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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lens Tech: Specialty Lenses For DSLR-Shooting Pros

For every job, there’s a perfect tool. Most photography can be handled by your core set of glass, but every once in a while, you need something different. These lenses don’t come out of your bag every day, but when you need one, nothing else will do.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm ƒ/2.8D ED
Fisheye lenses take in a very wide angle of view—180° with current models (Nikon long ago offered a fisheye with a 220° angle of view). There are two basic types of fisheye: circular and full-frame.

Circular fisheyes produce a round image in the middle of the rectangular image frame, with a 180° angle of view in all directions. Full-frame fisheyes fill the frame and provide a 180° angle of view measured diagonally.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 8mm ƒ/3.5 Fisheye
What all fisheyes have in common is lots of barrel distortion: Straight lines that don’t go right through the center of the frame will be curved outward. Fisheye lenses are handy for distorted special effects, and when you need an extremely wide angle of view (digital stitching of a series of shots made with a nonfisheye, super-wide-angle lens will provide this without the distortion).

Keep in mind that using a fisheye lens that was designed for a full-frame camera on an APS-C DSLR will result in a cropped image with a reduced angle of view. Straight lines that don’t go right through the center of the image will still be curved, but the image will be cropped by the smaller sensor, so the angle of view will no longer be a full 180°. If you use an APS-C-format DSLR and want a full fisheye effect, get a lens that was designed for APS-C (the Sigma 4.5mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC HSM and 10mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC HSM for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony APS-C DSLRs, the Nikon 10.5mm ƒ/2.8G DX Fisheye-Nikkor for Nikon, the smc Pentax DA 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 Fish-Eye Zoom for Pentax, or the Tokina AT-X 10-17mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 DX Fish-Eye Zoom for Canon and Nikon). Adorama offers the manual-focus Pro-Optic 8mm ƒ/3.5 Fish-Eye for Canon EOS, Nikon and Sony DSLRs. And Four Thirds System users needn’t feel left out: Olympus offers the full-frame Zuiko Digital 8mm ƒ/3.5 Fisheye for Four Thirds System DSLRs.

Slower Super-Teles
If you just need “reach,” and low-light capability and selective focus are not of major importance, there are a number of excellent yet relatively low-cost long lenses on the market. In return for their slower maximum apertures, you get much smaller, lighter and less costly optics.

You’ll find both prime lenses and super-tele-zooms in this category: 300mm ƒ/4 and 400mm ƒ/5.6 lenses are available for well under $2,000, as are 70-400mm, 80-400mm and 100-400mm zooms from major camera manufacturers. Lens makers Sigma, Tamron and Tokina offer fine super-tele-zooms for even less.

Some worthy slower super-teles include:
Canon EF 300mm ƒ/4L IS USM
Canon EF 400mm ƒ/5.6L USM
Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS USM
AF-S Nikkor 300mm ƒ/4D IF-ED
AF Nikkor 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6D ED VR
smc Pentax DA* 300mm ƒ/4 ED(IF) SDM
Sigma 50-500mm ƒ/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM
Sigma 120-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 APO OS HSM
Sigma 150-500mm ƒ/5-6.3 APO OS HSM
Sony 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6 G
Tamron SP AF200-500mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di LD (IF)
Tokina AF 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 AT-X
Tamron SP AF200-500mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di LD (IF); Tokina AF 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 AT-X; Sony 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6G


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