Thursday, April 2, 2009

Which lens?

Marian is contemplating buying a camera.


Marian: What lens should I get?

Shootist: Depends on what you shoot. Close-ups, like inside a flower? Buildings? Portraits, like family members? Action pix like sports events? Far-off scenes like Big Nature?

Marian: All of them.

Shootist: So you need a whole bag of different lenses. A quiver-full of different arrows, if you will.

Marian: Why all the hunting analogies?

Shootist: Photography is a hunt. A photographer is a modern hunter-gatherer. Close work you need a macro lens that will let you get a few centimeters from your subject. Buildings and nature, you need a wide-angle lens, one that has a focal length starting at about 17 or 18. Pictures of people, a bright lens of about f1.8, focal length around 50 or 80 so you can blur the background and have the face in focus. Action pix you need a fast telephoto, say 200mm, at least f4, with image stabilizer to reduce blurring.

Marian: Quality?

Shootist: Most cameras are offered with multi-purpose kit lenses. Low-end, plastic bodied items. Hanging these on the front of a high-end camera you won’t get the best results. GIGO.

Marian: Any suggestions for just a couple of lenses to cover anything that might come out of the thicket?

Shootist: The best two lens reasonable cost solution would be the 17-85 f4 and the 70-200 f4. That way you’d have 17 to 200mm covered with image-stabilized lenses.



Giving good advice balances a directive accompanied by a short rationale. Shootist, despite his apparent agro stance, and the unavoidable acronym-flavored technicalities, delivers succinctly.


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