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What you need as glass (Part X - Filter)

July 20th, 2011

This last of a series of what glass you will need. Now all lenses are through, it is just left what we can put in front to them.

If, why …

First screw off the UV/protection filter and tuck it deep into your bag for the visit of a steel work in full production. Filters degrade IQ. In daylight it is less visible, but once you botched some night shot in the winter where you stood freezing at -10°C, because all exposures caught an inexplicable flare you know better.

If you are really concerned, get a high quality filter from Tiffen, B+W, Heliopan or Hoya (Hoya sells different grade, do yourself a favor and buy the most expensive one). UV is not an issue, clear filters are what you want. Prepare to spend €50 for a 77mm filter.

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What you need as glass (Part VIII - Macro)

July 20th, 2011

This is part VIII of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Any lens can double as a macro with close-up lenses and extension tubes, BUT most normal lenses don’t  perform best at close focus and adding close-ups/extensions will push macro lenses even further. Short macro lenses often don’t go to 1:1 magnification, they are close focus lenses for exaggerating perspective. Useful focal lengths are 60-200mm. 1:1 magnification is always reached at four times the focal length, so do the math what working distance you get and how to do lighting (At 1:1 you loose 2 stops that have to be taken into account as well for the diffraction limit). All macro lenses are good, a smooth manual focus ring is a big help. So you should get a 200mm macro? Yes, if you are really serious about it and can wait that some renewed version comes out. Nikkor 105/2.8VR and Tamron 60/2 are exceptional lenses at the moment. The VR is useless in macro range, btw. -the back and forth movements can’t be corrected by VR and AF will give up as well.

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What you need as glass (Part IX - Special lenses)

July 20th, 2011

This is part IX of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

There are three kinds of special lenses:

  • Fisheye
  • Effect lenses
  • Perspective Control (PC)

They are special, for special application, so you will need them rarely unless you already specialized in a special field.

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What you need as glass (Part VII - Wide Zoom)

July 20th, 2011

This is part VII of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Wide zooms (below 35mm FX/24mm DX) obliterated the wide angle primes.  Besides the obvious goal of getting a large field of view, getting dramatic perspectives by getting really close is what makes these lenses so interesting.
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What you need as glass (Part VI - Tele Zoom)

July 19th, 2011

This is part VI of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Tele zooms cover the range 70/5omm+. Candid shots, sports, wildlife are typical applications (adding a close-up lens makes most of them as well capable macros).

Almost all tele zooms are actually too short for wildlife. You need at minimum 300mm here + some feature like AF lock are handy.

It is fair to categorize in three groups

  • Consumer tele
  • Pro tele
  • Long tele

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What you need as glass (Part V - Standard Zoom)

July 19th, 2011

This is part V of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Zoom lenses are are rather modern concept that came with the SLRs going consumer. The first zooms had a moderate zoom range and rather small apertures - in film zoom lenses were much more popular and of much higher quality. The marketing was more “Get two (three) lenses in one” appealing to the casual photographer how didn’t carry a bag with all the gear or had different bodies hanging around his neck. Who ever tried to mount a M42 lens while walking quickly sees the benefit.

This class of consumer zooms still exists, but it had been complemented by pro-class zooms that obliterated prime lenses in many applications or even outperforms them.

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What you need as glass (Part IV - Medium Prime)

July 17th, 2011

This is part IV of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Medium primes are lenses in the range of 85-200mm (in FX terms) or 58-135mm in DX.

This segment is very interesting as you find here lenses with with the lowset f-number/focal-length (if we neglect long tele lenses). In other words: These lenses allow for extreme subject separation.

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What you need as glass (Part III - Long Prime)

July 11th, 2011

This is part III of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

A long prime for this article is anything from 200mm up. This group can be subdivided further by a section for super-tele longer than 400mm

If we neglect old glass, most of these lenses are quite expensive, they usually start around $4000 and end in the 5-digit range. This indicates that they aim at professionals that cover sports, wildlife (and celebrities sun-bathing). If you are not a professional, but have one of these passions there are two alternatives:

  1. Bite the bullet
  2. Find some cheaper alternative

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What you need as glass (Part II - Wide Prime)

July 9th, 2011

This is part II of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications.

Wide primes had their day. With a single exception: Nikkor 24mm 1.4G.

Todays wide angle zooms are that good, better than any of the classical primes from 20-28mm that there is no use for them anymore. Still they are fun to use as a walk-around or street-photo lens. I personally love a Sigma 24mm AF I got for €60 from ebay. This lens is very compact, can focus close (1:4 macro!) for interesting effects, but doesn’t play well with the metering system and makes horrible noise when focusing.

The aforementioned 24mm 1.4G is special, as it is price. Look at David Kaplan’s photostream to see what can be done with it. Its brother the 35mm 1.4G is no slouch either, though on DX the 35/1.8 is too much a better value.

What you need as glass (Part I - Standard Prime)

July 9th, 2011

This is part I of a series of what glass you will need. Each part will discuss a certain lens type and its applications

Standard prime lenses had been the base of each SLR equipment since the earliest days. Virtually all SLR were sold in a kit with a 50mm f/1.8 and many of us never used anything else. In range-finder world the slightly wider 35mm was the standard.

It is said that a 50mm would give you a field of view similar to our vision (I stick with the FX convention for FOV<->focal-length, for DX divide by 1.5). This is somewhat true. Our field of vision is much wider, but the zone where we  see sharp much narrower. I think the main reason for the “nifty-fitfties” is that they are the widest lenses with a still rather simple design: The focal length is larger than the flange distance.

So do you need it and what do you expect from it.

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