Why use inferior lenses on D800

Started Sep 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 4,734
The premise "inferior lens" is wrong

The whole notion of "an inferior lens" is just so wrong. Inferior at what?

I've got a 24mm f1.4. I've got a 14-24 2.8. I've got the 24-70 2.8. I've got the 24-120VR. Which one's inferior at 24mm?

Well, if I'm working in my studio with puppies or small children who can only be stopped by the 1/2000 second of the strobe, and whose distance from the camera can't be predicted terribly well - the 24mm 1.4 guarantees that I'm going to have a very high percentage of cropped images, because if I finally get the puppy into a sit, and he's farther away than I wanted, I can't just tweak the zoom. The 14-24 is mostly unusuable focal length for this. The 24-120VR would work OK but the VR is useless, and the difference in focus speed between f2.8 and f4 under the dim studio lighting is huge. The 24-70 is the superior lens for this situation - sharpest, no VR needed, able to tweak the zoom quickly enough to have a chance at catching the pose at the right moment.

Now, shooting in a NY jazz club, one of those places with three lights, period, pointing at the stage. But the band has hired me, so here we go. The 24 1.4 will be wonderful if I need 24mm... but then I'm blowing time away changing lenses, and changing lenses in a very dark club is a dicey proposition. The 24-70 won't be able to be hand-held at the shutter speeds I'll have to deal with, even pushing the ISO up, and club owners hate when you break out a tripod. The 14-24, yeah, that's nice for all the wide environmental shots... But the 24-120VR is the superior lens. Can hand-hold it at 120mm at 1/30 of a second, even lower if I can brace on a table. I can do 95% of my work without changing lenses, so I can probably get the shots I need in one set without annoying the other paying patrons. The 24-120VR, in both of its incarnations, has been my live show money lens.

Street shooting in Havana? Boy I love the 24mm 1.4, but nothing draws attention and makes your subjects self-conscious like changing lenses all the time. The 14-24 is almost perfect - fast enough, I can get really close and still get the environmental content in the image, and sharp. But if I need something a bit longer, do I go to the 24-70 or the 24-120VR? Well, is it daytime or nighttime? Will I need the extra 50mm from time to time or not?

Even lenses like the 28-300 - I've seen major ad campaigns shot with similar super-zooms, because when the photographer is on skis chasing the subjects who are on skis and shooting with one hand half the time... and the option of re-takes means getting the helicopter to fly you back up to the top of the mountain, and now you've not got virgin snow... (The ad campaign was for a major outdoor clothing company, North Face if I remember right.) The photos ran full page in magazines, on posters... No one seemed to notice.

Check out the pictures Dave Black shot in Switzerland recently, 10 days, one lens, the 28-300. I'd like to have pictures as inferior as his.


You've got to know the lens' strengths and weaknesses, and make the image work within them. I don't shoot architecture with the 24-120VR. I don't shoot portraits (usually) with the 14-24. I don't put subjects on the edge of the frame with any ultra-wide, or at 24mm wide open with the 24-120VR.

I particularly enjoy the wild embrace of primes that I see in this forum, which is pretty much at odds with what you see in the kit of professional shooters. Go read some of the articles in Nikon World in the "tips and tricks" section where they include what lenses the pro being profiled uses most. It'd make you think that primes are inferior lenses.

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