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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Q&A (What lens should I get next?}


Before we get started... 
I'm still registering for the next Lightroom class.  Click here to check it out!

So it seems that a lot of you are loving your 50mm lens!  (Okay some of you opted for the 35mm fixed lens instead, and it is also a fantabulous choice for a first lens that gives you a bit more room!)  The nifty fifty is a wonderful lens to learn how to use your camera and it's a lens that if quite forgiving and one that you won't likely outgrow.   It's a lens that I go back to again and again and could never imagine not having and using it!  If you're looking to get a lens beyond the kit lens your camera came with a 50mm or 35mm fixed lens, that's one that has no zoom, is where to start.
Hands down.
For sure.
Absolutely.

It seems many of you have been bitten by the photography bug, see photography in your life for a while.  If you have a 50mm or 35mm and you are ready to take the next step, keep reading.  The next inevitable question always comes up.

Over on the Q&A the next question has come up more than once!

Emily asks... so would love to know-- i have 1 prime lens-- 50 mm 1.8 love him. after a 50mm, what lens would you suggest? i'm mainly taking pics of my kids, friends, family. 35 or 85?

Anonymous asks... What lens should you get after the nifty fifty?

Christina asks... My first and only lens is the 50, which I purchased a year ago. I love it. Its versatile, incredibly sharp, and I couldn't bare to ever part with it. My photography skills have dramatically grown this past year with that lens, and I know its time for 50 to have a friend. The question is: which one? I have had a few suggestions, such as 70 - 200, 24-70, and 85. Who do you think would make the best addition to my camera bag?

Well you see this is a TOUGH question!  I think there are likely as many "right" answers to this question as there are lenses!  Yes, I recommend the 50mm (or 35mm) first.  But after that I simply do not have a clear cut answer!  And I think it depends on what you take photos of, how much you want to invest, and where you see yourself going in your photography journey. 

Here a couple things to consider before you start investing your hard-earned money.  If photography is going to be a long-term hobby or if you see yourself making some money with it, then you will likely upgrade and change camera bodies as the years pass.  But unlike your camera, your lenses can last much longer and work on many different camera bodies.  About 3 years ago I finally retired my 50mm lens that I had had for over 20 years and had used on 3 different cameras. So in my opinion it's worth it to spend a bit more money on lenses since they can be with you a long while.  Shhhhh, don't tell Papa I said that!  I'm still trying to convince him that photography is a cheap hobby since we don't have to buy and process film anymore!  Not sure he's buying what I'm selling though. 


I do recommended spending more money initially for better quality lenses, rather than upgrading later on.  Buying 2 lenses is always more expensive than buying one.  My second lens, the 24-70mm listed below was actually worth more than the camera I first put it on.  But I knew that I would be keeping and using it for the long haul. 5 years later, it's still one of my favorite work horses. 


I recommend buying Canon and Nikon brand lenses.  They hold their value better than off brands and re-sale is much easier. 

If you foresee upgrading your camera body someday, I recommend buying a lens that can be used not only on your current camera body but also on a future body.  

So here are a few lenses, all of which I have experience with and recommend.  Because I tend to keep lenses for a LONG time, and as mentioned I'd rather buy a nicer lens then upgrade later, you'll find that they aren't cheap.  I'm sorry.  Perhaps the budget keeper of your family should leave the room now... before you click on any of the links below. 

20mm f/2.8 is a great landscape lens.  If you're traveling and want to get the whole sweeping vista, the inside of a cathedral, or something big, you're going to need a wide lens. 

85mm f/1.8 is a fabulous portrait lens.  But unless you want to take closeups all the time, you'll need quite a bit of space to use it.  The sharpness of this lens, even at this reasonable price, knocked my socks off! 
Taken with my 85mm
17-40 f/4  This is a great travel lens as well and a very versatile wide angle, but do choose between the 20mm above or this one, not both.  

If money is no object consider these.  (Ya, 'cause that's the problem I'm always having!)

24-70 f/2.8  After my 50mm lens, this was my next lens baby.  She's a work horse, good in low light and works in a variety of settings. Some people think she's kinda heavy.  I agree and I kinda liked that about her! 
Taken with a 24-70 at 58mm
16-35 f/2.8 (instead of the 17-40 f/4 listed above) For all the same reasons as the 17-40 above, but it's better in low light and considerably sharper.  This is the lens I use for landscape photography and when I'm on vacation to get the whole setting.  After years of researching wide angle lenses and agonizing this is my most recent lens purchase, and I've been having a lot of fun with it!
Taken with a 16-35mm f/2.8 at 31mm
70-200 f/4 or f/2.8 if money is no object!  Oh I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.  Really I am. It is dreadfully expensive, and yet it is the only telephoto lens I recommend. There is a Sigma version of this lens that is more affordable and although it's a bit less sharp, it's not a huge difference.  If I could only have one lens after my 50mm, this would likely be it. It take some room to use it and fair warning that it's heavier than a small Fiat.  Eat your spinach before using. 
Taken with a 70-200 f/2.8 at 200mm
Okay I know that there are other wonderful lenses out there.  But these are the ones that I have experience with and the ones I recommend.  I've linked Canon versions of these lenses but Nikon has very similar versions of most all of these as well. 

29 comments:

  1. Is the Siggy 70-200 the only third party lens you would ever consider getting or recommend? The 70-200 is the lens I know I will purchase next, but the Canon version is so freaking expensive... the same as as semester of private school for just one child. I feel rather guilty buying something so expensive, but I need a telephoto.

    PS: I was swooning over this photographer's photos (links below) only to find she is 15. What?! Crazy talent. IMO she is as good as most professionals and I would hire her in a skinny minute. Have you seen her work before? I am speechless. I learned she has been featured in several magazines. It makes me question if she is actually 15 ;) (just kidding).

    http://www.photosbyruthie.net
    http://joymontague.blogspot.com

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    1. Well, I've read the reviews on the Sigma 70-200 and researched quite a bit since I was considering it vs the Canon version. So that's the one I know the most about. I think Tamron has a version that is getting good reviews. But WHATEVER version you get, I HIGHLY recommend that it have some type of image stabilization/vibration reduction... (different companies call it something different) This lens is big and heavy and it needs the extra help to get sharp focus. And yes, so so sorry again, this feature costs extra.

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    2. I have been diagnosed with a serious case of the photography bug. Treatment: swoon over camera equipment and look at photography websites and save up for new Florabella Actions and One Willow Presets. *sigh*

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    3. Kate, you know the photography bug is getting serious and going to the next level when you start selling everything in your home that's not nailed down on Craig's List. Ummmmm... ya... done that. Sad but true!

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    4. I would definitely agree with ALL of that. I just got the Sigma 70-200 and it is for sure a beast! All of my pictures are slightly blurred from my first attempt to use it (i got the one without the image stabilization, to my chagrin). I'll be using it with a tripod from now on, and even so I'm not sure if my old tripod will support all that extra weight! It's worth the money though, as I learn to use it more I'm glad it's the one I went with to supplement my nifty 50.

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    5. Amber, I've never used a tripod with my 70-200, just hand held since portraits of kiddos and tripods just don't mix. But I'm pretty sure my left bicep is not bigger than my right because of that. It's a FUN lens!

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  2. Is the 70-200 enough length on full frame for pro and college sports games with higher up seats?

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    1. no. Not if you want closer pics. I was surprised how far 200 didn't reach.

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  3. Getting my very first one willow presets today (other than brushes)! Should I get Beautiful Things or Palate? So excited!

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    1. There isn't anything at One Willow that I don't like! But there are several in the Palate collection that are go to's!

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  4. Does the Sigma 24-70 have any kind of vibration reduction or image stabilization? Canon's version is kinda-sorta-maybe a little expensive.

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    1. I'm not sure about the Sigma, but really IS or VR or whatever the brand calls it is a necessity in my book. It's a heavy lens. And yes, it does drive the cost up.

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  5. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/729948-USA/Nikon_2193_AF_S_NIKKOR_24_120mm_f_4G.html

    How about this one for the China trip? I cannot afford the 20-70 and the 50mm just won't do for the wide variety of pictures I plan to take.

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  6. You will need more light for this lens than the 24-70 f/2.8 and I have no experience with this lens, but the reviews of it seem to be average to good. It might be a great compromise for you! See how much it weighs if you're going to be carrying it around your neck through China. Just know what you're getting into.

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  7. What about speed lights? I'm a natural light photographer, but I think one might be handy for indoor weddings. Do you have one and what do you think?

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    1. I do not have a speedlight but I have heard used correctly they can be wonderful wonderful tools. Like you, I'm perfecting my "natural light" photography.

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  8. I love my 50 f1.2. 135 f2 is my favorite portrait lens, followed by the 85 f1.2. For wide angles I have the 35 f1.4, 24 f1.4, and 14 2.8. I am totally crazy, but tomorrow I am going to do wide angle portraits at 14mm (well, not portraits really because 14mm is NOT a portrait lens. But posed shots) of my daughter.
    If I could only live with one lens, it would be the 50. But if I could only live with two, it would be the 35 and 135, hands down.

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    1. My guess is that you're a Canon gal, Margaret! The 35, 85 135L series is the trifecta of Canon lenses. These are AMAZING. although I'm sure Nikon has wonderful versions. I do love love love my 135mm and used it a lot surprisingly for my Vietnam street photography.

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  9. Yup I am a Canon gal, Nancy! I have the 200 & 100 macro both in my B&H shopping cart. Do I need them? No. Do I want them? Yes.
    When I got my Canon 5D, the bundle with the 24-105 f4L lens was only $300 more than getting just the body. Just that lens retails for almost $1200, so I thought I could just sell the lens on eBay to finance my next lens purchase. Lo and behold, I had to set my I-only-use-primes-because-I-dont-believe-in-zooms-and-I-would-rather-be-dead-than-be-seen-with-a-kit-lens attitude beside, and I never ended up selling it. In fact, I love it! It has turned into a go-to lens for me. Granted, I only use it when there is plenty of light available. I don't think I will ever get a 24-70 because I have so many primes, but I would sell 24-105 if I ever did. I would have never said this four years ago, but the 24-105 f4 lens is one I would recommend.

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  10. One more thing. I got the 5D Mark ii a year ago. I have seen many upgrade to the Mark 3. I am not sure which one you have, but from your knowledge is it worth the upgrade?

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    1. Oh I'm so so sorry, your hubs really is really not going to like me, but yes. The focal system on the mark III is way better (but honestly that's about the only difference that mattered to me) Check out the number of cross type focal points on the mark ii compared to the mark iii. So sorry.

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  11. I specialize in engagement, newborn, senior, and occasional children. My only two lenses are the Canon 50 & 85mm 1.2L lenses. They are all I really need for what I do.
    When my husband and I have children someday, Lord willing, I may find myself needing more lenses to capture our day-to-day happenings.
    I am putting a 100 macro on the list for rings and newborns.

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  12. I ❤️ my 70-200! Favorite lens! I also have the 35mm f/1.4L and 100mm f/2.8L macro. I hope Santa brings me a 50mm and a 6D or 5D Mark iii. I love my 5D classic, though. I am going to China and only taking one lens. I had a 24-70, but I sold it because I just didn't love it. I'm hoping the 50 fits the bill.
    Should I tell hubby (order myself) to get me the f/1.8, f/1.4, or f/1.2?

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    1. If money is no object, the f/1.2. Otherwise the f/1.4. If budget is tight the f/1.8 but looking at the rest of your line up, I don't think you'd be happy with it. Also look into the Sigma Art 50mm lens.

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  13. I'm headed out to the camera shop for the f/1.2. Hubby will be angry.

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    1. I love my 50mm 1.2. But I'm not a good resource if I don't tell you to be sure and look into the Sigma Art 50mm 1.4. It's cheaper and the reviews are better (in some areas) than the 1.2.

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    2. Funny you should mention the Sigma. The man at the shop insisted that the Sigma is better, so I got them both and will return one next week. I will let you know which one I chose to return.

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  14. The Sigma Art and the Canon L are both wonderful lenses. I love the real perspective from the 50mm. There really was no difference between the two. Equally as sharp, and auto focus was the same. I went with the Sigma because of the price.

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