Earthbound Light - Nature Photography from the Pacific Northwest and beyond by Bob Johnson
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The Best Lens

From time to time, I get emails from people asking about the lenses I use to produce the images on this site. The truth is, I use lenses ranging from 18mm up to 500mm (and longer using teleconverters). Each lens produces a unique perspective on the world and is useful when the need arises.

Sometimes, I even get asked, "What is the best lens?" As far as I'm concerned, this is clearly the lens you have and use. After all, the only pictures you can take — good or bad — are with the lenses you have. Yet I have met more than one person who is unduly concerned with the statistics of lenses they don't own. So long as you stick with original equipment lenses (Nikon, in my case) or the major third-party manufacturers, you should have no problem creating good images — or at least it won't be your lenses that are the limiting factor. Only after you have honed your technique sufficiently with your current lenses should you consider getting new ones.

Learn to use the lenses you've got. Learn how they see things and what they're strengths and weaknesses are. Get to know your lenses. Making friends with them can go a long way towards improving your photography.

Update: I've had the Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 AFS for some while now, so I now use lenses from 17mm (rather than just 18mm) up to 500mm. I may not always catch these sort of updates, but at least I caught this one.

Another update: Make that 12mm up to 500mm now that Nikon has released their 12-24mm DX lens for digital. Due to the 1.5x cropping factor on the D100, it's still the same field of view as I used to have, but it sure sounds impressive, doesn't it? And it's great to get that ultra-wide perspective back — I've missed that with digital!

Yet another update: Forgot to update this when I got the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye. A fun lens indeed. I've also swapped my Nikon 500mm AFS II for the new 200-400mm AFS VR. Teleconverters still get me plenty of reach when I need longer.

Date posted: November 18, 2001 (updated February 26, 2006)


Copyright © 2001, 2006 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Related articles:
What is the Best Aperture to Use?
Why f/2.8?

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