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What's in your lens collection, and why?

cymroDan 11 174
18 Sep 2012 1:57PM
Hi all, hope you're all doing well. Today I fancied making a post about lenses, and the role played by the different lenses in your kit bag. My motivation for this post is two-fold.

I've just recently got 300 for my old Tamron 10-24mm that got smashed in an accident, and am looking to replace it with another wide angle lens (as I do enjoy my landscape and street photography). The second reason is because I'm looking at getting some experience helping out wedding photographers currently, and have been reading about the different lenses recommended for wedding photography/portraits.

The two above points have got me looking at lenses again, and has gotten me thinking about the variety thats available to us as photographers. I'm curious what lenses you all have in your kits, which you use, what you use them for, and any particularly good/bad experiences? any lenses you regret parting with, or perhaps you regret purchasing? I'll start, though my lens collection isn't really a "collection".

Nikkor 18-200mm VR mk1: I purchased this second hand, having just been serviced by Nikon for 280 which was a bargain seeing as the service cost over half that! I bought this as my previous lens range covered the same focal range but over three different lenses! Also, the VR would give me a couple of extra stops (as I was originally using a D50 which was poor in low light). The purpose of this lens was to be my "general lens" for non photographic projects or where I was unable to carry additional equipment. The lens has served me well, though the "bokeh" produced for portraits I guess isn't anything compared to what I'd get out of a 2.8 mini zoom. The downside of the lens is its weight, and the mk1 version has the small issue of the zoom sliding when tilting camera severely downwards or upwards.

Nikkor 50mm 1.8 : I bought this recently, as I'd never owned a prime lens before - and had heard great things about this little lens considering it's price! I wanted to experiment and learn to use a very shallow depth of field. I also wanted a small light lens that I could whack on my camera for social events where the bulky 18-200 is a bit cumbersome. For 85, I've really enjoyed the lens, it does give noticably sharper images than the 18-200mm. It's quite good for portraits when at a low aperture, and sharp on landscapes when at a mid aperture.

Tamron 10-24mm 3.5(no longer own): I purchased this when looking for a wide angle lens before my trip to new york last year. After monitoring ebay for a long while, I picked it up second hand at 250 in a great condition. The lens itself seems fine, though I have nothing to compare it to. I opted for the Tamron due to the longer range of 10-24 (compared to 11-16 or 10-20) and also for the lower aperture - but in hindsight the lower aperture shouldn't have been a contributing factor. Realistically, you're going to want a decent depth of field when using this lens anyway, so I rarely use 3.5 in particular. I use this lens for landscape photography, though be aware it often will push everything away from you visually, so can make your points of interest seem a little distant. This lens is also great for in cities where you wan't to cram in as much as you can, though be aware that due to the shape of the lens you will get distortion towards the edge of the frame. It's also quite fun to use close to your subject to emphasise it over the background. This lens was broke in an accident, so I'm looking to replace it. People speak good things about the sigma, ken rockwell loves the tokina 11-16, and the Nikkor 10-24 is good but more expensive.

Previous Lenses: I've got the 18-55 kit lens of the d50, decent quality lens, but the auto focus broke on it. I used to have 28-100 nikkor as well, which was alright but made redundant by the 18-200 I purchased. I also had a Nikkor 70-300, which was great for a beginner, I do miss my 300 once in a while - as 200 doesn't always cut the mustard. The previous two lenses though were just the basic lenses - they were part of the purchase I made when I got my first DSLR 6 years ago.

Hope this thread sparks some interest/responses, if not I hope at least my insight proves useful to one or two visitors of these forums!

Thanks and take care,


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Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
18 Sep 2012 2:18PM
I only use three lenses on a full frame camera:

Canon 24-105 f4 L IS which I use for 80% of my shots; it is normally on the camera. So this would be portraits, landscapes, architecture and general photography.

Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS which I use for wildlife, sport and aircraft but as I do not photograph these regulalry it is probably used for only 5% of my shots. However, I used it for almost all of my shots at the Victory Show a week ago. I also use this lens for a few portraits. The f2.8 helps with fast focussing.

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 which I use for some landscapes and architecture.

I also have a 1.4 x Extender for use with the 70-200mm. The only other lens I would like is a good macro lens and I will buy one just as soon as I can free up enough time to explore macro photography.

779HOB 6 1.2k United Kingdom
18 Sep 2012 2:24PM
Nikon 17-35mm (good every day lens)

Nikon 50mm on the camera 90% of the time (even better everyday lens)

Nikon 70-200mm (for when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to walk too far)

Nikon 105mm Macro (for getting really close)
snapbandit 14 2.3k 3 Northern Ireland
18 Sep 2012 4:07PM
10-20 f4 Sigma (Dx crop) for wide stuff on the dx bodies (D200)

12-24 f4 Sigma, super wide for the full frame body (D3s)

18-200 f3.5 VR Nikon (Dx crop) good general 'walkabout' lens on dx bodies & the lens the kids use at zoo etc.

24-70 f2.8 Nikon, main mid range 'pro' lens, heavy but best of the bunch at this range

24-85 f3.5 Nikon, not far away from the 24/70 when stopped down, great wee & light walkabout lens on full frame body

24-120 f3.5 VR Nikon, bought for the VR & extra reach over the 24/85, but bad at the wide end so never used.

50mm f1.8 Nikon, so sharp you could shave with it!!

70-200 f2.8 VR Nikon, longer reach & fast focussing 'pro' lens, mainly used for sport & action but still great with 1.7 Nikon Teleconverter

70-300 f4.5 VR Nikon, good lightweight 'walkabout' long zoom when I don't need the 'pro' kit (or too lazy to carry the weight of the 'pro' gear.

150-500 f5 OS Sigma, bought & used only a couple of times to try it out, OK when enough light to stop it down, but needs sunlight / contrasty light to get good results IMO.

300mm f4 ED Nikon, good longer telephoto, superseded by the AF-S version which focuses faster, still great quality though.

300mm f4 AF-S Nikon, long telephoto which still works well with Nikon 1.7x Teleconverter (with the tc it gives as good, if not better IQ than the Sigma 150-500)

300mm f2.8 Tamron SP (Manual), excellent MF lens, sharp & good contrast even wide open, but heavy though!, works reasonable with matched Tamron SP 2x Teleconverter when really long reach needed.

TC17 EII 1,7x Teleconverter for 70-200 f2.8 & 300mm f4 lenses, expensive but does the job well.

Various other MF & Older lenses gathering dust in a drawer, not up to today's more demanding standards.

Too many, must get round to clearing a lot of the less used lenses & bodies onto classifieds/ebay now that I have packed in the press/sports work (great to get photography back as a hobby!), so I can get myself a 105mm macro which the only other lens I would like & can stretch to (as the 500mm/600mm Nikons are a bit too pricy for me to justify!)
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
18 Sep 2012 4:27PM
I`ve now sold my dslrs and lenses.

This is what I have now.

Olympus 12-50, a good all round lens, but a little slow.

Olympus 45mm, a really nice 90mm equ.

A sigma 19mm, cheap and cheerful and a good little performer.
cheddar-caveman 14 1.1k England
18 Sep 2012 5:04PM
Good heavens snapbandit! Is your other name Jessops!Grin
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2012 5:06PM
SHooting on an APS-c Canon Lenses in order of use.

+1 "Canon 24-105 f4 L IS which I use for 80% of my shots; it is normally on the camera. So this would be portraits, landscapes, architecture and general photography." (before this a 17-85mm f4-5.6)

50mm f1.8 for shallow DOF and super sharp images - or just lightweight.

Sigma 10-20mm for land/sea scapes etc and some more arty architecture etc.

Sigma 70-300mm as it was cheap and gives good shallow DOF an longer focal lengths.

Sigma 70mm as it was cheap and good for macro - rarely used.

2 x Kenko convertor - rarely used.
keith selmes 14 7.3k 1 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2012 6:36PM

Quote:What's in your lens collection, and why?

I have far too many, and the reason is mainly curiosity.

What I actually use for DSLR are 28, 50 and 200 primes, with x2 TC and 2 extension tubes. And a 105 enlarger lens on an old belows unit.

Sometimes now I use an M4/3 camera with a 14-45 zoom, which is a handy snapshooter, conveniently halfway between compact and dslr, and a also good movie camera. It also gets used with cheap old fast lenses, usually c mount and leica screw mount primes, and a couple of angenieux zooms. And it can take the DSLR lenses.

In large format, it's nearly always the Voigtlander 15cm Heliar, just because it's really good, although a better corrected lens would be nice for architecture. There is also an APO Tessar 30cm for longer work, and a Petzval for softer. Would be nice to have a decent wide angle. Not that I currently use it much.
18 Sep 2012 7:56PM
Nikon - 16-85 (I think...) most used "walkabout" since daughter "re-assigned" my 18-70...
70-200 2.8. For motorsport etc.. Takes pictures by itself..I'd sell bodyparts before this one..
TC 1.7 for use with afore-mentioned.
105 macro.. For...err....macro..the best.
10-20 Sigma...love it for wide stuff.
Lomo plastic 50 for being stupid with.
Old 300 f4. But gathering dust because 70-200 with TC does it really, can't bear to part with such a solid old reliable though..
Other old AI sizes for FM2 and Nikkormat etc. Could use in manual fashion but don't...
I thought long and hard about what type of lenses to buy when I got back into photography and as the camera is a Canon 7D, and I like taking people/portraits I chose the 50mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.8.
With the crop factor (x1.6) that means that I have an 80mm and a 136mm lens, which are both perfect for portraits. The 50mm is used for about 90% of my images, .....very sharp, light in weight and excellent wide open.
I could do with a wide angle lens for interior shots.
Caisiel 6 17 Wales
18 Sep 2012 10:01PM
in order of use.
Sony 50mm F1.4, makes me look normal but pure and honest lens
Minolta 85mm F1.4G makes me look slightly odd, but amazing results
Zeiss 24-70 F2.8, makes me look important, heavy but great quality for a zoom
Lensbaby original, makes me receive strange looks, you got to let go now and again
Tamron 70-200 F2.8 makes other slightly alarmed in the town, a great performer aside from fast action

Sold my sony 70-200F2.8 and bought the tamron (used, but great glass), a decent Cube Mountain Bike, A lacie rugged, orbis ringflash, and chunky Manfrotto tripod head.

So sometimes I guess rather than collecting dust or waiting for that one day outing, its better to sell and reap the benefits.
randomrubble 13 3.0k 12 United Kingdom
18 Sep 2012 10:17PM
I have 3 distinct types of lens, for my DSLR which all have different uses firstly a couple of good zooms (24-70, 70-200) for general stuff, then I have a set of shift lenses for architecture. Finally, for a bit of fun I use a Lensbaby and a few old Zeiss Contax/Yashica film lenses on adapters.
cheddar-caveman 14 1.1k England
19 Sep 2012 8:06AM
I don't think I qualify for this topic with my "couple" of lenses. Looks like you need a dozen before you can even start taking pictures! Sad However, as most of my photography is wildlife I carry around a Canon 300mm f4 on my 7D. I have just bought a Canon 15-85mm for WA and general scenes as and when and I have the Canon 300mm f2.8 with the option of 1.4X or 2X extender for "ambush" wildlife.
keith selmes 14 7.3k 1 United Kingdom
19 Sep 2012 9:30AM
I was amused a couple of days ago, when I saw a 5D MK2 in a second hand shop window - it had lowly a 50/1.8 MK2 fitted.
Not a bad partnership actually.
javam 13 1.1k 19 United Kingdom
19 Sep 2012 9:59AM
Sigma 10-20 (Default landscape choice)
Canon 24-105 (Default everyday/travel/family day out choice)
Canon 100-400 (Airshows)
Canon 50mm F1.8, hardly ever used.

All currently paired with a 7D.

In theory lots of compromises, but the only thing I bemoan the lack of is something longer for airshows. The big advantage is they all fit in a bag I can carry all day so they go with me.

When I was using pentax gear I built up quite a collection including all of the FA limiteds and I miss the quality of those although my own efforts with them never really justified the cost or demonstrated much perceptible improvement over the DA* zooms.

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