This is a list of what lenses I use and why. Feel free to adopt my point of view or just leave it up to your own experience. This list is supposed to be an additional information from the tech side – remember, the photographer takes the picture, not the camera. Well, as an SLR user, I’d say it’s the photographer and his lens. This combination is way more important than the camera.
Definitely the smallest and fastest lens in my collection. Beautiful bokeh and sharp as can be, even at 1.4 (although this is being bought with significant falloff in the corners – which can be a nice effect sometimes if you’re into that, most of the times you have to look twice at a picture to really see it). Whatever you own, no matter what system you shoot with, if you’re missing a 50/1.4 – get one! I’ve thought about getting something even faster one day, like a 50/1.2 but looking back at what I’m shooting, it never is so dark I could need one. And oh, depth-of-field would be really hard to master, at least wide open.
Yes, I still have the above’s predecessor in my bag. Well, it stays in the nice display I recently got. Looking at prices for used versions of this lens dropping so quickly, I might as well keep it. Just in case.
Sharpest. Lens. Ever. That’s what all say about this Nikkor, and I tend to think they’re right. It’s a small, though and heavy lens, capable of taking incredible macro pictures (yes, macro lenses are called “Micro” at Nikon). I love it. You’re looking for fast AF on this lens? Naaah…
One of my recent additions. Not the 1.4 version everybody is looking for, but since I started shooting FX, depth of field became so small – how would you ever make use of this aperture when doing portraits? Anyways, the 1.8 is perfect to me, all metal and glass (even with a metal hood to screw in). Feels nice, looks great, works perfectly.
A macro lens to be able to shoot from a bit further away, so to not scare insects? This is my lens. Big and heavy, so you’d better have a tripod at hand. Autofocus is slow, as it SHOULD be with macro lenses (just my two cents) but accurate. And that’s what the ladybugs and dragonflies care about, isn’t it?
Finally, this ultra-wider lens is back in my collection. And I even managed to get the upgraded version. From a couple of first tests, I can say it’s bigger, not lighter (although it feels like more plastics have been used to build it) but feels really nice. AF is on the spot and flares in direct light are reduced to a minimum. Can’t wait to test this in an environment, where 12mm on FX will result in astonishing pictures. Where’s an ocean when you need one?
With switching over to FX, I was lacking a wide option below the 28mm of the east, so I got this one (it was a real bargain). With 18mm now, I can be as wide as with my old Sigma 12-24 on DX. It’s lightweight and a bit noisy, but it’s wide enough for now. Let’s see what time will tell me. Yes, I know, time will tell me, it’s about time to own a 14-24/2.8
As of July 2014, this precious little gem is mine. It always was my first choice for an ultra wide, the only reason for getting the 18-35 first was availability of this lens. What used to be the #1 solution for street and photo journalism can hardly be found these days. Out of production since 2001, it does not feature any of the newer gadgets like AF-S or VR, it just has a switch for AF/MF. Autofocus though is really fast and nothing to worry about though. Definitely a keeper.
The Beast. Needless to say anything more, it’s my all-time favorite. Portraits, standards, insides, whatever – if in need of a wonderful standard zoom, this is my lens of choice. It’s fast, it’s big and heavy (two pounds of metal and glass take their toll), but I love to carry it around wherever I am. Won’t leave the house without it.
When I started SLR photography, I had an old, crappy 70-210/4-5.6 from Sigma (click here) and always wished for a huge Nikon 80-200/2.8 (in those days, it was this one). It took me a while, but now I own this gem. Sharp, silent and really fast focusing. Why no VR? I tried, but never felt as if I needed one.
This used to be my wildlife lens. 300mm on crop were a whopping 450mm – this is kinda lost on FX, but it still is an impressive piece of work from Sigma and is taken to places where stuff is far away. Already really nice and sharp at f/4.
With years of dragging the above lens with me, it was about time for an update. With more than twice the weight and a significant growth in length and diameter, I won a whole stop! And again, lost depth of field on FX, but hey, with nearly 9 lbs (on my D800) in your hand, it just feels great.
This little lens is the last remnant of my DX lens lineup. Why do I keep it? Because it does a great job on the D200 and given the fact that this is my last chance to shoot wide on DX, it stays.
What’s missing? I’m still “in need” for some other lenses, so here’s my (current) whish-list:
I feel like I’m missing a lot of width below the 28mm of The Beast, so I’m looking for something wider, equally fast. This quite old lens (though optically perfect) would be a nice fit.Acquired, as of July 2014.
Yes, it’s 300mm as above, just faster. And heavier. Would love to own one. Or even a 400/2.8?Looking at the fact that I do have something at 300/2.8 now, I’d say I’m done. For now.
I used to own one, and even on DX it was impressive (most of the amazing beach/sky pictures were shot with this). So I definitely wait for another ultra-wide to cross my way. Must be perfect for FX.Acquired as of August 2015.
- Sigma HSM 24-70/2
This could be a successor of my 28-70 – with a whole step faster, it must be a must-have. Update: as far as I have heard and read, this lens should either
a) be available at Photokina 2014 (which takes place in Cologne in September)
b) feature additional optic stabilization (whoa!) or
c) be a complete hoax (which would be sad, but currently the most realistic rumor)
Either way, if one day there there is going to be something like this, consider this as a must-have.
Update: Turns out, it had been a hoax. In the meantime, Sigma has announced a 24-35/2 without stabilization. Pricing should be around 1.000 $/€. Hm, just a little bit less interesting…
Discarded lenses – here’s my list of lenses I gave away (and why).
My very first Nikkor. Lightweight and small. Worked pretty amazing on film, but not on digital, so it was the first to go. I don’t miss it, though. It had its time.
This should be the first prime for anyone. Most likely the cheapest high-quality lens, each manufacturer has one in stock. Good plastics and great resolution, even on digital. Had to leave for the 1.4 when I learned that this was really superior.
My first real macro lens (with magnification up to 1:1) and it really was a solid one. Really slow autofocus (but that doesn’t matter to me) and great quality. Had to leave when I stopped using it because of the 60 and the 180 (see above).
This was the first consumer lens introducing vibration reduction from Nikon. And as everyone (and the internet) was raving about what quality they put into a then 500€ lens, it was mine after some time. Yes, felt good (plastic, though) and delivered good results, but I hardly made use of the VR. I’d rather carry a tripod with me (or start lifting weights to be able to hold the 120-300 kinda steady) than working with this wobbly lens technology. Left for the 100-300/4.
Damn. Damn. Damn. I should’ve never gotten rid of this lens. A bit soft wide open, but still – think about having 12mm on FX today!
Trying to have sharp images with this lens was nearly impossible below f8, so the aperture was kind of useless. It was like a softener, whatever I tried. Gave it away and never missed it.
Wow, that was an amazing lens. Solid steel, real heavy. Not 1:1 but still capable of shooting the small things in life. Left because of the real 180mm Macro.
Another lens I regret giving away. As far as I remember, it was sharp and fast but at the time, I really did not use it enough. Now on FX, it would have been decent. You never know…
Coming from the same series as the 180/2.8 this zoom was really built to last. I used it for quite a while until it broke.
Initially bought for film as an addition to the small 35-70 Nikkor, this zoom was part of my first SLR set. Extensive use of what was built quite well though one day resulted in the front lens falling off. Got replaced quickly. The whole lens, not just the front glass.
This one was just shortly in my bag. Not really flawless, I never liked it too much. Pretty good standard zoom on DX though, it had to go when the 28-70/2.8 from Nikon arrived.
With 50mm being a bit too long on DX, I tried this little gem. 30mm was perfect, so was the aperture. I’m a bit sorry, this was a DX only lens.