Because this is a new forum with very few members from the forums I belong to, and one with a lot of questions from people who appear to be fairly new to DSLR’s I thought I’d start a discussion on picking lenses & the flaws in a lot of the internet advice out there. There is a lot more to buying the right lens than just buying the one with the best Image Quality (IQ) when tested by one of the major review sites. Fixed focal length (primes) will almost always get the higher rating when compared to zooms, and in general the more expensive lenses will get the higher rankings. That’s all well & good but very few of us have the required skill set & technique to get even close to to the last few percent of IQ they can deliver while hand holding. If you’re strictly a tripod shooter, you may get close, but that’s not likely the case when shooting without it. Very high shutter speeds help, but you can’t rely on being able to use them for the majority of your shooting.
Relying on user reviews is helpful but that also has it’s flaws because many users don’t have good enough technique to properly evaluate their lens. Many only shoot in Auto or Program mode, and they don’t hold their camera / lens steady enough for the shutter speed the camera selects. Many don’t even know the proper way to hold a long lens, and the longer (more MM’s it covers) the more important it becomes to both hold it steady & use a higher shutter speed.
So what does this mean? I’m suggesting that far too many are trying to pick lenses that don’t fit the job at hand which is getting the shot. Zooms although lower in IQ are more versatile & offer a lot more opportunities than a sharper prime, but more importantly most of us, myself included, will be hard pressed to see that difference in our photos. That doesn’t mean you buy the cheapest version of a lens that has the range you’re shopping for, it means that you should buy the best you can afford and learn how to use it to it’s potential. Putting the purchase off until you can afford the very best in class will cost you a lot of missed photos, & some of those could have been your best work to date.
I’m sure there are other opinions on this & hopefully others will add their thoughts & experiences. I’ve gone through a lot of lenses over the last few years trying to find the very best for my needs, which aren’t mainstream, & I’ve settled on lenses many say aren’t worth buying. It’s a very good thing I didn’t give up & found out who to believe when reading user reviews at different sites.
Image Stabalizers are a very desirable feature , especially for older people like myself. Each lens maker has a different name for it but the idea is the same BUT most consumer grade lenses don't have a setting that allows you to use it while panning (tracking a moving target. IS (AKA OS, VC or VR) is primarily designed to help reduce camera shake while hand holding & shooting a stationary subject. It should be turned off when using a tripod or panning unless it has a panning mode. If it isn't turned off you'll get soft (or slightly fuzzy) images that look a little out of focus. Imagine how many bad user reviews that switch has caused. If the lens does have a panning mode switch don't forget to set it to match your intended use. With Canon lenses Mode 1 is for stationary subjects & Mode 2 is the panning mode. If your lens only has an ON / OFF switch turn IS off to pan.
I’ve gone through a lot of lenses over the last few years trying to find the very best for my needs, which aren’t mainstream, & I’ve settled on lenses many say aren’t worth buying. It’s a very good thing I didn’t give up & found out who to believe when reading user reviews at different sites.
Out of curiosity, what lenses are you shooting with?
My primary interest (as a hobby) is covering the local Radio Control events for the clubs, and it's a real challenge to do without a superzoom or very fast & accurate AF system. A 70-200 can do it, but not as well as I wanted so over the years I changed my kit from what suited nature & wildlife to what best meets my needs along the flight line. For the previous 4 summers my primary set up was a 1Ds2 with a 35-350 L along with the 100-400 L IS on either a 1D2n or 7D. Last winter I bought a 28-300 L IS & in the spring just before the events I cover started up I bought a 1D4. I installed the 100-400 L on the 7D for the most effective combination of up close to way up in the sky coverage.
Out of curiosity when things were under control as far as good event coverage I've tried both a 70-300 DO and my Tamron 18-270 VC and got pretty good results, but not as good as with my primary set up. I've also tried the older Sigma 50-500 & the 80-400 OS but their lack of a limiter switch really hurt their AF speed.
I also use photography in my day job, (auto restoration) but I could get by with a good P & S 99% of the time, & often use my G9 which I use for underwater photography. I used to write how to articles for a small publication back in the film days & they included lots of photos, but other than to document my work or do insurance appraisals photography is a hobby.
Radio Control albums are here.