Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday (photo by Brad Moore).

While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been): from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).

Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation, so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), that there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.

One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson, and it’s so right on the money:

He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like a 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that it’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.

So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all — a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.

So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:

(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail like the pros do.

I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots â” and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their shots just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.

So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm â” I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” — I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant, you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice — it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone — I’m not limited by my lens.

But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about its sharpness, but beyond that, it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table — something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime â” I’ll zoom with my feet).

Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H â” please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-24mm zoom. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.

For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish.”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool, ” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.

Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with — going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party — something that separates you from the crowd.

This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and well — I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters’ ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done — there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there — you just have to be really, really good.

Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.

What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot — the first composition decision — and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.

All my best,

-Scott
Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

114 Comments

  1. Re the Bresson quote – don’t forget he was shooting film so the level of commitment he’s talking about is an order of magnitude above what where we’re at in the digital world.
    We can fire off 1,000 images in a week, 10,000 comes in just under three months.

    No, in the digital realm I think the quote should be “your first 100,000 images are your worst”

  2. I totally know what you’re saying. I shoot a lot of concerts, and have plenty of fast glass to do the job. A couple years ago I worked a 4-day festival, and for the first time ever, I got bored with a lens: 24-70 on a DX body. I got *so* sick of the images I felt like long-bombing that lens across the field. Now I stick to my Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 (usually pegged at 10mm!) on one body, and 70-200 on my other. (my 300/2.8 is gorgeous for compression, but it sure is a pig to haul around for four 16-hour days in a row…but I do it anyways, cause I get a look with that that nobody else in the pit is getting)

  3. Hi Scott,

    Great post! I’ve just started using my canon 70-300 mm lens … what a difference it’s made for my shots! It sat in my bag, while I used my Sigma 18-250mm (which I loved for travel) until it finally doesn’t work anymore (keep getting contact lens to camera error). So, I started using the 70-300 and my 24-70mm … what a difference I’m starting to see in my photos. Not there yet, but passed the snap shot level.:-). Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Dennis

  4. Wow, what an excellent blog post today! I got a 16-35mm lens last year and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. You’re right… your perspective changes a lot and people will “ooh’ and “aah” at the wider angle. I got a shot of the Blue Angels lined up end to end after their show, along with a terrific sky behind them. Couldn’t do that with a kit lens!
    Have a great time in Sacramento next week, Scott!
    –John

  5. Interesting! I have two lens kits I use for my fullframe Canon… The first one, mainly used for sports, concerts and such are actually the 16-35 and the 70-200. Love it! However, the other kit used when just “leisure shooting” I use a 35mm and a 85mm prime. That’s more of a challenge but also quite close to the classic Leica combo of 35mm and 90mm… :)

  6. Scott, as a former Nikon user, what would be your recommendation for a super wide for sports? My go-to is the 70-200 2.8 but really need something with more wow factor than that kit lens for wide stuff…

  7. Great post Scott. The new Canon UWA is actually 11-24mm, not 14mm.

  8. Good info. I have two issues. First I shoot with a CMOS so everything I want in a wide lens is X1.6. This means buying even wider. That is my second issue, price. The wider you go the higher it goes. I know, buy used. But for people who have tight budgets and shoot for fun and hope for profit good used lenses are costly. Add on lenses don’t really do quite what you thought when purchased. It’s a quandary. I did buy a 200mm 2.8 for my Canon and I like it

  9. Irony, I was just having this conversation with some folks this week about the “overuse” of the 50mm for doing head shots (non environmental). Especially with great lenses like the Sigma Art, it’s hard to put down a lens that you have dropped a lot of money on. I love the 105, or the 14/16mm range as well. I think it is just up to all of us to keep in mind that that lenses are tools in the toolbox. Just because you have a $300 drill, doesn’t mean you can’t use a $15 screwdriver, and vice versa…

  10. Good advice. Thank you!

  11. Just an observation but you mention several times that you like several different wide angle zooms but only use one focal length (i.e. 8-15mm using only the 15mm). Why not just by a prime 15mm or prime whatever? I can understand the longer zoom lenses for the sport images. Always enjoy your commentary!

    • Hi Don: In most cases, there isn’t another choice. I don’t believe there’s a 15mm Fisheye, my only choice is the 8-15mm zoom, and I’m OK with that. I don’t hate zooms – I love them for their flexibility — but when it comes to going wide, I go as wide as can most of the time :)

  12. Hi Scott,

    I shoot with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens on my Rebel T3, but I think my photos always look softer than they should. I almost always shoot at 1/200 and above and my photo exposure looks good so I don’t think its that to blame. I really want to get the 5d Mark III, do you think it will it make a big enough difference in my photos to make it worth the cost? Thanks!

    • My 24-105 is razor sharp on all of my bodies.

    • Not sure if the Rebel has micro focus adjustments, yet I can assure you it is a must do even for the 5DMKIII. If you don’t the images will be far off the maximum potential. The majority of my work is done with the 24-105. The 24-70 2.8 is better for within its range, or the 70-200 2.8 in its range but overall the 24-105 L is a very very good lens.

      • I don’t think the Rebel line has AF micro adjustment. Someone correct me if I’m in error please.

    • Try your lens on another body and see if it is sharp. If not ship it to Canon and have them fix it.

    • Shooting jpgs or raw ? If raw, are you confident you know how to do a proper level of raw image sharpening before your editing starts just to clean up what the camera handed you ?

      • Lyle, I attached an image to show you what I mean. RAW. I think the details aren’t captured very sharply but it doesn’t seem to be as bad if the subject is up close (just the babies face). I’m leaning toward it’s mostly a low-grade camera issue.

      • email the raw to me and I’ll look at it.
        might be whatever focus point is being grabbed – and it can be the lens/body pairing needs adjusted at Canon as noted elsewhere.

        moc.liamg at tsavatselyl

        flip it totally end for end …

    • Make sure it’s not your UV filter that’s causing the softness also, if you’re using one.

    • Lyle I sent you my photo. No filter Tony

  13. “The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera.”

    I know you have a disclaimer on this article. Hopefully, most won’t be foolish enough to take your words at face value and begin tossing their 24-70mm lenses—because “Scott says” it’s like shooting a cheap lens. The 24-70mm lenses, for both Canon and Nikon, are serious workhorse lenses for a large majority of professional photographers.

    In addition, I believe that everything that was written in this article is a bunch of hooey. What you should have been writing is that, “Most folks that are new to photography” know little about composition, light, or even what settings to use on their camera—NOT that they are using the wrong lens. I believe you are doing a disservice to the industry by perpetuating the myth that gear acquisition will make a better photographer—which is exactly what this article says. Your “one big reason” that a majority of new photographers are not happy with their results is equipment?

    • I believe he is talking about equivalent focal lengths, not quality.

      • Exactly. Thank you Andrew. :)

      • Scott, I think it would be a great Grid episode to put up some of the shots you probably showed at WPPI. Maybe use shots taken on purpose with the various lenses to demonstrate what you mean. I saw a recent episode where you and WPPI award winner Cliff Mautner were talking about wedding photographers using the “wrong lenses” (or maybe it was using their lenses wrong?). He was especially critical of using the 50mm. I was quite surprised. Your “no-go” range for your winning shots covers that same area. Love the post.

      • Yes, Andrew, he is saying that the 24-70mm lens is a high-quality lens that a lot of professionals use, but just happens to be in a inferior focal length—according to his personal opinion.

        My point remains valid: “because ‘Scott says’ it’s like shooting a cheap lens.”

        Maybe a little Scott math will help:
        The 24-70mm lens = a quality built lens.
        The 18-55mm focal range = a inferior focal range.
        The 24-70mm focal range = “that’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera”
        Therefore, a quality 24-70mm lens is a inferior lens, due to it’s inferior “equivalent” focal length.

      • ….and all these lenses in the hands of newbies are crappy. Have you looked on B & H?

        I think it is delusional at best to compare the newbies we’re talking about with those who post on 500px. That’s beyond apples and oranges, that’s like apples and hot dogs! Those who post on 500px are not newbies.

      • Seems to me an argument for the sake are arguing is at play here. The gist of the blog post was very simple to understand. At least to me.

    • Did I tell people to toss their 24-70s, or did I tell my reason why I don’t like my 24-70mm? Geesh. You sound like you skimmed the article, instead of actually reading it, because you’re making a lot of sweeping statements that are absolutely NOT what I said. Take a moment and re-read it. You’re making a lot of rushes to judgement and recanting statements I did not make. I know this is your spin on it, but it’s not an accurate one.

      • I’m not sure how skimming and sweeping could be inferred by commenting on a DIRECT QUOTE: “The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera.”

        Did you specifically tell them to “toss” their 24-70mm lenses? No. Did you infer that the 24-70mm lens is inferior due to a common kit lens focal length? Yes. Do people blindly follow every word you say? Mostly. Do people badly wish to appear better than what they are, specifically if they blindly follow the advise of someone who says a kit lens focal range is generally inferior? Most definitely, yes!

        It is not that the article needs to be re-read, it is that it needs to be re-written, as there are a lot of comments to this blog post don’t “get” what you “meant.” That reflects on you, not on me.

        A lengthly blog post on kit lenses and focal range do not quickly or easily translate to “choosing a specific lens to make a specific compositional decision.” That is a hell of a lot of reading to squeeze blood from a turnip to get what you “meant.”

    • Judging by the “customer photos” posted on B & H for this 24-70mm lens, I would say “average” is a compliment: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/843008-USA/Canon_5175B002_EF_24_70mm_f_2_8L_II.html

      Just look at the images posted….

      • Was lucky enough to assist your lecture Tuesday at the Canon booth during the WPPI 45 minutes was way too short but excellent you gave real good tricks and it was greatly appreciated.
        Carl CO

      • I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you saying that because amateurs with sub-par photographs who are desperately trying to get noticed by posting their work on a retail website make then lens or “focal range” poor?

        Well, I can retort by having you look through 500px, doing a search for “24-70” — https://500px.com/search?q=24-70&submit=Submit&type=photos

        Maybe Joe McNally’s blog post, using a 24-70mm lens can help: http://blog.joemcnally.com/2012/01/06/shooting-the-d4/

        (Note: I guess, because it’s a Nikon camera body with a Nikon lens, that it will automatically be regarded as inferior.)

      • How many “newbies” have heard of Joe McNally or 500px?

        24-70mm is a great lens, but if used by those who don’t know how to use it it looks like the crappiest lens ever! Mind you, B & H is a retail website trying to SELL products. They are doing more harm than good from a “selling” stand point. Trying to get “discovered” by posting abysmal images on B & H also shows how much “newbies” KNOW/understand about “photography”!

        I am sorry, I didn’t realize we were discussing Joe McNally’s ability to use a lens! Is he a newbie? This article was about newbies, referring to newbies.

        Those on B & H did get noticed. I posted here what I “noticed”: http://critiquesmatter.net/2015/03/07/ive-reached-a-new-conclusion/

  14. Scott, as many have stated my Nikon 24-70 is my biggest work horse, next would be the Nikon 70-200 which I love because of the length and I can get in tight for my style of shooting. I really would LOVE a longer lens and am thinking about getting a Tamron 150-600. I do shoot full frame (Nikon D800) to give me some more length. Anyone have opinions on this lens I would sure appreciate it.
    Because of this article I am going to break out my Sigma 10-20 and use only it for a few days to see what it gives me.
    Thanks for a great article.

  15. After seeing the Magnum show with a limited selection of pictures about Paris this week, what is missing in most amateurs pictures is not what lens they use but what content is photographed. If the no mans land lens can frame the content then it was the right lens to have. I am lazy, so I use a zoom for a lot of shooting, yet to really concentrate on the contents a fixed focal is the best way to explore serious fundamental composition skills.

  16. Great Article Scott! It’ll b shared…

  17. Scott,
    If purchasing EF16-35, mostly for sports action, but some Travel as well, would you now purchase the f4.0 or stay with the f2.8?

    • Hi Dave: The price difference is pretty steep between the two, so it would really come down to whether you find yourself shooting in low light situations a lot, where that extra stop would make a difference or not. It’s a big enough price difference that it’s really worth giving some serious thought to whether you need that very expensive extra stop of light. Hope that helps.

  18. 16-35/2.8 and 70-200/2.8? Oh, yeah. Nothing like the 16 for wide and the 200 for subject isolation. In fact, back when I was shooting daily the 16 was on my 1Ds and the 70-200 was pretty much glued to my 1D (98-280mm eqv.).

    Had a 35/1.4, the 85/1.2, and the 300/2.8 as well, but to me those were special purpose (low-light, portraiture, sport/news) lenses. 16 and 200 were my “bread and butter” lenses.

    If I were putting a similar system together today I’d probably choose a Sony 7s with the new 28/2 and perhaps an 7m2 and 70-200/4G. Or I might even choose a a6000 over the 7m2 so I could use the 10-18/4 and the 70-200 at 300mm eqv.

    • When I made a living shooting the 70’s – it was a 24, 135 and 180… mostly 24. My “look” lens was borrowing the paper’s 500/f8 mirror lens. 2 of my “keepers” from that period were shot with it – donut bokeh and all. :)

  19. Thank you Scott!

  20. Hmm. I think this analysis is wrong for most people. Beginners usually don’t go from no camera at all straight to a DSLR. They usually have had a compact or even a bridge before. And for the last 5-10 years these cams have all had superzooms; 24-200 is not uncommon on a compact and 28-300 and even longer is not uncommon on a bridge. So when these folks pick up a DSLR + kit they aren’t really beginners anymore.
    My guess is that it’s more a feeling of nostalgia or dissatisfaction – they had hoped their new camera would be so much better in terms of AF, lens quality and ability to use shallow DOF and they suddenly realize that AF and lens sharpness might be better but that the kit aperture doesn’t really allow for as shallow a DOF as they had hoped for and they are suddenly restricted to a much smaller zoom range than they were used to.

  21. Any off brand recommendations that work great with a 5D but don’t break the bank like the Canon lenses?

  22. Hi Scott, I see the point you are trying to make, and in many ways, it is a good one, but I think it comes across as, “The problem with beginners’ images is that they are using the wrong gear.”

    I think your intention may be closer to, “The problem with you beginners’ images is that you haven’t learned to see yet. You haven’t put the time in on the craft. You don’t know the basic rules. Oh, and by the way, your crappy kit lenses aren’t helping you. BUT… don’t bother buying new lenses until you get the other stuff right first, because it will be even more frustrating to be taking crappy pictures with your new $2,000 lenses. Just be aware that at some point, you are going to need to upgrade, but don’t do it until you are able to push the limits of the lens(es) you have.”

    Is that fair?

    • Did I ever say anything about buying expensive lenses? I used a $400+ Sigma fisheye for many years and loved it.

      • Correct, you did specially “say” that.

        However,
        A) you don’t currently shoot with a kit lens,
        B) you don’t currently shoot a third-party lens (kind of hard to do so when you’ll lose your Canon sponsorship by shooting something other than Canon), and
        C) any thing that is NOT a kit lens is going to be more expensive than a kit lens.

      • Look, I don’t know what kind of photographer you are, or what you’re photographing, but kit lenses are crap for the most part. They are dedicated to those who refuse to improve. I hate to break it to you, but when someone/anyone is looking to make “photography” (NOT photography gear buying) their hobby, or profession, they look WAY passed that kit lens.

        Then, “photography” both as a hobby and profession requires an investment; just like baking. You will be buying a really fancy mixer of you want to bake for other people and get paid for it.

        This post was about “focal length’s” and not gear buying. Scott is explaining the differences and what usually happens with various lenses, and how fauxtographer’s do become lazy if they don’t challenge themselves. This is not a hobby where someone else will push you from behind to improve; it’s either you take the time to study and improve on your own, or you sit in “no mans land” focal length’s forever; but if you choose the later, then you relinquish the right to complain that your photos are “average”.

        I just sold my Canon 85mm 1.8 because even though it is a prime, and it does take nice photos, the focus is too slow for me. I bought my son a car seat with that money. Now, if I ever want to use that particular focal length I will rent the Canon 85mm 1.2 for a week and shoot what I want with THAT one, since it is ten times better. It’s not just about zooms; the consumer line is not all “awesome” either. In my opinion that Canon 10-22mm is the BEST glass wise from the Canon “consumer line”. Most others have focusing issues.

        Good photographs are both equipment and brain based!

      • I agree with everything you said except the part about the 85 1.8 being slow to focus. Of all Canon 85’s, the 1.8 is the fastest focuser. I just used it for the Big12 Women’s basketball championship last night and it performed great. Those 1.2’s are very slow. Version 2 is better, but not near as quick (AF) as the 1.8 regardless of not being an L.

      • The one I had was very slow. I have the Canon 100mm Macro IS & it was slow next to that one.

      • That’s weird. Thought I’d just warn you about the other 85’s I use all kinds of lenses for sports work and lately my basketball repertoire has been the 35L, 85F1.8, 135L and a sometimes 70-200 and 300. Just depends on where I am located. I wonder if the lighting conditions had something to do with your problem. Was it just slow to acquire and track focus or was it continually hunting?

      • I don’t shoot much in low light, and I only used this lens here:
        http://acorner.net/blog/2014/9/lens-challenge

        The “focus search” is always off on my cameras, because if I do that I’d never be able to get one shot of my kids…like ever…it would never find and focus on them…

        It was just that I would point the lens at them, and when on auto-focus it would not be snappy, it would drag, and if I wanted to use manual focus the ring itself wouldn’t move smoothly either…I can’t manually focus my 50mm 1.4 either. I think this ring thing is just one of the vast differences between the consumer lenses and the L glass. IMO. The ring on my L glass lenses moves very smoothly…it’s a “lens-body” issue.

        Next time I have an opportunity I’ll rent the other one and see what it does. I like to manual focus my shots because I don’t trust the auto focus very much in general, and my 100mm macro is very precise when focused manually.

      • I’ve tried numerous Canon 85mm/f1.2s and they’ve all been painfully slow to use. Ended up buying an f1.8 and it’s just fine.

  23. The best take away from the article for me, one that I would like to write on the back of my camera body and pass on to every beginning photographer is, “the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision”. I too often, especially when shooting weddings, just slap on the same lenses I’ve used so many times before without thinking about different/better/more interesting choices. My take away from this article – mediocre choices more often make for mediocre images.

  24. Scott,
    I read your post early this morning. Now 11 hours later I am posting. I’ve read many of the comments in the time between when I read the original post and the time I’m about to post. No, you did not tell us to toss our 18-135 (crop sensor) or 24-200 (full size sensor) lenses, you just said people who shoot with them produce crap (s word inferred buddy!). Yes I am sure that you have seen many, many not so great pictures shot with those lenses. Of course you have, the vast majority of photographers shoot with them, even more important is the fact that the “no mans land lens” is the lens beginners get! Most beginners by virtue of that word shoot many not so great pictures.

    You went on to tell me if I purchase an ultra wide (<24 mm full frame lens) I'll produce good stuff. Hmm, I can shoot a ton of photos with feet or hands that are huge compared to the face, or noses that only Pinocchio would love, or landscapes with bowed horizons or building falling in on me. Really dude. I must agree, purchasing an ultra-wide will change my perspective and probably help me improve my photography. Other things that will improve my photography include a 365 day challenge, or the challenge that Jay Maisel gave Joe McNally – go shoot with one lens.

    I then went on to think more about the stuff I've seen on Kelby tv shows or Creative Live and photographers that use the "no mans land lens". The first person that came to my mind was Lindsay Adler. The last time I checked Lindsay had reached Kelby God Status. When you praise her have you taken the time to listen to her? I believe you will find she loves that 50 mm lens that your and Peter Hurley trash! I think you also think highly of Zach Arias. Zach has a true anti GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) mindset. I think you will probably find Zach has created a successful career on "no mans land" lenses.

    I'd also challenge you to go look at the acclaimed photographers of the past. You know, Eisenstadt, Capa, and those around them. I know for sure their photos were shot with lenses in the full frame equivalent of 35-135 as that was about all that was available in their time. Are their photos crap?

    You and your firm are educators. You have taken on the challenge of teaching us ignorant slobs who pay your salary how to use the tool that we get when we purchase our first DSLR. You have a choice, you can be a shill for the camera manufacturers and tell us if we are not shooting with a very expensive 12-24 or 300 mm plus lens our results are junk. Or you can realize that most successful photographers out in the world use the 18-135 (crop sensor) equivalent lens and do it quite well. Only a small subset shoot with wider lenses or longer lenses on a regular basis.

    I hope you think long and hard about this. Insult the majority of photographers or look at them and say they need help. I'll be honest Scott, I started watching your shows because I thought they were pretty educational but the more I watch I see I have to put up with a Kelby ego that at times appears to be way beyond your talent. I've seen many extremely good photos shot by you but you do not have the stature of Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, or Lindsay Adler. The stuff that brings me back are guys like RC. You lost Matt. I love hearing true talent like McNally and Peterson but I'm beginning to wonder about your credentials especially when you feel that your soap box allows you to shoot arrows at those of us who want to learn. At this point I understand, toss all my photos – I don't own an ultra wide!

    • I guess you decided to just take what you wanted to take out of that article, and not what I actually wrote. The point of the article was what the commenter right below you, Charlie Thiel wrote, but I guess he actually read the article, and didn’t just skim it.

      • Why? What did you mom do? (LOLOL)…..OY….

      • I guess that makes you a poor writer—despite how many books that you’ve sold—when a commenter to your blog can completely rewrite, summarize, and better explain what you “meant”—in only one paragraph, versus the diatribe you “wrote.”

      • KC, learn to breathe and move on. If you truly have a passion to shoot, you realize in the end, you simply disagree with Scott. I couldn’t care less if he is endorsing products and suggesting them, it’s called “business”. What I can tell you is that my skill have increased significantly due to his suggestions and the people that work for him.

        When you begin to question a photographer that is proven, it tells much about your character. If you feel you can do better, go for it. Otherwise, subscribe to kelby one and buy Canon! That was just a joke KC, couldn’t resist.

        A person with true passion for photography would never waste their time on negativity towards another photographer over nothing.

        Thanks Scott for your direction and humor!

    • I read the post yesterday morning too, and after I kept reading the comments, I had to write my own blog post about it: http://critiquesmatter.net/2015/03/07/ive-reached-a-new-conclusion

      It’s sad when the “gear obsession” conquers someone’s ability to read.

    • No need to pontificate. If you can take world class keepers all the time and love a 50 that’s great. But this article describes pretty much nailed an experience I had with a Rebel G. Put on a 75-300 and the next roll developed I was like ‘Holy Cow I’m an amazing photographer’. Turns out all those wonderful pics were just at the long end with good DoF.

  25. But Scootttttt……….. Just “zoom with your feet” to change your focal perspective! There’s no such thing as 16mm, only being too close to your subject. And there’s no such thing as 200mm, only being too far from your subject. Lol. ;)

    When I hear ” zoom with your feet,” it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. I think too many people (not just beginners) have no clue that they have chosen a fixed focal perspective when donning that prime and believe that grating myth that one can actually zoom via change in distance from a subject. You can walk closer or farther away if the situation allows it, but you can’t change focal perspective with your feet.

    Nice article. I hope it helped some new photographers think more deeply about different looks via different focal perspectives. And hopefully it will help prevent them from believing the above cliché when a vested prime lens user brags about the power of fancy footwork!

    • I wasn’t trying to say you can change focal perspectives by zooming with my feet? Where did you get that?

      • The whole comment was tongue in cheek Scott…. Guess I’m not as comical as I thought. :)

      • Well, the last paragraph was a serious compliment. The first two were some soft jabs at the “just zoom with your feet” crowd, since such advice overlooks that zooming is also an effective way to change focal perspective.

        I mean, your whole talk was about using a more interesting focal perspective. I think that’s great. It’s also good advice for the prime-only crowd.

  26. Thank you Scott Kelby. I learn something new almost everyday because of you. I would love to hear your thoughts on lens for cropped sensors say, for a 70D.

  27. I appreciate what you’re sharing Scott. I love my $300 10-18mm EF-S from Canon, I love the photos I’ve taken with it. My next lens will likely be the 150-600 from Tamron – unless I hit that Megamillions, then I’ll get a bag full of them white lenses.

  28. Magnificent article

  29. Sometimes I wish people would consider not everybody can move around. I am a wheelchair user so telephoto really is my only option. Although I just just buy an f2 prime lense to have a go at “shooting the stars”. I also have restricted movement of my right arm. So swapped my Canon T2i for a Samsung NX2000, because I love being able to change all the settings in Manual mode on the LCD screen. I’m now eyeing the Samsung NX1 and they’ve introduced some “S” lenses but their $1,500. Anyways I found a way to keep shooting, despite my disability, BTW I’m a member of KelbyOne (love it)

  30. The Bresson quote is pure nonsense especially due to the fact he came from an analogue world where people had a better understanding for the craft. The quote is better applied to modern day shooters many of which don’t have an understanding of the craft.
    A lens should never be the excuse for taking crap photos.
    Photography is a craft that isn’t for everyone.

  31. I loved this article Scott, and I cringed the whole time I was reading it thinking “Man, Scott’s going to get creamed for this by the usual crowd.” Looks like I was sadly correct on that part…

    My takeaway on the article was this:

    In choosing a particular lens you are making some compositional choices whether consciously or subconsciously; (I totally agree with that!) Due to the commonality of lenses in the “No Mans Land Focal Range” achieving great images vs good ones is possible (of course it’s possible everyone please keep your panties on Scott never said it wasn’t) but will take more effort to stand out as opposed to those made with not so common focal ranges; anything unfamiliar will be attention grabbing. I’ll use some real life examples: I photographed the chamber for the House of Representatives at our State Capitol during a field trip with my daughter, nothing special just some quick handheld HDR’s I used a Sigma 10-20mm on a Nikon D7000 which looked nice they were wide but nothing special and then I took a few more with a Rokinon 8mm fisheye. A few months later I was shooting with free reign in the State Senate chambers taking pictures for a few hours; all because someone at the Capitol saw my fisheye shot and thought it looked “different and fresh” My shots are now used on their website.
    Another example goes along with Scott’s mention of Sports, I shoot my sons High School swim team. When I choose my lenses I have already decided the type of shots I’m going to get and the ones I’ll have to leave behind due to the focal range I have chosen. I can’t zoom with my feet as they’ll get very wet along with the rest of me and my gear! and I can’t get the super close ups and the ultra wide shots with the same lens since they don’t make a 8-400mm lens just yet. My favorite shots and the one’s the swimmers like the most are the shots made around 300mm (My current max zoom range) and the ultra wide 10mm and 8mm fisheye shots. They “feel” different than the shots their parents are getting with their compacts and phones. Along with those less “common” focal ranges I’m getting lower, higher, behind, etc. Any angle or viewpoint I can find to make it look different and unexpected. I also have some truly amazing shots I’ve made with my 50mm and 85mm primes, lenses I had to shoot with due to low light at a particular pool, they aren’t as tight as the 300mm shots or as sweeping as the 8mm, but the shots I made with them maximized what I could get which was some great close ups on the one or two strokes before and after their flip turns.

    To summarize: When I shoot I’ve already begun to compose based on my lens selection, I can use my gear to help that composition or I might fight against it and not realize why it doesn’t feel/look right to me. Knowing this and after the two years of swim team shooting I think I’m getting much more into the conscious side of making that choice, and this article was a great reminder that that’s probably a good thing.

    Thanks Scott!

    • Howard, you so got it!!!! Thank you for super “getting it!!!” :)

    • Howard’s quote, saying, “but will take more effort to stand out as opposed to those made with not so common focal ranges; anything unfamiliar will be attention grabbing” is basically telling us all that we will make millions of dollars by taking photos at the wrong focal length—just so we can stand out.

      In other words, shoot professional portrait photos at 10mm—making the subject look like those dog-nose photos—and you’ll instantly become famous and well-recognized. Of course, the subject will look like a complete idiot—but because it was shot at a “different” focal length it will be better.

      • “What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot — the first composition decision — and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.”

        AND

        “I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make.”

        Excuse me, maybe it’s my eye sight going bad, but I don’t see where did Scott said to shoot portraits with a fish eye!

        No really, can you QUOTE that please? He even explains how the fish eye is a CREATIVE lens and how you won’t be shooting a whole wedding with it!

        ……and about “standing out”: of course it will; a fish eye(or any other prime) will make you “THINK” before you “click”! Nothing wrong with that, we definitely need more “thinking” before “clicking” in this industry.

  32. I wonder if the key to “something different, something special, something with impact” is the extra thought required in composition with really wide and really long.

  33. HI Scott,
    Big fan of what you put out there, this article is no different. I recently purchase my first full frame digital D610 along with 24-70mm, I must admit I was not impressed at first, the images were really no better then my D90 I had for years. All this changed when I bought the 14-24mm lens I finally was blown away by the images, like you stated I did not get rid of my 24-70mm, I simply find myself using the 14-24mm more.
    Thanks,
    Chris Moniz

  34. Scott, I find it amusing that you include a Henri Cartier-Bresson quote to support your argument, as he almost exclusively used a 50mm lens.

  35. Yes, spend more money to buy more expensive lenses instead of learning about light, composition and art. It’s like telling Picasso that he must use more expensive brushes to make better art. What nonsense! If you can’t shoot a good 50mm shot you won’t shoot a good 18mm shot either or a good 100mm shot.

    • “So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
      Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all — a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.”

      Please tell me how you reached THAT conclusion? Because that’s not what I read up there.

      You’re missing the point entirely; read my blog post above, and scroll down and see what is being shot with a $2000 lens which BTW seems to be the most popular choice amongst “amateurs” who want to imitate the pro’s. (So a lot of people have $2000 to spare) Lindsay Adler shoots with Sigma lenses all the time, and her photos are awesome…NOT because of the lenses tho. This post talks about FOCAL LENGTH’s! Scott, can I make these caps any bigger? (Head Smack). BTW the 10-22mm for a crop is an awesome landscape lens, $700 bucks, but that lens also has a purpose, so if you’re buying it and shoot dog portraits with it, you may be bit by the owners!

      His post IS about finding a lens that works for you, and challenges you rather that sit there complacent on one focal length taking abysmal photos! Newbies should not buy a kit lens. They should rent various lenses, and before they do that they need to READ about “photography”.

      Too many people make these camera’s look bad!

      Less people would take bad photos of they read ONE of Scott’s books. Just 1.

      “If you can’t shoot a good 50mm shot you won’t shoot a good 18mm shot either or a good 100mm shot.”
      A shot of what exactly? be specific please. A “50mm” won’t make me a great architectural shot for a client. Just like an “100mm” won’t make me a great landscape shot unless I pano the heck out of it…why would I want to do that if I am say in Thor’s Well and my tripod is sliding all over those rocks?? We have various lenses available because a LOT of us like to specialize in something, and not use a DSLR like a brainless point and shoot.

      The POINT is that most people “rely” on a banal focal length instead of actually challenging themselves in finding a better one. Or bend, knee, move, lie down, get up on a ladder etc, find a better angle, do anything besides “pointing and clicking”. Or at least read the manual on how to zoom it.

      Please take trip through “customer images” for Canon L glass/professional lenses on B & H; it is an EYE opener and a massive turn off for a customer that knows better.” Those photos have become the place to go to make yourself feel better about your own crappy photos!

      Picasso wasn’t a photographer, and paint brushes have not evolved much since his time! So, that’s like comparing apples and oranges. This is like telling a general contractor that he shouldn’t be using a crane, and instead find a thousand slaves to lift those steel beams to built a skyscraper! Seriously, come with the times please.

  36. Been listening to a voice in my head telling me to “go wide” but have been frozen trying to decide on right one for my Canon 5D Mark III. The 8mm-15mm I thought was right, but with limited budget, sounds like the 16mm-35mm is a better option given the gimmick nature of 8mm from your experience. Am I capturing your perspective accuratley?

    • You are. You’ll get a lot more out of the 16-35mm than you will with the fish. You’re right — the fish is a speciality lens, which has great impact for one or two shots, but outside of that, it can get old fast. :)

  37. If you’re shooting RAW then you’ll have to sharpen in editing. Are u using auto or manual focus?

    I’ve had that lens and did not have any “sharpness” problems with it.

  38. “Newbies” should always rent first:
    http://critiquesmatter.net/2015/03/01/why-buy-when-you-can-rent/

    I specified there why….Ironically I wrote this a few weeks back, but it goes hand in hand with Scott’s…(Hope you’re ok with me posting it in here Scott, if not, delete it) Thanks. :)

  39. I’ve read numerous entertaining articles on here over the years and whilst I sometime do not agree with them, I’ve never thought they were badly written or garbage.
    Sadly this is both. :-/

    The simple way to explain why is via this section which is the heart of the article.

    **”So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all — a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.”**

    That could statement be said about any lens length. Most photographs are not very good to be honest regardless of lens. The fact you chose a particular lens that beginners often get lumbered with does not mean the focal length is at fault, it’s the user. You are confusing correlation with causality and then extending your entire argument from this false premise.
    By the same ‘logic’ may as well blame Nicholas Cage for swimming pool deaths…..
    http://tylervigen.com/

    The other thing I’d say if you can’t get good shots with a 24-70mm lenses then you ain’t much of a photographer in first place and other focal lengths would be wasted on you anyway.

    • I don’t know what is your issue with that statement? It is absolutely true.

      The ratio of untalented people who have the “financial ability” to own a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 versus those with talent but no financial means to own one is disproportional, and you can see the results of my statement on B & H as I pointed out before. If you want to see a waste of that very expensive lens go ahead and type it in the search on B & H’s website and look at “customer images”!

      Then again, if you look at the 18-55 or the 18-135 you will see exactly what Scott talks about.

      Of course it is the photographer, since the lens can’t do anything on its own, but here we talk about exploring other ways/FOCAL LENGTH’s when taking photos. Too bad you’re stuck on the equipment, he could have named any other lens but the message still stands.

      & Please don’t drag Nick Cage in here…anyone else, but not him. Thanks! :)

      • Notice I didn’t disagree with the statement per se. I took issue with the erroneous conclusions drawn from it. BIG difference. Correlation DOES NOT equal causality.

        Also I’m not stuck on the equipment, only the absurd argument based on Scott’s assertion about focal length and good photos. The fact that beginners take pictures that are not that good is hardly surprising and that will occur regardless of lens attached to camera. 20-30 years back Scott would have probably argued that photos taken with 50mm lenses were just as rubbish as that’s what used to be the standard lens before kit zooms replaced them. So that was what beginners used then.
        Yes other lenses can make for different perspectives and opportunities, but they will have zero effect on one’s ability to make a great picture.

      • Yes, but someone who has NEVER been anywhere around a DSLR before, and that 18-55 is all they have, (Think moms…got a rebel with a 18-55 attached to it for Christmas!) and they haven’t even opened the camera manual, will NEVER know what “else” they could potentially do to get better photos. Scott was not talking to those who are familiar with camera gear, what it does etc., this is for “newbies”. This is for those who’ve never learned anything about photography…those who don’t know what they don’t know!

        “Photography” has moved forward, so if back 30 years ago the 50mm was the “IT” lens that’s irrelevant now considering how we shoot now. We are talking about “now”, and what people are doing ‘now”.

        Scott I do have one suggestion: I think KelbyOne needs to have an ad in parenting magazines, because that’s what most of these photographers you’re addressing read! “Mom’s/Dad’s” at large for example, who turn into “photographers” overnight once a child is born, need your classes BADLY, but they have no idea Photoshop User Magazine even exists…or Professional Photographer magazine etc. They don’t know…unless they start re-searching and get pointed towards KelbyOne by someone else, they won’t know. Your classes are very valuable, and I know that first hand because If “I” knew about them back in 2004 for example when my daughter was born, I would have had much better photos of her as a baby…so, from that angle, I think more awareness has to be created for these folks. Just a suggestion, and BTW my car is ready for my KelbyOne wrap. Remember, I drive non stop…

      • Not sure why you are so very intent on defending such a poorly thought out article. You also completely missed the point being made about 50mm lenses which were the prior ‘kit’ lenses. The same false argument could have been inaccurately made about them too. And it would still have been bogus.

      • So what you’re saying is that “because” of “X” lens “popularity” one should stand still & not attempt to better oneself? I could careless what lens is popular at any given time, if I’m after a certain look I’ll go to the lens that will give me that look.

      • Not saying that at all. You are spectacularly good at misinterpreting and misreading it would seem.

        Blaming a tool for people’s incompetence is basically what Scott is doing. A rubbish photography given a whole variety of different lenses won’t create any better images than before, just equally poor ones albeit with different lenses.
        People make photos, equipment simply facilitates that. A creative mind will do good work with whatever lens they have to hand. Limitations are great spurs to creativity. However access to a wider range of tools can certainly be of benefit, which I am not arguing against.

      • I think you’re missing the point of the article! He didn’t say any of those things, and just offered an opinion/suggestion that one should try a different focal length! We’re splitting hairs here.

      • Nice try at a diversion. I have no problem with Scott suggesting people try other lenses. However his saying a lens range is rubbish as it is used by beginners is what has got up people’s noses, mainly because it’s a ridiculous and incorrect assertion.

      • I completely agree with this reply:

        “I think Scott’s perspective is well taken from the perspective of someone who’s been asked by a lot of relatively inexperienced photographers having upgraded from a point and shoot that was giving a 24mm-120mm+ FOV range to a DSLR with a 18-55 that’s larger and bulkier, why they aren’t enjoying it as much as they thought they would because they aren’t seeing images jump off the screen like they see from so many sources these days. It’s a fair suggestion he’s making. IT wasn’t intended to US reading this; but as a way to think about helping others who are just wanting a simple step or two to take in a direction that will give immediate and noticeable results. Telling a new photographer how great I am with that kit lens isn’t really going to encourage them or inform them either, in a helpful way.

        I’ve taken to heart a boat load of tips from Scott Kelby over the years, but I think the number one thing I’ve come away with is I’ve become ten times the teacher/encourager to other photographers I was in the beginning when I had the experience and knowledge but not really the understanding of what they are really wanting help with or how to give them advice that will yield really quick, positive results that will give them some much needed gratification and assurance that they can, indeed, get photos to be proud of.”

        “Newbies” expect a “one click” solution to a great photo, and completely take everything “else” about “photography” out of the equation. They expect to see a photo on 500px, go outside and take the same photo! Scott was merely giving his opinion about the various OTHER focal length’s out there! Jeeeeesh based on HOW MANY “SHOOT LIKE A PRO TOUR’s YET???” He hears all sorts of questions from folks who’ve never considered even “trying” a different lens…From people who’ve never heard of renting lenses, or that photography is all about “lighting” before you even get to pick a lens.

        That focal length is lazy and does nothing for one’s photos in the beginning. If one is a beginner, that’s when one needs to explore the MOST, and not sit there in this “no man’s land” focal length he is talking about. Most people, not just those interested in photography as a hobby or profession, DO NOT use a DSLR as it should be used. They expect it to be a glorified point and shoot and nothing more. They think “the camera” will do everything for them, while they just sit there and don’t try anything! I think camera manufacturers contribute to this through false advertising as in: “buy this DSLR & Shoot like a pro”, and so most people “assume” the camera is what makes a great photo when in fact it is only a tool! Newbies need to experiment, amateurs need to experiment, pro’s need to experiment. It’s not like we don’t have enough equipment to experiment with. We only lack “will”!

      • Good for you. I however really do not agree with this part which the bit really germane to Scott’s article.

        “That focal length is lazy and does nothing for one’s photos in the beginning. If one is a beginner, that’s when one needs to explore the MOST, and not sit there in this “no man’s land” focal length he is talking about. “.

        It’s only a no-man’s length if you are talentless/unimaginative.

      • If we judge only by what’s posted on B&H for “customer photos”, your last statement is right on the money! Most people ARE talentless & unimaginative! They just don’t know it, so someone HAS to point it out before more innocent pixels are murdered! 👍

      • All this time spent typing replies here could have been used to watch a KelbyOne class for example and learn something you didn’t know yesterday! But to some, it is more important to argue over gear like babies, instead of picking up a book or watch a class and learn something NEW!

      • Can you not see the the irony in your statement, one of your many posts on this page alone?
        BTW, I love to learn new things, novel ideas are great. But it’s increasingly rare these days, as I’ve spent a long time learning and doing photography, so new gems get harder to find.

  40. I love being in no man’s land… I currently shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with the much maligned 12-50 kit lens and I love it! I like to think I am past the beginners stage but maybe my love for this lens belies that argument. Well, happy to be a beginner for life then! :-)

  41. I think Scott’s perspective is well taken from the perspective of someone who’s been asked by a lot of relatively inexperienced photographers having upgraded from a point and shoot that was giving a 24mm-120mm+ FOV range to a DSLR with a 18-55 that’s larger and bulkier, why they aren’t enjoying it as much as they thought they would because they aren’t seeing images jump off the screen like they see from so many sources these days. It’s a fair suggestion he’s making. IT wasn’t intended to US reading this; but as a way to think about helping others who are just wanting a simple step or two to take in a direction that will give immediate and noticeable results. Telling a new photographer how great I am with that kit lens isn’t really going to encourage them or inform them either, in a helpful way.

    I’ve taken to heart a boat load of tips from Scott Kelby over the years, but I think the number one thing I’ve come away with is I’ve become ten times the teacher/encourager to other photographers I was in the beginning when I had the experience and knowledge but not really the understanding of what they are really wanting help with or how to give them advice that will yield really quick, positive results that will give them some much needed gratification and assurance that they can, indeed, get photos to be proud of.

  42. Great article. And it has been helpful. I’m a Fuji shooter, just coming over from Sony A-mount. I had the 24-70 zeiss and the sigma 70-200. The safe zone. I was a beginner when I bought this setup, and thought I would cover the basic gambit. Now, switching systems I find myself look at primes. Maybe it’s that I know at what lengths ‘I shoot with my style’ now. Instead of 24-70 I got a 16(23ish equivalent) and a 35(50ish). That’s where my zoom found itself most days anyway. Trying now to decide between the 56(85ish) and the 90(135ish). My thoughts are as you’ve stated; the Fuji 56f1.2 is spectacular, but everyone around me shoots portraits in that 50-85 range. The 90f2 may at least stand out a bit; be a different look. The Fuji 50-140f2.8 (70-200ish) is a star too, but just a little out of my budget right now.
    Thanks for sharing.

  43. Have to agree Scott. Neither wide enough nor long enough.

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