Before reaching the point where I would hand over my credit card or hard earned cash towards a pricey camera equipment, as a buyer, it’s in my best interest to know as much if not more about the gear than the person who’s selling it to me. This may not always be the case but I can certainly get close to knowing what I’m buying and what this new gear can do for me especially when talking about lenses.
The eternal inquiry from every perspective photographer including myself is “what lenses should I buy?” The answer usually lies in the reply to these 2 questions: “What type of photography do you practice? and “do you monetized enough from doing photography that you can justify spending on glass that can cost up to more than the camera itself?”
The 18-105mm kit lens that came with my Nikon D90 was great for the first year. Then ultimately ones inquisitiveness catches up, you begin immersing yourself more with the craft, doing your research and eventually you understand that the lens you thought was great because it came as a package deal with your camera is not so remarkable because it performs slow and it’s terrible in low light. The old saying of “knowledge is power” was fully applicable to my plight because it was not until I understood the relation between focal length, depth of field and shutter speed that I realize why the kit lens didn’t deliver during those instances where I needed for it to make me look like I knew what I was doing. The lens was always fine. The issue was that I never understood its limitations.
The moral to the story is that you have to do your research before thinking about investing on a lens or better yet, master what you own before moving on to anything else. Just finding and owning the meanest looking glass won’t solve any problems if you don’t think about how you will use it or if you haven’t decided what you want out of it. In my case, I’ve been wanting a lens that’s as versatile as the 18-105mm but faster and yet not too expensive.
Glancing over at the bookshelf where I keep my lenses, the only one I’ve paid full price for was the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 largely because it only cost me around $130. Regardless of what style of photography you specialized in, this is the one lens that every Pro would unequivocally suggest you buy first, so I did and they were right. Everything else I own was acquired used on Craigslist. From the 85mm f/1.8 to the 28mm f/2.8. If money wasn’t an issue, I would gladly buy lenses new. The substantial discount in used gear in many cases is what leads us to them and when you still can’t come across one that meets your price range, there’s always the aftermarket brands.
I’m aware that well taken care of lenses can potentially last a lifetime so sometimes I may overlook having to pay more than I was bargaining for because there’s always the choice to resell and that for me has always been the underlying theme for purchasing lenses. Regardless of how badly I may want a lens, I can’t buy a used lens if it has no potential to be resold. Lenses are delicate pieces of glass with mechanical parts and that alone gives you a visual of how fragile they may be so there’s no sense in buying something that is passable for the moment but permanent in the long run in the sense that you can’t do much with it after no longer wanting it.
The most recent lens that I bought was the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX. I’ve always been a fanboy for buying only Nikon lenses but this time around I did my research and considered an alternative. Everyone has different circumstances that leads to different decisions and the person I bought it from opted to sell it because it was too bulky and not practical enough to the type of work he shoots. I haven’t shot much with it yet and even after I do, I don’t can’t see myself writing the type of extensive reviews that have already been published. I’m not good with technical jargon. I much prefer reporting back with photographs wrapped with stories recounting my experience with it so that what you can expect.
For some time, I had always avoided buying anything but Nikon lenses and if you’ve shared similar thoughts, I cant’ suggest enough to research alternatives if you can’t afford the real deal. In the end, the lens is just a tool but in the right hands, you can create some amazing stuff with it.