The "great glass" decision
Where should you be dropping coin on your hobby? A heck of a question ... with some reasonable expectations of an answer.
Over the past few years, I have dropped some serious coin on this hobby, because as you progress through your needs and criticisms ... you begin to see the important points of improvement. More often than not, it is with the glass you use, not necessarily the camera body you shoot from. Cheap lenses simply do not have the necessary contrast or color response across the spectrum. Sure, they work in a reasonable way under "optimum" lighting, but we rarely have that. Usually, we are with an abundance of imperfect light ... so, you need a little help, and that is usually found in wide-aperture (fast) glass and lenses of overall better quality.
In my own way, I still realize I am easily looking at another $5,000-$10,000 in common base lenses to have "cream of the crop" response from my Full Frame camera. In the meantime, I cruise along with the medium-cost glass (usually TAMRON) and have been, on average, delighted with what I can produce with it. I have to remind myself, it is JUST A HOBBY ... and until I have serious need for optimum glass, it can wait. I still get very reasonable light response from the current selections of lenses I have. Even the high-end lenses cannot go much wider. I have to admit, I have added one or two important lens choices, as solid fall backs, along the way to a FULL bag of top-drawer glass.
If you look in your bag and total the cost, of average-to-great DSLR glass (APS-C or FF) ... it will usually be around $6,000-$10,000. Anything less and you are either finding excellent bargains somewhere ... or you really are not using solid choices for your hobby. This is an exercise that I have been doing for the past 4-years ... and the weird thing is ... it always seems to be around the same cost. The price points of lenses really do not change that often or by that much, unlike camera bodies and technological advances.
If every photographer were only allowed the following six lenses
- 20mm f/1.8
- 28mm f/1.8
- 50mm f/1.4
- 85mm f/1.4
- 135mm f/1.8
- 200mm f/2.8
high-order lenses in their bags (no zooms), chances are most of your photographic needs would be covered completely, indoors and outdoors (minus super-telephoto). (Yes, you will have to walk to and fro for framing)
Pricing those lenses out:
- SIGMA 20mm f/1.8 DG RF EX($569) - Sony-mount
- SIGMA 28mm f/1.8 DG EX ($379) - Sony-mount
- SIGMA 50mm f/1.4 DG EX ($499) - Sony-mount
- SONY CZ 85mm f/1.4 ($1369)
- SONY CZ 135mm f/1.8 ($1479)
- Minolta AF 200mm f/2.8 APO G HS (~$1000)
for a total bag o' glass, tipping the scale at 8.11 lbs and the wallet at $5295
A great selection of lenses is hard to beat. May we all be so blessed -> Let there be LIGHT!.
The thing is, you could cap these lenses off with a pair of darker zooming ones to cover UWA (for APS-C) with the SIGMA AF 10-20mm f/3.5 DC EX ($649) and super-telephoto outdoor shots with the TAMRON SP AF 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di LD ($869) ... and have a real power bag. But, that's almost another $1500!
Okay, let's face it ... if you were a new photographer and blessed with this $6500 bag of glass and the "bang for the buck" bargain you get with buying a new a700.
I have to say, "Anything else would just be sauce for the goose ... because, it is done, my friends!"
On the other hand ...
suppose you were in the mood to compromise a bit ... and could live with an f/2.8 BASE aperture in all your glass. You want it top-drawer ...
If you are kind of bent out of shape with all of the lens changing of the "PRIME" solution, consider this one:
If you are willing to spend only about $5 more than the selection of the aforementioned PRIMES will have cost you ...
- you can keep the "one-size-fits-all" solution for your lens filters (all three lenses below are ø77mm)
- lose about 2 stops of light (widest zoom base aperture is f/2.8)
- and actually shave a full pound of actual bag weight, overall,
and go with SONY's high-end zoom selections.
(I know -> wow) ... but yeah, same range ... even a bit wider
Sony SAL-1635Z 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (1.9 lb) ....... $1,899.99
Sony SAL-2470Z 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (2.2 lb) ................... $1,599.99
Sony SAL-70200G Zoom AF 70-200mm f/2.8 APO G(D) SSM (3 lb) ...................... $1,799.99
Total .................................................. ............................................. (7.1 lb) ...$5,299.97
I guess what I am trying to say, is that if you are really concerned about quality and overall performance ... going PRIME or ZOOM, with top-drawer glass ... is about the same overall cost. You can make your decisions anyway you want, but these are just a couple of facts to consider BEFORE you really start buying into your glass. Let the cash register ring with joy!
Good luck ... and as the most interesting man in the world says, "Stay thirsty, my friends."
Last edited by DonSchap; 11-12-2009 at 07:19 PM.
- BFA, Digital Photography
A Photographer Is Forever
Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.