I found myself thinking some times why someone would buy a specific lens. Well after years shooting, I now start to have a clear idea of which lens I need and why. I want to share with you my two cents.
- Ultra Wide Angles. Here it’s simple, I own a Sigma 10-20 3.5 lens, but here is the deal with UWA: if you use it for landscapes, you don’t need a zoom lens and you don’t even need an auto focus lens! For this reason, something like the Irix 15mm (Manual Focus) can be a better choice. 15mm works great on a Full Frame camera, but on APS-C you may want something wider. For Interiors a 10mm is often needed on APS-C. However, you don’t always need an UWA for landscape, UWA are very useful for very specific landscape shots, where you want the Foreground, Middle ground and Background pop out all together in the same shot. However, when you want to flat perspective and therefore shoot landscape in a novel way, Tele with a focal longer than 300mm can be actually very interesting to use for landscapes. A normal lens (between 35 and 50mm) can instead be used for stitching panoramas.
- The 35mm on Full Frame and 24mm on APS-C is the excellence for street photography. Even in this case I don’t really need auto focus.
- For the every day, project-less, walks, you can use with success a simple “do-it-all” lens. My favourite is 28-105 range on Full Frame and 18-135 range on APS-C. the 28-105 on APS-C would be equivalent to a 17-70, but some times those additional mm can be handy.
- wide aperture 50mm is great for portrait on Full Frame. It should be very good for on APS-C as well, but I never really liked when I used it on APS-C.
- Zoom lenses can be used with success for portraits nowadays. On APS-C a 50-150 2.8 is always a great choice and it is equivalent to the 70-200 on full frame. I wouldn’t use a 70-200 on APS-C at all and in any case. The wide aperture is needed to achieve a nice bokeh effect which is always good on portraits.
- Prime lenses are great for portraits too! Actually few years ago they were the main choice for it. I am currently torn between using prime lens or not for Portrait. Primes are just a lot of fun! However the zoom can be more practical and eventually a cheaper solution. Good prime lenses are very expensive. So far I shot only with 50mm and 100mm primes, but usually the range between 70mm and 85mm is commonly used on Full Frame. This starts to become a matter of subjective preference, maybe the best is to start with a zoom and use it as a fixed lens to see which focal is the preferred one. I would shoot different projects at 50mm, 70mm, 85mm, 100mm on Full Frame and decide which focal is the best. I personally prefer to move around than using the zoom as it makes easier to find different angles.
- Everything above 200 mm is considered a Tele and, well, I never really used it. For wild animals photography I have been told that you need at least a 400mm or more. Not my field.
- I am not an expert of Macros either, I have a 100mm Macro lens which I use more for portraits. Macro is a completely different world and it takes a lot of time, knowledge and passion to get it right. I just don’t have enough time or interest to pursue it.