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03-25-2011, 05:47 AM   #1
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A walk in the woods - which lens?

I am hoping to take a walk in the woods near my house this weekend. And I don't want to tote a camera bag with me. I'm new to dSLRs and interchangeable lenses, so I am seeking advice on which lens I should bring along.

I have the DA L 18-55mm and the DA L 55-300mm.

Which do you think is more suitable for this type of photography? I really don't know what to expect in terms of what will be interesting enough to shoot. Just looking for the most versatile option, I guess.

Thanks in advance.

03-25-2011, 05:53 AM   #2
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Depends. (Doesn't it always???!!!) If you are wanting to shoot birds, animals, etc it would probably be better to take the telephoto zoom. If you are looking at nature shots of trees, flowers, plants, ponds, and streams, etc. then I would want the wide angle. Look at it this way--if you take the wide angle you will see the most beautiful 12 point buck you have ever imagined at about 150 yards away!
03-25-2011, 06:03 AM   #3
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Take both with you. My personal taste, I will use 55-300 more. I walk with kids, and need for longer reach. Walking alone, I go with the 18-55.
In my case, the best option is a cheap manual lens: M50 f4 macro.
03-25-2011, 06:09 AM   #4
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Well if you do not know what to expect than take your walk with no expectations.

I have two children under the age of six. When we go to parks I have created an excitement to also take short walks of exploration. I call it a "walking adventure" but it is really an opportunity for me to also take some photos. Normally I have already sort of chosen a lens at random to take with me before we have started. The "walking adventure" is just a good excuse to give that lens some exercise.
My point is, whatever lens you take is the lens you will use. During your walk in the woods, you will get to know how to use that lens and the limitations of that lens. And you can concentrate on the best ways to shoot with the lens.
And another thing about the two lenses of your choice: the next time you go on the walk, take the other lens and get another "style" of images. It should be that simple and you should not worry about if you are doing something wrong. You are new to slr photography so just find your own "style' by photography things you find interesting or making things seem more interesting.

03-25-2011, 06:16 AM   #5
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Take both. Neither are large lenses and the one not on-camera would easily fit in a large pocket. You will then be able to experiment and find out which one you use most so next time you go for a stroll you can leave one behind.
03-25-2011, 06:29 AM   #6
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Great points and things to consider! I appreciate the thoughtful answers.
I may decide to take both, after all. Would be a shame to miss that buck!

However, since I don't have to drive off anywhere, it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to take a separate trip with each lens. Sounds like there will be plenty of opportunities no matter which one I choose. And there's no real definitive answer.

Since I feel the 55-300 is a better lens, I may start with that one.

Thanks again! This forum is so helpful.
03-25-2011, 06:37 AM   #7
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If I was new to dSLR and I really want to limit myself to one lens (from your collection), I would opt for 18-55. More universal, slightly better close up capabilities (for e.g. flowers).
03-25-2011, 07:10 AM   #8
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As I can't go anywhere with out 3-5 lenses and always want more, this is hard to answer. It depends on how thick the woods are. I used to live in Maryland and as I recall things tend to be fairly distance limited. This argues for the 18-55 being on the camera first. Honestly I think the 55-300 would be overkill in the forest unless you are interested in birds. If it were me, I'd take it in my backpack (I tend to have a collection of fanny packs that can be just right for one extra lens) which would give me the option if I saw a distant subject I wanted bring close. The rest of the time your 18-55 should be plenty.

One thing to consider is changing lenses in the outdoors. This can be challenging at times as you may feel that you need a third hand. It can also introduce dust into the camera. This is no reason not to do it (goodness knows I do it all the time), but it is one thing to consider if you are new at this.

My personal choice on lenses for this kind of thing is the DA 17-70 which for years has been my favorite one lens for a hike. One more beyond that is the Tamron 18-250 lens which I took on a 3 day backpack trip last year, which was never perfect but covered all of the range I needed for that trip with one lens.

Best of luck on your walk.

03-25-2011, 07:55 AM   #9
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Get a fish eye. It creates "surround" effect.
03-25-2011, 08:02 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nowhere Matt Quote
Well if you do not know what to expect than take your walk with no expectations.

I have two children under the age of six. When we go to parks I have created an excitement to also take short walks of exploration. I call it a "walking adventure" but it is really an opportunity for me to also take some photos. Normally I have already sort of chosen a lens at random to take with me before we have started. The "walking adventure" is just a good excuse to give that lens some exercise.
My point is, whatever lens you take is the lens you will use. During your walk in the woods, you will get to know how to use that lens and the limitations of that lens. And you can concentrate on the best ways to shoot with the lens.
And another thing about the two lenses of your choice: the next time you go on the walk, take the other lens and get another "style" of images. It should be that simple and you should not worry about if you are doing something wrong. You are new to slr photography so just find your own "style' by photography things you find interesting or making things seem more interesting.
This is exactly what I do. I'm usually walking our dogs, so I don't/can't carry extra lenses with me. I'll pick one for the day & stick with it. Really a nice way to get to know your lenses & their limitations, as Matt stated - fun, too!
03-25-2011, 08:12 AM   #11
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Likely not much help, but... my first dSLR kit was the K20D, DA10-17, DA18-250, and FA50/1.4. Good coverage for woods and plains, villages and mega-cities, shores and mountains, roads and roundups, almost everything. Add the Raynox DCR-250 clip-on for close/macro shots, and VOILA! I've added a few since then but those are still my basics.

I have but don't much use an 18-55 + 60-300 pair -- unused, because I shoot a lot between 35-70, and swapping lenses at 55-60 is a PITA. So if I expect to want wide coverage, I mount the DA18-250, and if I expect (or force myself into) a narrower range, I use my cheap sharp little F35-70.

Look at it this way: Every lens is a window on the world. We look through that window for our view of the world. I use primes because they force me to 'see' in certain ways. I use zooms when I want a bigger window, to 'see' a greater range of images. I love my 18-250 because it's about the biggest window available. It's general-purpose.
03-25-2011, 08:39 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the input!

I've got to admit, as blackcloudbrew pointed out, I am a bit hesitant about changing lenses outside. That was an additional reason I was limiting myself to one lens.

I see your points about the 18-55 having the wider view and likely my woods would not present many long-range opportunities. They are fairly thick in most spots. Sometimes it's a challenge to get through! Another reason I didn't want a bag hanging off me as well as the camera.

Perhaps I've changed my mind and will start with the 18-55. A walk in the woods is fun and I can always go back with the bigger lens if I want to.

I want to acquire more lenses but budget won't allow at this time. I will keep your recommendations in mind. Thanks!
03-25-2011, 03:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote

Perhaps I've changed my mind and will start with the 18-55. A walk in the woods is fun and I can always go back with the bigger lens if I want to.

I want to acquire more lenses but budget won't allow at this time. I will keep your recommendations in mind. Thanks!
Flip a coin, and take the one lens that wins the day. Don't let gear fixation technicalities spoil your outing, because it will spoil your photographic enjoyment too. Guaranteed.

Forget the camera... forget lenses... trust yourself to produce with what you have. I guarantee that the self rewards that come off that SD card at the end of the day, along with the experience and satisfaction gained, will be priceless.

.R. -- Most gear is better than most photographers.
03-25-2011, 04:19 PM   #14
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Are the little spring flowers blooming now in your neck of the woods? If so, I would go with the 18-55 because you can focus VERY close with it. Good for getting shots of the tiny flowers that bloom this time of year.

This lil' bloom was about the size of a quarter, and I shot it with the 18-55 version I.

03-25-2011, 04:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hypocorism Quote
Flip a coin, and take the one lens that wins the day. Don't let gear fixation technicalities spoil your outing, because it will spoil your photographic enjoyment too. Guaranteed.

Forget the camera... forget lenses... trust yourself to produce with what you have. I guarantee that the self rewards that come off that SD card at the end of the day, along with the experience and satisfaction gained, will be priceless.

.R. -- Most gear is better than most photographers.
Thank you. This is really helpful.


And Stratman, that's a gorgeous photo! I got this one of a tiny flower that was less than a 1/4" with my 18-55. You are right - they will focus very close, on very tiny objects as well!

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