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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Essential Lenses Of The Pros

What the top professionals have to say about the optics they need the most

Labels: LensesGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Everyone has one. It’s the lens you never leave at home. No matter what, this is the one you have in your bag, and more often than not, it’s the one you’ve mounted on your camera. It’s your go-to, must-have lens. We asked a select group of OP contributors and nature pros to tell us about their essential optics. These are the workhorses in their bags, the lenses that they feel they can’t do without.

We all can learn from the gear that our favorite photographers use. It gives us a unique insight into what they find crucial to achieve their vision and to create compelling images in their particular genre.

ƒ/2.8 IF-ED
Corey Rich
The AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 17-35mm ƒ/2.8 IF-ED lens is by far my most essential, go-to lens for documenting the outdoor adventure world. Of primary importance to me is the speed; ƒ/2.8 is critical for capturing still images and video in dawn, dusk and other low-light situations. Secondly, the fact that it’s a zoom allows me to essentially have multiple lenses, or multiple focal lengths, packed into a single configuration, and that’s invaluable. The less time I spend changing lenses means the more time I can spend focused on making creative images. Third, it’s tack-sharp across the zoom and aperture range, even at ƒ/2.8, which is critical.

Oftentimes, I’m in wild environments with the athletes hanging off a cliff on ropes, descending a mountain on skis or in a tiny boat heading out to a surf break. In these situations, I can only work with a minimum of gear, the absolute essentials that will allow me to be productive as a visual storyteller. With the 17-35mm, I can be in tight quarters and still make pictures. I want people who see my images and footage to really get a sense of what it’s like to be in a wild environment, and the wide-angle perspective allows just that. The Nikkor 17-35mm ƒ/2.8 is a fast, sharp, durable and compact zoom in just the right focal-length range.

Art Wolfe
The Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM has been a key lens for me since it was introduced. It falls in the perfect range for my travel photography where I frequently change focal lengths as new photo opportunities pop up. When I’m shooting in a place like Bhutan, the 70-200mm goes from being a perfect portrait lens to a perfect landscape and cityscape lens. It’s also tack-sharp, and it’s reasonably lightweight. Often using a tripod is impossible for me when I’m photographing in exotic areas, because by the time I could set one up, the shot is gone. I use the image stabilization to give me the freedom to keep shooting.

AEF 70-200MM

Sandra Nykerk

I always have a short zoom with me, but my “go-to” lens—the one I would want to take to a desert island if I could only take one lens—is the Tamron 18-270mm VC. It’s all about versatility, and because I often head into the field completely uncertain about what I’m going to encounter, this is the perfect lens. I just finished a workshop in Yellowstone where I used the 18-270mm to capture dramatic wide-angle landscapes at the 18mm setting and landscape details and wildlife at the telephoto end. The close-focusing capability gives me more compositional options, and the vibration control helps to maintain sharp images even at slower shutter speeds. Lightweight, versatile and sharp—it’s my one-lens photography solution!

AF18-270MM ƒ/3.5-6.3


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