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Choosing Lenses

This page is deliberately ordered before the Choosing a Camera page, because it makes more sense to think about lenses first: a camera is an accessory, constantly changing in the digital world, but lenses are a long-term investment.

Some lenses just will never deliver a brilliant image, an image that is alive and sparkles. I avoid those. Many zooms are this way, though not all. I choose lenses based on imaging qualities that include brilliance, bokeh, color rendition, freedom from aberrations, and size/weight/ergonomics.

Prime or zoom

Prime lens = fixed focal length (non zoom)

I rarely use zooms, though a few are unique and special enough to warrant it, such as the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, a lens I would not be without, but I still use it much less then my Zeiss primes. By comparison (and not to pick on Canon), the Canon 16-35 gathers dust; its images are dull and lifeless.

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Diglloyd Making Sharp Images articulates years of best practices and how-to, painstakingly learned over a decade of camera and lens evaluation.

Save yourself those years of trial and error by jump-starting your photographic technical execution when making the image. The best lens or camera is handicapped if the photographer fails to master perfect shot discipline. High-resolution digital cameras are unforgiving of errors, at least if one wants the best possible results.

  • Eases into photographic challenges with an introductory section.
  • Covers aspects of digital sensor technology that relate to getting the best image quality.
  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

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