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Author Topic: First dSLR, lens recommendations  (Read 22023 times)

RAKAMRAK

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2012, 04:08:32 PM »
"Why use a prime like, say, 50mm (or 30mm or 35mm) instead a zoom?"

Many are of the opinion (as apparent from some of the above replies) that using a prime helps the photographer to become a better photographer. Well, that is probably very true. Because it forces (and also allows) the photographers to concentrate on "framing" the composition, consider the angle of (natural) light (which creates different angle of shadow), and consider different points of view for the same scene. This is probably the "purest" way to learn photography.

However, there is another consideration. The "purest" may not be the "most suitable" for each and everyone out there. There is also a high chance that someone at the beginning of their learning process may loose interest when their photographic angle of view is limited to that of just one focal length.

I started with 50mm prime only. However, I got bored with it soon and had to buy another lens just for variety. Ok, my second lens was also a prime (85mm - prime due to the fact that good zooms where not in my budget then) but it gave me some variety and kept my interest alive. So, I think it is best to buy a prime and an optically good mid-range zoom together.

Unfortunately, 50mm on a cropped sensor does not offer a very "attractive" angle of view. A 35mm or 30mm is much better.

Finally, it is sometimes suggested that one does not need a zoom because with a prime one can "zoom with the feet". Well, that is not entirely correct. One can definitely get the same area (in two dimensional term) of the scene by zooming with the feet (with a wider lens) as one would with a tele lens; but, zooming with the foot changes the "point of view" of the photographer with respect to the scene and hence changes the perspective. This definitely changes the composition of the scene. Therefore, zooming with the feet and zooming a zoom lens is not the same thing - for composition.
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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2012, 04:08:32 PM »

marekjoz

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2012, 04:13:26 PM »
"Why use a prime like, say, 50mm (or 30mm or 35mm) instead a zoom?"

Many are of the opinion (as apparent from some of the above replies) that using a prime helps the photographer to become a better photographer. Well, that is probably very true. Because it forces (and also allows) the photographers to concentrate on "framing" the composition, consider the angle of (natural) light (which creates different angle of shadow), and consider different points of view for the same scene. This is probably the "purest" way to learn photography.

However, there is another consideration. The "purest" may not be the "most suitable" for each and everyone out there. There is also a high chance that someone at the beginning of their learning process may loose interest when their photographic angle of view is limited to that of just one focal length.

I started with 50mm prime only. However, I got bored with it soon and had to buy another lens just for variety. Ok, my second lens was also a prime (85mm - prime due to the fact that good zooms where not in my budget then) but it gave me some variety and kept my interest alive. So, I think it is best to buy a prime and an optically good mid-range zoom together.

Unfortunately, 50mm on a cropped sensor does not offer a very "attractive" angle of view. A 35mm or 30mm is much better.

Finally, it is sometimes suggested that one does not need a zoom because with a prime one can "zoom with the feet". Well, that is not entirely correct. One can definitely get the same area (in two dimensional term) of the scene by zooming with the feet (with a wider lens) as one would with a tele lens; but, zooming with the foot changes the "point of view" of the photographer with respect to the scene and hence changes the perspective. This definitely changes the composition of the scene. Therefore, zooming with the feet and zooming a zoom lens is not the same thing - for composition.

I like what you said. Summarizing - one should zoom with lens and feet accordingly to achieve a desired composition :)
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DJL329

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2012, 04:28:15 PM »
Another reason to use a fast prime, such as the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8, is for the shallow Depth of Field.  That allows you to blur the background much more easily than with a zoom, especially slow ones (> f/2.8).  Doing so makes your subject stand out, aiding with composition.

Remember:  years ago, a fast "normal" lens was typically the "kit" lens included with an SLR.
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RAKAMRAK

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2012, 05:09:15 PM »


I like what you said. Summarizing - one should zoom with lens and feet accordingly to achieve a desired composition :)

 :D. Well, definitely that is the perfect summary but only of the last paragraph.
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RAKAMRAK

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #34 on: April 18, 2012, 05:26:51 PM »
Another reason to use a fast prime, such as the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8, is for the shallow Depth of Field.  That allows you to blur the background much more easily than with a zoom, especially slow ones (> f/2.8).  Doing so makes your subject stand out, aiding with composition.

Remember:  years ago, a fast "normal" lens was typically the "kit" lens included with an SLR.

Both are so true. A fast prime definitely give much better (and easier) OOF blur than the "slower" zooms (not counting the fantastic zooms like say EF 70-200). And for quite some time after the beginning of the SLR era the "kit" lens used to be a normal lens like 50mm.

However, both of them are completely unrelated to each other. The "normal" lens was not a kit lens because it gave better photos when used properly but rather because first for quite some time the zoom technology was not there and second when the technology became available, the zoom lenses at that point of time were no where near the prime lenses in image quality. From my experience with current primes and zooms I think that gap has been narrowed down quite significantly.

Optically most of the fast primes are excellent and a definite must in the bag of every photographer (at least one of them). However, let's just remember that shallow depth of field (and the resultant OOF blur) even if aesthetically and compositionally nice and pleasing for certain type of photographs, need not be so for other types (of course we can stop down a fast lens to whatever stop we like). 
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Marsu42

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2012, 05:30:34 PM »
:D. Well, definitely that is the perfect summary but only of the last paragraph.

... which is very common and leads to the extensive discussions about the 5d3: see your own opinion strengthened while ignoring everything else. That's why psychologists find great jobs in marketing!

Concerning zoom vs prime: It's correct that you can use a zoom to frame, but cropping is something you can do later on too - you can even change the distortion of a 35mm to a 50mm with one click in postprocessing if needed and most people probably won't notice if they don't know the original scene. But you cannot change the angle you shot at, and that's what you're forced to think about when using a prime. Zooming with your feet is just a by-product of finding the best angle to shoot at. Of course if your prime is too narrow you're screwed.

RAKAMRAK

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2012, 05:50:44 PM »
:D. Well, definitely that is the perfect summary but only of the last paragraph.

... which is very common and leads to the extensive discussions about the 5d3: see your own opinion strengthened while ignoring everything else. That's why psychologists find great jobs in marketing!

Concerning zoom vs prime: It's correct that you can use a zoom to frame, but cropping is something you can do later on too - you can even change the distortion of a 35mm to a 50mm with one click in postprocessing if needed and most people probably won't notice if they don't know the original scene. But you cannot change the angle you shot at, and that's what you're forced to think about when using a prime. Zooming with your feet is just a by-product of finding the best angle to shoot at. Of course if your prime is too narrow you're screwed.

It is not always about the distortion. It is actually about the "angle" (which I have tried argue below at Flickr, have a look if time permits)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alo-chhaya/7091640629/#


Precisely for finding the "angle" a zoom is better than prime. Cropping won't give us a different angle which we are talking about.

(Do not get me wrong; I am neither against prime nor overtly for zooms, I love both. And out my three lenses two are fast primes. Well relatively faster than the available zooms at least.)
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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2012, 05:50:44 PM »

Marsu42

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2012, 06:03:45 PM »
It is not always about the distortion. It is actually about the "angle" (which I have tried argue below at Flickr, have a look if time permits)

Nice image @flickr - and I know about this, that's why I wrote distortion correction is an option *if* the viewer didn't know the original scene and won't notice the angle and distortion don't fit. But here too it can be argued that a prime reduces the numbers of degrees of freedom because you've got a limited choice. With a zoom, what's the best angle? With 35mm? 50mm? 40mm? 41mm? While making up your mind about that, using just two primes you might be further ahead composing the scene while the zoom user still ... well, zooms and walks towards or away from the object to frame.

But to make myself clear, too: I've got zooms and primes (100mm macro, 50mm "normal") and plan to get a 35L - so I'm really not set on anything but try to see both sides.

AJ

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #38 on: April 18, 2012, 06:15:27 PM »
There's only one compelling reason why you should learn to shoot with a prime.  That's because retro-grouches learned it that way back in the 60s, and therefore you should too.

The advantage of primes is aperture and selective focus, not composition.  Zooms are much better for learning composition.  The notion that primes "force you to think and zoom with your feet" can easily be simulated by setting a focal length on a zoom before you raise the camera to your eye.

It is very instructive to take a subject and shoot it at with a variety of focal lengths (say 24, 35, 50 and 85 mm) to see the effect of wideangle, normal, and compressed views.   Set the focal length and then "zoom with your feet".  In the end this leads to better composition and photography compared to trying to hobble yourself with a single focal length.  Learning correct choice of focal length is an essential part of composition.

I would argue that, if you really want a learning tool for composition, you should get a superzoom.  Of course there are reasons why a superzoom may not be the best choice (IQ, aperture) but from a composition perspective it can't be beat.


marekjoz

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2012, 06:48:01 PM »


I like what you said. Summarizing - one should zoom with lens and feet accordingly to achieve a desired composition :)

 :D. Well, definitely that is the perfect summary but only of the last paragraph.

Ok, Summarizing - one should zoom with lens and feet accordingly to achieve a desired composition, having it learnt using primes (especially 30, 35mm on crop) while still paying attention not to get bored or disinterested. Better? :)

Seriously - you're a bit limited to whan you can do having a particular prime on a body attached and nothing helps no matter how you will work with your feet. Below 70, 80 - you have it difficult to frame a good portrait. Having 50 and up  - the room can be to small etc. Primes are great when you are prepared to what you are going to shoot sacrifying frames you definitely loose. Landscape, portrait, product, "stylish" street are great for primes. As a general purpose lens it's difficult to find a prime. I think that having ie 15-50 f1.4 and 24-135 f1.8 would bring this discussion to another level :)
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Marsu42

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #40 on: April 18, 2012, 06:57:17 PM »
As a general purpose lens it's difficult to find a prime.

Indeed, however the advantage of the 50mm is that it's about the human eyes' angle. But having a lot of mp sure helps because you can crop more and need to zoom less.

There's only one compelling reason why you should learn to shoot with a prime.  That's because retro-grouches learned it that way back in the 60s, and therefore you should too. The notion that primes "force you to think and zoom with your feet" can easily be simulated by setting a focal length on a zoom before you raise the camera to your eye.

Agreed - *if* you can force yourself to do that. I am just too lazy and only discovered new angles when using my 100mm macro (I only use the 50/1.8 for shoot in the dark shots). Thus, a prime is/was very instructive to me, but having learned that I'll settle for zooms too if they had the iq and dof of the 35L. Btw ... 60s??? ... I'm not *that* old :-p

marekjoz

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #41 on: April 18, 2012, 07:01:10 PM »
As a general purpose lens it's difficult to find a prime.

Indeed, however the advantage of the 50mm is that it's about the human eyes' angle. But having a lot of mp sure helps because you can crop more and need to zoom less.

Indeed, however portaits made on FF with 50mm look worse, than with 70-100mm, although better than with 24 or 35 :)
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RAKAMRAK

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #42 on: April 18, 2012, 09:02:13 PM »

Ok, Summarizing - one should zoom with lens and feet accordingly to achieve a desired composition, having it learnt using primes (especially 30, 35mm on crop) while still paying attention not to get bored or disinterested. Better? :)

Seriously - you're a bit limited to whan you can do having a particular prime on a body attached and nothing helps no matter how you will work with your feet. Below 70, 80 - you have it difficult to frame a good portrait. Having 50 and up  - the room can be to small etc. Primes are great when you are prepared to what you are going to shoot sacrifying frames you definitely loose. Landscape, portrait, product, "stylish" street are great for primes. As a general purpose lens it's difficult to find a prime. I think that having ie 15-50 f1.4 and 24-135 f1.8 would bring this discussion to another level :)

Ahh.. now you are talking....  :D I would just add one more demand/wish here..... 15-50 f/1.4 "with curved aperture blades". (or the 24-135 with curved blade).......
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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #42 on: April 18, 2012, 09:02:13 PM »

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #43 on: April 19, 2012, 01:48:57 PM »
There's only one compelling reason why you should learn to shoot with a prime.  That's because retro-grouches learned it that way back in the 60s, and therefore you should too.

The advantage of primes is aperture and selective focus, not composition.  Zooms are much better for learning composition.  The notion that primes "force you to think and zoom with your feet" can easily be simulated by setting a focal length on a zoom before you raise the camera to your eye.

It is very instructive to take a subject and shoot it at with a variety of focal lengths (say 24, 35, 50 and 85 mm) to see the effect of wideangle, normal, and compressed views.   Set the focal length and then "zoom with your feet".  In the end this leads to better composition and photography compared to trying to hobble yourself with a single focal length.  Learning correct choice of focal length is an essential part of composition.

I would argue that, if you really want a learning tool for composition, you should get a superzoom.  Of course there are reasons why a superzoom may not be the best choice (IQ, aperture) but from a composition perspective it can't be beat.

+1 - that's what it feels like to me. One can use a zoom like a prime and I don't know how many time one really shoots at f/1.4. I get beautiful OOF shots even with my 70-200mm f/4 and I still am of the opinion that it gives me better IQ and a much nicer look than my 50mm f/1.4.

Sartor

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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2012, 12:31:45 PM »
Wow, there is a lot of debate about primes vs. zooms  ;D

It is not always about the distortion. It is actually about the "angle" (which I have tried argue below at Flickr, have a look if time permits)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alo-chhaya/7091640629/#


Precisely for finding the "angle" a zoom is better than prime. Cropping won't give us a different angle which we are talking about.

(Do not get me wrong; I am neither against prime nor overtly for zooms, I love both. And out my three lenses two are fast primes. Well relatively faster than the available zooms at least.)

Nice illustration and explanation. It got rid of some of my confusion :)

As for my needs I'm starting to get convinced to get the 70-200 zoom. But which model?
As I see it I have two options, as the 2.8 IS is too expensive:
- 70-200 f/2.8 L USM
- 70-200 f/4 L IS USM
These lenses are in the same price range and within my budget if I stretch it a little.

I have also read the posts in: Which 70-200? and What shutter speed is required to overcome the need for IS?

I'm thinking the f/4 IS version would fit me best as most of my shots will me handheld. And the weight is much lower.

A third possibility is the 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM, but at a higher cost... Does anyone know at which FL the min. aperture goes from 4 to 5.6 by the way? Is it at 200 mm?

Last question:
How often do you use the f/2.8 setting on your lenses? A lot of great pictures I've seen are taken at f/4 or higher.
So, do you use the f/2.8 as a mean to get shallow DOF and OOF or because you are shooting in low light and a higher ISO value is not an option (possible due to noise)?
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Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2012, 12:31:45 PM »