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Thread: Lens question

  1. #1
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Lens question

    I have a bit of a hard time deciding what lens to use depending on the situation. If I am going to take pictures with a specific image in my mind that I want to create, I can usually anticipate what lens I will need. However, I just cannot seem to figure out sometimes what lens I need to give me the effect I'm going after.

    I have 4 lenses in my bag - an 18-55 (kit lens), a 50mm, a 28-80 (kit lens that came with my old film Rebel G2) and a 75-300mm. I love my 50mm for portraits and landscapes, but I usually rotate between the 18-55 and the 75-300 for everything else.

    I love the shallow DOF from the longer lens, and it helps me get closer when I'm taking pictures of any kind of wildlife, but the movement blur from my hands shaking can be such a pain. The 18-55 isn't bad, but to be honest, it has such a deep DOF that the pictures tend to turn out feeling kind of flat.

    Does anyone have lenses that they find themselves using all the time and like the results? I'd love a good all-around lens that I can work with and get some good dynamic feeling out of the images.

    I guess some of the problem might also lie with trying to adjust aperture for lighting and not always taking into account the DOF of that aperture. There are so many things to keep in mind when you're shooting pictures that sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming!!

  2. #2
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    Re: Lens question

    Hi Kim,
    You seem to be suffering from camera shake on the longer focal lengths. There's nothing unusual in that, it's very common and is exaggerated the longer the lens.
    There is quiet a lot you can do, short of mounting the camera on a tripod which is not always practical.
    I'm assuming that you don't have vibration control (image stabilization), or it's even too bad for that!
    Here's a few things you can try:
    1) Use a higher shutter speed. As a rule-of-thumb take the reciprocal of the focal length as a guide for safe hand-holding. i.e. 100mm focal length, use 1/100th
    2) Prop yourself/camera against a tree or the side of a building.
    3) Lying down is the most stable platform, using your elbows to create a tripod. Kneeling or sitting is the next most stable and standing comes in a poor third.
    4) When standing, sitting, kneeling hold the camera with your right hand, using the left hand to support and cradle the base of the camera/lens. Pull the camera hard against your cheek. Tuck your elbows into your sides and if standing, place your feet about 1 foot apart turning your feet out slightly.
    5) Breathe gently. Take a deep breath and let it about half-way out and roll your finger over the shutter button, rather than stabbing at it.
    6) Another trick is to attach a piece of strong string to the bottom of the camera and stand on the free end. Pulling up against the string will make the camera very stable.
    Keep practising and after a while various tasks will become second nature, giving you more time to think about what you're trying to capture.

  3. #3

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    Re: Lens question

    I'm pretty simple-minded about these kinds of things. When I want to take a photograph, the first thing I do is walk around looking at the subject until I find the perspective that captures what I want to show in my photo. Then, I select the lens that gives me the framing that I am after. In general, the lens selection is quite mechanical. Where it gets complicated is when, e.g., I want the depth of field of my ultra-wide lens and the perspective of a standard lens. Then I'm faced with having to either settle for less DOF than I wanted or trying to imagine how much I will be able to crop in post and still like the result. But, at least for me, these conflicts are quite rare. But maybe that just shows that I have too limited an artistic sense.

  4. #4
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    My wife shoots almost all of her pictures with her 18mm-200mm lens. She's there busily shooting away while I am changing lenses, and while from a technical standpoint, I have "better" lenses, she's getting the shots. For wildlife she has a 150mm-500mm lens. Both of these lenses are stabilized and allow help reduce camera shake.

    Chris provides some good suggestions for hand-holding; but I will generally shoot using a tripod whenever I can, especially when using a longer lens. If your subject isn't fast moving, you actually can do a better job composing your shot. A monopod also works, and weighs a less than a tripod, but I generally don't use one. If nothing else works, crank up the shutter speed and ISO setting to reduce motion blur.

  5. #5
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    Re: Lens question

    Hi Kim, when I got my D3100 and the kit 18-55mm lens, I also got an 11-16mm wide-angle and a 55-300mm telephoto. Like you, most of the time I could predict what lens I needed and had the time to make the change before shooting. The annoying exception was wildlife.

    Most of the time I was using the 55-300mm but all too often, the lens was too long, even at 55mm to get some surprise close-up shots. I would no sooner swap lenses and then miss a shot that was too far away. There simply not enough time to swap lenses back again in a number of cases and I was losing great images as a result.

    The way I solved the issue was unexpected. I picked a Canon SX40-HS as a second camera to take in place of the DSLR on vacation, and upon return I also picked up a dual harness so now I can easily carry both cameras.

    Now if I don't have the lens mounted that I need, I just grab the other camera and can zoom from 24mm to 840mm (FFE) in a heartbeat. Are the pictures better in the SX40? No, but a great image is far superior to the no image I was getting before and the SX40 was a small fraction of the cost and weight of any of the alternatives. In addition, the Image Stabilization even at max zoom is so good that I could get great shots even without a tripod.

    So to answer your question, most of the time I have the 18mm-55mm kit lens mounted on the DSLR unless I'm shooting wildlife and I no longer swap lenses unless it is convenient.

  6. #6
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    Re: Lens question

    Kim...

    You mention, "I have 4 lenses in my bag - an 18-55 (kit lens), a 50mm, a 28-80 (kit lens that came with my old film Rebel G2) and a 75-300mm. I love my 50mm for portraits and landscapes, but I usually rotate between the 18-55 and the 75-300 for everything else."

    Here's what I would do and I am not the person who enjoys throwing other people's money around (although that is more pleasant than throwing my own money around)...

    I would end up with three lenses and get rid of any others...

    1. 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens. If your present lens is the IS version, definitely keep and use it. If it is the non-IS version; switch to the IS.

    2. Get rid of both the 28-80mm and your 75-300mm lenses. Neither of these lenses are particularly good.

    3. Keep and use the 50mm for lower light levels.

    4. Get the Canon 55-250mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.

    You should be able to shoot virually anything you need with the three above lenses. IS will assist in getting sharper shots.

  7. #7
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    Sorry for the late reply! Had a few things come up and never remembered to get back on.

    Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! I am very grateful!!!

    Yes, only one of my lenses has IS, the 18-55. I admit, I rarely, if ever, use the 28-80. The 75-300 was mostly for wildlife because I really enjoy taking photos of nature, but honestly it has come in handy on more than one occasion to get a shot! But, I think any lens at that length would be helpful.

    I do usually brace pretty well when shooting. Normally, I have my elbows against my chest and I'm holding my breath as I press the shutter button. This can help to play down the shake, but it isn't perfect.

    I will definitely look at some of the tips you have suggested! Thank you!

    By the way, does anyone know if there is any difference between IS and OS, like mentioned here - http://www.photo4less.com//products/...18200OSCA.html

  8. #8

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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    By the way, does anyone know if there is any difference between IS and OS, like mentioned here - http://www.photo4less.com//products/...18200OSCA.html
    "IS" is what Canon uses to designate image stabilization; "OS" is Sigma's designation; "VC" is Tamron's designation; and "VR" is Nikon's designation. There may be some difference in the proprietary technology used by each company, but they are all intended to accomplish the same task.

  9. #9
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    "IS" is what Canon uses to designate image stabilization; "OS" is Sigma's designation; "VC" is Tamron's designation; and "VR" is Nikon's designation. There may be some difference in the proprietary technology used by each company, but they are all intended to accomplish the same task.
    The fact that Nikon is pursuing Sigma in the courts on this issue tells me that the differences in the approaches for in-lens image stabilization might not be all that different.

  10. #10
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    Re: Lens question

    Keeping the EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 IS and buying the EF-S 55 to 250 F/4~5.6 and selling the other two zoom lenses is my advice also: this would be a very inexpensive solution and with the gain ofImage Quality and also Image Stabilization across the telephoto range.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    I love the shallow DOF from the longer lens, and it helps me get closer when I'm taking pictures of any kind of wildlife, but the movement blur from my hands shaking can be such a pain. The 18-55 isn't bad, but to be honest, it has such a deep DOF that the pictures tend to turn out feeling kind of flat.

    It occurs to me that there is a misunderstanding about DoF.

    DoF is directly related to The Shot.
    Lenses do not have a DoF, but, yes some lenses allow the Photographer to make a Shallow DoF more easily - typically fast lenses will allow this (i.e. lenses with a very fast maximum aperture.)

    But this is a comparison between two quite slow lenses and BOTH lenses can be used to achieve a reasonably shallow DoF.

    Here are two shots taken on the same camera: one is taken with the Kit Lens (EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6) and the other is taken with an inexpensive telephoto lens similar to the 70 to 300, I used the EF35 to 135F/4~5.6.

    Both lenses can provide a shallow DoF to render some POP in the Subject.
    Both images are JPEGs SOOC and have only been resized for in line display.
    Which image was taken with which lens?
    The EXIF has included for your info - (after you have a guess).

    Image 1:
    Lens question

    Image 2:
    Lens question

    WW

  11. #11
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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    The fact that Nikon is pursuing Sigma in the courts on this issue tells me that the differences in the approaches for in-lens image stabilization might not be all that different.
    Well that is certainly interesting - I hadn't heard about it.

    Do you have any links?

    Glenn

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  13. #13

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Lens question

    If you're getting camera shake it's probably because the shutter speed is too low; try increasing the ISO?

  14. #14

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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Keeping the EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 IS and buying the EF-S 55 to 250 F/4~5.6 and selling the other two zoom lenses is my advice also: this would be a very inexpensive solution and with the gain ofImage Quality and also Image Stabilization across the telephoto range.

    ***




    It occurs to me that there is a misunderstanding about DoF.

    DoF is directly related to The Shot.
    Lenses do not have a DoF, but, yes some lenses allow the Photographer to make a Shallow DoF more easily - typically fast lenses will allow this (i.e. lenses with a very fast maximum aperture.)

    But this is a comparison between two quite slow lenses and BOTH lenses can be used to achieve a reasonably shallow DoF.

    Here are two shots taken on the same camera: one is taken with the Kit Lens (EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6) and the other is taken with an inexpensive telephoto lens similar to the 70 to 300, I used the EF35 to 135F/4~5.6.

    Both lenses can provide a shallow DoF to render some POP in the Subject.
    Both images are JPEGs SOOC and have only been resized for in line display.
    Which image was taken with which lens?
    The EXIF has included for your info - (after you have a guess).

    Image 1:
    Lens question

    Image 2:
    Lens question

    WW
    1st is with the 35-135

  15. #15

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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    Sorry for the late reply! Had a few things come up and never remembered to get back on.

    Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! I am very grateful!!!

    Yes, only one of my lenses has IS, the 18-55. I admit, I rarely, if ever, use the 28-80. The 75-300 was mostly for wildlife because I really enjoy taking photos of nature, but honestly it has come in handy on more than one occasion to get a shot! But, I think any lens at that length would be helpful.

    I do usually brace pretty well when shooting. Normally, I have my elbows against my chest and I'm holding my breath as I press the shutter button. This can help to play down the shake, but it isn't perfect.

    I will definitely look at some of the tips you have suggested! Thank you!

    By the way, does anyone know if there is any difference between IS and OS, like mentioned here - http://www.photo4less.com//products/...18200OSCA.html
    i dont know if this technique has been mentioned yet but i used to use it quite frequently before my screen broke.
    i would use the 2 sec shutter lag+ mirror lock up as if im doing a long exposure.
    i think it will help with your super zoom shooting the most.

  16. #16
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by Noice View Post
    1st is with the 35-135
    Yes.

    Assuming you did NOT look at the EXIF data - why did you choose that answer?

    WW

  17. #17

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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Yes.

    Assuming you did NOT look at the EXIF data - why did you choose that answer?

    WW
    nope, never knew how to look at exif online, actually. haha

    its cause of how close the background foliage is to the subject compared to pic #2
    telephotos bring everything closer together and wide angles exaggerate their distance apart...as far as i know

  18. #18
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    Yes.
    The background shrubs are actually relatively close to the Subject and in each shot the background IS the SAME distance away: but in one the background appears a little closer, so too the leaves on the table at camera left appear more clustered together.
    The technical term is: Compression.

    You’ll notice it in the Subject’s guts as well – in the second image he appears a bit “fatter” in the top image his guts are a little Compressed.

    Incidentally both images were taken with the zooms set ‘as at a telephoto lens’ – the first is at FL= 91mm and the second is at FL= 37mm – it is just the first image is more telephoto Focal Length, than the second.

    You have a sharp eye.

    Just restating the point of the exercise was to show that the DoF is the same in both: which it is.

    WW

  19. #19

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    Re: Lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Yes.
    The background shrubs are actually relatively close to the Subject and in each shot the background IS the SAME distance away: but in one the background appears a little closer, so too the leaves on the table at camera left appear more clustered together.
    The technical term is: Compression.

    You’ll notice it in the Subject’s guts as well – in the second image he appears a bit “fatter” in the top image his guts are a little Compressed.

    Incidentally both images were taken with the zooms set ‘as at a telephoto lens’ – the first is at FL= 91mm and the second is at FL= 37mm – it is just the first image is more telephoto Focal Length, than the second.

    You have a sharp eye.

    Just restating the point of the exercise was to show that the DoF is the same in both: which it is.

    WW
    thank you for the lesson! i never noticed all the other factors youve mentioned.
    forums do help a whole lot. about 3 years ago, i didnt know one thing about photography... not iso, not aperture...speed...DOF etc.

  20. #20
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Lens question

    You're welcome, I only started this Photography stuff last year, myself . . . but I kinda like Canadians so I help out if I can.
    Canadians were very kind to me, when I was working there.

    Have a great day.

    WW

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