Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Choosing A Lens Set For Nature Photography
How to save money and find the best lenses to match up with your shooting style
When putting together a lens kit for outdoor photography, there are three basic ways to do it. You can get one "superzoom," several shorter-range zooms or a number of fixed-focal-length "prime" lenses. Each offers its pros and cons, and that's what this article covers. Of course, your lens choices will vary depending on the type or types of outdoor photography you do. So we'll break down the article into four segments: landscape, wildlife, travel and sports-action.
Lenses For Landscapes
Superzooms provide focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto in a single, compact package that's easy to carry anywhere. Most superzooms also cost no more than a good shorter-range zoom, and certainly less than two or more shorter-range zooms or prime lenses. Their great range of focal lengths means you can change focal lengths very quickly at the twist of a wrist, and there's no need to physically change lenses, which takes time and exposes the sensor assembly to dust.
That brings us to the main advantage of the three-lens landscape kit. A pro 14-24mm/16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm kit can deliver sharper images (assuming you use a tripod, focus manually and use a low ISO setting), with less distortion and better image quality (less chromatic aberration and higher contrast). On the downside, three mid-range or pro zooms will cost much more than a superzoom, take up a lot more space in the camera bag and weigh a lot more.
Aperture Requirements: You'll generally be shooting stopped down to ƒ/11-ƒ/16 to increase depth of field and keep everything sharp from foreground to background, so lens speed (fast maximum aperture) isn't a priority. Superzooms generally aren't as sharp as shorter-range zooms or prime lenses in their focal-length range, they exhibit more distortion, and they're slower, especially at the long end. For the landscape shooter, these drawbacks may not be significant because the more you stop down, the less apparent the barrel distortion appears. A three-lens kit will give you more distortion-free options vis-à-vis focal length and aperture, but depending on your style, the advantages may not fully pencil out.
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