All purpose lens set for beginner?

Started May 9, 2013 | Discussions
trax87
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All purpose lens set for beginner?
May 9, 2013

I consider myself a beginner photographer and most certainly a beginner with respect to interchangeable lenses.  I was going to buy a DSLR when upgrading from a P&S, but as a good bit of my photos are taken either when traveling or when just out for the day I thought a NEX made more sense because of the size, weight (especially) and convenience and so I went that route.  I do really like my NEX 6.

It was suggested to me that a good initial set of lenses for a beginner would be a fast zoom (e.g., f/2.8 18-50) a telephoto (e.g., 70-200)  preferably with a max aperture around F4 and maybe a macro lens.  This makes some sense to me as It would cover in a general way most typical shooting situations and then someone could get specialized lenses based upon their learned shooting preferences.

I have the kit 16-50 pz and the 55-210 tele zoom.  Unfortunately neither of these lenses are fast and the are no E mount zoom lenses that are faster that I am aware of.  For a beginner on a NEX system, what would be considered a good "get you feet wet" set of lenses?

dk76111
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

I would go with what you've got. It's great for beginners. If you are in dire need of a fast lens, depending on what you shoot have a look at a prime lens 50f1.8, 35f1.8 or the sigma lens.

THe 50 and sigma lenses are relatively inexpensive to get your feet wet.
By no means am I an experienced photographer. Just my take. Congrats on your purchase and enjoy.

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sjredo
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

trax87 wrote:

I consider myself a beginner photographer and most certainly a beginner with respect to interchangeable lenses.  I was going to buy a DSLR when upgrading from a P&S, but as a good bit of my photos are taken either when traveling or when just out for the day I thought a NEX made more sense because of the size, weight (especially) and convenience and so I went that route.  I do really like my NEX 6.

It was suggested to me that a good initial set of lenses for a beginner would be a fast zoom (e.g., f/2.8 18-50) a telephoto (e.g., 70-200)  preferably with a max aperture around F4 and maybe a macro lens.  This makes some sense to me as It would cover in a general way most typical shooting situations and then someone could get specialized lenses based upon their learned shooting preferences.

I have the kit 16-50 pz and the 55-210 tele zoom.  Unfortunately neither of these lenses are fast and the are no E mount zoom lenses that are faster that I am aware of.  For a beginner on a NEX system, what would be considered a good "get you feet wet" set of lenses?

Um, I really don't think there will ever be a F4 tele zoom for NEX... look at Fujis new one, its 4.8 and its pretty massive...

If you're looking for fast lenses, they'll have to be primes at the moment... SEL50, SEL35 and such. Theres a new 85mm OSS coming second half of the year.

If you really want "fast" small tele lenses, Panasonic has 12-35 & 35-100 (both F/2.8) but thats only on m4/3.

If not, you can always adapt Alpha lenses to NEX and get non-stabilized, bulky fast zooms

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

trax87 wrote:

I consider myself a beginner photographer and most certainly a beginner with respect to interchangeable lenses.  I was going to buy a DSLR when upgrading from a P&S, but as a good bit of my photos are taken either when traveling or when just out for the day I thought a NEX made more sense because of the size, weight (especially) and convenience and so I went that route.  I do really like my NEX 6.

It was suggested to me that a good initial set of lenses for a beginner would be a fast zoom (e.g., f/2.8 18-50) a telephoto (e.g., 70-200)  preferably with a max aperture around F4 and maybe a macro lens.  This makes some sense to me as It would cover in a general way most typical shooting situations and then someone could get specialized lenses based upon their learned shooting preferences.

I have the kit 16-50 pz and the 55-210 tele zoom.  Unfortunately neither of these lenses are fast and the are no E mount zoom lenses that are faster that I am aware of.  For a beginner on a NEX system, what would be considered a good "get you feet wet" set of lenses?

With zoom, you're going to have that trade-off. A fast zoom will be bigger and heavier and more expensive. A faster but variable zoom lens (like Fuji's f/2.8-4) will be slightly better but then consider whether even that premium is worth the advantage. We're looking at about 1-stop advantage, that isn't much.

Instead, consider coupling your zoom lenses (you have 18 to 210mm covered), with a fast prime or two. Either Sony 35mm f/1.8 (fast, small and light but more expensive) or Sony 50mm f/1.8 would be good choices.

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Dennis
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

trax87 wrote:

I thought a NEX made more sense because of the size, weight (especially) and convenience and so I went that route.  I do really like my NEX 6.

It was suggested to me that a good initial set of lenses for a beginner would be a fast zoom (e.g., f/2.8 18-50) a telephoto (e.g., 70-200)  preferably with a max aperture around F4 and maybe a macro lens.  This makes some sense to me as It would cover in a general way most typical shooting situations and then someone could get specialized lenses based upon their learned shooting preferences.

I have the kit 16-50 pz and the 55-210 tele zoom.  Unfortunately neither of these lenses are fast and the are no E mount zoom lenses that are faster that I am aware of.  For a beginner on a NEX system, what would be considered a good "get you feet wet" set of lenses?

I'm not sure what you're looking for ... there are no faster zooms for NEX.  You could adapt lenses from other systems (including Alpha mount lenses via the LA-EA2 adapter) but then you may as well have bought a DSLR.

The zooms are certainly slow.  Fast zooms are big, heavy and expensive.

I've never been crazy about an f/2.8 midrange zoom.  Too much of a compromise to me in terms of both range and speed.  For an event photographer who needs flexibility, they're probably essential.  I used an f/2.8 zoom (28-75) on my DSLR for quite a while before opting for a slower zoom paired up with faster primes.  On my DSLR, the motivation for the slower zoom was to get better range (5X instead of 3X zoom).  On NEX, the motiviation is to keep the zoom small.  Then the faster primes give you shallow DOF and/or better low light capabilities.

So my recommended NEX kit is:

18-55 or 16-50
55-200 or 18-200 (I don't mind the redundancy with the 18-200 and the short zoom because I want the option of a smaller lens)
35/1.8 OSS
rumored 85mm or, if you really can't wait, 50/1.8 OSS

Not for everyone's taste, but that would work for me.  I don't really need an ultrawide, particularly if choosing the 16-50 over the 18-55.  The 24/1.8 is nice, but big (and expensive) and I prefer a more normal lens anyway.  The Sigma primes are sharp & cheap, but lack OSS and at f/2.8 aren't much faster than the kit zooms at the WA settings.  The new CZ primes are very expensive and lack OSS.

- Dennis

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trax87
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to Dennis, May 9, 2013

Dennis wrote:

I'm not sure what you're looking for ... there are no faster zooms for NEX.  You could adapt lenses from other systems (including Alpha mount lenses via the LA-EA2 adapter) but then you may as well have bought a DSLR.

The zooms are certainly slow.  Fast zooms are big, heavy and expensive.

I've never been crazy about an f/2.8 midrange zoom.  Too much of a compromise to me in terms of both range and speed.  For an event photographer who needs flexibility, they're probably essential.  I used an f/2.8 zoom (28-75) on my DSLR for quite a while before opting for a slower zoom paired up with faster primes.  On my DSLR, the motivation for the slower zoom was to get better range (5X instead of 3X zoom).  On NEX, the motiviation is to keep the zoom small.  Then the faster primes give you shallow DOF and/or better low light capabilities.

So my recommended NEX kit is:

18-55 or 16-50
55-200 or 18-200 (I don't mind the redundancy with the 18-200 and the short zoom because I want the option of a smaller lens)
35/1.8 OSS
rumored 85mm or, if you really can't wait, 50/1.8 OSS

Not for everyone's taste, but that would work for me.  I don't really need an ultrawide, particularly if choosing the 16-50 over the 18-55.  The 24/1.8 is nice, but big (and expensive) and I prefer a more normal lens anyway.  The Sigma primes are sharp & cheap, but lack OSS and at f/2.8 aren't much faster than the kit zooms at the WA settings.  The new CZ primes are very expensive and lack OSS.

- Dennis

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First, a thank you to everyone for your helpful replies.

I'm not specifically "looking" for anything so to speak.  Of corse there are many who use a NEX as a backup or in addition to a DSLR, but I know that a number of people are now using a NEX instead of a DSLR.  Some were prior DSLR owners and others, like myself, are upgraders who didn't want the bulk of a full DSLR.  I realize that there are compromises in any system and that one of the NEX compromises is that the native lens lineup is not extensive.  Given the lenses that NEX users do have available, I guess I was wondering what is recommended as a general starter set of lenses  since some of the lenses that were suggested to me as good all around lenses aren't available for the NEX (at least not natively).

Your suggestions are very helpful.  It sounds like my current lenses plus one fast prime (probably the 35/1.8) would work well for me for some time.   I guess those who need more than what is available currently either have a DSLR for those purposes or use the Sony adapter and Alpha lenses.

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FuzzyQball
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

What you have is fine.  In time you may want more, but it would be good to invest the time in learning more about the art before investing more.

You can also get old fast primes with manual focus quite cheaply, and they can be a lot of fun.  You'll need an adapter of course.

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Glenn

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

trax87 wrote:

First, a thank you to everyone for your helpful replies.

I'm not specifically "looking" for anything so to speak.  Of corse there are many who use a NEX as a backup or in addition to a DSLR, but I know that a number of people are now using a NEX instead of a DSLR.  Some were prior DSLR owners and others, like myself, are upgraders who didn't want the bulk of a full DSLR.  I realize that there are compromises in any system and that one of the NEX compromises is that the native lens lineup is not extensive.  Given the lenses that NEX users do have available, I guess I was wondering what is recommended as a general starter set of lenses  since some of the lenses that were suggested to me as good all around lenses aren't available for the NEX (at least not natively).

Your suggestions are very helpful.  It sounds like my current lenses plus one fast prime (probably the 35/1.8) would work well for me for some time.   I guess those who need more than what is available currently either have a DSLR for those purposes or use the Sony adapter and Alpha lenses.

To start, what you have works well. To improve upon what you have, I'd definitely give the 35/1.8 a closer look. It will enhance your ability to shoot under less than ideal light conditions, while being an excellent focal length. The downside is that it will cost $400 or so but that is a price to pay for a good fast prime lens.

The 50/1.8 is also an excellent lens, and cheaper. Better choice for portraits, but you may find it limiting indoors.

At some point this year, I expect Sony to announce 85mm lens. It remains to be seen if it will be f/2.8 or faster (hoping for latter). I do expect it to be priced $400-600 depending on the market Sony goes for (for A-mount, Sony opted to keep 35/1.8 and 50/1.8 economically priced and 85/2.8 is priced higher but it is also a FF lens unlike the other two).

If you want to do it all inexpensively, then your option is to look into legacy lenses. There are plenty of good ones. The downside to you may be, manual focus and need for adapter which adds to the size.

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Ronbeau
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, May 9, 2013

I agree with the above posts about legacy primes.  You can get good quality legacy lenses reasonably cheaply.  You might try two or three of these to play around with.  Maybe a 24, a 50, and a 135, for example.  See which lengths work for you before spending more on newer lenses.

Also, if you're new to photography, legacy lenses provide another benefit.  The manual focus aspect forces you to think more about the shot you're taking.  You can't just snap away and hope something looks nice.  In those few seconds of focusing, you'll be considering the composition and aperture as well.  I learned heaps from just going old school with manual lenses.

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Jonathan_Whiteman
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

My advice would be to get the Sony 35mm, leave it on your camera all the time and just learn to shoot with that.  If you want to do macro, tele, etc. then you already have those (a cheap macro lens adaptor will let you play) but you'll be surprised at how much you'll learn and the great shots you'll take with just the 35mm.  The other "do anything" lens is the 18-55mm (I'm thinking that the 16-50 is probably similar but I don't really know).  Making the most of the standard zoom teaches you a lot as well

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Helena777
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 9, 2013

trax87 wrote:

I consider myself a beginner photographer and most certainly a beginner with respect to interchangeable lenses.  I was going to buy a DSLR when upgrading from a P&S, but as a good bit of my photos are taken either when traveling or when just out for the day I thought a NEX made more sense because of the size, weight (especially) and convenience and so I went that route.  I do really like my NEX 6.

It was suggested to me that a good initial set of lenses for a beginner would be a fast zoom (e.g., f/2.8 18-50) a telephoto (e.g., 70-200)  preferably with a max aperture around F4 and maybe a macro lens.  This makes some sense to me as It would cover in a general way most typical shooting situations and then someone could get specialized lenses based upon their learned shooting preferences.

I have the kit 16-50 pz and the 55-210 tele zoom.  Unfortunately neither of these lenses are fast and the are no E mount zoom lenses that are faster that I am aware of.  For a beginner on a NEX system, what would be considered a good "get you feet wet" set of lenses?

Enjoy what you have, that is a state-of-the-art piece of technology (for the mass market). IMHO the more enjoyable lenses are:

- Kit lens 18-55 (a must): like the 16-50 but with "manual" handle. My favourite. This is no Macro lens, but you can use the max focal (55) at very short distances, and later crop the photo. You can't take all in a lens, you have to choose between qualities, and then this is a useful lens.

A web that shows images taken with the 18-55:

http://www.stuckincustoms.com/sony-nex-7-review/

- 18-200: If you want versatility AND weight dont discomfort you.

- 50 f1.8: For extreme DOF pics, and low light.

- Yasuhara Nanoha: interesting if you want to make micro-photography (or what is name is):

http://www.yasuhara.co.jp/nanoha/index-e.html

Enjoy your camera!

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One golden glance of what should be...

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GaryR60
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to dk76111, May 10, 2013

dk76111 wrote:

I would go with what you've got. It's great for beginners. If you are in dire need of a fast lens, depending on what you shoot have a look at a prime lens 50f1.8, 35f1.8 or the sigma lens.

THe 50 and sigma lenses are relatively inexpensive to get your feet wet.
By no means am I an experienced photographer. Just my take. Congrats on your purchase and enjoy.

I agree. You don't buy the 55-210mm for its speed, but for its focal length. What I wondered was why he wants a macro instead of a good wide-angle.

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trax87
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to GaryR60, May 10, 2013

GaryR60 wrote:

What I wondered was why he wants a macro instead of a good wide-angle.

Thanks for the response. I don't necessarily want a macro lens.  In fact, I don't necessarily have any particular interest in macro photography.  The lenses that I mentioned in my initial post were just the types of lenses that were suggested as a set that would cover a broad set of possible shooting situations to start as a DSLR/interchangeable lens camera user.  It was just one person's opinion.

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Dennis
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 10, 2013

trax87 wrote:

I'm not specifically "looking" for anything so to speak.  Of corse there are many who use a NEX as a backup or in addition to a DSLR, but I know that a number of people are now using a NEX instead of a DSLR. 
Your suggestions are very helpful.  It sounds like my current lenses plus one fast prime (probably the 35/1.8) would work well for me for some time.   I guess those who need more than what is available currently either have a DSLR for those purposes or use the Sony adapter and Alpha lenses.

So a couple of thoughts ... if fast lenses are desirable, then you can wonder whether a DSLR would have been better, but there are plenty of people who opt to put a faster lens on a NEX.  (Before deciding on my last DSLR, I gave some serious thought to the idea of a NEX-7 based kit with the Alpha 70-200 on an LA-EA2 adapter when needed).  Either a legacy lens or an Alpha lens with adapter.  Some are happy with the size reduction of the body only, but for others, they effectively have the option of either a small or large kit.

Secondly, what I was trying to suggest based on my experience is that there's no real reason to view the combo of slow zooms and a fast prime or two as settling.  Sure, you may have been recommended faster zooms by some ... but count me as one experienced amateur suggesting the slow zoom/fast prime combo as preferable (Reasons given in prior post).

The 18-55 has an undeserved reputation.  Maybe there's sample variance, maybe it performs worse on the NEX-7, yes the corners aren't perfect, but on the 14MP NEX-5, it was an easy match for the Carl Zeiss 16-80 on my 12MP A700 when shooting landscapes stopped down for a bit of depth of field.  Extreme corners aren't perfect, and can be soft wide open (I don't usually care much about corners wide open in practice anyway).  But I've never liked kit lenses in general, and I'm perfectly happy with the 18-55.  (If I were to stick with NEX as my primary kit, I'd likely upgrade when a 'premium' lens comes along, but it's a fine lens).  I know you have the 16-50 and I really haven't kept up on it, but I'd probably want one of those as a compact option.  I don't know about the 55-210; I have the original 18-200, though, and find it a very competent lens.  You could always pick up a faster tele if NEX is your primary kit and you're willing to deal with the bigger lens ... but here my recommendation isn't to go out and buy X, Y or Z.  It's to use the lens you already have until you identify a need in your own shooting for something else.  The only AFing f/4 option is the old beercan (or the f/3.5-4.5 version) and that's big & heavy and slow focusing.  And then it only gets you a stop over an f/5.6 zoom.  (If the NEX lens is f/6.3 then you gain a bit more than a stop).  Depending on what you end up shooting, though, you might find that you want a stabilized lens (from a 3rd party manufacturer) ... or that you need an f/2.8 zoom (Sigma or Tamron) or that you really need more reach than 200 anyway, in which case a 70-300 might be more appropriate.

So my advice remains to stick with your zooms, pick up the 35/1.8 and then wait until you identify something in your shooting where those lenses are limiting you.  I have a lineup that I like a lot - it's not the right lineup for everyone - and I've gone through about 20 different lenses (over 20 years) on my way to getting here !  Buying a kit based on recommendations or for coverage because you don't have enough experience to know what you want/need could result in buying the wrong lenses.

Off my soapbox now

Enjoy your kit !

- Dennis

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smallrewards
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to Helena777, May 10, 2013

1st learn what you need. Use your kit lens for 2 or three months.

if you need more reach, get the longer zoom.

if you feel all a lot of shots are too noisy or blurry...you probably need something faster.

take out and set it at 35mm and leave it for the day. It will take getting used to, but see if you like the focal range, do the same for 50mm.

after a few weeks you still hate a dedicated focal length...stick with the zooms.

there is a lot you can learn just from the kit, explore it, and then you can identify your needs, and know why and how to use them, helping u improve, making the process more entertaining, and saving you from wasting money and still not having what you need.

also, 24mm is 36mm equivalent and considered standard.

I usually have a 24mm 50mm, and 100mm, sometimes 35mm and 135mm on me.

if shooting indoor  young kids or babies 50mm is great, or ok portraits of adults, 35 is min for indoor adults, imo, other than portraits, 24 preferable for indoor adults or dramatic kid shots with contextual elements. The 85 is moremspecialized for portraits of adults, or kids at playgrounds even.

Hopkinton anyway

sent from tiuchpad

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expireduser
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 10, 2013

My personal opinion: get the superb pair of Sigma primes, the 30mm and 19mm, and just use those for a while. You can get both for under $200 total. It will help you grow as a photographer to get away from zooms. Maybe go back to them later, maybe not.

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sonyfans
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to Helena777, May 10, 2013

For Nanoha lens,no need to buy in Japan. It has come to American. Just look at this website.

www.amazon.com/shops/atmsupply

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thegammaray
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to trax87, May 10, 2013

I've gotta echo Nicholas W's suggestion. There's not much to dislike about the Sigma 19 & 30 primes: they're cheap, they're small, they're relatively fast, they autofocus, and they're sharp. Grab those in a package deal. Cheap legacy primes are fun, but they're bulky and require manual focus. The Sony 35 is (supposedly) very good, but it's more than twice as expensive. The cost/benefit ratio doesn't seem optimal.

I'm not a stickler about the technical quality of my lenses, but my 18-55 is downright cringeworthy at f/3.5. The Sigmas are both sharp at f/2.8. I still use the 18-55 if I know there's enough light to shoot at f/5.6, but I wouldn't buy it if I didn't already have it lying around. It's not versatile enough.

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JeffGo
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to thegammaray, May 10, 2013

Agreed. In order of use for me: 30mm Sigma (>50%), 19mm Sigma (>25%), 50mm Sony (<10%) - if I know I am shooting indoors, 10-18 Sony (still haven't warmed up to it). 18-55 sitting on the shelf. Those Sigmas were the best bargains I ever got and I paid full retail of $199 each! By far the sharpest of the bunch I have.

The 50mm is a bit limiting indoors because it's too long. I am hesitant to add the 35mm Sony but can see where that might be more useful to me than the 50.

I will be looking at the 12mm CZ to replace the 10-18 zoom - possibly. Maybe the CZ Macro when it comes out because I would like to get a little closer to subjects like flowers. And I would like a decent tele but from what I have read, the 18-200s aren't that great in the 100+ range. A friend bought the 55-210 and said it was the worst lens he ever had (and he has some crappy kit lenses on his old Nikon).

Finally, I use an EF 300mm with an adapter. It really shows you more of the NEX-7 capability. Just not very portable.

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uhligfd
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Re: All purpose lens set for beginner?
In reply to JeffGo, May 10, 2013

Trax87 asked "All purpose lens  for beginner?"  [I conveniently dropped the included word 'set' in the quote, did i not?]

His grammar looks as if he/she was looking just for one lens, otherwise he/she would have asked for 'All purpose lenses  for beginner' (plural).

So one lens to begin photography with as a hobby. Just one, uno! Not a bag full, as so many here are suggesting.

Given the question, there are two ways to go: get the kit zoom (16-50 or 16-55) - OR - get  one "normal angle of view" lens. a prime, as we call it. Then I would suggest the Sigma 30mm EX DN, the frist, cheap kind ($ 99 now).

He/she is a beginner and so I suggest cheap but good lenses for her/him. Quite adequate to learn with and grow by.

And I am so glad Trax87 asked about "one lens" to start out with. Let us respect her/his wisdom on that. I did decades ago and a few years later I progressed lens-wise.

After learning to see and take images.

Many lenses, all too soon, spoil visual growth.

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