Conference On The Choice Of a Camera Lens

Continue conferences of the living room of the Photo with this time… myself, where I’m talking about the choice of a goal, problematic I know very common among you all, so much so that it was worth to write an eBook on the subject (updated Sunday 1st February 2015!), then fit in paper editions Eyrolles.

Hello to all, re Hello all, and for some, re re re Hello all.

In this lecture, I will talk, as its name suggests, the choice of a goal.

Before that, I’ll introduce myself, because there may be some who have discovered the stand: my name is Laurent Breillat and I host the blog learn photography, on which, as its name suggests, I give my advice to progress and have fun in photo since June 2010.

In July 2013 I have published two books editions Eyrolles called ‘choose the ideal goal for his Canon DSLR’ and also a Nikon version.

It is the subject that I will address today trying to make a quick overview of what it is useful to know and understand to make his choice.

I say quick overview, as you can imagine, if I wrote a book 165 pages on the subject, it is impossible to summarize everything in 15-20 minutes, but I’ll try to give you the key.

Note that my books are intended for SLR Cameras Canon and Nikon because that obviously this is where there are more readers, but that the principles I’ll talk to you are absolutely valid for any camera with interchangeable lenses, all SLRs, Pentax and Sony also. It is also valid for hybrids, only to do a little calculation that I will explain later. So don’t worry, even if you don’t have neither Canon nor Nikon, these tips are valid even when.

The problem of the choice of a goal, it’s something that comes up very often in the questions posed photography enthusiasts – I get dozens of emails every day and it’s something that comes up often – super and this is understandable because there are more than 150 goals available for Canon or Nikon DSLR – even for other brands – including those third-party marks Tamron , Sigma, etc., and without the right approach, it’s hard to get by in the choice without wanting to scream because it’s really a big headache.

Why must he choose?

Objectives often represent a certain investment, it is far from free. If you had unlimited funds, you would just have to buy all the possible objectives and you have everything you need for all your potential, hypothetical and future needs.

Only here, we must be a compromise between budget and other constraints such as, for example, weight, space, and what is expected of a goal – it’s still important.

That’s what I’m going to help you make today, the right compromise between all these constraints here and your needs.

Having a good approach

I spoke just before good approach, voluntarily. I insist on the term “approach” because it’s the most important thing.

Indeed, I am often asked questions of the type ‘what is the best lens between this and this,’ ‘ what is the best lens for landscape? “- it’s already a better question-, but it is a question to which there is rarely an answer because it often takes more details. Without details, a very general question like that didn’t make sense. But that’s forgivable, the news found usually are often focused on “what is the best lens”, not necessarily over another, but in any case without thinking of the needs.

Define its needs

Why I speak of needs? Because it’s important. This is the first question that must be asked, it’s really the basis. A goal is better than another than if it better meets your needs. It cannot be said that a 16-35 top of the range is better than a 75-300 entry-level in the absolute. It has no sense, because trying to make the animal with a 16-35: good luck. You will have a better result with a goal in 200 with a goal in 2000 because he will be certainly more suitable. So your needs, this is the first step.

I caricature voluntarily, a 16-35 and one 75-300 is extremely different, but this is to make it clear to know for what purpose you want to buy a new lens:

-What is simply to replace your the kit zoom because you find that it lacks a bit of quality?

Is that what it is to have better optical quality than what you currently have with an goal?

-What is to have a perspective that is more specialized in a particular area of the picture, be it landscape, portrait, macro, animal photo, the photo in low light?

Only you can answer that question, but it is really fundamental, because is your response that will greatly facilitate your choice.

In addition, need a global vision about what you want to do. For example, I recently had an email from someone telling me to want a goal more for some landscape – OK – and a wide-angle objective to make the macro, with a budget of about 800-900 euros. It’s already a good budget. For this price, what would I advise him? I could advise him an excellent wide-angle, I could advise him an excellent macro lens, or so, I could recommend a good macro lens and a good wide-angle lens. It may not be ‘best in the world for professionals objectives’, but he probably will be more fun to be able to exercise without pain her two main areas, and it is quite likely that he doesn’t see the difference with the objectives really very pros that are much more expensive.

We must have a global vision of its needs and to say that if you have a budget, we don’t use it in two? Try to ask this question here.

The first step is precisely identify your needs, but also your budget – because sometimes people say between 500 and 1,000 euros, but it is 500 or 1000 euros? Because even when it changes things. Often, if they say “it’s good, it’s 900 euros” people say ‘ Yes, but it’s a little expensive, finally “, so the idea is to identify also his budget and then its possible constraints.

It is important, especially the weight, for those who carry their equipment on a trip or hiking. Many people take advantage of from somewhere to make photos; of course, landscape pictures, when you live in Paris, is not always easy, so we take advantage of the travel, you’re travelling with and when you’re travelling, the weight is important. If eventually no longer take the camera because it’s too heavy, it is not worth. So consider this criterion there too.

And he must also, possibly, make priorities. What for? Because, if you for example 300 euros of budget, we probably have to choose one goal for one practice and to postpone your other wishes. If you want to do 3-4 different photo practices, with one goal it will sometimes be difficult and especially, when you have a limited budget, it won’t be possible and we have to make it a priority and really know what practice photo you want to push a little further.

Once you’ve done this, you can determine the photographic constraints associated with your need.

I have details for you in the book, but I can give you one or two examples so that you understand what I mean.

For example, for portrait, you need not to distort the face of the subject, because in general, the idea is to make beautiful – Let’s avoid that people seem to have a nose of four meters-, and often a blurred background. You may not always going a blurred background, but you will love the opportunity to do so.

For wildlife photography, you mainly need to strongly grow your subject – fat is not the best term, in any case visually bring it closer to be larger in the frame-, and possibly work in low light if you want to work in the forest, for example. It will depend on your practice, but if you can work in low light you’ll be more versatile animal picture.

If you take the photograph of landscape, for example, you want to have a wide-angle of view and, on the other hand, you may not have specially need for a blurry background, as in landscape is actually quite rarely, so the test that goes less count.

I’ll be back on the technical right after criteria.

We’ll be back on that involve these constraints, technically, in the choice of the goal just after, because he must first take stock of these essential technical features, let me explain a little bit what it is so that you understand why they are important.

I detail them in the book long enough so that you are able to fend you for yourself and that you understand my selection of optics.

Because that the purpose is not to tell you “you want to landscape, buy it”, it didn’t make sense, but is that you understand why you should buy this, or type optical. Otherwise, you’re going to go to FNAC, you say ‘I want it’ and the guy will answer, ‘is more in stock’ and it will try to sell you something else, and it may not be the best thing. Because it is seller FNAC and not necessarily photographer, it has not necessarily does either – it’s not only his fault, I don’t blame sellers FNAC or other. The important thing is to know why we buy a goal.

The focal length

To begin, we will evacuate the simplest question, but also the most obvious, is the question of the focal length.

The so-called focal, or sometimes focal length short, that’s what you call maybe fluent the zoom. This isn’t the best term, it’s quite improper and experts will bounce if I’m talking about Zoom, but basically, if you zoom in you increase the focal length. It will create two effects: you’ll see below – for example, gentleman over there, I’ll see your face if I Zoom in, however I have a smaller field of view, I see that you, I don’t see people around. Conversely, a wide-angle, if I photograph with a very wide-angle, I see from here to there, I’ll see more things, I have a field of view wider, but subjects are less close together, because you, I’ll see you in more small in the frame.

It’s the difference between what is called a telephoto lens where you can see far, but in a way reduced, and a wide angle where you can see not far, but much more broadly.

I’ll show you some examples of focal length to give you an idea. Here, I’m talking equivalent 24-36, I’ll explain after what it is exactly.

This is the grand place in Lille, is my home. It is the 28 mm, a lens is relatively wide-angle; We can see the place, we see pedestrians, all the buildings around, and the statue in the Middle, you see, it is present, but it is not very big in the picture.

90 mm, it’s called a small telephoto and I already have the retail. You can see the detail of the image corresponds to the center of the first photo and we got a good part.

200 mm here, you can really see the statue only, she takes an important place in the image. That’s the difference it makes in terms of focal length.

This focal length, it is obvious that it will play a role in the choice of your objective, the proposed photo practice. If you need to see wide for landscape, you will choose what is called a short focal length, which is a wide-angle. Conversely, if you need to zoom a lot, “see below”, you have the right to choose what is called a long lens, so a telephoto lens.

It may seem basic to some, but it is a useful reminder because you have to get everyone on the same level, because it really is the basis in the choice of a goal: what focal length we’ll choose? And it depends on your use, as I have said before. (I will return after the details.)

The size of the sensor

Then, we must understand a concept a tad more complex – hang in there, but you will see that it is not that complicated. It is impossible to do a course on each term, but I’ll try to be brief and to speak directly of the concrete and the consequences it has for you.

Basically, with a common goal, more the size of the sensor will be reduced, more apparent focal length will increase.

To be very clear on a sensor full-frame – so quite expensive, to reflex – simple, when you put a 50 mm on your full format, it will behave like a 50 mm. It’s what we call a ‘normal’ lens, which means that you have a close view of human vision. What does that mean? This means that when you set your camera to the eye, you won’t feel either see squarely on the sides like a horse, to see very far. You are going to have a fairly intuitive vision. It, it’s a 50 mm on a full frame.

You put exactly the same purpose on a sensor known as APS – C – it is a slightly smaller format that is on the very vast majority of SLRs – the apparent focal length will increase a little. She’s going to be about 1.5 times (1.6 Canon, I’ll spare you the details, it’s not very important), so it will match a 75 mm on full frame. That is, if you put a 50 mm on an APS – C, you will have the same framework as a 75 mm on a full frame. It means that you have an image that’s going to be a little telephoto lens and you’ll see a little further, but you’ll have a smaller field of view.

On the Micro 4/3, fitted to a lot of hybrids, hybrids including Panasonic and Olympus, this focal length will be multiplied by 2. So if you have a top 20 mm lens, a 40 mm so something close enough, there also, ‘normal’ focal length of human vision.

That’s why I gave you this little chart summing well.

So it’s important when choosing its objective to say that the sensor size is still important. That’s why we can say that the 50 mm is close to human vision, but on an APS – C is much less close to human vision, so you must think also.

I’ll take another example. Let’s say you want a ultra wide angle, so a lens with a focal length very very short, to photograph the vastness of the landscape. You really want to see the whole valley which spreads out before you. With a normal wide-angle lens, you can see it, but we may not see the mountain on the side, so you want something of really very broad. On full frame, a goal like a 16-35 mm, for example, will fill very well this task, because a 16-35 mm is really the King zoom to make the very wide-angle on full frame, it’s perfect.

On the other hand, you put this 16-35 mm on an APS – C, gives a 24-53 mm and 24 mm, is not bad, it’s wide-angle, but it’s not ultra wide-angle and you might not see your mountains on the sides. So to do attention when we choose, because maybe you’ll read somewhere that a 16-35 mm is a great ultra wide-angle, and it’s true, but is a very good ultra wide-angle on full frame; on APS – C, it’s a very good wide-angle. It’s a slightly different use.

Another question I am often asked, is “- what to take a 24-70 f/2.8, or something like that, on an APS – C? On a full frame, a 24-70 f/2.8, it is well, you have a true wide-angle and so you have a little telephoto, I’m going to take everyone, here, at roughly this angle of vision, or I can take a portrait of madame in front, with a 70 mm, with the same goal. But you put the same thing on an APS – C, makes a 35-105, something like that, and there is a bit more complicated, because with a 35 I have a vision like that, so it’ll already be less versatile, including for the landscape, it’s a little tight, so I will have a 105 however I’m going to take a very tight portrait of madame , but it will be less versatile because, suddenly, you will have less wide angles. So be a little careful, this isn’t because the 24-70 is an excellent lens in itself – which generally is the case – that it is necessarily suited.

That’s why there are special targets for the APS – C sensors, really made for that, for example, like, 17-50 and when we multiply by 1.5 17-50, guess what? Makes about 24-70; It is not for nothing, it is to give the same focal range on an APS – C that can have on a 24-70 on a full frame.

The maximum aperture

The point to be really attentive, and which is equally important, is the maximum aperture of the lens.

Reminder, the opening is one of the three parameters which allow to adjust the exposure of a photo. There is the opening, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity. More this opening is going to be great, the more light that will enter the unit. Why would I say that to you? Because the maximum aperture that you can use on your device is determined by the objective. Not by the unit, it has nothing to do; It is determined by the objective.

A large maximum aperture will serve you for two things:

First in low light, when you don’t have a lot of light you will be able to get more into the device. You will have photos exposed, not too dark, or in any case not blurred. Because it can happen with a lens that has a small opening to have pictures too blurry or too dark, or even downright both.

And she was a kind of double effect Heloo, is that openness will allow you to have a shallow depth of field. If I do the update, on the computer, I’m going to blur behind, I won’t see the folks in front. So it allows you to have a shallow depth of field which is an effect that can search or not, but in any case we have the opportunity to do. It doesn’t mean that we can’t close his diaphragm to have a large depth of field, in any case, it is possible to do.

That is why the maximum aperture is really important in the choice of your goal, because it will still determine your choice in a lot of situations.

The low depth of field, I forgot that I had given you a small example. That is what is happening at f/1.4, it’s really a very large opening. I did the update here, I already have the foreground that is blurry and I have my background which is blurry too. The keys of the piano, inside – we know it is the piano keys, we’re not stupid either-, we guess them well, but they are blurry. And if I take the same picture with exactly the same objective at f/11, you see that the button on the front is sharp, I did the update co-located, it is useful to clarify, but the keys are net to the bottom. That’s the difference we do between a large and a small opening. It is taken with the same lens, the lens opens up to 1.4, but it is able to close at f/11 if necessary. It simply gives the possibility to do so. More creative possibilities, in fact.

The stabilization

Last little test I want to briefly, it is stabilizing.

Put very simply, from a certain shutter speed is pretty slow, you’re going to shake blur. Shake blur is due to something simple, when you hold your camera, in fact you are not stable. You have the impression of being stable, but you’re shaking a bit – even if you don’t smoke and you don’t drink coffee. This speed from which you have shake blur, it mainly depends on the focal length – I get you the calculation because it is not today’s topic. I want you to remember, it’s more the focal length is long, so more you’re going to see far and reduced way, most likely you have a blur of shake equal shutter speed value.

Stabilization is a device that will help combat this blur from camera shake. How? Simply, if you move a little down, goes a bit up. In fact, it detects your movements and it does the opposite.

Stabilization is a device that helps to combat camera shake blur and you can take pictures at speeds that are 1 to 4 times slower than what you could do without, and all that without blur from camera shake. The idea is to not have.

Why 1-4 times? Because the devices are more or less effective depending on the objectives. It is clear that stability on a target at 300 euros and a goal to 2,000, in general, there is a small difference. So on the objectives very upscale, you can photograph at very slow speeds. For example, on a 70-200 from Canon, at 200 mm where we should shoot at least at 1/200, or even a little more, sometimes photographing until 1: 25. Not all the shots without blur of shake, but in any case with a fairly high percentage of success. So we can get down low enough and win light.

This stabilization will serve you if you often work in low light, and it will serve you even more if you have a long lens. If you have something very wide-angle, I would not say that it is useless, but you need a lot less pressing. Let’s say if you have a telephoto lens, stabilization is going to be a test that will get a little more into account. You will say “If there is not, could a problem at a time. On a wide-angle, at the limit, it will be less of a problem.

Last thing, if your subject is fast, it won’t help to freeze the subject. Since, freeze the subject, to a fast shutter speed and you can have stability, it compensates your movements to you, and if your subject is five meters to the right, you will have not the device that will jump you hands and do five meters right to follow the subject. It is important to think about, because sometimes people say “I take pictures in low light, I have subjects that are blurred because they move, should I take the stabilization? It doesn’t help that, it’ll offset the blur of shake of the photographer, but not to compensate for shake the subject blur.

Short summary of these characteristics and these methods.

There are other features in the choice of a goal I will not detail in full today, I return to the method and tell you where to take the problem.

1 – Determine for what purpose you need a goal. Or several objectives, possibly, if you have several uses.

2 – Determine the budget that you are willing to spend, your desire for lightness or small size possible (in general the two go together).

And eventually, you make priorities if you have several practices in mind, because sometimes it may be needed.

3 – Determine what are the constraints of usage which we talk and so, what are the characteristics of the goal you need.

I return to what I was saying, the portrait, I need a blurred background, so large maximum aperture, because that’s how we can do; I need to not distort the faces, so if I want to do a portrait tight (because it distorts the faces as you approach) and I too wide-angle, I have to get a lot to do so it is not suitable. On the other hand, if I take a small telephoto, I won’t have to get too close to make a tight portrait and then it will be suitable. So to make the portrait I’ll choose a little telephoto lens with a large aperture.

To make the landscape, I want something of very very wide-angle, and, for once, the maximum opening will less count. Because, finally, in landscape we’re going little blur of background, so the maximum aperture is fewer.

It does not mean that everything is just the landscape with low openings, but in any case it is less important as a criterion.

  1. you will much reduce the choice, you don’t have to choose the best quality optics/price, the goal that will give you the best optical quality, the best image quality for the price you are willing to spend.

There are other criteria that can go into account, including the speed of the autofocus. For example, if you make pictures of moving subjects, in concert, sports, even reportage, sometimes, it can still be important to have a device with a fast focus. It is influenced by the unit and the goal, it’s two accounts, but still.

There may be need of construction (so-called) tropicalized, i.e. not waterproof – do not throw in water-, but resistant to bad weather. Might be nice if you work, like Alban, you’re going to rain in Iceland, it can be nice to have a tropical construction. It depends on your needs, if you make the picture in the studio, the tropicalization, cares completely; you aren’t going to have rain that will fall in your studio, in any case I hope.

It may seem complicated, like that, but if you need a hand, I take you hand, step by step, in my book in which I detail everything more deeply; all that is both the technical criteria I mentioned you (focal lengths, maximum apertures, etc.), but also on the choice of the goal for each photo practice. I have a Canon, I have a Nikon.

I will ask one to show you a bit as there are in it, but essentially, you see, for example, I have pages on landscape photography, I explain what are the constraints to be overcome – that is what are my constraints in a landscape, what can any trouble on the field. For example, if I don’t have an enough wide-angle, should see more on the sides. So, what kind of perspective you need. Like I said for the portrait, a little telephoto lens with a large aperture. This is the type of goal in General, without any model in particular. And then there’s tables: depending on the size of the sensor, it is important, and according to the budget, it is also important, with a selection of lenses that are best for these needs there.

That is if you do not want to spend 20 years on test sites to watch graphs about which one is better; Basically, he must watch the tables, because it is in the tables that I tell you which one is better. I did the job for you and tell you directly what purpose choose for what need. I’m not one choice, because there is not one choice that is good, never. It depends on the budget, but it also depends on other criteria.

Basically, I give you tables of choice and at the end of the book you have sheets with objectives that allow you to see a little the average price, the average price of opportunity, and some nice data, type the weight (which is important) and allows you to know what you’re going to buy back.

And I got two small parts on the savings bonus, because it is a bit expensive, it, so how to try to pay for its slightly less expensive materials. And then the maintenance of his equipment, because when it comes to buy a lens, the idea is to keep a small time.

I can’t sell you my books myself, if you want to buy it, go on the great library of the lounge which is at the bottom right.

Further, two things:

First, you can ask your questions, now – I had put a dedication between 12.30 and 14 hours for the conference I made yesterday, here today it will be rather right away for those who already have the book-, and then,.

You can find me on my blog called learn photography, as I said earlier, but I think that now you understood.

I thank you, and do not hesitate if you have any questions.

Who has questions about the choice of a goal? Even a particular issue, on a particular goal, or a situation.

Because I have lot of questions by email, every day, so it seems fairly likely that no one has issue, and more by coming here. Unless I was extremely clear and you have no more questions.…

Laurent: Asked me an excellent question: we wonder if all the goals are compatible between different brands and if past analogue objectives are compatible. It is not at all stupid, because there is no simple answer to this question.

First, it is organized by frame, that is, on a Nikon DSLR, we’ll put goals with a Nikon mount. So we’ll be able to put objectives Nikon, obviously, and the objectives of the third-party brands, so Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Samyong, etc., which have objectives in Nikon mount. Sometimes the same in Nikon mount, in Canon mount, etc., so we must choose the Nikon mount, of course to put on the Nikon DSLRs. On the other hand, will go on Canon lenses.

Sometimes there are exceptions to this, in hybrids for example. Panasonic and Olympus decided to be smart and to collaborate on a standard called the Micro 4/3 and both have the same mount. That is, you can climb the Olympus Micro 4/3 camera Panasonic Micro 4/3 lenses and vice versa. It’s interesting because, suddenly, there are more lenses available.

But overall, we must think in terms of Mount.

What the film objectives depends on much. At Canon, no, because they completely changed horse when they passed… – so, there are still some film SLR in EF mounts (the name of the mount is Canon EF) in the old film Canon, there’s a FD mount. Nikon, it is more or less consistent over time. I.e. that they tried to keep compatibility, sometimes the auto focus does not work with older analogue lenses, sometimes Yes; compatibility with old Nikon lenses is a bit complex. Even recently, there are the objectives where it is marked D in the name that did not update the auto focus with some newer Nikon cameras, including DSLRs of the series something D3000, D3100 D3200 D3000 and D5000 something. So there, take the objectives with the G in the name. I talk about in the Nikon version, I did a special paragraph for these things here because there are plenty of people who have been having when this problem started and find themselves with targets who do not have the auto focus, which is still annoying.

For other brands, Pentax very well kept compatibility over time, so in general, if you have an old Pentax lens, it works very well on a DSLR Pentax of today.

And Sony, Minolta objectives of before – since they bought Minolta – it might work, but then also it depends on, so try, but overall there is not always compatible with the older lenses. But it can happen, it depends on the brand.

…: A unique lens to single opening, for example 2.8, it can also close or it will never open to 2.8?

Laurent: absolutely. When it comes to constant aperture, often, it means that it is its maximum aperture. So he can open up to f/2.8, it cannot open more – it can not open to 1.4, for example – on the other hand, can be closed. Just set on the device when in Aperture priority or manual, or even program mode (to some extent) you can set the aperture. If you want to open more than f/2.8, it won’t, we can turn the wheel all we want, it won’t work. If you want to close more, on the other hand, there is no problem. Then, it also has a minimum opening, but in general, we never so far because it’s often f/22 or f/32, and often on minimum opening there is a phenomenon called diffraction which decreases the quality of the images so often we try not to go so far. We stop at f/16 in the majority of situations.

Laurent: I’m asked on a trip should take his DSLR and its objectives or if it is better to take a compact or bridge. Personally, on a trip I took the party to hybrids, because it seems to be a good compromise. I like being able to change lenses, because it gives more possibilities, which is not possible on compact or bridge, and I like having a large sensor also, because it also gives more possibilities, which is not possible on compact or bridge. It starts to be compact with large sensor, but it’s still anecdotal. And so I chose the hybrid which is a bit the best of both worlds, for me, because there are still relatively large sensors; I have a Micro 4/3 – then it’s smaller than APS – C, but it’s still relatively large and it allows to have performance in low light quite correct and to have a depth of field-, and I’m travelling with a small hybrid called the GX1 Panasonic and I have with me three goals more filters that fit into a small bag not great. I can even put a hat, a scarf or something according to time, limited a little thin travel guide, if I need, so I still have the place. And both, I lightly, still, because for me, take a SLR with three goals today on a trip, it’s out of the question for what I do. Because I didn’t want to carry trekking 4 days with 5 pounds of camera. There are those who can do, and so much better for them, but really this isn’t what I want to do. So I have the lightness and at the same time I keep the quality behind.

That’s what I chose for the trip, because it seems the best compromise today.

Lawrence: We wonder if the hybrid lenses are compatible with SLR cameras. So, no, they are not compatible. Semi-exceptions at Sony, where they tried to put the compatibility between their SLR Sony Alpha range and their range of hybrids Sony Nex, where you can mount the lens of Alpha on Nex – but I think we can set the NEX on Alpha, maybe, I don’t know exactly – there, but overall, it’s incompatible.

Here again, we reason in terms of Mount. My hybrid is a Micro 4/3, it’s a Micro 4/3 mount, it works only on the Micro 4/3 and not my DSLR.

Actually, the concern is to redeem the objectives, but after, I have smaller goals. The idea is to have a small footprint also, and have a small camera with a big top goal, it does not necessarily help. So we can reduce the overall size by buying goals which are, also, smaller.