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Camera Equipment, Photographing

Lenses Short and Sweet

When looking for lenses for you camera, it is important to remember that you will likely have the lenses longer than you will have the camera. Also of all the elements that contribute to a good photograph the lens is more important than the camera, processor or sensor. So try to purchase the highest quality you can afford. If you are shooting a camera with a crop factor of 1.5, seriously consider a full frame lens. I say this for two reasons: first, if you do eventually upgrade to a full frame camera, you will not have to buy your lenses all over again; and second, the quality of a full frame lens is substantially better.

One way to determine quality is the minimum f-stop of the lens. The lower the f-stop, likely the better the lens quality. You want the lens to be f 2.8 or lower, this of course does not apply to extreme telephone lenses which have higher f-stops.  The lenses that are f2.8 or lower also tend to have nano coatings to eliminate flare and the also have ED (Extra-low Dispersion glass), which eliminates chromatic aberrations and reduces refraction.

So what are the best lens for 1.5 and full frame cameras? This is going to depend on what you shoot. So, here is a short list for different kinds of photography.

Landscape Photographers

  1. 24-70mm f 2.8 — This is the workhorse lens
  2. 70-200mm f 2.8 — This lens is used to extract shots where there are great distances involved and the 24-70 is too wide.
  3. 14-24mm f2.8 — This lens is used where the foreground material is important and needs to emphasized.

Portrait Photographer

  1. 70-200mm f 2.8 — This is the workhorse lens. It is used to bring some compression in the face as well as in the background.
  2. 24-70mm f 2.3 — This is used when you want to include more environmental information into the photograph. However, when shooting at 24mm, care should be taken to keep the faces away from the edges of the photograph where the face will distort.
  3. 85 mm f1.4 — This lens will give very soft high quality bokeh in the background. The drawback is the narrow depth of field and when shooting it is difficult to keep more than one person in focus.

Travel

  1. 28-300mm f 3.5 – f 5.6 — This lens allows you to have only one lens that covers all ranges. This will keep your bag light.
  2. 14-24 mm f 2.8 —  This might also be included if you are expecting landscape shots that require foreground material.

Wildlife, Birding and Sports

This is probably the most expensive kind of shooting in terms of lenses. These lenses, with the exception of the 70-300, are heavy and difficult to hold and are usually used with a monopod or tripod both to steady the camera and prevent physical fatigue .

  1. 70-300mm f 3.5 – f 5.6 — This is a good starter lens for outdoor shooting, but because it is a slow lens, it does not work well indoors.
  2. 70-200mm f 2.8 — This is a good lens for shooting sports indoors and with a 1.4 teleconverter can provide a greater zooming.
  3. 200-400mm f 4 —  This lens is good for outdoors where the sports fields are large or you need to focus in on distant wild life. However, you are likely to find you are at 400mm a lot of the time unless things move suddenly closer.
  4. Either the 300mm or 400mm f 2.8 prime lenses are used in sports (often when using two camera bodies) will be much sharper and provide softer backgrounds.

Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is similar to the portrait photography lens but includes more prime lenses with lower f-stops because of the amount of indoor photography that is involved.

  1. 70-200 — This is the workhorse lens)
  2. 50mm and 28mm f 2.8 prime lenses — These are used to get people shots in low light situations.
  3. 85mm f 2.8 — These are used to do single portraits where high quality soft backgrounds are required.

Marco Photography.

  1. 105mm f 2.8 (Macro) — This lens allows you to get close to your subject but not so close that things like insects might fly away. It also doubles as a very good portrait lens.
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