Ken Rockwell: Don't buy a midrange zoom. Carry a fixed 50mm instead, like a pro.

Started Dec 17, 2012 | Discussions
Kaj E Veteran Member • Posts: 9,325
Re: Ken Rockwell is apparently still in the 80's

Zooms have improved tremendously since the old time.

Ken has apparently not seen any professional PJ photographers at work recently.

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krikman Regular Member • Posts: 417
Re: Ken Rockwell is apparently still in the 80's

Ken apparently have reasons behind him. He talks about changes in people's minds.

20 years ago reazonable 3 lens kit was:

- wide 18 mm or fisheye lens; - midrange zoom 35-70; - tele 135 or 200 mm.

Now we have great wide zooms and telezooms. So 3 lens kit in 2012 is

- 16-35; - 50/1.8; - 70-200/4

This is BECAUSE everyone around now have in his pocket midrange zoom camera and can make snapshots. But if you a dedicated photographer so you going to more artistic, unusual imagination, perfecting points of view.

So make images, not snapshots.

NorbTX Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: Ken Rockwell is apparently still in the 80's

I'll only add that I'm not a pro and don't have multiple bodies nor a giant kit bag with multiple lenses to switch out to while I"m taking photos.

John Cerra2 Regular Member • Posts: 289
Re: Ken Rockwell: Don't buy a midrange zoom. Carry a fixed 50mm instead, like a pro.

I am just not sure who KR thinks his audience is.

A pro isn't going to ask him.  A pro envisions the job and brings the lens he needs.  He has both a mid range zoom and a 50 mm prime.

An advanced amateur might benefit from thinking about the advice, not because KR knows something he doesn't, but because he might be on a budget, and a great prime is a lot cheaper than a great mid range zoom.  (and because the advanced amateur lusts for the 24-70 instead of the 24-85...)

A beginner probably got a kit zoom with the camera.  KR might be better off extolling the virtues of prime lenses to this group, rather than talking down the kit zoom.

I got the kit zoom with the D600.  I think the lens has a few issues, notably vignetting wide open and both barrel and pincushion distortion.  I can deal with the former, because I won't shoot wide open, I got VR and ISO to 6400 to help me shoot at 5.6.  I can deal with the latter in post processing.  Otherwise, this is a hell of a lens for the price.  Nobody needs to be talking it down...

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krikman Regular Member • Posts: 417
Re: Ken Rockwell: Don't buy a midrange zoom. Carry a fixed 50mm instead, like a pro.

Ken talks not about equipment but entirely about concept of photography in today's world. It is engineer's approach to find new adequate solutions in changing enviroment.

Some as painters did in 1900's

bloomoose Veteran Member • Posts: 3,222
Since when is 24-70 mm mid range?

To me 24 mm is wideish and 70 mm is starting to be tele.

It´s a very useful zoom, yet I went for the 24-120 f4 VR.

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Matsu Senior Member • Posts: 2,026
The Reuters perspective

Thom had an interesting analysis of Reuters top/winning photos from 2012. It's not quite an endorsement of 50 prime vs standard zoom argument, but a valuable perspective nonetheless. Most of the winning photos were shot with either 16-35 or 70-200 lenses, but this is photo journalism and the big problems are always trying to either too close (need the wide) or too far (need the tele).

17-35 goes wide but gets you close enough to wide-normal (35) and 70-200 goes long, but gets you close enough to long-normal (70mm) that in that case a 50 can be a light weight way to plug that gap and save carrying one extra heavy lens, especially if you've already got two heavy cameras hanging at your sides, or, god forbid, 3-4 cameras. I have seen 'togs so attired, though usually with a super tele on a monopod making up the extra camera.

But it really depends on the usage case. I think 50 and 35-70 range is the hardest to shoot well, things look more or less normal, they are are different, but subtly so, you have to pay a lot of attention to where you are relative to the subject and scene. Ultra-wides create all kinds of converging lines and foreground-background dialogue. Teles compress and isolate. Normals do those things only subtly, you have to be extra thoughtful about your composition to provoke the lens effects in a complimentary way.

So, the standard zoom is an interesting challenge, like the 50, if you can shoot it well, you can shoot anything. An interesting note is that it's getting wider. We've gone from 35-70, to 28-70, to 24-70. And the 24-28 range isn't really normal at all, it produces wide angle effects and you have to take care to place the subject in a flattering way. When you've mounted something like a 24-70, you now have to have two different mindsets using that lens to shoot people, because it is also a wide and a normal.

I think 24mm is about the limit for being able to shoot a small group of people at a moderate distance without too much perspective distortion, if you're careful, but you can easily induce it either on purpose or by accident.

I wonder when we'll see a 20-70mm lens and what that will look like. 20mm is very wide and would effectively combine 2 classic zoom ranges 20-35 and 35-70 into one lens...

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