DPP Home Gear Lenses The 3-Lens Solution

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 3-Lens Solution

Be prepared to work in any situation with an efficient set of high-quality optics that covers the majority of focal lengths

Three-Lens Kits By System
These setups by sensor format will cover your bases in most situations. When working with a full-frame DSLR, the general range that's considered all-inclusive starts around the 17mm or 18mm mark and extends into the 200mm telephoto mark. For APS-C-sized sensors with the format's 1.5x or 1.6x cropping factor, an equivalent range would be approximately 12mm through 135mm. When using Olympus' and Panasonic's Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds systems with their 2.0x focal length equivalence, the range would be 9mm through 100mm.

One thing to consider when choosing your lenses is filter size. If they all take the same-size filters (preferably the same size as the filter you already own for your current lenses), you won't have to buy several of each filter (or use step-up and step-down rings) to filter them all. This is easier than it may seem: Despite the disparities in focal length, Nikon's 17-35mm ƒ/2.8, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 all use 77mm filters, as do Canon's 17-40mm ƒ/4L, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L zooms (the fast 16-35mm ƒ/2.8 wide zoom takes 82mm filters, and Nikon's 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 superwide zoom doesn't have front filter threads).

For Full-Frame DSLRs. If you use a Canon full-frame DSLR, the logical pro kit would include the EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L USM, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L USM and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM pro zooms. If you don't require ƒ/2.8 speed (i.e., you won't be shooting handheld in dim light, capturing action or doing selective-focus work), you can cut the cost of the kit nearly in half by replacing the widest and longest lenses with the EF 17-40mm ƒ/4L USM and EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM. If you don't need stabilization, non-IS versions of both 70-200mm lenses are available for even more savings.|

A kit for a Nikon full-frame DSLR would include the AF-S 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 or AF 17-35mm ƒ/2.8, AF-S 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 and AF-S 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR II. While both superwide zooms cost about the same, you can save about half the cost of the two longer zooms by switching to the AF-S 24-85mm ƒ/2.8-4 and AF 80-200mm ƒ/2.8 (the 80-200mm lacks the 70-200mm's AF-S motor, but is lighter and can focus much closer).

Sony has discontinued its full-frame DSLRs, but if you have one, a good full-frame kit would include the Zeiss 16-35mm ƒ/2.8, Zeiss 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 and Sony 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 G-Series. These cameras also will accept Konica Minolta Maxxum lenses, so you could pick up a set of those pro zooms. Independent lens makers offer good options for full-frame DSLRs. From Sigma, consider the 12-24mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DG HSM II, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 IF EX DG HSM and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM, or the older non-stabilized 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG Macro HSM for about half the cost. From Tamron, check out the SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di and SP AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di. Tokina offers a pair of FX (full-frame) wide-angle zooms: the AT-X 16-28mm ƒ/2.8 PRO FX and AT-X 17-35mm ƒ/4 PRO FX.

For APS-C DSLRs. If you use an APS-C-format Canon DSLR (anything below the EOS 5D Mark II or original EOS 5), you'll need a shorter "wide" zoom: the EF-S 10-22mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 or EF-S 17-55mm ƒ/2.8 (both of L-series optical quality, but lacking the L designation mainly because they don't cover the full-frame 35mm format). The same medium and long zooms as the full-frame selections will work well with the APS-C cameras.

For Nikon DX-format users, simply replace the full-frame superwide zoom with the AF-S DX 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 or AF-S DX 12-24mm ƒ/4. You could use the same medium and long zooms as in the full-frame kit, or opt for the AF-S DX 17-55mm ƒ/2.8 or AF-S 16-35mm ƒ/4 VR (which has a built-in Vibration Reduction system). If budget permits, the AF-S 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 full-frame zoom also can serve nicely as your wide zoom; it's equivalent to 21-36mm focal lengths on a full-frame camera.


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