Home > Personal > Dad’s Photography Corner: OMG…SO…MANY…LENSES!!!

Dad’s Photography Corner: OMG…SO…MANY…LENSES!!!

It’s been one heck of a ride thus far…that is, in terms of photography.  Since my last article, I’ve shot and edited many a photo.  I came up with a name for my photography quote unquote “business”, went out and bought Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, and have now begun seriously considering expanding on my lens collection.

At the moment, I have the following lenses:

18-55 mm, f/3.5-5.6 G, VR, AF-S

55-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 G, VR, AF-S

The 18-55 mm is great for landscapes and taking shots in which there isn’t a lot of room to work.  The 55-300 mm is great for its zoom, catching things from pretty far away without too much of a problem.  I use it for macro photography, even though it’s not a macro lens.  I simply have to stand far away from the object, push the zoom to its fullest, and hope the autofocus can hit its mark.

I’m seriously picking up one or two of the following lenses:

50 mm, f/1.8 G

85 mm, f/1.8 G

85 mm, f/3.5 G, Macro Lens

105 mm, f/2.8 G, Macro Lens

The former two, I read, are great for portrait photography.  The low aperture number (f/1.8) makes photos sharper and provides a lot of background blur (called bokeh).  I want the 85 mm as it would allow me to not be so up and close and personal with a client, but it’s almost twice as expensive.  The 50 mm normally goes for about $125-150, but because my camera does not have an internal motor, I’ll need the AS-F lens (one with an internal motor) for the autofocus to function.  That adds about another $100, on average.  The 85 mm, I’ve researched, goes for over $500.  Ouch.

The latter two, I’ve read, are great macro lenses.  They do make macro lenses below 85 mm, but the less of a zoom you have, the more of a chance you’ll scare away insects and moving targets since you’ll need to be closer.  Unfortunately, the 85 mm is over $500, and the 105 mm hits into the $700 range.  Again…ouch.  I have to wonder though, if a macro lens is able to get up close and personal, how would it fare as a portrait lens?

If any of you pros out there know the answer to that or have worked with both portrait and macro lenses, feel free to leave a comment and help a budding photographer out.  Lenses are expensive, and if a portrait lens can do the work of a macro or vice versa, I’d like to know.

In the meantime, I’m awaiting test prints from WHCC and am considering opening up an account over at Zenfolio.  I do have a Facebook page, but I’d like something a bit more professional, not to mention my own URL.  Oh yeah, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 isn’t a bad product…confusing since I’ve never owned any version of Adobe Photoshop, but it’s user-friendly enough to where I can do a lot of things easily and quickly.  I haven’t messed with layers yet, but I have been able to remove blemishes, add a watermark, and the like. 

If you feel inclined to know more about the experiences of an amateur photographer, then stay tuned!




  1. Josh Lamoreaux
    June 13th, 2013 at 17:41 | #1

    I’ll help you out man. I’m a new board gamer, but an experienced photographer. The four lenses you want are very redundant, and if you’re worried about money, are wasteful. The kit lenses you already have will get you 85-90% of what you need for outdoors. For your next lens I would get the 85mm 1.8 for portraits & low-light. It’s my favorite oft-used lens. If you want a great low-cost option for macro that will give the same results as the $700 105mm VR, find an old used manual-focus Nikkor 105mm 2.8 AI-s for less than half the price. Yes, you will have to focus manually and expose full manual but with macro you’ll end up doing that anyway and manually exposing will teach you more about photography than anything else. I wouldn’t bother with the 85 macro. For macro photography start at the 105, but most real macro work is done with a 200mm. I would seriously wait and see what kind of photographer you want to be before investing in a macro lens. Unless you are spending most of your time taking picture of bugs, you won’t ever use it.

    Also, a correction. A lens with a larger max aperture (lower number) does not make a photo sharper. Sometimes it’s actually the opposite. It simply lets in more light and gives slightly more bokeh than an equivalent lens with a smaller max aperture. Focal length has more to do with throwing backgrounds out of focus than aperture.

    • Vincent
      June 13th, 2013 at 19:03 | #2

      Thanks Josh! This is very helpful! I was leaning toward the 85 mm 1.8 for portraits, but it’s clocking in around $500 compared to the 50 mm 1.8, which is about $200. Does the 85 mm make that big of a difference compared to the 50 mm, in your opinion? Does it do more than just allow for more space in between the subject and you, since they both have the same minimum aperture?

      I am probably not going to make as much money from macro shooting (bugs, etc.) as I will with portraits, so I was planning to hold off on a macro lens until I had money to burn…if that ever happens. 🙂

      Thanks again for leaving a comment, I hope you find the board game reviews helpful. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

  2. Josh Lamoreaux
    June 17th, 2013 at 17:31 | #3

    No problem! In terms of the 50mm vs 85mm. In my experience, the pictures you get from an 85 have more “wow” factor. That being said, the 50mm is more versatile, especially on a full frame sensor body. I’m not sure if you have a APS-C cropped sensor or a full frame. When thinking back, I have probably used a 50mm (on a ful frame that is) more than my 85, but the 85 pics have more impact. The smaller depth of field on the 85 really lets you zero in on your subject. I’m just in love with the 85 focal length, so I’m biased.
    Sorry if I’m just confusing you more. All this being said, if you have a cropped sensor, the next lens you should definitely buy is the 35mm 1.8G for $200. When I started using the cropped sensor, this was my favorite versatile lens for pics of family, events, etc. It gives the equivalent of about the 50mm on a full frame, even though the depth of field isn’t as small, it’s still a wonderful little thing.

    • Vincent
      June 17th, 2013 at 17:47 | #4

      LOL, no need to apologize, there’s a lot to photography I still have to learn. From what I understand, my d3100 is not a full framed camera, meaning that my lenses are 1.5x their actual value (I think that’s how it works). The 50 mm would end up being a 75 mm, if I got the math right.

      I was looking at the 35 mm as well, but I was worried that the picture would be too distorted for portraits. When I zoom my kit lens back to 15 mm, I get a very wide field of view. I was also concerned I’d have to be right up on the customer when taking their picture (that might make strangers uncomfortable), which is why I was looking at the 50 mm and the 85 mm. I might try out the 50 mm simply because it’s more affordable, though I’m hoping to add the 85 mm to my collection. My goal is to get one good prime lens for now and hopefully if the hobby takes off into a business, I’ll be able to afford more.

      It would be so much easier of these lenses weren’t so expensive in the first place, LOL. I really had my eye on this 70-200 mm VR 2.8/f lens for portraits, but it’s over a thousand bucks. At any rate, I appreciate your help and the advice!

      • Josh Lamoreaux
        July 5th, 2013 at 17:35 | #5

        Actually, the 35 1.8 takes some very nice portraits on a cropped sensor IMHO. No distortion to worry about.

        • Vincent
          July 5th, 2013 at 19:11 | #6

          Thanks for the tip! I’ve since purchased the 50 mm and just received it yesterday. I’ll definately keep the 35 in mind though, on a cropped sensor, the 50 mm can’t catch landscapes all that well. The focus is a bit touchy though, especially on the f/1.8 end. Now I have to figure out when to use matrix, center, and spot metering…always something! 🙂