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Photography Question 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2008

The Correct Lens to Use in Landscapes

I'm wondering if one of you wonderfully talented photographers out there would give me a little help. I'm interested in a lenses that will work well on landscapes. I want to be able to capture near and far in focus. All I have are zooms and I just can't seem to achieve this. Maybe it has to do with my experience level as well. But I feel the right lens might help. Thanks for any and all help given.

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8/5/2008 11:33:06 AM

Hi Ann,

"To capture near and far in focus" you need a very small aperture. Using a very small aperture you need a very slow shutter speed. A very slow shutter speed requires a tripod.

Wide angle lenses are most effective at short to middle distances, and indoors. The perspective distortion really makes a WA lens unsuitable for long distance/landscape shots: objects 60 feet away look as if they are 600 feet away, etc. etc. You will only be able to use a narrow band of the image, and you'll have to discard 80% to 90% of all the pixels when you crop. Your max. print size will be peanuts.
For high-res landscapes thus BIIIIG prints it's much better to use a short focal length telephoto lens (between 80 and 100mm focal length in 35mm equivalent)* on a tripod, tilt it to portrait mode, and shoot a liberally overlapping series of exposures from left to right (stay horizontal). Or v.v. of course.
Back home, when you're in PP, you simply stitch the exposures together, and clean it up, and you'll have a fabulous high-res panorama that no wide-angle lens could ever create.

*I'm guessing you already have a zoom lens that covers that focal length range. In that case you only need a good tripod!

Have fun!

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8/5/2008 2:35:44 PM

Here's a tutorial on panorama stitching for your perusal:

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8/5/2008 2:40:46 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2008
  Thanks for that WS. What I'm looking to shoot is not a pano as much as mountains in the background and the river in the foreground and I want them both in focus. My telephoto lenses want to focus on one or the other. (as you might gather I'm not very experienced in this) So is it a large f/stop what I'd look to use?

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8/5/2008 7:15:37 PM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2005
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  Ann, W.S said it need to maximize your depth of field, which means shooting at a small aperture; e.g., f16 or f22. And when you focus, you don't have to focus on the distant can pick a focal point closer to you, to maximize the area that's in focus (in front and behind the focal point). Of course, the smaller the aperture, the slower the shutter speed. So, you may need a tripod to steady the camera.

You can also get good depth of field with a wide angle lens. I see you shoot with Canon...there are several lenses that you might like, but you can start to spend some $$s.

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8/5/2008 7:40:12 PM

Ann, if you have a (zoom) lens with a 50mm to 100mm focal length (in its range), you may have everything you need, lens-wise, right there already.

Set Av (aperture priority) to F/16 or F/22, look through the viewfinder at the scene, compose your image, and press the shutter button half way through. NOT all the way! In the viewfinder or on your display you can now read the shutter time your camera has set to accomodate the aperture. If that shutter speed is less than 1/125th of a second you MUST use a tripod (and your cam's selftimer). If that shutter speed is 1/125th or faster you don't need a tripod.
If you aim your focal point at an object a tree, a house 900/1000 feet away from you, your whole image, upto and including mountains 10 miles away, will be within your Depth of Field = focused.

Don't spend dough unless you've first tried to do the job with what you've already got. Equipment-wise.

Show us what you got when you've got it!

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8/5/2008 8:04:44 PM

Sarah G   ...tagging it.

GREAT info and link. THANKS!

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8/5/2008 8:14:22 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2008
  Thanks so much to both Ken and W. Smith for all the much needed info. I hope to bring back the beautiful of the high desert when I return. I emailed Ken and told him I've been to this place hundreds of times but that was before I became a photographer.VBG I have so much to learn and I can't thank you enough because I know when I was went up north and I wanted to capture the flowers off the cliff and the ocean in the background I really had trouble. Didn't get anything I could use. I guess if I really want to do this right I need to give in and get that tripod. Although standing 6' I have a good bi-pod stance. LOL Or sometimes when I'm using the long lenses 100-400mm I use my husbands shoulder as he is shorter then I am. VBG So I do have my pods in my own way. LOLOL

I will watch the shutter speed, I will focus mid range and I will take lots and lots of pictures so hopefully odds are in my favor to get a couple. I do have the right lenses then as I have 24-105 and the 70-200. Both you are saying would do what I'm looking to do.

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8/5/2008 9:22:55 PM

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