Steadman's Advice to Newbies: Do Have to Buy an L Lens?

Started Oct 4, 2002 | Discussions thread
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Steadman Uhlich Senior Member • Posts: 1,123
Steadman's Advice to Newbies: Do Have to Buy an L Lens?

This question gets asked so many so many so many people that it is perpetual. In order to help some newcomers to this type of photography (using a SLR or DLSR) I occasionally offer some unsolicited advice. The following comments are intended to help some new folks gain a little confidence and ease....

In short your answer is..."No."

Look...if you are new to this DSLR (D30/D60) stuff, don't sweat whether you have to have a "L" lens or not. You don't. (my opinion)

You don't have to have an "L" lens to:

1. Make fantastic Images/photos

2. Capture wonderful expressions

3. Focus your camera manually

4. Let your camera's autofocus work for itself

5. Take pictures with a flash (lotsa light)

6. Take pictures by candlelight (low light)

7. Take pictures of the kids playing don't.

And...there are plenty of very suitable lenses on the market (new or used) that can compliment your camera quite fine. Many. And some are very affordable. Some are downright cheap in perspective to what you get (Canon 50mm f1.8 for instance at less than $100).

As I see it, the lens may be one of the most important elements in your kit to make pictures...but it is not the be all end all of good photographs.

I personally use and buy both "L" lenses (they are nice when you can afford them) and some Sigma and Canon "non-L" lenses too. My decisions are based on needs, economics, and relative value. I also have had "L" lenses sit in my closet for over a year with very little use (not a good value). I have also had Sigma lenses pay for themselves with one photo. And...not that it should really matter, but I use and depend on these lenses for my livelihood as a pro. If the pics don't look good, I don't get paid and I don't eat. Simple.

Here is a statement that may ruffle a few feathers out there (or on this forum)...don't let the folks who look for every flaw or shortcoming or reason to purchase the most expensive items...bamboozle you into thinking that you have to have the most expensive lenses to make the best pictures. You don't. (period..full stop.....ooops maybe I shoulda used an exclamation point). Let me reiterate..."You don't!"

Here is my best advice to you:

1. Buy the best glass you can afford at the time.

2. Buy fewer better lenses rather than more cheaper lenses

3. Buy faster lenses if you can (in general)

4. Buy multi-coated UV filters and put them on on day one.

5. Use a hood (improves contrast) or buy one if you need to.

6. Use the lens. It does no good in a closet.

7. Use the lens. Learn how to use it well..this takes lots of practice.

8. Don't get hung up on taking pictures of newpapers taped to walls. No one in your family nor your friends is gonna "oooh" or "awe" at those shots.

9. Use the lens. Take lots more pics.

10. Don't blame the lens for soft pics. It is probably you or your technique.

11. Don't blame the lens for flare if you point towards the sun.

12. Don't blame the lens for distortion if you are using a wide angle

13. Don't blame the lens if it is too dark to autofocus with your camera

14. Don't blame your camera if the lens is too dark to autofocus

15. Don't expect to take pics in total darkness.

16. When you are satisfied that you know where your limits are...go buy another lens and start over.

Now...that being said (that's a lot)...consider the above carefully. It will safe you frustration and money in the long run. Honestly. s

And what are a few of my favorite lenses?

Here are a few so far:

1. Canon 50mm f1.4

2. Canon 28-135IS

3. Canon 70-200mm f2.8 "L"

4. Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS "L"

5. Sigma 20mm f1.8

6. Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro

7. Canon 100-400IS "L"

8. Canon 50mm f1.8

All of the above have served me well, helped to make me money (they are just tools afterall), and please me with results and good pics.

But what about the cheaper "consumer zooms?"

I can only honestly add a comment based on my own experience with the slower/cheaper super zooms. Let's one time I had a Sigma 28-300 or something like that (can't really remember)...and I loved the zoom. But...I did not love the pics. I did not like the dark viewfinder, and I did not like the restrictions. So...if that kind of lens is your current experience, let me assure you that there is a big revelation coming to you when you "see the light" and buy a faster lens or fast prime lens. Stunning difference.

Let me add this....

If you have lots of money...go ahead and spend it to make yourself happy. Buy a whole suite of L glass if you want.

But...the glass is not what is going to make you a better photographer. That comes with "vision," experience, luck, skill, and creativity.

I hope that helps a few folks. If you find it helpful, please just post a reply stating so. If you disagree, well...go post your own topic (wink).

Good light to all,


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