'm not really sure what I was going for after posting this question, I think I was just getting overwhelmed! I ended up going for used Sigma 10-20mm partly for the price, but mainly because it offers me the most "new" focal lengths to play with (I've never shot below 18mm, though 48% of my shots with the 18-55 have been right at 18mm).

I do really like primes though, and oddly I tend to "feel" more like a photographer when I use one, which puts me in a more patient mood to really scope out the scene and get a shot. I suppose that's the same thing a lot of people say about primes, that they force you to slow down, but in my case it makes me WANT to slow down. Same effect, different reason. With the kit lens (my only current zoom), I tend to feel more like I'm just taking snapshots. Maybe I'm just too aware of the stigma of a cheap kit zoom versus a nice prime. But I'm not sure that's completely a bad thing.

Sorry, I'm rambling...
02-11-2009, 04:42 PM   #21
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DA 12-24 Landscapes

Here are three sample landscapes taken with K10D and DA 12-24. I like this lens for landscapes. This first image was taken at Writing On Stone Provincial Park, near Milk River Alberta.




This sunset was taken at Chain Lakes provincial park, South of the famous Bar U Ranch in South Western Alberta. We camped there while touring the park




This last one was taken near my home during a walk. The Elk River runs through the Elk Valley (surprise) and is about 10 minutes from my home in this photo.



The EXIF data is on the large sizes in my Flickr site below.
02-11-2009, 05:01 PM   #22
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Hi mutedphotos

As you become more familiarised with the capabilities of your s/h Sigma 10-20mm, I trust you'll genuinely grow to love it ! My wife & I spent 4 months travelling extensively around the world last year on a once-in-a-lifetime trip including lengthy periods touring America, Australia & New Zealand. Utilising a pair of K10D bodies, in total I ended up taking a grand total of approx 30,000 photos with a Tamron 18-250mm attached to one and the Sigma 10-20mm to the other. In fact every time I grab my K10D and look through the viewfinder with the 10-20mm attached, a knowing grin tends to spread over my face and then my creative side tends to take over…..lol ! The photographic possibilities the Sigma opens up are virtually endless and the flexibility it affords when framing/zooming in/out slightly are the icing on the cake as far I'm concerned. However, just so you are fully aware of the situation, some earlier versions of the Sigma 10-20mm were affected by decentering/soft focus issues and I thought it might be something you ought to be aware of.
02-11-2009, 05:18 PM   #23
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Confused-

Thanks! I bought it from KEH so I made sure of the return policy. I've heard plenty of stories of sample variation so I'll make sure to test it out when it gets here.

02-11-2009, 11:18 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Fact is, a small kit of primes will likely take up at least as much space as a single zoom--and probably weigh more. You should shoot whichever you enjoy shooting the most. This is a hobby that can be directed at stress relief and hedonistic pleasure. It need not be a stictly logical choice--resolution, price, weight, shooting style etc. Many of us in this forum shoot the lenses we have the most fun shooting and only you can make that decision.

As to ultrawide in the realm of landscape work...it would be tough to argue that anyone other than Mark and David Meunch are the top landscape photographers of our time. Yes, that's partly because they've focused on national icons, national parks etc. But those two have produced several dozen coffee table books with stunning landscape images. And the vast majority of their best images are super wide shots with an exaggerated foreground element (not a style I particulaly like to shoot, but that's what's popular).

Many or even most of us amateurs shoot landscape shots that look alike, but not like the Meunch's--just look at the images in the photo section of this forum, or on my website or whereever--most don't have an interesting foreground, or even a close foreground. Actually, most--including my own--appear to have been taken over the rail of a viewing platform. I know that's not what we all do, but it's how many of our images appear.

The "intimate landscape" ala Elliot Porter has been less in favor--at least in American print media--the past 25 years, in favor of the Meunchlike "grand landscape" shot with ultra wides. If you doubt this, look at the front cover of your local telephone book for the past 25 years--probably grand landscapes (or grand cityscapes as the case may be). Your own shooting style will dictate how to approach this. Killer Porteresque images can be made with a macro lens rather than any of the lenses we all tend to think of as landscape lenses.

My longwinded recommendation...get a quality superwide (either prime or zoom) and get a quality macro lens. Then you can cover most landscape shooting opportunities you encounter. And do yourself a favor, don't shoot over the rail at the scenic overlook! Well ok, sometimes...
An excellent post, Ron. Im a huge fan of the exaggerated foreground shots myself. My next lenses will probably be the 12-24 and the 35 macro, just for the reasons you state.
Just to clarify, though, its Muench, not Meunch
Muench Photography, Inc. Specializing in Outdoor Image Licensing
02-12-2009, 02:16 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
True, but a lens change takes only seconds if you're accustomed to it. And unless your zoom is the 18-250 or something like that, you still can't guarantee you won't be changing lenses sometimes. As discussed in a recent thread, the number of shots lost to lens changes is hugely overestimated by people who don't actually use primes much.
One advantage of zooms versus primes is that you don't have to change lenses in "hazardous" environments. Like when you're knee deep in the water and sand at the beach, water splashing or when there's rain, it's pretty hard to swap lenses
02-12-2009, 09:25 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by soccerjoe5 Quote
One advantage of zooms versus primes is that you don't have to change lenses in "hazardous" environments. Like when you're knee deep in the water and sand at the beach, water splashing or when there's rain, it's pretty hard to swap lenses
True enough. But if I need to step into the water to take a shot, I put the lens I need in order to make the shot on before stepping in to the water. I have changed lenses at the beach many times; sand isn't a huge problem if you can do it quickly and face away from the wind. But sure, there are definitely situations where even a prime lover like me will prefer a zoom - just like there are situations where I *will* eat my vegetables.
02-12-2009, 10:01 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
True enough. But if I need to step into the water to take a shot, I put the lens I need in order to make the shot on before stepping in to the water. I have changed lenses at the beach many times; sand isn't a huge problem if you can do it quickly and face away from the wind. But sure, there are definitely situations where even a prime lover like me will prefer a zoom - just like there are situations where I *will* eat my vegetables.
Given an unlimited supply of Cdn $, Marc, I would use a whole suite of prime lenses and carry two or three bodies with the favourites on them. Unfortunately, I only have the one digital body, and must make do with the zooms and post processing. I carry the majority of the kit listed below with me when I head out, so the carry weight is not something I worry about. Whenever the comparison is between a high quality zoom and a high quality prime, the prime will be capable of being enlarged at least one more size: 24x36 vs 16x24 inches. For my limited budget, I save my pennies for the best quality zoom I can get.
02-12-2009, 10:02 AM   #28
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Regarding the issue of Porter being in canopied forests and shooting intimate landscapes and the Muenchs shooting grand landscapes in the open West...no doubt that has lots to do with each shooters' personal perspective, upbringing and "feelings" about their natural surroundings.

I grew up in the temperate forests (almost rainforests) of Western Washingon and Western Oregon. That combined with my nearsightedness has at least in part lead me to intimate landscapes. So much that I can hardly even detect a grand scenic even when it's all around me--I now live in the Rocky Mountains, but shoot very few grand scenics...personal limitations imposed by my own partially closed mind...

Thanks Canadian Rockies for the suggestion on "fixing" perspective issues. That type of program is on my "someday, maybe even soon" list. If I knew more than the "on" button of my computer, I'd probably already have it. I still shoot digital as if it were film. If I miss the shot it's a throw away. If I get the shot I submit it to a magazine. If it's an artistic opportunity, I pull out the medium format and shoot film. Rather hate computers other than for word processing--thus my long-winded posts!
02-12-2009, 10:24 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Thanks Canadian Rockies for the suggestion on "fixing" perspective issues. That type of program is on my "someday, maybe even soon" list. If I knew more than the "on" button of my computer, I'd probably already have it. I still shoot digital as if it were film. If I miss the shot it's a throw away. If I get the shot I submit it to a magazine. If it's an artistic opportunity, I pull out the medium format and shoot film. Rather hate computers other than for word processing--thus my long-winded posts!
I made my living with computers. I hate them. These are not mutually exclusive statements.

In my film days I had a black and white darkroom, and had fun with it, but much preferred to be out taking the negatives instead. I still do. My recommendation of DxO is directly related to that. Rather than spending my time at the screen compensating for lens/body flaws, I select the images and tell DxO to do its thing. I then go off and do something productive like eat lunch or have a beer. When I finally return to the computer, there is Lightroom open with all my newest DxO images selected for me to select and maybe change the crop/exposure/white balance a bit.
02-12-2009, 10:40 AM   #30
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Sounds like my style of post processing! And yes, I do a little pp. At least you are drinking a Canadian beer which my Canadian friends greatly prefer to American beer (the supermarket version, not the micro's). To use the phraseology Monty Python popularized in the '70's, "American beer is like making love in a canoe...it's f***ing close to water!"
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