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Author Topic: Most useful medium zooms for landscapes  (Read 9187 times)
Peter F
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« on: February 04, 2008, 07:08:59 AM »
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If I buy a dSLR I don't at least immediately want to buy lots of lenses.  So, I am thinking of starting with a useful length zoom.  Lets assume the camera would be a Canon 450D or Sony A300.  (Nikon would be nice, but not till Ican get a starter model with Live View and bracketing)

For landscapes, do you think it is worth giving up some of the long end to get more on the short end?  For example, Sony has a 16-105.  To get that extra 16-18 range, would it be worth giving up the extra length on the growing number of 18-200 offerings? Either way, convenience would be the same as all are about 3.5" long and weigh about 16-17 ounces.  For my purposes here, let us also say that price is not a factor with these consumer lenses.

Obviously there is no right or wrong, here.  I am looking for opinions from enthusasts with more experience with landscapes than me (that's easy *grin*)

Oh, a typical trip with camera for me would be traveling in the National Parks in the USA (ex. Yellowstone, Yosemite)

Thanks.

Peter F.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 09:07:20 AM »
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A key choice you have to make is between wide-angle and telephoto. Do you tend to prefer wide scenes, or small sections of a scene? If you want to do wildlife, you need a very long lens (and good tripod, and lots of patience).

My own personal preference is more toward the wide angle direction, but that's just me. When I got my first digital SLR, a Canon 10D, I bought both a 17-40 zoom and a 70-200 zoom. I soon found myself using the 17-40 for over 90% of my shots. But that's just me.

If you're not sure which way to go, you might just pick one and note carefully how often you tell yourself (I wish I had a longer/shorter lens."

Good luck!
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Peter F
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 01:08:30 PM »
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Eric... Thanks for your reply.  So you like the wide angle for landscape oriented images as well as vertical.  It seems I see the wide angle shots mostly for the vertical shots that so nicely bring you into the scene.  However, perhaps it is just more noticable in the vertical orientation.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 01:09:08 PM by Peter F » Logged
GregW
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 02:17:58 PM »
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Do you have a P&S camera?  You could look through your existing images and find the most common focal lengths you use.  You may need to multiply them by the sensor crop to get a 35mm equivalent depending on which software you use.
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pcox
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2008, 07:48:58 AM »
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I agree that it depends on your shooting style, and looking through metadata to see what focal lengths you actually use would be helpful.

My first professional-quality lens was the Canon 24-70L, and I found it a little too long on the wide end when used on a 1.6 body, so I got the Sigma 12-24 for very wide-angle work.

I now use a 5D, and 24mm on that body (full frame) is wide enough for my purposes. I still use the Sigma though - 12mm on full frame leads to some very dramatic perspective effects.

I also have a Canon 100-400L, but I find myself wanting coverage in the 70-100mm gap, so I'll probably get a 70-200 to cover it (and possibly sell the 100-400 - looking through my galleries I have hardly any images for sale taken at greater than 200mm).

I suppose what I'm saying is that 18-200 is probably the focal length range that would be most immediately useful (from my own experience, YMMV).

Cheers,
Peter
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Peter Cox Photography
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2008, 04:48:24 PM »
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Peter, you ask a very good question. I recently went thru the same reasoning as well.  My decision was (at the time) to buy a Canon 17-40 mm L series lens for about $640.  I didn't do so, but here is why.  I found a good used 10-22 mm Canon EFF-S lens on the used market and bought that. Frankly, I should have stayed on plan.  Because 10 - about 14 is just too wide for my tastes. I'm using a Digital Rebel XT with 1.6X crop factor.  At 10 mm if you are on the overlook at a park scenic area, the angle of view will capture the railing that protects the overlook.

The optical quality on the Canon 10-22 is VERY good. No issue there.  An advisor told me that this lens is highly specialized, but when you find the right situation for it, it is superb.  Now, the lens I use most often is Tamron 28-75. I also have a low end 35 mmm prime that has a nice angle off view but the image quality is good, not great, as I prefer to have.

Canon also makes a L series 16-35 mm lens  but the price is very high, over $1,000. Must be a good one though. I don't intend to find out for my own first-hand because the price is too high.

But, its surprising how often I shoot landscape with my 75-200 mm IS f/4 Canon L lens. The reason why I use a wide angle zoom and a moderate telephoto both is that the wide angle zoom works well on landscapes where I want mostly near-by features.  The 75-200 works better when the foregroundd is less  interesting than the far away scene is.  The classic examples here are a meadow with butttercups (use the wide angle telephoto) and a mountain top with rugged boulders (use the 75-200 mm here).

So, to kind of summarize, you may be able to do well with either approach, wide angle zoom or telephoto zoom. The obvious solution is to get a lens with a very wide range of zooms on it. Something like 18-200 for a price of around $350 maybe. The reason why you won't see too many professionals or advanced amateurs with this approach is because the design compromises necessary to get such a wise zoom range - especially at a reasonable price, preclude very good image quality.  So, my personal advice to your situation?

Pick one, wide angle zoom or medium telephoto.  Use it & enjoy it.  When circumstances permit, get the other end of the spectrum covered.  OR (happy thought) buy both. But whatever you do, don't buuy low uality. Medium quality OK. Financial reality is not going away. But just don't buy low quality.

Tamron & Sigma do very well for medium quality with selling prices in the $350 to $600 range. The big name OEM's do very well for high quality with selling prices in the $600 to $1,100 range.  This statement is going to controversial.  Oh well, just my take on things.

You can see various landscapes and so on with XIF data on the focal length and in some cases with data on the specific make and model of lens I used at www.pbase.com/goodlistener. Hope you enjoy the show.
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kajabbi
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2008, 05:06:54 AM »
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Peter, you ask a very good question. I recently went thru the same reasoning as well.  My decision was (at the time) to buy a Canon 17-40 mm L series lens for about $640.  I didn't do so, but here is why.  I found a good used 10-22 mm Canon EFF-S lens on the used market and bought that. Frankly, I should have stayed on plan.  Because 10 - about 14 is just too wide for my tastes. I'm using a Digital Rebel XT with 1.6X crop factor.  At 10 mm if you are on the overlook at a park scenic area, the angle of view will capture the railing that protects the overlook.

The optical quality on the Canon 10-22 is VERY good. No issue there.  An advisor told me that this lens is highly specialized, but when you find the right situation for it, it is superb.  Now, the lens I use most often is Tamron 28-75. I also have a low end 35 mmm prime that has a nice angle off view but the image quality is good, not great, as I prefer to have.

Canon also makes a L series 16-35 mm lens  but the price is very high, over $1,000. Must be a good one though. I don't intend to find out for my own first-hand because the price is too high.

But, its surprising how often I shoot landscape with my 75-200 mm IS f/4 Canon L lens. The reason why I use a wide angle zoom and a moderate telephoto both is that the wide angle zoom works well on landscapes where I want mostly near-by features.  The 75-200 works better when the foregroundd is less  interesting than the far away scene is.  The classic examples here are a meadow with butttercups (use the wide angle telephoto) and a mountain top with rugged boulders (use the 75-200 mm here).

So, to kind of summarize, you may be able to do well with either approach, wide angle zoom or telephoto zoom. The obvious solution is to get a lens with a very wide range of zooms on it. Something like 18-200 for a price of around $350 maybe. The reason why you won't see too many professionals or advanced amateurs with this approach is because the design compromises necessary to get such a wise zoom range - especially at a reasonable price, preclude very good image quality.  So, my personal advice to your situation?

Pick one, wide angle zoom or medium telephoto.  Use it & enjoy it.  When circumstances permit, get the other end of the spectrum covered.  OR (happy thought) buy both. But whatever you do, don't buuy low uality. Medium quality OK. Financial reality is not going away. But just don't buy low quality.

Tamron & Sigma do very well for medium quality with selling prices in the $350 to $600 range. The big name OEM's do very well for high quality with selling prices in the $600 to $1,100 range.  This statement is going to controversial.  Oh well, just my take on things.

You can see various landscapes and so on with XIF data on the focal length and in some cases with data on the specific make and model of lens I used at www.pbase.com/goodlistener. Hope you enjoy the show.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=172824\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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kajabbi
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2008, 05:18:58 AM »
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Sorry, I posted the same twice.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 08:09:43 AM by kajabbi » Logged
kajabbi
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2008, 05:19:46 AM »
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For those who wish to feature landscapes in their work, I found the best non-DSLR camera to be the Sony R1. The zoom lens is only Five to one BUT the low end is 24MM(35mm). 90% of my work is landscapes and the combination of that lens(Zeiss) and the APS sized sensor is unbeatable.
Iwent to the Sony after I found myself beginning to drop interchangeable lenses on my Leicas.
So far the largest Print I have had made is 20X30 and it was outstanding. I routinely make prints up to 13X19 and even a close examination shows absolutely no loss of detail.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 08:10:39 AM by kajabbi » Logged
froghald
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2008, 11:57:56 AM »
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... I found the best non-DSLR camera to be the Sony R1. ...

I fully agree, I bought mine after LL had reviewed this outstanding compact camera. I not regret this decision, since the R1 has never constricted my creativity and I would buy it once again if ... it would be available! Unfortunately SONY finished the production after announcing the ALPHA and there are no plans to announce a R2.

Froghald
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gdanmitchell
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2008, 09:05:39 PM »
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Good strategy to NOT buy a ton of lenses right off the bat, especially if you are new to this and/or have not yet figured out what your shooting style and preferences are.

Speaking for myself, I'd give up long before giving up wide for landscape photographs. For example, when I backpack I generally carry only a 24-105 and a 17-40 with my 5D. YMMV.

If I were shooting a Canon crop body like the 450D - and I'm most familiar with that brand - I would probably put the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens on it first. That lens covers a lot of useful ground in several ways: focal length range, aperture, IS. For me, the next addition would perhaps be the EFS 10-22, but I generally have a preference for wide in landscapes.

That said, I recognize that some prefer to use longer lenses, and I do, too, on occasion.

Dan

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If I buy a dSLR I don't at least immediately want to buy lots of lenses.  So, I am thinking of starting with a useful length zoom.  Lets assume the camera would be a Canon 450D or Sony A300.  (Nikon would be nice, but not till Ican get a starter model with Live View and bracketing)

For landscapes, do you think it is worth giving up some of the long end to get more on the short end?  For example, Sony has a 16-105.  To get that extra 16-18 range, would it be worth giving up the extra length on the growing number of 18-200 offerings? Either way, convenience would be the same as all are about 3.5" long and weigh about 16-17 ounces.  For my purposes here, let us also say that price is not a factor with these consumer lenses.

Obviously there is no right or wrong, here.  I am looking for opinions from enthusasts with more experience with landscapes than me (that's easy *grin*)

Oh, a typical trip with camera for me would be traveling in the National Parks in the USA (ex. Yellowstone, Yosemite)

Thanks.

Peter F.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=172184\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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G Dan Mitchell
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Two23
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2008, 11:56:42 AM »
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I note that you are looking for something to use in national parks.  I assume you haven't taken a lot of photos in those or have all that much experience there, so simply looking at your previous photos (i.e. not made in the parks) would  limit on their value.  Let's say you buy the new Nikon 16-85mm VR lens, and while you are in one of the parks you have to pass up a series of perfect wildlife shots because your lens is nowhere near long enough.  That would be frustrating for most people.  I personally don't even own a mid range zoom.  To me, the mid range is pretty boring.  I normally only carry a Sigma 10-20mm and a Nikon 80-400mm VR lens during the daytime.  (NOTE--in winter I'm mainly a night photographer, different lenses.)  A two lens combination of Sigma 10-20mm and Nikon 70-300mm VR would give you more flexibility.  You just might be surprised at how useful a long lens is for landscapes.  I mostly used my 80-400mm VR on my last trip to the Grand Canyon.  It did very well at isolating interesting formations I could not get close to.  Anyway, something like an 18-55mm is used to the point of being over used for landscapes.  I went for lenses outside that range just so I could produce something different.


Kent in SD
« Last Edit: February 16, 2008, 11:57:39 AM by Two23 » Logged
dwdallam
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2008, 12:59:40 AM »
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I bought a 20D and three lenses for my first DSLR. 16-35L, 24-70L, and a 70-200L. I use the 24-70 the most for landscapes, and it has proved to be the work horse of my imagery. I've been using my 16-35 for more fine art images lately. It just seems to work well getting in close and then using the wide angle.

However, I have used my 70-200 with good results too. The more pixels you ahve, the wider you can use successfully also, since you can get two shots in one--closer in by a crop and wider, because of the optics.

Since I changed from the 20D to the 5D, I use the same arrangement with the 24-70 being a true work horse. But I find myself doing much more fine art / abstract imaging these days, by request, and thus I've been using my 16 and 200 more.

If you can't afford all three, I'd go for the 24-70.  The 28-300 zooms have a lot of pin cushion and the opposite at their extremes. I guess for some they work, but I'd avoid them for professional work.

When I bought my three lenses, I did a lot of research, and they have proven to be a very good combination.

However, the Canon 28 to 105L is a very good lens I hear, even at F4, since you will probably not need a fast lens for landscape.

Oh yeah, one great thing about the 24-70L is that you can buy a Canon extension tube and you can get about 1" from the subject using the 24-70L. Here is teh B&H link:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/3006...Tube_EF_25.html

Of course tehre are many types of tubes, but the Canon above works great with teh 24-70 allowing you to get about a 1/2" from the subject.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 01:22:02 AM by dwdallam » Logged

NikoJorj
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2008, 03:45:33 AM »
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For landscapes, do you think it is worth giving up some of the long end to get more on the short end? 
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Sorry, but it's impossible to answer such a personal question in your place! See above, there are WA zealotes and tele advocates - do you prefer Bourgogne or Bordeaux, in red wines?

One possible answer, though : I find myself more often in the former gang, and my everyday lens is a 10-22... but I relate it to living and moreover wandering in the mountains. In flatlands, my tele has the most use.
Hope this helps...
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2008, 09:03:30 PM »
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You may want to look at the 24-105L IS lens. It sounds like it may be perfect for you.
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...es/28-105.shtml
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simonkit
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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2008, 05:51:58 PM »
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I use the Sigma 17-70 almost exclusively & find its range excellent for pretty much all my landscape requirements


 simon
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