Lens suggestions and/or advice

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Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Kainas » Wed 19 Aug, 2015 5:42 pm

I have a very basic camera and would like to get a better lens before our bushwalking trip next month. Something that would allow me to take landscape photos, and general group photos (ie kids walking down a path)

I have a Canon EOS 650D, with a 50mm lens (great for backyard photos of kids, but not much else).

It did come with kit lens that I rarely use anymore a 55-250mm, and an 18-55mm, mostly because I am not sure which one to take with me... and since I am carrying extra weight with kids I don't have the luxury of carrying an extra lens.

While walking I rarely have the luxury of stopping the group to take photos either, so I tend to carry my camera and take quick snaps as we are going along.

Any advice would be welcome? I love taking photos, but have felt really frustrated lately because I don't know which lens to carry, or if I need to upgrade to something a little better.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 19 Aug, 2015 6:15 pm

Why not just make good use of your 18-55mm kit lens? Given it's an APS-C sensor, it translates to around 28-70mm zoom focal length in traditional 35mm film term. A very functional everyday lens range and should be your first choice for everyday travel use. I'd suggest that you should save your money and get familiar with this lens. Only after then, you'll naturally know where you want to go. 'Better' is a complex term when you don't know what's not good enough.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby north-north-west » Wed 19 Aug, 2015 6:29 pm

While that 18-55 kit lens does not have the best optics, it's adequate for what you want. Get used to it, get some practice at post-processing (make sure whatever program/s you get allow you to stitch images), and you can decide later if you want to enter the photographic arms race.
Once the kids are more independent (or you get the occasional child-free walk), take the longer lens as well as play with it.

It is to a great degree a matter of personal taste whether you prefer to go wider on your landscape photos, or to get in closer to isolate certain aspects of a scene. If you aren't sure now which appeals to you most, take the time (when you have the time) to experiment with the options. The lenses you have cover a reasonably wide range, so there's no need to go apeshit at the moment spending money on extra equipment.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Robbiefishing » Wed 19 Aug, 2015 8:52 pm

The 18-55 is a great lens for the price. It all depends on how much you want to spend. From the lenses you have mentioned, I would carry the 18-55mm over the other two as the 50mm has no room to zoom in or out, and the 55-250 is not generally wide enough for a lot of landscape photos.
I use a Sigma 10-22mm that I bought from JB hifi for $500 for a lot of my work. It's a great lens. It's a lot better than the basic kit lens, but still nowhere near as good optically as the canon equivalent.
I use to have the genuine Canon EF 10-24mm, but I wore it out. It done a hell of a lot of work.
Without knowing what your budget is, the Canon EF 17-40mm F4L is probably one of the most commonly used landscape lenses in the world. At 17mm it is wide enough to fit a lot in, and at 40mm it's capable of taking great portraits.
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Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 19 Aug, 2015 11:03 pm

Robbiefishing wrote:...the Canon EF 17-40mm F4L is probably one of the most commonly used landscape lenses in the world. At 17mm it is wide enough to fit a lot in, and at 40mm it's capable of taking great portraits.

That's 25-60mm equivalent when used on an APS-C camera. A bit of an improvement on the wide end of 18-55mm but hardly much different. There may be some relevant image quality difference in it but I suspect given our OP's experiences, that's not an obvious issue.
Last edited by GPSGuided on Thu 20 Aug, 2015 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby beean » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 12:34 am

I find 18-55 to be the sweet spot for nature photos. You can take a decent panorama or zoom in for some closeups of flowers and whatnot.

I would suggest getting a lightweight tripod before deciding if you need another lens. Being able to shoot panoramas and stitch them later somewhat mitigates the need for a wider lens.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Drifting » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 7:33 am

I have about 20g worth of Canon gear, and to be honest, the 18-55 IS does quite well. A great upgrade is the Sigma 17-70, as it has a very good macro-type capability. I'm not keen on the mid-grade canon lenses, as they are often no better than the kit lenses. For me, next stop beyond the Sigma would be a "L" lens- they are heavy, but rugged as heck, and have a lot of sealing. It's an older model now, but I truly love our 24-105.

It all depends on how much you want to spend and carry. For 99.98% of photographers, a kit lens is ideal. A lot of folks think they need better, but they really don't.

The rule on upgrading is don't do it unless the gear you have won't do something you need to do that is critical for your development as an artist.

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Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 10:20 am

Ideally, a landscape/travel zoom that covers 24-125mm (35mm equivalent) range would be great for single lens carry. Enough to make a difference on both ends and usually still quite compact. Translated for APS-C sensors, that's around the 16-85mm range. Look around.
Last edited by GPSGuided on Thu 20 Aug, 2015 10:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby horsecat » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 10:34 am

Have you considered a micro four thirds camera like the Olympus OM-D range? Brilliant optics in most lenses, very, very compact and well priced. Whilst I still carry a full frame camera and a few lenses on most trips it is nice to take the Olympus out and carry spare lenses in my pocket.

But...if you are interested in adding a landscape lens to your current kit I have a Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM lens that I've been meaning to offload which might be suitable...
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Hiking Noob » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 10:45 am

This may sound silly but have you thought about going to a better point and shoot and just taking the big lens for the SLR(if weight limits allow)? The old Lumix LX7 took some great shots and had a nice quick 24mm lens and I believe it's replacement is better again but I can't recall the new model name. I am still kicking myself for missing out when kogan had them for a shade over $300, stupidly cheap for a compact that could take decent pics and shoot 1080p at 60FPS.

I currently have a Ricoh GR which is a 28mm equivalent I took it on the OLT and I found it too narrow coming from a 24mm lens, there was always something that would get missed and I was always thinking if only I still had my 24mm camera, hahaha! Also I find the Richos really frustrating to use, things that you use quite often will be buried deep in a sub-menu that is hard to find. I'm going to a Nikon next, I love the dials, so simple!

For stitching photos Microsoft ICE works really well and is a small free download.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Kainas » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 11:23 am

GPSGuided wrote:Why not just make good use of your 18-55mm kit lens? Given it's an APS-C sensor, it translates to around 28-70mm zoom focal length in traditional 35mm film term. A very functional everyday lens range and should be your first choice for everyday travel use. I'd suggest that you should save your money and get familiar with this lens. Only after then, you'll naturally know where you want to go. 'Better' is a complex term when you don't know what's not good enough.


Thank you for that advice (and to the people that followed). For some reason the 18-55mm got stashed into the cupboard and I only every switch between the other two (the 50mm for portraits, and the 55-250mm). I will take the 18-55mm out with me orienteering on the weekend and give it a go. I will be very glad not to have to spend any money.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 11:34 am

Good! It's about the person on the shutter button. :)
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby tom_brennan » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 2:09 pm

Like most of the posters, I suggest digging out the 18-55mm and using it. Once you've had a good go with it, you'll have a better idea of where you might want to go next.

There's not much point in spending $00s or $000s on lenses/cameras and then having them sit in a cupboard because it's not what you were after.

horsecat wrote:But...if you are interested in adding a landscape lens to your current kit I have a Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM lens that I've been meaning to offload which might be suitable...


If you're interested in getting more into landscapes, I can recommend this option - since I've been using it for about 6 years. Most of the photos since 2009 on this page
http://ozultimate.com/tom/photos/favourite.htm
were taken with the 10-22mm and various Canon APS-C SLRs. It's not full frame and it's not L series, but the combination is light enough that you might actually take it (+tripod) on a bushwalk!
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Kainas » Thu 20 Aug, 2015 6:26 pm

tom_brennan wrote:If you're interested in getting more into landscapes, I can recommend this option - since I've been using it for about 6 years. Most of the photos since 2009 on this page
http://ozultimate.com/tom/photos/favourite.htm
were taken with the 10-22mm and various Canon APS-C SLRs. It's not full frame and it's not L series, but the combination is light enough that you might actually take it (+tripod) on a bushwalk!


Nice. So if I buy that lens I will get photos like that :wink:

I will put that in my rolling xmas wish list, and give the kit lens a good going for the next few treks. As several people, including youself, have mentioned... I need to know what I am the problem is before I buy a new solution.

Currently, using the 50mm, the problem was constantly having to move back back back back to try to get a shot... nothing would fit into the frame unless I was miles away. Lets see if the 18-55mm changes all that...
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby tom_brennan » Fri 21 Aug, 2015 2:24 am

Kainas wrote:Nice. So if I buy that lens I will get photos like that :wink:

Of course :)

A tripod, polarising filter and being in the right place at the right time can also help.

But get out there and take photos (and try and work out how to use the M(anual) setting on your camera if you haven't used it, or at least the P, Av and Tv ones)
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby cajun » Fri 21 Aug, 2015 9:10 am

I have only just started to become interested in the finer points of photography. I did a community college course, and have widened my lens kit a little. However, it seems to me most of my best shots are with the kit lenses.

18-55 Canon kit lens is very versatile, especially for landscapes and "macro" shots. I'm willing to bet though, you will soon enough find room for the 55-250 :-)

Lots of excellent advice in this thread, and this http://www.bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2272 thread on here too. It is a pearler.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby Kainas » Mon 24 Aug, 2015 2:26 pm

tom_brennan wrote:
Kainas wrote:Nice. So if I buy that lens I will get photos like that :wink:

Of course :)

A tripod, polarising filter and being in the right place at the right time can also help.

But get out there and take photos (and try and work out how to use the M(anual) setting on your camera if you haven't used it, or at least the P, Av and Tv ones)


I have been using the Av setting for a while - as well as taking photos in RAW and converting them in Lightroom. However after a while I got sick of seeing the same photo of my kids, or flowers in my backyard! I need more practice.

I went to the photography exhibition at the Australian National Museum a few weeks ago (on the day of the city-2-surf, I had to jump to police barriers to get to the door, but well worth it as the museum was empty for my entire visit). I was impressed by the dedication of so many of the photographers - many of them youth. One young person described building a raft/hide so he could float around a pond taking photos of animals.

I do have a tripod, a xmas present from some years ago. It weighs a tonne but it will be in the vehicle on our hiking trip so I will get to use it at the campsites.

Thank you for you advice! I am hearing it -- practice practice practice!~ I will challenge myself to take a photo to submit to the monthly photography competition. It will give me some focus.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby wildlight » Sun 30 Aug, 2015 10:08 pm

Kainas wrote:It will give me some focus.


And hopefully the image will be given some focus too!

Just on that note- (sharpness)- we used to have guys come through the studio wanting to shoot for us all the time, with the most phenomenal arrays of glass one could imagine.

More images were lost (from a quality perspective, not "deleted" lost) because of poor technique, than through not having the very best glass. By far the greatest culprit, in decades of coaching photographers- is camera shake. Remember- we're discussing image sharpness here. Take THAT away and the single biggest killer that trainees brought to their work was "not knowing how to give a photo the dynamics of brilliant composition". Not understanding lighting came next.

But your thread is about lenses. The 18-55 will definitely "get more in" than the longer lenses you have. Now my maths is terrible, BUT: If you have a 50mm and swap it out for a 24mm, it will capture an area about double of the 50mm. Pop a 100mm on your camera, and your tightening up the composition or "angle of view" to half of what the 50mm grabs. Remember a wide shot can be cropped later if needed. Trying to hand hold a 200mm in conditions us bushies often shoot in, can result in a worse image than one taken with a 50mm and cropped later- because the 200mm is more difficult to hold steady for long enough when light levels drop and shutter speeds lengthen.

I'd be dropping a few dollars into a gadget called a "trail pix pro" which enables you to make a makeshift monopod out of a single trekking pole. It's not as good has having a full-blown monopod- but way better than not having one at all, when light levels are low, and shutter speeds call for better stability. That same gadget can make a tripod out of 3 trekking poles, although I'd be careful with a camera the weight of yours. I used exactly that arrangement one year (trail pix pro and 3 poles) on the larapinta trail- and it worked well with my D810 and fast primes. Setting up was fiddly because the micro adjustment of a "real" tripod wasn't there. But slow exposures were very sharp. using a delayed release.

In signing off, I'll say this:
In almost every case, having some sort of monopod "or camera support" will increase your odds of utilising whatever potential your lens offers for a sharp photo. If you balance your camera on a flat rock, and activate the timer and walk away, you don't need a monopod or tripod. Those focal lengths covered by your 18-55 are capable of some great stuff, in terms of composition and perspective. Get a filter to protect the front element, and go out and get some gobsmacking images. Try to keep the camera accessible as you move.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 6:37 am

wildlight wrote:Trying to hand hold a 200mm in conditions us bushies often shoot in, can result in a worse image than one taken with a 50mm and cropped later- because the 200mm is more difficult to hold steady for long enough when light levels drop and shutter speeds lengthen.

Sure about this one, when both have exactly the same frame?
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby north-north-west » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 8:15 am

GPSGuided wrote:
wildlight wrote:Trying to hand hold a 200mm in conditions us bushies often shoot in, can result in a worse image than one taken with a 50mm and cropped later- because the 200mm is more difficult to hold steady for long enough when light levels drop and shutter speeds lengthen.

Sure about this one, when both have exactly the same frame?

Yes.
It's more complicated than you might think, but the basic issue is trying to hold steady a camera with a two inch long lens, compared to one with a five inch long lens. Think about - which combination is going to be harder to hold still, and which front end of the lens is going to move more with the same amount of hand movement?
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 8:57 am

Which is going to have a steadier hold is not so simple as a 2" vs 5". The balance and weight of the full setup come into it too. Sometimes a nicely balanced long lens can have a better hold. Given equivalence, a 50mm enlarged to the field of 200mm would have a similar level of 'shake', assuming it has the resolution to match at that level.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby horsecat » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 10:38 am

And...a 200mm lens needs shutter speed faster than 1/200 of a second to avoid noticeable shake. 50mm needs shutter speed of 1/50 sec or faster. Anything slower requires a tripod. But I find my 200mm a lot more ergonomic than the 50mm. Small 40mm pancake lenses fell just plain odd on the 5D
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 11:16 am

The issue here is not 50mm, but using the 50mm lens and magnifying to the FOV of a 200mm. As such, the recommended shutter speed will also need to be above 1/200s.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby wildlight » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 12:00 pm

GPSGuided wrote:
wildlight wrote:Trying to hand hold a 200mm in conditions us bushies often shoot in, can result in a worse image than one taken with a 50mm and cropped later- because the 200mm is more difficult to hold steady for long enough when light levels drop and shutter speeds lengthen.

Sure about this one, when both have exactly the same frame?


Absolutely no question of it. Try it in the field and see. Once your shutter speeds slow up and your 200mm lens causes you to hold the camera a little unsteady, an image shot through a prime 50mm will be sharper, because the camera was easier to hand hold at the slower speed.

With each lens, try something like 1/30th or 1/15th @ f4 and compare the results. Longer focal lengths amplify shake without mercy. Images shot on prime lenses- especially most 50mm glass- can be cropped heavily and still look good. We've routinely made 2 meter long prints from hand held 50mm lens shots. Cropping them down to a field of view equivalent to a 200mm lens would still give you 50cm length (how big would you realistically use your files to print)- and these are by no means the "limits" for an awesome file.

Remember too-my post said "in the conditions us bushes often shoot in"- not always fantastic for hitting the perfect stance when you're holding on to a rock with a toenail (you get what I mean, hopefully…). The 50mm will definitely get you a more workable shot when push comes to shove. Of course if something is still a million miles away with a 200mm lens, it will be four million miles away with the 50mm.
GPSGuided wrote:Which is going to have a steadier hold is not so simple as a 2" vs 5". The balance and weight of the full setup come into it too. Sometimes a nicely balanced long lens can have a better hold. Given equivalence, a 50mm enlarged to the field of 200mm would have a similar level of 'shake', assuming it has the resolution to match at that level.

Now on the above point by GPSGuided, I agree there too. But again- in the conditions we often find ourselves in as "wilderness shooters" the ability of the photographer to get the ideal body positioning / balance / stance / whatever- can be tested. I know just in my own scenarios, the ideal composition often happens from the most non-human-friendly square meter of earth within cooee of the scene.

Each to their own. If your 200mm gives you what you want, then that baby is the lens you take.

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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 12:15 pm

wildlight wrote:Absolutely no question of it. Try it in the field and see. Once your shutter speeds slow up and your 200mm lens causes you to hold the camera a little unsteady, an image shot through a prime 50mm will be sharper, because the camera was easier to hand hold at the slower speed.

You are changing the comparison.

Aren't we talking about comparing a 200mm POV, one taken with a 200mm lens while the other taken with a 50mm and then cropped and magnified back up? The physics of it say both will require 1/200s shutter speed maximum to avoid movement blurs.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby wildlight » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 1:04 pm

Like I said, try it in the field and see. I really believe- and I'm only basing this on over three decades of full-time professional (primarily location based) photography experience… that is will be "easier" to achieve this with a shorter focal length lens. Irrespective of "data", "charts", "forum talk", "reviews" and so on, it's whatever works to bring you the shot you want.

That's definitely the takeaway here.

It may well be, that some people are suited to slightly heavier gear, longer focal lengths etc- and CAN hold those lenses very still at slow speeds. Those people are in the minority, and the situation needs to have everything going for it in order for that all to work. One would increase one's chances greatly, by bringing a little more certainty into it, and reducing the need of luck to be present…

If you say I am changing the comparison, it certainly wasn't my intention. The whole point of all of these pointers from me, is to present my observations- being in the profession for decades- that the likelihood of getting a usable shot in a "shake-prone" environment increases when you use a shorter lens if it's so dark that nothing quicker than 1/8 or 1/15th or 1/30th is possible. At my favourite ISO of 64 on the d810, those kinda speeds are "fast"- the reality often runs to full seconds. I did say early on, that low light seems to be the kind of scenario us bushwalkers often shoot in.

Bring the glass- am happy to run some practical shootout tests anytime. I'd be delighted to publicly acknowledge my incorrectness if it comes out that way.

We've had blokes test out with us shooting on Hasselblads in the old days, and couldn't produce the sharp shots that someone right alongside them, using a 35mm slr produced. The two photographers exchanged cameras during the shoot- when the films were processed clearly it became a question of operator technique. Hassy had an 80mm zeiss, the Nikon had a 50mm, so close enough field of view on both rigs.

I also forgot to add to the previous post, that to Kainas, (the humble OP- sorry for this huge de-rail)- I really believe your 18-55mm lens will give you more versatility in more situations than either of the other lenses you mentioned. Which in turn *should* yield a higher keeper-shot count- and a happier photo-hiker.

One of those trekking-pole camera supports will definitely get you another stop or two. You kinda "become" a tripod- the pole becomes the third leg, coz the two legs you are standing on, contribute to the mix.

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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 1:12 pm

Obviously there'll be individual variations. All I'm saying is that the laws of optics say otherwise. When the angle of view is 12 degrees (200mm FOV), the motion blur is identical irrespective of the particular lens. A maximum shutter speed of 1/200 is recommended.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby wildlight » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 1:13 pm

GPSGuided wrote:The physics of it say both will require 1/200s shutter speed maximum to avoid movement blurs.


Try both lenses in the field, and let us know which lens lens yielded the best result, when you couldn't get 1/200th shutter speed. I acknowledge your comment above might have a typo, where "maximum" should possibly have been "minimum".

My bet is on that the 50mm will be "not as far towards horrible" as the 200mm, both hand held at say 1/15th second. Plus- just taking it to a whole new level again- you've often got a wider maximum aperture on a prime 50mm which, with same ISO enables you to call a faster shutter speed. Down to the wire like that- every bit helps.

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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby icefest » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 3:07 pm

Won't the cropped image have 1/4 the resolution (the the same FoV) when compared with the 200mm? This would mean that you could have double the angular movement before the blur becomes as visible.

Secondly, as the 50mm has only one light-bucket (pixel) collecting photons as the 200mm for the same angle, wouldn't that increase the exposure by one ev? This means you can have 1/4 the shutter speed for the same photon-per-pixel rate (exposure), decreasing the time for shake to occur.
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Re: Lens suggestions and/or advice

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 31 Aug, 2015 3:28 pm

icefest wrote:Won't the cropped image have 1/4 the resolution (the the same FoV) when compared with the 200mm? This would mean that you could have double the angular movement before the blur becomes as visible.

The scenario here is one of blur (circle of confusion), so not comparable with a proper 200mm lens at all. Not seeing the blur is not the same as not having the blur.

On this issue, I can see certain confounding factors. One such being the typically larger aperture of a 50mm prime, allowing the photo to be taken at a higher speed than a typically 'slower' telephoto lens. As said, for the same physical parameters, a 50mm cropped to 12 degrees FOV is similarly prone to movement blur as a 200mm shooting 12 degrees FOV.

If 50mm can be cropped for sharper 12 degrees FOV, there would not be 200mm telephoto lenses out on the market. ;)
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