What new lenses to buy? (my story)


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Jun 27, 2002
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#1
Hi!

Lots of amateurs love to ask this question of what lenses to get after they buy their first DSLR/SLR. As I was once (and still is a newbie) in more ways than one, I loved to share what goes into my lens buying decision.

It’s very overwhelming to see the amount of lenses available in the market and get confuse over what you need. Add the third party lens offering and its already mind bogging!

However there is always a rule, what you need may not be the right tool others recommended, so how to start?

I would love to share my little photographic gear guide that was my guiding tool.

Like most of us, I started staring at the lens brochure online and started mapping out the different prices versus the focal lengths. Aperture size was an alien concept at first; focal length and cost are always my foremost needs.

So I started mapping out my needs, how many lenses I want and the cost I’m willing to fork out. At first I set my budget to $500 and only wanted an all-in-one lens. I mapped out all the lenses available and nothing but consumer lenses worked in my favour, mostly the 28-105, 24-85 range.

Before I plunge I reviewed the comments on image stabilizers lenses and how they help to reduce camera shake. I took notice of the 28-135 IS but it was $320 off my budget.

My prior experience with SLRs was with a manual film camera with the 24,35 and 50mm lenses. I love the 50mm perspective more than others so I noted my likes on my lens selection.

After debating for a while I increased my budget and bought a 28-135mm lens (45-216mm on my camera with x1.6 crop) and after shooting for a while realise I needed a wider angle to shoot.

Again back to the drawing board and I found only 3 lenses offering what I needed (16-35, 17-40, 20-35) 2 of them above $1k and the other about $700. I started enquiring about 2nd hand lenses and found a seller asking $350 for a 20-35mm lens. I proceed to buy it and spend lots of time shooting with my 2 lenses.

All this time I had on loan a 50mm from the seller for my DSLR (its was 2nd hand) and used it quite frequently.

As my lenses (san the 50mm) was of variable aperture and my DSLR could only handle iso400 (D30) I had to invest in a flashlight worked with the setup for the next 8 months.

During the 8 months I had a taste for bigger apertures to isolate subjects and my next change was to use the 17-35 2.8L zoom, followed by 28-70 2.8L zoom, I bought it 2nd hand for good price. This replaced all my consumer zooms. I bought a 70-200 for work usage as well.

This led to bigger problems for me as I hated the weight of these professional lenses and started using primes like the 35mm and discovered my love for low light photography.

During this time I discovered too shift/tilted lenses and certain projects had great needs for them so I slowly acquired all 3 within 4 months.

I acquired more primes for work 85mm & 24mm. my zoom lenses are only work related but my primes lenses are great for my daily usage. I bring one prime daily and shoot only with it and composed whatever I can think off.

So what worked for me may not be the same as yourself. The most important is to try and shoot and observe your shooting patterns.

Have fun!
 

hannson

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Apr 27, 2006
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#3
wow! great info!

timely for a newbie like me...

can you help me understand what the following lenses will achieve?

AF70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro
24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

and what's a prime lens?
 

Cactus jACK

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Jul 12, 2004
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#4
great sharing!! :thumbsup:

my starting journey was a little different and yet the same... start small / simple - read, explore, discover, learn - and you will have a better sense of what you really need (before you fork out $2k on a good lense which you never use).
 

Jun 27, 2002
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#5
wow! great info!

timely for a newbie like me...

can you help me understand what the following lenses will achieve?

AF70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro
24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

and what's a prime lens?
AF70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro is a tele-photo lens which isolate your subjects with a variable aperture of f4 to f5.6. that means the more you zoom, the smaller your aperture is going to be.

24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF is a wide to tele lens with a fix aperture size of f2.8, great for low light work, day to day usage.

prime lens is a lens of a single focal length, like 50mm lens. a lens that cannot be zoomed.
 

hannson

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Apr 27, 2006
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#6
AF70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro is a tele-photo lens which isolate your subjects with a variable aperture of f4 to f5.6. that means the more you zoom, the smaller your aperture is going to be.

24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF is a wide to tele lens with a fix aperture size of f2.8, great for low light work, day to day usage.

prime lens is a lens of a single focal length, like 50mm lens. a lens that cannot be zoomed.
I understand now! :) thank you so much!

if i work on street shot and i'm a total newbie at this.. can I get away with
1. 50mm f/1.8 prime
2. AF70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro

the 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF a friend recommended is rather steep... :)

thank you so much for your advice!
 

Jun 27, 2002
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#7
there is no such thing as all rounder lens when it comes to photography for most people, like wise for me. i learnt that certain characteristics and certain focal lengths make my signature shots.

50mm is my most used lens, f1.8-f2.2 is my perfered aperture for most of my primes, iso1600 is the most widely used iso followed by iso 400, iso 100. My favourite film camera is the eos1V and digital camera is the eos10D.
 

DT_

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Nov 4, 2005
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#8
:D .. interesting, good effort... but so how many lens your ended up with... :D
 

Klose

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Feb 15, 2005
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#9
Great article :thumbsup:
 

thinkvision

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Aug 22, 2006
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westcoast
#11
same

I START with 16-35/2.8L, 24-70/2.8L and 70-200/2.8L IS.

Now I only use 14/2.8L, CZ 25/2.8AEG, 35/1.4L, leica R 50/1.4, 85/1.2L, Leica 70-180/2.8 APO and 200/1.8L.
 

bigu2fan

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Apr 9, 2006
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#12
Thanks for sharing.

I'm a newbie, and I am having problems deciding what lenses I need. Primarily because as a casual photographer, I have no idea what I want to shoot. Just shoot a few shots of family members and scenery when travelling I guess.

But I noticed that many of you start with zooms and then after awhile progress to shoot with primes mostly. Is it because you guys find out later you know EXACTLY what you want to shoot? Or is it because you like the sharpness/aperture/brokeh of primes?
 

Jun 27, 2002
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#13
Thanks for sharing.

I'm a newbie, and I am having problems deciding what lenses I need. Primarily because as a casual photographer, I have no idea what I want to shoot. Just shoot a few shots of family members and scenery when travelling I guess.

But I noticed that many of you start with zooms and then after awhile progress to shoot with primes mostly. Is it because you guys find out later you know EXACTLY what you want to shoot? Or is it because you like the sharpness/aperture/brokeh of primes?

when i first started my main concerns are focal length, cost, aperture, weight.

now my concerns are focal length, aperture, weight, cost in the order.

Many ppl shoot only with zooms, depends on their needs, based on my needs, after selecting the focal length, the aperture plays a strong role and therefore i perfer primes. Aperture isolates subject, gives me the bokeh, allows for lowlight photography.

Primes are not for everyone, same like film cameras.

Yes, after awhile you can sort of pre-visualise your shots in certain instances.
 

ianpaice

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Apr 28, 2006
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#15
One additional advice to newbie:

You will go in circle trying to make up your mind which lens to purchase. Often, hasty purchases lead to disappointments and heavy depreciation. If not sure what focal length and apertures or features you really want, buy used lens first ...keep shooting, shooting and shooting and you will automatically understand what you really need in a lens.
 

hannson

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Apr 27, 2006
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#16
there is no such thing as all rounder lens when it comes to photography for most people, like wise for me. i learnt that certain characteristics and certain focal lengths make my signature shots.

50mm is my most used lens, f1.8-f2.2 is my perfered aperture for most of my primes, iso1600 is the most widely used iso followed by iso 400, iso 100. My favourite film camera is the eos1V and digital camera is the eos10D.
Thanks again!!! :)
Great information!!!
 

DT_

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Nov 4, 2005
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#17
same

I START with 16-35/2.8L, 24-70/2.8L and 70-200/2.8L IS.

Now I only use 14/2.8L, CZ 25/2.8AEG, 35/1.4L, leica R 50/1.4, 85/1.2L, Leica 70-180/2.8 APO and 200/1.8L.
good 'START', exceptional 'NOW USE' .. :sweatsm:
 

Jun 27, 2002
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#18
One additional advice to newbie:

You will go in circle trying to make up your mind which lens to purchase. Often, hasty purchases lead to disappointments and heavy depreciation. If not sure what focal length and apertures or features you really want, buy used lens first ...keep shooting, shooting and shooting and you will automatically understand what you really need in a lens.
:thumbsup: you can only lose so much buying 2nd hand, unless you have a issue with 'used' stuff (some do). A great advise that followed me until now.
 

bigu2fan

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Apr 9, 2006
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#19
Hi! Thanks for the advice! It's interesting to read your purchases as you put out your thought process. As an undecided person, the kiasu in me was thinking of just covering all the common focal lengths:) I have a 17-40 and 70-200 and I am thinking of getting a 24-70 just to complete the most used wide to tele range. But like I said, I notice you guys getting primes once you have shot quite a bit and that almost seems like a natural progression. I was contemplating getting primes like 50mm, 85mm and 135mm stright away instead. It's not just the cost though, it's the sheer nightmare of carrying so many lenses along cos you don't know what you need.

Might take up your advice on buying second hand, but right now I cannot tell the diff between a good lens and a lemon, sigh...So far I have depended on the camera shop to check for me, yah sounds wierd I know:)
 

eastwest

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Sep 20, 2006
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#20
I bring one prime daily and shoot only with it and composed whatever I can think off.
This is great advice and something I do and encourage in my students. Beginners should learn to 'think' with the lens rather than swapping lenses willy-nilly. See a shot that requires a telephoto but only got a wide-angle? Put it in the bank for next time and keep looking for those WA shots. I still prefer to go with the 50mm f1.4 as I love to shoot shallow DOF too.
 

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