Photography Newb: What am I missing? What don't I need?

Started Jul 22, 2013 | Discussions thread
thebustos Veteran Member • Posts: 3,347
Re: Photography Newb: What am I missing? What don't I need?

Basically a camera lens is made up of several lenses that move back and forth in relation to each other to achieve focus. A prime lens has less of these lens elements and a zoom has more. This makes zooms more complex and thus will have more issues with sharpness or focus than a prime will. That is not to say that zooms won't give you excellent image quality (IQ), but you can generally get better IQ with prime which have a fixed focal length. This though will vary between manufacturers and models based on design and the quality of the glass used.

Now with lower end (not to mean cheap or poor quality) zooms you'll get a variable maximum aperture size. With higher end zooms you'll find lenses with a constant aperture (in other words with the same maximum aperture across it's entire focal range). The differences are basically in design cost. It costs more to design and manufacture a lens with a constant aperture than a variable one. For instance, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom is about $200 and a 17-55mm f/2.8 is about $900. If it weren't for cheaper alternatives though, nobody would be able to afford it as a hobby but the wealthy. You'll also find variable apertures on zooms with a large focal range such as your 18-135mm. That's one of the design compromises you find with these types of lenses. From a design stance, i don't know that it would be practical to have a 18-135mm with a constant aperture.

Now I only suggested returning the 18-135mm not knowing if that was one you had purchased. If it's going to be trouble don't worry about it at all. That lens is useful for it's range. Say you're out on a walk in the park... If you want to get a picture of a section of the park with the trees and general landscape you might want to shoot that at 18mm. Next you see a  bird up in a tree and want to take a picture of it kind of close, so you shoot it at 135mm. That's why you might hear this lens described as a walk around.

Now with the 50mm /1.4 I suggested getting a 35mm prime instead, as a point of preference. It really depends what you use it for. I had a 50mm f/1.8 and liked it because of the bokeh I got with it, but I found that if I wanted to use it to take pictures of people I had to stand too far back from them for comfort. I suggest you set your 18-135mm to 35mm, get a feel for how that looks and then put it on 50mm to see the difference. You may be just fine with that length. However you can also use your 50mm macro for things other than just small objects. The trade off being that it can only open up to f2.5, so you may not get as nice of a bokeh as you do with f/1.4.

Shooting in auto will be good for using your camera at first, but you need to learn/understand the relationship of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as soon as you can. That will make all of this make a lot more sense and is where the magic really starts. When you shoot in AUTO you should be able to see what the image settings were so that you can start to get an idea of how those parameters effect each other.

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Good luck and happy shooting!

 thebustos's gear list:thebustos's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Sony DT 50mm F1.8 SAM Sony DT 30mm F2.8 Macro SAM Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM +17 more
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