Photographer's FAQ: Lenses

So I've talked about what cameras I use, but there's another component to my equipment.

What lenses do you use?

I have a camera kit that currently employs all Nikon Nikkor brand lenses.  I figure if I'm going to buy glass, I should get the best kind I can, take care of it, and pay for it once.  There are other good off-brand lenses out there such as Tamron and Sigma, but like I said, I just went for broke.

I have a number of lenses for different purposes.  My most used lens is probably my 70-200mm f2.8 VRII which falls under the telephoto zoom category.  This big boy has never let me down and I use it for just about everything out on the water when my subject is further away.  It can get all the way down to f2.8 and VR refers to Nikon's Vibration Reduction technology (Canon calls it IS or Image Stabilization).  VRII is the second generation of this technology and is perfect for helping keep images sharp when handholing (however, this technology is not perfect and will not work well at speeds faster than about 1/500th second, which is the technology's sampling rate).  

I couple it with the TC-20E 2.0x teleconverter to give it an extra boost in zoom, making it effectively a 140-400mm lens.  This comes in especially handy for sailing events when I want to get nice tight shots but not get in any competitors' way!  This also gives me the reach of up to 400mm without any noticeable loss of quality, and without the $5,000 price tag of a separate lens at that size.

When it comes to so called "normal" lenses, called such because their optics most accurately replicate how our eyes perceive depth, would be my fixed 50mm f1.8.  This is not a zoom lens but I love it for walking around!  And it's also great for taking portraits.  It is capable of extremely shallow depth of field, creating some great aesthetics.  I don't have a mid-range zoom yet, but that's on my wish list.

I also have a wide angle zoom lens, the 16-35mm f4 by Nikon.  I use this mostly for closeup work and landscapes where I want a wide field of view.  I chose this over the 14-24mm f2.8 counterpart, Nikon's other wide angle zoom, because my lens is capable of using filters where the 14-24mm is not.  This comes in handy for seascape work and long exposures where filters can help control how light enters the lens, allowing me to use longer shutter speeds in brighter light, or darkening only the sky and not the whole frame.

There's also a specialty lens I keep in my kit, the Lensbaby Spark, a nifty little point focus lens that's rather inexpensive and fun for more creative work.  Point focus refers to the fact that only the point you focus on will be sharp, as opposed to other lenses that focus on a plane and everything from edge to edge of your frame that falls on that plane will be sharp.  I don't use this lens too much, but I have played around with it a bit and it is a nice break from the norm!

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