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Photography Question 
Milena Garita

lenses for a beginner

Im am interested in takling a photography cource, sine I don't know anything about it. I especially like to take pics of animals since I spend a great deal of time in costa rica. Ihave a minolta maxxum htsi but would like to know which lenses to buy, something not overly expensive yet that I will be usefull for quite some time.

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6/17/2005 10:45:21 PM

doug Nelson
  Your Minolta seems to be a film camera. You're in luck; the lenses you need are among the best Minolta makes and the cheapest. Start with the 50mm f1.7. The 50mm is the most versatile of lenses. You can put an inexpensive extension tube of 25mm between the 50mm lens and the camera to allow you to focus even closer. Later, you may enjoy using a telephoto, an 85 or 100 for portraits, or a 135 for selecting people (or animals) in a crowd. One wide-angle might eventually be useful for pictures of groups, and for some landscape work. Some people buy a 35mm semi-wide, for covering both the wide-angle and 50mm fronts. A lens of a single focal length (a 50, 35, 135, etc) is called a prime lens. Zooms include several focal lengths in one lens, for ex, a 35 to 70. In your price range (and mine), I recommend staying away from zooms until you can afford a truly good one.

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6/18/2005 4:49:33 AM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Doug - I am going to try to take advantage of your obvious knowledge and ask you what you mean by a "really good zoom". I have a Minolta Maxxum 9 and the new Maxxum 7D. I need to purchase a good zoom, but I am not really what that means. Thanks!


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6/18/2005 6:35:07 AM

Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  gee irene minolta 9 and 7D,i'm impressed.i have a minolta 70-210that works great,i went with a tamron75-300 because of the price difference and I love it.there are better ones out there,but yeah money.check out some of the reviews to see what you might be looking for.
hth sam

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6/18/2005 12:57:57 PM

Milena Garita   I have been checking out the Telephoto Zoom AF D 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO. Would this be an OK lens???

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6/18/2005 7:53:33 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  I agree with learning first to master a "standard" lens . . . the 50mm focal length (for 35mm cameras). It has a perspective similar to human vision. Versus buying a long lens after that, I suggest a shorter one with wider field of view, such as a 28mm or 35mm, mastering the different perspective it has, then picking up a modest 100mm or 135mm telephoto.

The purpose is to gain some mastery of composition, learning how to "see" the formal elements, and find a visually interesting and memorable perspective of them that delivers the desired message. The reason I suggest the shorter lens before a longer one is the intimacy it typically requires with the subject material. While one can be the "voyeur" in composing with a long lens, it still requires a "Zen-like" oneness with the subject, even if done from a greater distance. The short lens usually makes it unavoidable.

I do nearly all my small format work between the 35mm and 135mm focal lengths. If limited by the amount of gear that can be carried, 24mm - 200mm coverage is the first choice, and if it must be trimmed down further, 35-135mm is covered.

Although I own four zoom lenses, three of them span the same focal length range . . . 35-105mm . . . and why I have three of them (two of them identical) is another story about the need for redundancy with multiple camera bodies on a paid shoot. They're all high end zoom lenses, and only had one of them prior to acquiring primes spanning 18mm to 300mm . . . for likely many of the same reasons Doug mentioned. Zooms are an optical compromise, even the high end ones, albeit somewhat less of one. They have a much, much larger number of glass elements and groups. The first compromise made in the consumer grade zooms is lens speed, which can make using one frustrating in all but outdoor daylight, while still lacking sufficient aperture range to fully control depth of field. The optics in many leave much to be desired as well . . . visibly suffering from both pincushion and barrel distortion depending on which end of the focal length range is being used. They're also notorious for not being very flare resistant. I selected my zoom lenses only after careful research about their optical properties.

-- John Lind

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6/18/2005 9:09:03 PM

Larry T. Miller   I agree, start with the 50MM. After that, the world of lenses are there for you to master. ONE AT A TIME.....

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3/27/2006 1:36:28 PM

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