Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lens Advice

As I've mentioned previously, glass (photographer slang for lenses) is what you should be putting your money into.  What do you need to know about them, though?

First and foremost, if you have the option of buying branded glass, you should almost certainly do it.  By that, I mean lenses built by Nikon or Canon.  There are a few special cases (that I can detail) where an off-branded lens is in some way superior to it's branded equivalent, but that's a rare occurrence.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G

Generally, if you can buy a prime lens, that is, a lens that have a single focal length (for example, 35mm) instead of a zoom, that is, a lens that has a range of focal lengths that you can zoom through (for example, 18-200mm).  Zooms are far, far more complex operations as far as the optics are concerned, and generally it can be said that image quality suffers: zooms sometimes have complicated distortions that can't be easily removed through post-production.

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G

Zooms that are also "fast" lenses (lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or greater) are not very common, difficult to design, and generally are much more expensive.  For example, Nikon's 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (the range of apertures denoting the maximum aperture at 18mm and 55mm, respectively) retails for around $120 (and is a steal at that price, for an amateur just starting out), whereas the 17-55mm f/2.8 (indicating that the lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 through the entire length of the zoom) retails for around $1350.  The 17-55mm lens has almost exactly the same focal range (17mm is a bit wider than 18mm but in general it shouldn't make much of a difference) but because it is a much faster lens (and therefore is much more versatile) and because it is a professional lens (made almost entirely of metal, instead of the all-plastic 18-55mm), it is obviously much more costly.

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G
Zooms may seem much more convenient and versatile, but it can be much less expensive to buy fixed-focal length lenses instead, and you may well get a better lens for your money.


  1. those are some sweet ass lenses.

  2. Wow that is a beautiful thing right there. I want!

  3. I like what you got going on here...thanks for your input on my post...following~

  4. Seems like a useful blog, man. Following.

  5. Nice info! I didnt know any of this

  6. interesting post i like it
    supp u ;)

  7. You seem to know a lot about photography, have you thought about using it as a side job?

  8. Haha, I feel a lot of comments are just random b.s.

    But to be honest this made me want to look more into photography. I used to have more of an interest in it.

  9. I own a whole bunch of expensive camera equipment, but it's all ancient. Anyone know what I can do with it?

  10. i definately need this info, cheers

  11. @EdwardPrinceofWales

    I got the same problem...
    Anyhow, awesome post. Hope to see you on

    comments appreciated

  12. Following. Check me out: