Lens Buying Guidance…..

1 month ago 1
Posted in: Uncategorized

 

I got an email yesterday that I decided to answer with this blog entry,  so, thank you Steve!  The question was; “How do I decide on whether to buy a new lens or not?  That’s a good question and one that deserves a thorough answer!

 

FIRST:  Lenses are not cheap!!!!  They can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, or more!  Depending on your financial situation, it’s a big decision.

 

SECOND: You can only carry so many, so it matters that what you buy, is something you will actually carry and use!    * Caveat: I’ve broken that rule many times myself!

 

THIRD Do you really need it?  This is a tough one becasue we often make “want” the equivalent of “need”!

 

So, let’s consider that you have already determined that you can Afford it, will Carry it, and really Need it!  On what basis do you know you are getting a good lens?  Here are a few tips:

 

A.  Listen to others that own the lens, or people that have tested it say.  I have a few sources that i trust to do real testing of lenses and I often consult them early in the hunt.  (DP Review, opticallimits.com, dxomark.com)  Lenses develop reputations and often your freinds who own a particualr lens will be a good judge of how good it is optically.

 

B. How well is it constructed?  After all, the lens is the most used part of your camera system and if you are a heavy user, mechancial quality will really matter down the road after years of use.  Grasp the mount end of the lens and the lens barrell and gently twsit it to see if their is much give or flex in the lens.  If there is now, new, it will likely be loosey goosey in a few months or years of hard use, avoid these lenses.  The lens body and barrell should be metal or a very high quality polycarbonite material.  The mount should always be of the best metal materials and afixed to the lens with several screws, I prefer 4 or 5 to give lateral strength.

 

How many aperture blades does it have and how rounded is the aperture pattern when stopped down?  This is very important to the avoiding of chances of defraction.

 

Does the lens have quality multi-coating on it’s elements?  Does it have a lens hood?

 

C. How to buy a lens.  This is my advice, take it for what it’s worth.  Find a dealer that allows returns so you cna buy the lens and carefully test it before you decide to keep it or not.  Treat the lens as if your best friend loaned it to you and you intend to return it like new!  This will allow you to know if the lens is going to fulfill your needs!

 

D. Once you buy your lens take good care of it.  Protect it in your camera bag or backpack.  Keep it clean, but don’t over clean it, optical glass will often be fine with just a blower to get the dust off.

 

Well that’s it, buy good lenses, use the ones that work for you and try to keep it down to a few, unlike me!!!

 

Blessings,

 

the pilgrim

One Response

  1. Dick Ginkowski says:

    Some sage advice from an old sage!

    We are all experts in our own stories. One of mine is that I try to “focus” on a smaller stable of versatile but quality lenses; in fact, I have one of my 18-135mm “permanently” on a body so that it’s always ready to go. I can add diopters if I want to do macro with it. I normally keep a circular polarizer on it as well and have some grads to use as needed. The 10-24 and 100-400 with extension tubes and the 1.4x can also be stretched for multiple uses. Fewer lenses to carry.

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