*REAL* need for pro glass?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. kallisti macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    I'm curious about honest opinions on the real-world benefits of professional lenses for non-professionals.

    The party line on this site (and most others) is that it is better to invest in pro-quality lenses rather than in bodies. The obvious justification is that a good lens will last for many years while bodies become *obsolete* within a year or two as technology advances.

    I'm not necessarily saying this is false, but just wanted to hear opinions as to why this is really a good policy for non-professionals (i.e. those who aren't making their living with the images they shoot).

    Professional lenses (especially zooms) usually offer two advantages over consumer grade lenses: (1) they are faster and (2) they *may* offer better image quality (sharpness, contrast, etc.). This depends on the individual lens in question. The downside is that they are: (1) much more expensive than consumer lenses, (2) are usually larger/bulkier than consumer lenses, and (3) are universally much heavier than consumer lenses.

    Does the speed really matter? For shooting lowish-light action shots the answer is obviously yes. Larger aperture means you can use a faster shutter speed to freeze action. The larger aperture may also help the auto-focus work better which results in sharper images. I just have to ask though, how often do most people really need to shoot at 2.8? Honestly? For non-sports photographers, how many of your images are taken at apertures larger than f/5.6 or f/4? For non-action low light work, aren't you using a tripod anyway? If you are hand-holding, wouldn't VR offset the smaller aperture? If most of what you shoot is action, then a fast lens is clearly worth it. But if not....

    Large apertures give you more options with depth of field. So one could argue that a 2.8 telephoto is justified because it gives you more creative options. I would argue that even with f/5.6 you get a fairly shallow depth of field with acceptable background blurring at most telephoto angles of view. The longer the lens, the more this comes into play. For wide-angle lenses, you are going to get a fairly large depth of field regardless of the aperture. Not saying there aren't times an f/2.8 wideangle wouldn't be more useful from a creative standpoint than an f/4, but I'm not sure they are that common.

    I don't shoot action photography. Looking through my photo library I have relatively few shots with apertures larger than f/4 and most are f/5.6 or smaller. Even looking at shots with my 50mm f/1.4 this is the case (unless it was a low-light scenario that I needed to hand-hold).

    Why *not* get a fast pro zoom if you can afford it? The bulk and the weight of these lenses may actually limit the shots you take. For vacation shots or walk around shots, the extra weight may make you not want to bother with the gear at all. Lugging around a larger, heavier bag may not be worth it at times. So you may miss shots.

    The issue of lens quality is a separate one. It depends on what you are ultimately planning on doing with the image. And it varies quite a bit from lens to lens. Sometimes the extra quality is worth it, sometimes it may not matter.

    I have both pro and consumer lenses. There are times that a consumer lens makes more sense for what I am planning to shoot. On vacation, lugging around several pro lenses while I am exploring a city on foot is a major PITA. My 18-200 VR actually serves me quite well much of the time.

    In sum, is it really the best advice to tell amateur photographers to invest their money on pro glass? Are you really doing them a favor by advising this? If they aren't shooting scenes that really require a fast lens, might they be better off with consumer lenses? And maybe getting a more expensive body that can better handle high ISO with less noise? Just a thought....
  2. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    As a non-professional who took the leap to get professional glass a year ago, here is the advice I'd give to anyone considering professional quality lenses:

    1. Lenses definitely last longer than cameras. In some sense, they'll last your lifetime. Good optics will always be good optics. However, there are other improvements that may make you not want to keep your lenses forever (past advancements include AF, USM, IS, etc). Basically, I think this justifies not cheaping out on a lens, but I do not think it justifies spending the moon unless you're a high paid professional.

    2. Professional lenses DO have better image quality. They are a little sharper, and depending on the style of lens have less distortion. However, in my experience the main difference is that high quality glass will give you better, more vibrant colors. With that said, while comparing side by side shows some differences, do I think you'd notice if you didn't compare side by side? Probably not, even with a good eye. The reason is that the difference between a good lens and an average lens has the same differences as between a well taken photo and an okay photo.

    So heres what I say it comes down to. First, can you afford professional glass without making serious compromises? If yes, then think about the fact that every time you take a photo you can only take it once, and the quality will never be better than the moment it's taken. If thinking about that makes you want to spend more money, that will last you a good 10 years at least, then perhaps professional glass is for you.
  3. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    I don't know the threshold of exactly when one switches over from Amateur to Professional. I have been hired, published, and retained by clients in both Automotive and Motocross photography for years now, but I don't consider myself a professional.

    Last year (2007) I purchased my first professional lens, and before that date, I had mixed feelings about the subject until I took my first few shots with it.

    Below are some points I have discovered, feel are true about pro glass.
    - Quality of images throughout the entire focal range is retained with minimal distortion at the extremes of the focal range

    - Pro glass tends to allow more light in for wider f-Stops throughout the focal range.

    - Build quality of the lenses are much higher (in my experience). Movement and actuation of focus or zoom (if equipped) is more precise, and operates more smoothly (less sticky feeling).

    - The overall longevity of the lenses tend to be better. I have had a 70 - 200 f2.8L for over a year now, and it still feels like a brand new lens (I have access to an identical lens that a friend owns, and he just bought it new last month). I also tend to shoot about 3,000 images per month, and my lenses are always in dusty conditions requiring constant cleaning throughout the year.

    If you intend to go SLR and am happy with sticking to a platform I would totally shop lenses before I do bodies, but that is just me.


  4. tibbon macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2006
    It's kinda one of those things that if you have to ask the question you likely don't need the lenses. I'm planning on doing some blog articles about this in the future however, so I'll start trying to answer here:

    First of all, the speed of lenses in many situations can't be understated. Let's say you're shooting an event at ISO800, 1/30 to 1/125 and f/5.6. The two stops difference between 5.6 and 2.8 would allow you to shoot at ISO200 (much better looking), or significantly faster shutter speeds (closer to 1/500 at times). For anything motion related that might be significantly useful.

    Also if you are talking about a 2.8VR lens vs a 5.6 non-VR lens that's an insane difference. I've gotten to borrow the 70-200 2.8VR recently and dear god the 2.8VR is nice. If they make a 1.4 30mm prime VR lens I'll explode for happiness.

    It allows you more flexibility towards natural light. I'd rather carry around a 5 pound lens any day over a 5 pound battery pack for some mega flash.

    The sharpness of the images can't be understated either. Better bokeh, less CA, faster focusing, etc all help.

    I almost NEVER think to myself "I have too much light" and I find myself shooting as open as possible almost always except outdoors on nice days. Even cloudy days at ISO100.

    I dislike carrying a tripod everywhere. It's simply not acceptable many places, nor helpful.

    Even in the middle of a rather nice/bright day, I found that my 18-200VR lens wasn't as fast as I wanted when in the 180-200 range (f/5.6) when I was shooting at the Boston Marathon. I wish I had the 70-200 f/2.8 lens then! Then I could have used ISO100 or 200 and still caught really sharp images.

    Then again I shoot anything from late night private parties, musicals, concerts, danceclubs, conventions, etc. There is NEVER too much light in these situations. I always wish I had more and pro lenses really help there.
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Larger apertures don't just give you an advantage in low light, they allow for more creative freedom (which is why I like them). Having a shallower depth of field is worth the extra weight in my case.
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Lenses follow the mathematical "diminishing returns". If you spend twice as much, you don't get a lens that's twice as good. Spend $450 on a general purpose lens, and you get a really great general purpose lens. Spend $1200-1500, and you get a lens that's slightly better. It may not even be obviously better until you shoot with it for a long time, but the differences may be in things like suppression of CA, flares, possibly higher contrast, and equal or better sharpness. The difference may seem very little, and it probably is, but if you're even thinking about spending that much money for glass, it's probably because you care about the quality of your photos, and you want better.

    I personally wouldn't buy a $1500 copy of a great Nikon lens if a 3rd party lens option that's 96% as good is available for $500.
  7. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    tibbon, you seem to fear ISOs over 200. There's no need to be afraid of 400 every now and then…
  8. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Precisely, no arguments there at all. I love my pro lenses for certain scenarios. However, there are times that a consumer lens is adequate.

    This isn't a thread about whether pro lenses are higher quality than consumer lenses. They clearly are. Instead it's about whether the standard party line of "spend as much money as you can afford on lenses" is actually good advice.

    There is obviously a wide range of readers on this site. The people that will really see a benefit from professional lenses (hopefully) won't be using this site to determine whether the "extra" money is worth it. They will already know the answer to that question.

    I just get bothered when I see beginning photographers asking questions about which lenses/bodies to buy and the answer is to spend thousands of dollars on a professional zoom (if you can afford it) because you will take much better pictures than those you could get with the kit lens included with your camera. There are certainly times the pro lenses are worth it. For many people they may not be worth it. And the added weight of the lens may actually make it worse for them than a consumer lens.
  9. TimTheEnchanter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 24, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Pro glass makes you look like a pro.
    Remember, its better to look good than feel good! You look marvelous!

    Seriously though, others have spoken already about the technical benefits and the longevity of pro glass. They are an investment in your talent & skill, and if taken care of will serve you for your lifetime.

    depending on how and what you shoot, in some cases those pro lenses are overkill.

    My suggestion is to find a local shop that rents lenses. Go out and test with both your and the rental pro lenses shooting same scenes with both, then compare. If you see a marked difference, then you know the pro glass WILL benefit your shooting abilities. If not, you just saved yourself from over-buying which could go for a better body or a really nice printer.
  10. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    What I've generally found is two factors.

    The first is that regardless of f/stop, the optical resolution does appear to be better.

    The second is that anytime that the optical resolution isn't as good as you like, you get frustrated. If you don't have top-of-the-line glass, then you're tempted to upgrade. If you do already have top-of-the-line glass, then you know that there's nothing more to upgrade to! :rolleyes:

    I've not really done a thorough side-by-side comparison, although I have been meaning to. In any event, here's the tale of two systems.

    There's two photo pairs that follow below, from two different body/lens combintions (eg, both the body & lens were different). In each pair, the first image is the full frame and the second is a crop taken from the same shot.

    Look at the photos and decide which system did the better job. FYI, in both instances, these were examples of "the longest telephoto wasn't enough".

    System 1

    System 2

    Key to what System 1 & 2 listed below

    System 1:
    Canon 75-300 IS f/4.5-5.6 on Elan IIe body (film!)
    film was Kodak Provia 160VR; scanned during developing at 6MP
    300mm, f/5.6, probably 1/60sec (fairly 'dark' conditions under canopy).

    System 2:
    Canon 70-200L IS f/2.8 with 1.4x teleextender on 20D body (8MP)
    280mm (450mm effective), f/4, probably ISO 100, 1/60sec (at least these I can go check). Wasn't as dark as above, but still was under canopy.

    Granted, this does have the variable of scanned film in this comparison, which is why I do want to reshoot a comparison like this...but I've also spent a lot more time on that film shot trying to tweak its sharpness, etc, and is not at 100% pixels...whereas the System 2 crop is untouched, more magnifiation (more strongly cropped) and 100% pixel-peeping. In general, it was because I found the 75-300 was so soft at beyond 200mm that I dropped the coin for the L glass.

    And the basis of the "buy good glass earlier" sentiment is that my 70-200 is my fourth ~200mm class telephoto that I've bought. I had a 28-200, then a 75-300 (non IS) and then the 75-300 IS...offhand, those three lenses probably totalled to around $700-$800 worth of glass that's been effectively superceded.

  11. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Third party lenses are typically not even close to 96% quality of pro lenses. Typical third party lense have slow focusing among other things that pros find problematic.

    Pro lenses have less distortion.

    With that said, good lense cannot compensate poor angle, exposure, timing, and other creative aspects of photography. However, a good lense, will enhance the picture for better photographers.

    There are people who use expensive cameras but their pictures look like snapshots, but a real pro can take a cheap point and shoot and produce nice pictures.
  12. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I have to agree here, I am also an amateur and only have photography as a hobby. And very few times did I needed to really have something larger than f/4.

    Now that I have a lens that opens up to f/2.8 it do comes in handy sometimes, but for an amateur it might not be something very important.

    I gotta disagree here, the bokeh of a pro lens is just so much better that it can't be compared. The 80-200 Nikkor I have, which isn't f/2.8, gives an amazing bokeh, you can take it to the point that you can't tell what is behind at all. And when I tried a 70-300, you really get to see how inferior it is to the 80-200.

    When in the telephoto range, I think there is not comparison between the pro and consumer lenses, pro lenses are simply better by much. In comparison, in the wide angle the difference isn't that notorious. Tho the bokeh of a 17-55 compared to the one of the 18-55 is also a completely different world.

    I think neither are the best advice. My advice would be to get the entry level camera with the kit lens. And then, based on their usage, but a new lens to cover their necessities.
  13. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    I get the distinct impression you've never shot with fast glass.

    I only rarely shoot above F2.8 - I'll shoot F8 in the studio with strobes, but in the real world I'm frequently at F2 or less. This allows FAR better background control and most importantly good shutter speed in less than ideal lighting.

    Variable aperture is the scourge of cheap lenses - I will NEVER buy a lens that changes aperture with focal length. Especially given that most of the time with a zoom is typically spent near the longer end. F2.8 and faster also can improve autofocus depending on what system you're using.

    It depends on what you shoot and what kind of cash you have - you can certainly capture good images with kit glass, but I guarantee you can't come close to what I do with fast primes in the situations I shoot such as dance and gymnastics with low light and fast moving subjects.

    In short, it's worth the cash, if you can swing it. I'd shoot a lesser body with better glass anyday over the opposite.
  14. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Take a $1600 body and $600 lens and a $600 body and $1600 lens- long-term, which combination is going to hold its resale value if the beginner decides photography isn't for them in a year or two? Which component is going to be useful to them in 8 years if they do decide to keep at it? Which combination is going to produce the best images in a wide range of conditions?

    The manufacturers make entry-level bodies with kit lenses that cover all of what most folks will ever need- but some folks want to go for "more," and in that case the better lens wins almost every single time. Especially when the lower-end bodies are lower megapixels in terms of noise except when you're dealing with a new generation of sensors, but then the consumer bodies get rev'd more quickly so they actually tend to do better sensor-wise sooner- and each stop of lens speed is a stop of sensor ISO you don't need.

    Here's the math:

    Nikon D2x MSRP $6299 Street: $4999-$4500 KEH used EX: $1740 (remember, that's the asking price, not the trade-in price)
    Loss in value for the camera body: $3259-2760

    Nikon D70s MSRP $899 Street: $850-799 KEH used EX:$499
    Loss in value for the camera body: $351-300

    Nikon D80 MSRP $899 Street: $820-$729 used EX+: $665
    Loss in value for the camera body: $155-64

    So, if you'd bought a D70s three years ago instead of a D2x, you could have bought a D80 as soon as it came out, and you'd be looking at a maximum of $506 in depreciation and you'd own two cameras, one of which would be better at high-ISO than the D2x.

    A Nikon 70-200/2.8G costs about $1700 new- good luck finding one used, but the depreciation is not going to be big.

    Now, let's talk about noise- if you're looking at a zoom that's f/5.6 at the long end, and you need to shoot at ISO 800 to get the picture, you can shoot at f/2.8 at ISO 200 with the more expensive lens and get an equivalent exposure with better subject isoltation. Even on cameras that do high-ISO well, I don't know about you, but I'd rather be shooting at 200 than 800 just for the dynamic range.

    Glass beats body.
  15. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    A lot of the people that post questions like you are discussing start off with "I have a body that is only 8MP and want to get a new 12MP body, which one should I get". In that case pro lenses can make a much bigger difference than the body (unless you typically print huge pics or crop a lot obviously). Even in DSLR's most new consumers seem to be swayed by the MP game and the newest and greatest features without really understanding that it will make almost no difference in their images. I think a lot of responses say "buy pro lenses" to try to get people to actually consider what they are not happy with in their current system so they improve that area. Just my two cents.
  16. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Eeh, not really. There are some that do for the sake of knowing they got the best money can afford, but a lot of pros are grabbing the 3rd party glass that covers ranges Nikon and Canon miss. There is no 11-18 f2.8 in the Nikon camp at all.

    The 3rd party glass makers know that people will pay to get certain focal lengths so the make sure to give you good optical quality while sacrificing in other areas. Tokina for instance, skimps on weather seals and build. Their 16-50 f2.8 is optically sound, and as good as the 17-55. The only difference besides the focal length is the lens barrel that extends when zoomed in.

    Sigma used to skimp on the AFS motor on certain lenses, and their 17-50 is made like a consumer barrel with pro glass in it.

    Certain ones still have distortion and other 3rd parties don't.


    BINGO! Pretty much nailed the next most important point with this one. There are plenty of photogs in my area that are trading up their D200s for D300s and still have that wonderful but still very consumer 18-70 lens. Not knowing that the glass would be a better investment.
  17. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Ha, I went from a D70 to the D300 instead of "upgrading" my 28-70 kit lens (came with the D70). That's because I've been happy with the 28-70; I don't have any regrets. I might pick up a 50mm sooner or later, but that'd completely neglect the wider ranges.
  18. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    May 29, 2007
    I'm not a pro, but I switched from using a Nikon 18-200/4.5-5.6 VR (consumer lens) for shooting motorsports to a 70-200/2.8 VR costing 2.5x as much. The quality of my race photos really jumped after that. Part of it was due to getting better at the technique of shooting cars, but the lens itself made a huge difference. In addition to it being a sharper lens, a big part of the improvement comes from its excellent auto-focus performance, which is important for tracking/panning cars doing 150+ MPH.

    The self-satisfaction more than makes up for the added expense.
  19. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    I like the saying, "To each his/her own" for just such occasions. I went from the D70 to the D200, so I am being hypocritical myself. But as long as your images aren't suffering, and you aren't complaining about your gear, then all is well.

    The same happened for me with my jobs. It's one thing to go into a wedding with a D70 and 18-70 and take decent images, then to walk into one a year or so later with a D2xs and 17-35 and take decent images like they were snapshots and have more time and patience to concentrate on and keep an eye out for the good stuff. And to not worry about blur and soft images or noise at high ISOs.

    Skill played a major part too of course, but not having to keep my f stop set to 5.6 and my ISO at 640 or 400 helped a hell of a lot.
  20. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    I don't think one needs to go into the minutiae to make a judgement. Remember, a lens is a tool, and with all tools, better tools give better results, all other factors being equal. It could be a table saw, multimeter, or pair of pliers, the rule still stands. The limiting factor is need & desire, and budget (the budget in particular being the limiting factor for me between a 70-200 f/4 and 70-200 f/2.8 IS).

    In the case of lenses, I would rather my skill be the limiter on my results, rather than the glass I use. I follow the same principle with all my tools. Buy once and grow into it, or replace several times when it no longer meets my abilities, and beat myself in the head for spending as much--or more--collectively as I would have if I just did it right the first time.
  21. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    I guess it's time to put my money where my mouth is. Here is an image I took while on a trip to Hawaii. I was walking around our hotel with my wife with my D300 and 18-200 lens on the camera. For this image, shutter speed 1/125, aperture f/5.6, ISO 400.


    Even at f/5.6, the frond isn't totally in focus. At larger apertures, the image would actually look worse. What's more, the leaf was around 2 to 3 feet away from me. So if I had a 80-200 f/2.8 mounted, I wouldn't have been able to take the shot at all since the pro zoom can't focus that close.

    Example #2. This was shot with a Tokina 12-24 at 1/4 sec, f/4, ISO 3200. There is very noticeable blur. The jelly fish was in a cylindrical tank that I needed to have my camera right up next to the edge of the tank. I consider this a blown shot. The 12-24 was the wrong lens for the job. I think it would have been much sharper using the 18-200 because of the VR. The "consumer" lens would have worked better than the quasi-pro lens. (For wide-angle on a D300 there isn't a much better option than the 12-24 that I am aware of, aside from minor differences between the Tokina and the Nikon). Yes, the image would also have been sharper had I used a tripod, but that really wasn't an option in this case.


    Example #3. On a whale watch in Maui. "Action" shot of a humpback diving. Shutter speed 1/500, f/8, ISO 200 @ 200 mm.


    Without having to change lenses I took this one. Shutter speed 1/500, f/9, ISO 200 @ 27mm.


    Are these sellable shots? No. But they made my wife quite happy (there's no accounting for taste :)).

    I could obviously post examples of shots that are only attainable with a fast lens. I am not saying that consumer lenses are better than pro lenses. They give you options that consumer lenses don't. But I think the attitude that you should spend as much as you can afford on lenses isn't always the best advice. "Cheaper" lenses can still produce decent images. In some cases, "cheap" lenses are actually "pro" lenses (the Nikon 50 f/1.4 or even 50 f/1.8 as examples). Heck, even point-and-shoots can produce decent images. It's all about what you are shooting and what you plan on doing with the images.

    If you don't like the images in my gallery, it has more to do with my skills (or lack thereof) as a photographer than it does with the gear I shoot with. I'm not a pro and don't pretend to be. There is always more to learn. I have zero formal training and I'm sure it shows. Just keep in mind that there are people like me who read this site. The advice you give should be geared towards those who will read it, who may not necessarily have the same needs that you do. Flame on :)
  22. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Your point OP proves nothing really, just that you have stuff that takes photos.

    Now, I want to see you in a NON family vacation setting trying to use your gear to shoot.

    Go to an NFL game or even a college football game and try to take decent photos with an 18-200. Go to a high school basketball game and try your hand at f9 3200 ISO.

    Lastly, attempt to keep your camera in working order while in a desert with howling winds.

    No one really said, from what I have read, that you NEED pro glass. Just that it's not a bad idea to get better glass if you can, over a top of the line body. The 18-200 is actually a sharp piece of glass that many wouldn't consider a kit lens, same thing for the 50mm pieces.

    Pro glass offers you more than just the ability to take clearer photos.
  23. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    This wasn't the point of the thread. There are certainly circumstances where you need a fast lens. I stated that explicitly in my initial post. If you are primarily shooting action, you need a fast lens (either prime or zoom).

    There are also many circumstances where you DON'T really need a fast lens. For many non-pros this may actually account for the majority of their shooting.

    I'm not saying that fast zooms aren't needed. For many situations they are actually required. My quibble is with the generic advice that you should get a fast zoom because is it is the best. If what you are shooting most of the time requires it, then obviously this is good advice. There are many scenarios however that you won't really need a fast zoom. For some shooters a fast zoom may actually be a negative (either because of weight/bulk/cost or because of missed shots (see my example above)).
  24. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    This is true. Where did you ever hear that lie? I know many a pro that has the 18-200 and have it on their bodies as a stay on because of it's clarity.

    I think most posters may have been comparing the kit lenses like the 18-55 to the pro lenses like the 17-55 f2.8. In that case, yes, getting better glass will yield you clearer results. But not everyone will want or need that glass.

    Hell, I shot my first wedding with a kit lens and a POS flash, and at that time my creativity soared.

    And like I said above, you can get fast glass that doesn't have the other features of pro glass that you may not need. Tokina does a good job of that IMHO.

    But personally, I don't like body hoppers. I have a friend whose work isn't that good, that hops to each new Canon body that comes out, and his cheap glass stays the same. He has gone from the 10D to the 40D with a 28-70 for years now, and his work suffers accordingly.
  25. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    But you don't have more than 2 stops before you start to get into diffraction territory with smaller apertures anyway, so really you're close to the sweet spot for that lens/aperture combination. Yes, the 80-200 and even the 70-200 aren't optimized for macro- they're not general purpose lenses, and they're not surprisingly mostly optimized for telephoto work. However, there are a raft of lenses both by Nikon and with a Nikon mount that would have done a much better job, including the venerable old 35-70 AF-D, the 60mm Micro, 105mm Micro, the 200mm Micro, the old 180mm...

    Edit: I just realized you may not be aware that subject distance also affects depth of field, and that the longer working distance of the 80-200 may actually have given you the results you wanted in terms of apparent plane of focus.
    IMO, out of the three shots, only the third the right focal length for what you were trying to shoot- and a faster lens would have alleviated more of the motion blur if that's what the softness is and it's not just an artifact of the lens.

    Choosing the wrong focal length is not really the fault of the lens- and sort of defeats the purpose of having the ability to change lenses. If you're not going to shoot with a lens that's the correct FL for the subject then you're not going to get optimal results. In the first image, if you'd have used a better lens and cropped, you may have gotten a better image, even if it wasn't frame-filling in camera (though I suspect this may be a crop,) but if you'd have used the right lens, then you'd have a salable image. The Jelly Fish is difficult to tell if the blur is distortion, subject or photographer motion or a combination. The whale is probably photographer motion- I don't see an obvious focus point miss- but two more stops of shutter speed would have been able to take away most, if not all of it- as you'd have been at 1/2000th of a second.

    Overall your gallery is nice, there's room for improvement, but that's true of anyone. You might watch your verticals more with the architecture and the backgrounds in close-up shots, as well as what's cut off overall. A double-bubble would do wonders- and with those two tips get you from nice pictures to great pictures. Since you didn't ask for a critique, I'll stop at that.

    Anyway, my point continues to be that better lenses are a much better investment than a better body- nothing you've posted couldn't have looked just as well taken with a cheaper body- at least at Web resolution, but I really don't see anything that's indicative of needing a high-end body- so if you're going to spend, why not on good glass that lasts versus a body that won't?

Share This Page