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Shopping for Lenses

In addition to focal length, maximum aperture, and minimum focusing distance, lenses can vary by size, shape, weight, the material they’re made of (plastic or glass), advanced features such as “vibration reduction” (to help with stabilization), and even their ability to auto focus (not all lenses can, so don’t assume). As you can see in Figure 4.13, lenses can also vary in color!


FIGURE 4.13 Various lenses range in size, shape, color, capability, and price.

Of course, all these variables also mean lenses can range dramatically in price, starting anywhere from around $50 to well over $25,000 each. Generally speaking, the larger the maximum aperture value and the greater the focal length, the more expensive the lens tends to be.

When trying to figure out which lens is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kinds of things do you plan to photograph? Do you like to shoot portraits, or are you more of a landscape person?
  • What kind of environment will you most likely be photographing in? Do you tend to shoot in bright, outdoor situations? Or are you more often in darker, low-light environments?
  • Do you need a collection of specialty lenses with very wide apertures or maybe a macro lens? Or would a more general, multipurpose lens be a better fit?
  • Do you always find yourself zooming in and wishing you could get even closer? Or do you prefer the look of images shot at wider focal lengths?

If you tend to do a lot of shooting when you travel, be sure to consider the impact that carrying around multiple lenses might have on your mobility. I’ve found that, in many cases, the more gear I take with me on personal trips, the less I end up shooting because carrying everything around is often a royal pain (you may have noticed that most of the travel photos seen in this book were captured with a compact point-and-shoot camera).

Striking a balance between having the right gear for the occasion while still feeling comfortable is often the key.

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