The Great Glass

Josh Ginter has a fantastic post outlining the value of good lenses for any camera system. It’s a good read and you should go through it if you are just getting into photography.

There are a couple of things that I wanted to weigh in on though, that Josh doesn’t get wrong, but that I differ in opinion on.

My biggest mistake when purchasing the Olympus E-M10 last May was my underestimation of good glass. I assumed the camera body was the most important purchase of my new photography hobby. At the time, I hadn’t budgeted for lenses or other accessories that I now want to acquire.

Giving buying advice to someone new to photography is nearly impossible. Lenses are very important, but so is the body. What’s even more important is understanding that everything has limitations. Josh shows some comparison photos between the lenses, and I bet some of you won’t be able to see a noticeable difference, and that’s just as important as the difference.

There are some things that you can and cannot do with certain lenses, but more importantly than what you can’t do, is knowing those constraints. You can, and people do, take extraordinary photos with subpar camera equipment.

For example, take this photo I took with an iPhone 5S — that’s not something I could capture with any of the photo equipment I own except my iPhone. Or follow my wife on Instagram and see some really amazing iPhone photography. Now none of that is to say that Josh is wrong, the lens really does matter, but my point is that you can still take great photos without an expensive lens. So don’t wait to buy a new camera because you can’t buy an expensive lens at the outset.

(One of the great lenses you can get on a Canon dSLR is the ‘nifty-fifty’ and it is about $100. It is made like crap, but optically it is awesome.)

The most important part of any camera is you. That sounds corny and stupid, but a technically perfect photo is usually boring as shit. If you have a ‘shitty’ lens, use that to your advantage, don’t let that stop you.1

Fixed Lens

Josh also said:

Please excuse my dismissal of impressive fixed-lens mirrorless cameras. New mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X100T can create breathtaking images, but cameras like these are far from my specialty. I know next to nothing about this facet of the mirrorless camera world, so I’ll push it off to the side for the time being.

My only cameras are my iPhone 6 and my X100T. That’s it for me these days. But you won’t find me telling my non-photographically inclined friends to buy an X100T. The thing is, a fixed lens camera is, and can be, really great (the X100T is the best camera I’ve ever used), but it takes a lot to get used a fixed lens camera.

It’s not for everyone, and that’s fine. Fixed lens is an odd beast that I don’t have my head fully wrapped around, more on that later, but suffice to say it’s not something I would say is for people just finding their groove in photography.


  1. Which I don’t think is what Josh was saying at all. 

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
3 minutes to read.


tl;dr

The lens does matter, but it’s just one part of the overall system.