October 19, 2016

My Lens Collection

I’ve always enjoyed reading what equipment other photographers use, so I thought I’d put together my own. I should point out that I’m currently shooting with the Nikon 5100 which, I believe, is considered the entry level DSLR. It’s a crop sensor, and while I’ve toyed with the idea of full frame, I doubt I’ll ever make the plunge. I’ve subscribed to the it’s-all-about-the-lenses philosophy, and have the focal lengths that work well with my crop sensor. I’d have to buy a whole new set of lenses for a full sensor, which would be really silly at this point given there there are crop sensor cameras of comparable quality. I do plan on upgrading to a mid range DSLR, like the 7000 series.

So here are the lens I currently own:

35mm f/1.8 ($200)
This has become my go to lens for indoor photography. On a crop sensor what you see through the view finder is more or less the same perspective you see with the naked eye. When the kids were small I’d use this lens so I could be physically close, and still capture everything I wanted to on frame. There can be a little bit of a distortion effect shooting so close, although I hardly ever notice it.

nicole_portrait_sm

If you buy only one lens, and you have a crop sensor, this is the lens I recommend. It’s the most versatile.

50mm f/1.4 ($450)
This is the first ever lens I purchased, and one I really should use more often. It takes beautiful portraits (equivalent to the 85mm), but it can be really difficult to use in doors since you have to stand so far back. Almost all of my favorite photos were shot with the 50mm.

alexis_face

I also really enjoy the light shaping (bokeh) capabilities with this lens.

60mm f/2.8 Macro ($600)

Jewlery, bugs, flowers, this lens is great for all things tiny. It also works as a good portrait prime lens, though I generally prefer the 50mm for it’s wide aperture. This lens is the one I use the least out of all of them, but it’s also the most specialized. Pre-baby Sarah definitely got more use out of it than post-baby Sarah.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (free, came with the camera)
Believe it or not, I use this as my “selfie” lens before I had a camera phone. At 18mm focal length, you can turn the camera around, stretch your arm all the way out and take a photo of your face. It’s great for travel when you don’t have a smart phone. There is a distortion effect, but I don’t mind. I actually think the distortion made my face look a little thinner.

greatwall

It’s also a great lens for getting light stars. The slower the shutter speed (and thus longer the exposure) the better the stars. This kit lens is what I used to take my favorite newborn photos by the tree.

24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 ($500 new, $350 refurbished)

This is my go to lens for photographic the kids while playing out back, or at the park.

70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ($500 new, $300 refurbished)

For wildlife and, maybe one day, soccer practice.


$1,900 over seven years not including the camera body? Photography is an expensive hobby. That works out to about $270 a year, or $23 a month.

Overall, I’m very happy with the lens choices I’ve made. They may not be the best, pro lenses out there, but I have full confidence that failure to get the shot I’m after will be more of a user issue than an equipment one. Short of other great falls, I don’t see myself buying another lens for a very long time.

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Comments

  1. I have a relatively similar set of lenses. My current favorite though is one not in your collection (note, this is the link for the Canon version, there is also one for Nikons) – https://smile.amazon.com/Opteka-Aspherical-Fisheye-Removable-Digital/dp/B00KGE4VS2. By default I carry this and the kit lens in my camera bag. It was a great lens for shooting rockets at Kennedy Space Center or the architecture of buildings while in Prague.

    • Nice! I considered a fisheye lens, but I’m not sure what I would use it for. I joked with Domingo that I should get one while I was pregnant with Alexis for maternity photos and caption the photos “If the camera adds 10 lbs, the fisheye adds ten weeks.”

      Taking the fisheye to museums is an excellent idea. I’ll look into it when the kids are a bit older. Our museums here are not that easy to get to since we’re a ways out of the city.

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