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Thread: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    I have a Sony Alpha 200 DSLR
    18-70 mm lens (3.5-5.6)
    75-300 mm zoom lens (4.5-5.6)

    I bought the camera used and it is my first dslr camera.

    I would like to take sharper landscape shots with greater depth of field and my understanding is that I should invest in a super wide angle lens 10-20 mm

    I also love to take photos of wildlife, in particular birds and as I am currently living in Mexico their are also a lot of very interesting insects. (Butterflies, beetles, etc that I can't zoom in on close enough with my camera) I was thinking that I should consider investing in a macro lens, but after further reading I am under the impression that I should consider a long lens; ie; 400 mm or more...

    Another Factor to Consider: Because my camera is an older model, and lens are so expensive, I wonder if I may be wiser to buy a used (but newer model) of a dslr camera that comes with the lens I need, rather than purchase new lens for a used camera?

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Christina, will you be keeping the body or swaping it for an upgrade that will support your stable of lenses? If so, then getting additional lenses that are compatible makes sense.

    It looks like any of the Sony cameras that start with "A" can use the A-mount lenses you have. The newer Sony NEX series cameras use the E-mount lenses.

    If you are going to eventually upgrade to a non-compatible body then I would look for less expensive alternatives for now. For example, a wide angle lens can be very expensive but isn't really 'required' to get good landscapes. Take a look at post #11 in Richards thread Painted Desert, Arizona. While you are there, take a look at some of his images on his SmugMug link.

    Again, if you aren't sure that you will be using a compatible lens body in the future, you can get started with macro using your existing lenses and a set of reasonably priced extensiopn tubes at less than $100.

    For extending your reach, there are many high MP point & shoot cameras that can give you up to 18X optical zoom for when you just gotta reach way beyond your 75-300mm lens. It will also provide a backup camera and if it is pocketable, more likely to be available when an unexpected photo opportunity pops up.

    On the other hand, if you will be able to stick with the Sony body style and system of lenses then it's just a question of whether you want the Wide Angle, Macro, or Long Telephoto lens as your next purchase and research the best lens for your needs and budget.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 9th October 2011 at 03:12 AM.

  3. #3
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    I would like to take sharper landscape shots with greater depth of field and my understanding is that I should invest in a super wide angle lens 10-20 mm
    Hi Christina

    As far as taking sharper landscape shots with greater depth of field, your current arrangement should be able to do this. Generally you need to work with smallish apertures for this - eg f/11 or f/13. However bear in mind that these require slower shutter speeds to get correct exposure and if the light is low, a tripod may be necessary. The other thing to consider is - do your current lenses or your camera have Image Stabilisation ? If not then a new camera may be the better option.

    Note also to ensure high f values, you really need to work in either Manual or Aperture Priority mode. If you just use full Auto, who knows what you'll get.

    I don't know how old your camera is or what the lens compatibility situation is but on the surface, it sounds to me like a later model camera and lenses may be the way to go - if you need to upgrade at all.

    You want to make sure you are getting the best out of your current gear before shelling out lots of dollars on new gear.

    There are some good tutorials on this site that should help you with your technique.

    Cheers Dave
    Last edited by dje; 9th October 2011 at 02:50 AM.

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Frank,

    I think I would keep the body, for another year or two, while I learn. Great to know about the A Mount lens and extension tube option. Thank you.

    His landscapes are gorgeous! I live on the Nayarit coast and it always seems that I can't capture the entire vista (long beaches, mountains, etc) in my viewfinder - (ie; missing 30% of it) so this is why I want a wider lens. As well, I read that a prime lens takes sharper photos, ie; far off details.

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you... The landscapes are huge here and I can't capture all of them in my camera, ie; beaches framed by mountains that are 3 miles long. For example, I took this shot yesterday but could not capture the entire scene which included a large green hill/mountain on the south end of the beach, so I just focused on one area of the beach. This happens to me all the time!

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Yes, my camera has image stabilization, I just purchased a tripod, and experimenting most every day with Manual and Aperture priority mode, and reading the tutorials on this web site (a great resource).

    Thank you for the advice. I'm looking at a used super wide angle lens, and will look into the extension tube.

  6. #6
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Christina,
    Just some thoughts. Most manufacturers recommend that you switch the Image Stabilisation OFF when you're using a tripod as this can adversely affect the image clarity.
    Second, what PP software are you using? Most will allow you to stitch images together. However, things like the beach pic you showed us will not work because the waves are constantly moving and that will confuse the software, also it needs defined points of reference to match the frames up - endless stretches of sand are not going to do that. But if you introduce the odd mountain or two it should work. Aim for an overlap of about 30% for the best results.

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for sharing... Yes, I'm supposed to switch it off, but in this photo I did not have my tripod with me, so it is hand held.
    I just purchased Photoshop Elements, but I have not had time to learn it yet, so far just smart fix, white balance, shadows, light, and noise reductions, so stitching frames together is way beyond me right now, but I will save your email for future reference when I am ready for it. That said it is a great idea that I never thought of, and certainly worth a try! Thank you.

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens
    Hi Cristina, you may be able to get more impact with this image than you would expect. Try playing with the cropping. Experiment with a panoramic 2:1 aspect ratio by cropping out up to half of the sky and maybe even a bit of the beach.

    As you learn about the Adjustment Layers you will be able to change, for example, the sea and sand brightness/Contrast separate from the sky brightness/contrast. If you like I can demonstrate the use of the settings for you. I don't have Elements (I use PS) but I believe the Adjustment Layer settings are very similar.

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Frank,
    Thank you... I always thought it was not a good thing to crop photos, but I will give it a try later today... And looking at it I can see that the best part of the photo is the middle part. Sure if you have time, I'd sure appreciate a model to try and copy...
    Thank you.

  10. #10
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Hi Frank,
    Thank you... I always thought it was not a good thing to crop photos, but I will give it a try later today... And looking at it I can see that the best part of the photo is the middle part. Sure if you have time, I'd sure appreciate a model to try and copy...
    Thank you.
    Hi Christina,
    I set the crop tool to have twice as much width as height then cropped the image with more sky than sand showing as the sky is the more interesting of the two. I wanted to avoid having the image cut in half at the horizon so I also took this into account in the final positioning of the crop.

    Next I made a copy of the image layer and took the Quick Selection tool to select the sky. Not sure if it is the same in Elements, but from the Layer menu I selected New Adjustment Layer and Brightness/Contrast. This added an Adjustment Layer with its own Mask above the Image Layer. The top of the mask is white, which is what we will adjust and the bottom is black, which will block the adjustment. We can now modify just the sky without affecting the sea or sand by using the Brightness/Contrast sliders.

    Here is what it looks like in PS with the sky selected and the Layers Panel on the right side of the screen.

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Here is what the image looks like with just the cropping and minor sky adjustment done. You might want to also play with adjusting the sea and sand using the same Adjustment Layer technique by selecting the sea and sand instead of the sky.

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens
    Click on the image to view in the light box.
    Please let me know if you have any questions! Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens
    Last edited by FrankMi; 9th October 2011 at 04:19 PM.

  11. #11
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Thank you Frank. I will try it a little later today and post my version.

  12. #12
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Here it is, not perfect (too, light) but my first attempt... I layered the sand, too. Thank you for the mini lesson.

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Hi Dave,
    Thank you... The landscapes are huge here and I can't capture all of them in my camera, ie; beaches framed by mountains that are 3 miles long. For example, I took this shot yesterday but could not capture the entire scene which included a large green hill/mountain on the south end of the beach, so I just focused on one area of the beach. This happens to me all the time!

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Yes, my camera has image stabilization, I just purchased a tripod, and experimenting most every day with Manual and Aperture priority mode, and reading the tutorials on this web site (a great resource).

    Thank you for the advice. I'm looking at a used super wide angle lens, and will look into the extension tube.
    Hi Christina

    There might have been some confusion in terms here. You mentioned wanting greater "depth of field" but perhaps you were meaning greater "field of view" ? (with the super wide angle lens)

    Cheers Dave

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Hi Dave,
    Yes, I meant greater "Field of View". Thank you for the clarifying, and my sincere apologies to all for any confusion...
    Christina

  15. #15
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Here it is, not perfect (too, light) but my first attempt... I layered the sand, too. Thank you for the mini lesson.

    Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens
    Great going, Christina! It took me some number of tries before I started to become pleased with my PP results so I'm glad to see that you are willing to give it a go!

    The neat thing about Adjustment Layers is that, if you save the file as a PSD that includes the layers, you can go back and try different settings. There are a whole host of adjustments that you can play with and by using selections, as you have here, you can try all kinds of combinations without changing the actual Image Layer.

  16. #16
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Thank you. I learned a lot.. It is the first time I tried layers, and then I even entered the editing beach photo thing (for the learning experience)... And I was quite surprised to see how much you can change a photo...!

  17. #17
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Hi Dave,
    Yes, I meant greater "Field of View". Thank you for the clarifying, and my sincere apologies to all for any confusion...
    Christina
    No problems Christina. My comments were aimed at Depth of Field rather than Field of View. As Chris has suggested, it's worth looking at Stitching for certain types of shots where you want a wide panorama (wide horizontallyy that is). If you use a wider angle lens than you have, you will get the wider view in both horizontal and vertical directions and you will probably need to crop top and bottom for wide panoramas.

    Cheers Dave

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Investing in Additional Lens

    I am also trying to improve the Depth of Field in my photos, so all of the comments were very helpful. Thank you.

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