Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Essential Lenses Of The Pros
What the top professionals have to say about the optics they need the most
While I’m still a 4x5 view camera user, more and more I’m using my Nikon D3 for all sorts of photography, including landscape work. The AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 200-400mm ƒ/4G IF-ED is causing me to reexamine my photography. I’m also doing long-lens landscape photography never possible with a 4x5, like this image of the Grand Canyon’s ridges stacked against an amber sunset, and I still have the option of directing it toward wildlife, where it’s so amazingly sharp that I can see delicate ice patterns on the leg of a flying sandhill crane! It’s my new essential piece of glass.
George D. Lepp
My “go-to” lens for wildlife photography is the Canon EF 500mm ƒ/4L IS USM. Earlier in my career, my long lens was a 600mm ƒ/4—too big, too heavy. When I switched to Canon equipment, I also changed the long glass to the 500mm ƒ/4.5 and later to the EF 500mm ƒ/4L. It’s a lot lighter and handholdable, even from a kayak, and easier to transport in the field and on airplanes. The lens is exceptionally sharp, even with an EF 1.4x (700mm) or EF 2x (1000mm) extender added. Wildlife photography often requires long lenses that are responsive to fast action and low-light conditions, and the EF 500mm ƒ/4L meets those demands while serving as an excellent compromise between mega-millimeters and versatility. Whenever possible, I use a tripod with this lens to maximize its potential. And from a tripod, it can be an excellent landscape lens, too, for extraction of an interesting composition from within a distant scene, or for capture of a multiple-image, high-res panoramic rendition of a grandscape.
Since I got it, the Zeiss 24-70mm has been my go-to lens on my Sony DSLRs. It’s simply the best and most versatile lens I’ve ever used. I’m in the business of shooting travel-landscapes, and because I make large prints, I need the sharpest lenses I can get. This 24-70mm is ridiculously sharp. When I’m in exotic parts of the world, I also rely on it as a portrait lens where its fast ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture lets me render distracting backgrounds out of focus. Until I started using this one, I would routinely carry as many as six prime lenses into the field. Now I pretty much just bring this one. It’s in my sweet spot of how I see.
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