• This topic has 61 replies, 16 voices, and was last updated 15 years ago by igm.
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  • DSLR Lens Advice (complete novice alert)
  • EddieFiola
    Free Member

    I have 2 lenses at the mo for my Sony A350.
    18-70 which came with it.
    70 – 300 for bike races etc.
    Do i need a wide angle lens for big mountain vistas etc?
    I read here awhile ago about a 50mm fixed lens??? (might not of been) and you had loads of smart looking pictures on it, city scapes and some really narrow focus stuff.
    Anyway, i have about £300 burning a hole in my pocket, do i buy a new lens and what type?
    Fatherly advice required.

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    Big mountain vista shot with 18mm lens:

    IMO fixed lenses are a bit like singlespeeds – always the wrong gear :o)

    Teetosugars
    Free Member

    I found a lot of good help here: http://www.talkphotography.co.uk/ and also here http://www.dyxum.com/

    That said, there are a lot of people on here that know their Glass…

    Would be interested in the replies you get- was thinking the same for my A200..

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    there are a lot of people on here that know their Glass…

    why do I always have the urge to punch anyone who calls a lens ‘glass’ ? Seems to me only an appropriate usage for those who actually grind or design their own lenses…

    Teetosugars
    Free Member

    Sorry..

    thats what my old man always used to call them and it just stuck.

    igm
    Full Member

    You don’t need a fixed (prime) lens, but they are rather nice to use. I still love my 50mm f1.4. It’s a lovely protrait lens on a DX format camera and a great general purpose lens on a full frame (ie 35mm frame) camera. For a DSLR if I was buying a prime now it would probably be a 35mm (assuming around 1.5 crop factor) – that effective equivalent of 50mm on 35mm film fgives a really simple immediate look to the end product – my old photograpy tutor told me it was because it mimics the field of view of the human eye reasonably well.
    Mr FBarnes is right they are a bit like a singlespeed – or perhaps 27 ratio bikes are like zoom lenses – they have a ratio for every occasion but you’re always left wondering if a little more or a little less would be better. And like a SS you have to work harder but there is a real satisfaction to getting it right with a prime 50 – not to mention the control of the depth of field that any zoom that doesn’t start with “how much” will struggle to match (f1.4 zoom boys).
    For the record I use primes and zooms, SS and 27 ratio, hardtail and FS and I like them all. They’re just different and you do have to learn how to use each of them properly to get the best out of them.
    Best bet is just take more pictures and think about them as you do it – you’ll soon work out what you want. I think Simon gets by on a 18-200VR most of the time. I vary between a 16-85VR, a 10-20, and a 50 depending on how I feel. Occasionally I break out the 70-300VR or the 24. But I rarely carry more than 2 lenses at a time and frequently just one.

    Rest assured though you can take perfectly good pictures without a prime.

    Iain

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    my old photograpy tutor told me it was because it mimics the field of view of the human eye reasonably well.

    which is plainly wrong, as I can see 170° horizontally and about 100° vertically. I think it might be more accurate to say natural perspective…

    DaveVanderspek
    Free Member

    Eddie, if you can’t keep a few bolts tight on your saracen, there’s no way on gods earth you will be able to operate a DSLR, let alone utilise different lenses FFS.

    EddieFiola
    Free Member

    Dave Can You do a vander roll? It’s an appollo ss recumbrant fixed trike actualy

    DaveVanderspek
    Free Member

    Damn you……..

    igm
    Full Member

    Simon – Is that fisheye eyes you got there? Yeah you’re probably right – I think what he was trying to say was that the bit that you have the full colour, reasonable focus on (ie excluding peripheral vision) is simialr to the focal length of the lens roughly equalling the diagonal of the sensor / film frame. Either way it just looks right sometimes.
    Was I right in saying you’re just about exclusive with your 18-200 by the way? ‘Cos you do seem to turn in the odd photo that’s worth looking at. And don’t ask to see mine – I can’t work flicker.

    Iain

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    Simon – Is that fisheye eyes you got there?

    no, it’s a composite of a dozen or so shots :-)

    I think what he was trying to say was that the bit that you have the full colour, reasonable focus on (ie excluding peripheral vision) is simialr to the focal length of the lens roughly equalling the diagonal of the sensor / film frame

    no, the sharp bit is 0.5° :o)

    Was I right in saying you’re just about exclusive with your 18-200 by the way?

    Yes, as I do most of my photography on rides, my camera gets dirty, with crap lurking in the lens mount, and every time I change the lens I get lots of shite on the sensor, so I try to avoid it.

    dooge
    Free Member

    Traditionally at that price range a fixed focal length lens (Prime lens) will give you a sharper image, less distortion, better colours, less fringing and more contrast. My Canon £300 50mm F1.4 still outperforms my £1000 24-70 F2.8 on sharpness!

    As IGM was saying, in terms of natural perspective a 35mm would be be the nearest you would get. However, if you have an 18-70mm already it might not be worth going for a prime lens if you are wanting to try other focal lengths.

    Sigma 10-20mm opens a new form of creative seeing on any Digi-SLR’s and most can be got for a shy under £400.

    Alternatively, you could replace your standard kit lens with something like the 16-80mm Sony.

    If you want to buy a fixed focal length lens, the 20mm, 28mm and 50mm F1.4 are all very well priced around your budget.

    Travis
    Full Member

    mmmm I’m still thinking of upgrading from my A1!

    samuri
    Free Member

    wide angle lenses are quite specialist IMO and you should browse as many pictures as you can taken with them to see if you like the output. It’s very hard getting close detail into a wide angle shot unless you’re virtually touching the item in question so it might not be the lens for you…. As an example….

    The end of the lens was about 12 inches away from the twig in that picture.

    Primes are excellent for clarity and speed. The f1.4 mentioned above can produce stunning results but I have a f1.8 50mm prime which cost me 50 quid which is amazing also. I’m seriously impressed at how dark it has to be before this lens can not get a decent shot. Whether you can get lenses like this for the Sony I don’t know.

    igm
    Full Member

    not much wrong with a f1.8 – the f1.4 goes up to 11 but it costs a sight more for something you’ll only use for extremely low light (hand held in the pub or club at might with on flash) or depth of field (choose which of the kids eyes is going to be in focus). ‘Course Cannon used to make a f1.0 (and may still do) for real photo extremists.

    markc123
    Free Member

    Lots of ppl have the f1.8 50mm primes as they are very cheap (at least for Nikon / Canon), sharp, work well in low light and you can do clever shots with only a very small depth of field. 35mm primes would be better for modern DSLR, but ouch do they cost more!

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    samuri, is this the same tarn ?

    BTW, any reason why you didn’t level out the horizon ? It looks tilted slightly clockwise…

    GrahamS
    Full Member

    not much wrong with a f1.8 – the f1.4 goes up to 11 but it costs a sight more for something you’ll only use for extremely low light (hand held in the pub or club at might with on flash)

    Have you ever tried to use a lens at f1.4 or even f1.8 handheld when you’re pissed in the pub? Absolutely **** all chance of getting anything in focus IME.

    I have the f/1.8 Nikkor – great lens and only £60.
    Didn’t see the point in paying an extra £150 on top of that to gain two-thirds of a stop when I already struggle to get focus spot on at f/1.8

    samuri
    Free Member

    you should know me better than that Simon, it’s Rivington. ;-) That’s the pike right in the distance. Yeah, I noticed the very slight tilt of the horizon but it’s made worse because one side is dark. If I tilt one degree anti clockwise it looks wrong too so I left it.

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    you should know me better than that Simon, it’s Rivington.

    I did think it would be out of your orbit :o)

    . If I tilt one degree anti clockwise it looks wrong too so I left it.

    it’s one of my bugbears – I often get tilted shots due to astigmatism, and although I can tell the photo doesn’t look straight it can be very hard to find a level reference :-(

    mrmichaelwright
    Free Member

    wide lenses can be great fun if used with care.

    if you want to include foreground detail then as others have said you need to be very close indeed, also it needs to be kept in the middle of the shot (depending on the lens) as it will be distorted otherwise.

    great for landscapes if your camera deals ok with the high dynamic range you get with bright skies (or if you can bracket).

    I love my newish tokina 11-16 f2.8 but they don’t seem to make one with a sony fitting and the prices have gone up recently anyway.

    richpips
    Free Member

    Can’t say I can do the wide angle thing, I’ve had a 10-20 sigma and a 10-17 fisheye, and never really had much success with them. As samuri says to get detail in the foreground you’ve got to be touching it.

    I’d suggest a 50mm. I’ve just bought a f/1.2 which the postie will be delivering tomorrow. :)

    dooge
    Free Member

    My 50mm F1.4 was £150 2nd hand, which considering is only £50 more than the F1.8 new meant I jumped on it quicker than M.J. on a lil kiddy. Build quality is so much better! its faster, quieter, and has 8 aperture blades instead of 5 on the F1.8.

    Prime lenses are the way forward. Best to look through the photos you’ve taken and check the focal length in the Metadata. I would think a 35mm would be perfect.

    zokes
    Free Member

    Well, seeing how expensive ‘modern’ lenses are, I invested in an adapter to take old Olympus OM-fit lenses in total manual mode on my Canon EOS450D. I think they also do them for ‘4 thirds fit’ modern olympus kit too.

    Here are some of the shots i’ve snapped since using the manual lenses. The Glass is so much higher quality than the bargain-basement modern lens that came with the camera.

    28mm (44.8mm with the 1.6 crop factor of my canon) Prime:
    [/url]

    50mm (80mm) Prime:
    [/url]

    All my ones taken with my OM lenses are here[/url]

    It takes a little bit of getting used to, but you can get much better lenses for the same price, and I think it’s really worth it unless you’ve got the cash to spend on pro-level canon / nikkor glass

    IMO fixed lenses are a bit like singlespeeds – always the wrong gear :o)

    I’d agree with the sentiment on single speeds where there is no obvious (to me) advantage. The optical quality of a good prime will always outweigh the downsides of perhaps not quite having the correct focal length. The joys of digital photography mean you can always crop the image easily anyway….

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    The joys of digital photography mean you can always crop the image easily anyway….

    you can never crop w-i-d-e-r :-(
    and of course cropping throws away the extra resolution…

    richpips
    Free Member

    and of course cropping throws away the extra resolution…

    …..and the distracting crap you’d not noticed in the original shot. :)

    zokes
    Free Member

    …..and the distracting crap you’d not noticed in the original shot. [:)]

    My thoughts too :-)

    zokes
    Free Member

    you can never crop w-i-d-e-r [:-(]

    I know. But as I simply can’t afford a super-wide angle lens (old OM or modern), it’s a largely irrelevant point. It would have to be super-wide given the crop factor on my canon too!

    Horses for courses I guess. If I were to take my SLR on rides like you Simon, I’d persevere with the sigma 28-300 i’m just about to put on ebay. As I don’t tend to carry an SLR riding, and am happy to take a bag-full of kit walking etc, I’ll happily (until the novelty wears off I guess) lug a few primes about. The beauty of the OM kit is it’s so small and light so I can carry 5 or 6 lenses without feeling like i’m a sherpa! I do have an old Tamron 80-210 OM-fit tele that I find very good, but as i’ve just got a 135mm prime, I suspect I won’t use it as much, seeing as the 135 equates to 200ish on my sensor.

    rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    ebay linky
    £68 on ebay, is this good?

    richpips
    Free Member

    £68 on ebay, is this good?

    Great optics for the money.

    samuri
    Free Member

    be warned, when you get hold of the f1.8 it feels like it’s cheap, which it is. It’s made out of thin plastic and the mount is even plastic and it rattles when you shake it. It seems to be fairly sturdy though and does take great shots.

    gingerflash
    Full Member

    I had a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and hardly used it. It wasn’t the right length for anything I wanted and the quality wasn’t so much better than my zoom that it was ever worth the hassle or inflexibility.

    Good thing about lenses is that if you buy at the right price you can sell them again on ebay for just about as much as you paid. After a year, I got £10 more for my 50mm and £28 more for my wireless controller!

    I really like my new 10-20mm Sigma. That’s what I take out on most rides these days, that or a 18-200.

    RudeBoy
    Free Member

    IMO fixed lenses are a bit like singlespeeds – always the wrong gear :o)

    You keep yer 3-45,000mm f13.8-72.

    Can’t beat something like a nice 85mm f1.4 or a 135mm f2 or simliar, for portraits. And focusing a 200mm f2.8 is a darn sight easier than 5.6.

    Henri Cartier Bresson, praps the greatest tographer ever, seldom used owt other than a 50mm lens. Sometimes a 35mm, or maybe up to a 90mm.

    Using a fixed-focal length lens can help you to develop photographic skills, such as composition and choosing the right position to shoot from, as you have to work with the limited scope of the lens.

    And lots of ‘bells and whistles’ zooms are inferior, in optical quality, to a decent prime lens.

    Prime: Right tool for the job.

    Zoom: Adjustable spanner (AKA Bodger’s Tool).

    GrahamS
    Full Member

    Really like the 50mm f/1.8 myself. Great for portraits.

    RB: mleh, I suspect even the cheapest zoom today is far beyond the quality of the lenses HCB used.

    RudeBoy
    Free Member

    HCB din’t need such ‘quality’, though…

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    Using a fixed-focal length lens can help you to develop photographic skills, such as composition and choosing the right position to shoot from, as you have to work with the limited scope of the lens.

    it helps you develop a redundant skill, but don’t stop there, think of the quality you can get with an 8″ plate camera – or tie one hand behind your back etc

    RudeBoy
    Free Member

    Behave, Barnes. You’ll hurt yourself.

    richpips
    Free Member

    it helps you develop a redundant skill

    Rubbish.

    GrahamS
    Full Member

    For once I find myself agreeing with RB. Taking away a variable by restricting yourself to using a prime (even for a day) will help you think about other aspects. Same as using a tripod can slow you down and improve your pics.

    (But I disagree that a zoom is a bodger’s tool. That’s just bollocks)

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