The Four Lens System (FLS)

Started Dec 15, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Richard Murdey
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The Four Lens System (FLS)
Dec 15, 2009

Today I would like to share what I've learnt from owning five dozen lenses over Nikon and Pentax systems, and, most importantly, going through the exercise of thinning down the collection to the bare minimum.

Perhaps it's not five dozen, but it's more than four dozen and less than six...

It goes without saying that different people take different photos in different ways, so as "advice" my recommendation extends only to general walkaround photography.

If you are looking to say goodbye to zooms and embrace the prime lenes, you can buy and try 50 odd lenses or you can buy the following four (in numerical order!) and be finished:

(1) The fast standard lens. 30mm-35mm, F2 or faster. (70% use ratio)
(2) The fast medium telephoto. 70-105mm, F2.5 or faster. (20% use ratio)
(3) The wide angle. (20-24mm), F3.5 or faster (5% use ratio)

(4) The standard macro lens. Ideally 35mm, but the "old" 50-55mm macros will do in a pinch. (5% use ratio)

Any lens bought in addition to these four is either a duplicate or an "in-between" or a "special purpose" and either way most of the time sits on the shelf, unused.

Four seems to be a magic number. Less and you miss an important function, like macro, while more doesn't really give much extra. Trust me, I've been there, and I still have about 8 lenses in each system, but that's more for legacy reasons than necessity. At the end of the day you can only use one lens at a time.

My choices for Pentax:

(1) FA31 Limited. Perfection. FA35 second place, Takumar 35/3.5 in a pinch. (The fast F2 Takumars are radioactive and a pain to deal with)

(2) FA77 Limited. The DA70 is alright, and the MF 105/2.8 will do. The MF 85's are overpriced vs. the FA77 but will fit the bill if that's what you want.

(3) The DA21 gets the job done without complaint while the MF 20s and 24s are expensive and hard to find.

(4) The DA35 macro is so good it's hard to recommend anything else, though the 50/2.8 macros will also do.

 Richard Murdey's gear list:Richard Murdey's gear list
Nikon D40 Pentax K10D Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D600 Pentax smc FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited +6 more
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