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Thread: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

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    What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    What lenses should I have in my kitbag? Big question, I know. I have an excellent Sony 100mm macro f2.8 that I love. It is my do all lens at the moment, of course it lacks sharpeness in distance photography. I also have a 18-55 SAM f3.5-5.6 and a 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 that I find disapointing as of image quality/sharpness compare to the maco lens. There are some Sony reps in town this week-end I am told and will be some sales going on. My question as a biginner photographer would be: what lens to by next as a step-up from what I have to shoot at a distance? Does that makes sense as a question? I do need help as I find the big wild world of lenses out there is overwelming.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    FRom what you write Louise, i am assuming that you have identified your main need as something to replace the 75-300, with which you are not happy.

    You have the 18-55 range covered and you do not say that you are unhappy with that lens. So, that's okay.

    You then have a gap from 55mm to 75mm. But do you miss that? Do you think you need a lens that covers that gap?

    You have your 100mm macro that you love.

    So, if what you want is a long telephoto, the question is what is it shortest length to be. Do you need to cover the gap from 75-100mm that you will lose if you get rid of the 75-300mm. Or do you think that you could get something that starts at 100 or 120mm and goes up from there?

    I think these are the first questions you need to answer before you then consider your budget and start looking at specific lenses.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    FRom what you write Louise, i am assuming that you have identified your main need as something to replace the 75-300, with which you are not happy.

    You have the 18-55 range covered and you do not say that you are unhappy with that lens. So, that's okay.

    You then have a gap from 55mm to 75mm. But do you miss that? Do you think you need a lens that covers that gap?

    You have your 100mm macro that you love.

    So, if what you want is a long telephoto, the question is what is it shortest length to be. Do you need to cover the gap from 75-100mm that you will lose if you get rid of the 75-300mm. Or do you think that you could get something that starts at 100 or 120mm and goes up from there?

    I think these are the first questions you need to answer before you then consider your budget and start looking at specific lenses.
    Good points Donald, I would like a telephoto from 100-120mm. I am not even considering a huge lens as they seems too heavy to carry around in the woods. As prices change from country to country, it is hard to say exactly. So a "good" lens is what I am aiming for.Any suggestions.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    I think, Louise, that the first question for you is what is your budget? And secondly, what is it you will want to use the lens for? Those are the two things that you need to know before you can start looking at specific lenses. People will not be able to make suggestions to you until they know the answers to these questions.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I think, Louise, that the first question for you is what is your budget? And secondly, what is it you will want to use the lens for? Those are the two things that you need to know before you can start looking at specific lenses. People will not be able to make suggestions to you until they know the answers to these questions.
    I would like to be able to take pictures of birds on branches that will appear big enough to be identifiable and be sharp/clear. My budget would be 1000$ dollars. Do I make more sence?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    I would like to be able to take pictures of birds on branches that will appear big enough to be identifiable and be sharp/clear. My budget would be 1000$ dollars. Do I make more sence?
    Yes, that now makes a lot more sense.................................

    I don't know your camera. Does that require Sony A-Mount lenses?

    Given that you want to do bird photography, I think you're looking at something that will go to 400mm. I have the Sigma 120-400mm f4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM (Canon Fit) and although I don't do wildlife photography with it, I find it good lens for the long-lens landscape stuff that I do. At f5.6 at the long end it is a bit slow for bird photography, but given your budget, it becomes a realistic option.

    Ideally you would want a lens that went as wide as f2.8. However, any such lens would be much, much more expensive than your available budget allows for.

    So, that is one idea. I hope other members come on to suggest other options.
    Last edited by Donald; 28th September 2012 at 05:31 PM.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Sigma also makes a 150-500mm which should run you right at your $1000 budget (they make a 50-500mm as well, but that's a goodly step up to around $1600).

    However, neither of those lenses are light walk-about lenses. Though they both have image stabilization (optical stabilization by Sigma's terms), the focal length, weight, and fairly high apertures make them less than easy to handhold (it can be done, but not easily), so either a tripod or monopod are almost required.

    I have the 150-500, and while I like it, it does get left behind many times simply because of its size and weight.

    Were your budget different, I would recommend a 70-200 f/2.8 + 2x teleconverter, but you're talking way up there in price then.

    - Bill

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Yes Donald, that 120-400mm looks like what I am looking for. I would have to try it on my Sony dslr to figure out the weight.
    Bill, the weight and price are a consideration. But Christmas' is coming...

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Hi Louise, there's nothing like traveling light for really enjoying your photography, so I suggest - at least some of the time - sticking a 35mm/1.8 prime lens on your camera, and leaving the weighty kitbag at home. You won't miss those heavy zooms nearly so much as you might think, and besides, you'll have to give more thought to composition with the discipline of a single angle of view - Christopher

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    Hi Louise, there's nothing like traveling light for really enjoying your photography, so I suggest - at least some of the time - sticking a 35mm/1.8 prime lens on your camera, and leaving the weighty kitbag at home. You won't miss those heavy zooms nearly so much as you might think, and besides, you'll have to give more thought to composition with the discipline of a single angle of view - Christopher
    Hello Christopher, my understand of a prime lens is that it does not have a zoom, am I wrong? I am a fan of traveling light. and what about the little birdie on the branch, will I be able to see it, identified it?

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Hi Louise - The current Sigma lens is the AF 150-500mm f/5.0-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Zoom, which we (actually, I bought it for my wife) own it in the Nikon mount. The best Canadian price I found was at Aden camera in Toronto, where it runs at just under $1100 right now (they do web orders).

    The reason for the caution is that it had to go back twice for repairs within 6 months of purchase. The first time all of the in-lens electronics and the focus motor had to be replaced, and the second time the electronics had to be replaced as well. We have a friend who owns one and he has not had any issues, so who knows...

    That being said, when it works, it works well and the lens is reasonably sharp, albeit a bit slow for birds, as Donald has already pointed out. It is a large, long lens and takes a non-standard 86mm filter. I find long focal length lenses (I have the same issue with my Nikon 80-400mm) have trouble finding the correct point to focus on, so that is something to remember too. If the bird is in a tree, the camera seems to think I want to take a picture of the branches, not the bird.

    Sony does have a 70-400mm lens, but it looks like it is pushing close to $2000.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    Hello Christopher, my understand of a prime lens is that it does not have a zoom, am I wrong? I am a fan of traveling light. and what about the little birdie on the branch, will I be able to see it, identified it?
    Correct Louise - a prime is a non-zoom lens. That being said, at that the long focal lengths that you are looking at, they are reasonably fast, but much more expensive than the zooms you are looking at. I think the longest lens I see with a Sony mount is 300mm (the Sigma f2.8 300mm lens is the least expensive running at around $3500). In the Nikon or Canon lines, the 400mm to 600mm primes are getting up towards the $10,000 range.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    Hello Christopher, my understand of a prime lens is that it does not have a zoom, am I wrong? I am a fan of traveling light. and what about the little birdie on the branch, will I be able to see it, identified it?
    No, Louise, the 35mm/f1.8 lens I suggested would not be suitable for that, but is excellent for general purpose photography. It is faster and sharper than all but very expensive zooms, and weighs very little. But it is not a lens for individual bird photography. Christopher

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    I am not even considering a huge lens as they seems too heavy to carry around in the woods.
    Hi Louise, do you have physical size and or weight that you do not want to exceed? It sounds like you need to strike a compromise between what you camera can mount, the length of zoom, the quality of the image, your budget, and perhaps the size/weight you would be comfortable carrying and shooting?

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.

    Hi Louise! My suggestion is to keep the 100mm macro and replace the 18-55mm with something better. I would suggest either the Sony 16-80mm or the Sony 16-105mm lenses. If you were to add a zoom lens covering 80mm to maybe 400mm (400mm is really long!!!!) then you would be set. Assuming you have a Sony A mount camera, the Minolta lenses are excellent and the Sony and other lens manufactures' products are equally good. Search the Dyxum website here.... It's in focal length order.
    By the way, Iand my wife loved Quebeck!!!! See here... http://tonysx.zenfolio.com/p1015931731

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.Nifty-fifty?

    Thanks for all the answers. I took the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in my hands at the store. Nice! and big and heavy! If I factor in the tripod, tripod head, camera and flash weight I meed a mule to carry all that like Ansel Adams did. Not having a mule and being of petite frame I have to take this into consideration. Photography also has to be enjoyable.
    I just saw a second hand prime Sony 50mm f/1.4 at half the price of a new one. Someone called it the "nifty fifty". I think it would be good for low light as I am also starting to experiment with studio work. Do you have any opinion on this type of lens?

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.Nifty-fifty?

    I personally find a 50mm lens fairly useless on a crop-frame sensor. It ends up being a focal length that is a bit awkward; too short for a lot of portraiture work, yet a bit long to be a walk-about lens. On a full frame camera, yes; good lens. On a 1.5 crop frame it is like using a 75mm lens.

    The shortest I tend to go for portraits is around 85 or 90mm on a full frame camera (57mm or 60mm equiv, on a 1.5 crop factor). My f/2 105mm is my go-to lens for portrature and if I want something longer, I pop on my f/2.8 70-300mm lens. I mostly shoot portraits on my full-frame camera, but will use the same lens on my crop frame.

    That being said, a 50mm lens is one of the least expensive lenses out there, but unless you find that you shoot at that focal length (and you already have that focal length covered by your 18-55mm lens), the speed and DoF are the only things you will add to what you already own. A lens that sits around and is not used, is no bargain, regardless of the price.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.Nifty-fifty?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    I personally find a 50mm lens fairly useless on a crop-frame sensor. It ends up being a focal length that is a bit awkward; too short for a lot of portraiture work, yet a bit long to be a walk-about lens. On a full frame camera, yes; good lens. On a 1.5 crop frame it is like using a 75mm lens.

    The shortest I tend to go for portraits is around 85 or 90mm on a full frame camera (57mm or 60mm equiv, on a 1.5 crop factor). My f/2 105mm is my go-to lens for portrature and if I want something longer, I pop on my f/2.8 70-300mm lens. I mostly shoot portraits on my full-frame camera, but will use the same lens on my crop frame.

    That being said, a 50mm lens is one of the least expensive lenses out there, but unless you find that you shoot at that focal length (and you already have that focal length covered by your 18-55mm lens), the speed and DoF are the only things you will add to what you already own. A lens that sits around and is not used, is no bargain, regardless of the price.
    Manfred, I would think that a f/1.4 would give better results than a f/3.5-5.6? Do you mean that a full frame would be a better camera. In that case I would agree with you. Unfortunately, a change of camera is not an option, yet.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.Nifty-fifty?

    A f/1.4 lens is a faster lens than the f/3.5-5.6, which means better low light performance and shallower depth of field. Being a prime it will also be sharper than your existing lens. Would it give you better results? No, not necessarily, but that depends on what you are shooting. My question really was "do you shoot a lot at 50mm today?" If you don't, why are you considering that lens, and if you do, what about your current lens is not good enough?

    I do own a 50mm lens and I do use it as my walk-around lens on my full-frame body. The reason I use it is that it is quite small and unobtrusive for walk-around photography. If I put on either the f/2.8 24-70mm or the f/2.8 70-200mm lens, I get noticed because the lenses are fairly large. No one notices me with the 50mm. I do the same thing on my crop frame camera, except there I have 35mm lens that has roughly the same equivalent focal length to the 50mm on the full-frame body.

    You say you are looking at getting into portraiture; the way I shoot, the 50mm lens would be a bit short for that type of work. Your 75-300mm looks like a reasonable range for portraiture, and while you say that it is a bit soft, that is not necessarily a bad thing. One tends can end up softening faces a bit in PP anyways. Prior to upgrading my lenses for my full-frame camera, I did most of my portraits with my kit f/4 – 5.6 55 - 200mm lens.

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    Re: What lenses should be in my kitbag? Need help.Nifty-fifty?

    Louise, I feel your pain with the 75-300. Nice and sharp up close but at even moderate distance it fades quick and the chromatic aberation will make a wood duck go neon!
    I upgraded to the 70-400G which is a bit beyond your budget. It is also quite a bit heavier....but oh so sweet. If the weight is not an issue and you can wait I would say.....save up until you have about double the budget.
    However, if the weight is a deal breaker and you are ok with the distance of your 300mm but would like quality, sharpness and no CA problems.....the 70-300G is right at your budget. It will handle a bit more cropping for the small birds due to quality and sharpness than your current 300. It is still a 4.5-5.6
    Even the 400G is only a 4-5.6 Although I was surprised what a difference I found it makes.

    You don't mention what body you are useing but with either of these pieces of glass the body will be your limiting factor{which is likely not an issue at all}, the glass will no longer be.

    As for the niffty fifty....I looked around and found an old Minolta Maxxum 50mm AF. It is a 1.7 A good little lens to have. Very nice indoors and in low light outdoors. The best part is that they can be had for 100$

    Your 18-55 I have not used myself. I have heard it suffers a bit in quality/sharpness but is liveable. I would upgrade the 300mm first if you are after birds. Then maybe get something like a 16-80 or 16-50. I use 16-50 2.8 and love it.

    As for your Macro.....I am jealous....one I don't have in the bag yet.
    Last edited by jeeperman; 13th October 2012 at 01:57 AM.

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