Thursday, October 6, 2011

Using a Basic Three-Lens Kit

Ever wonder why enthusiast photographers carry around camera bags when most photographers just carry their cameras? Several lenses is why! It is unthinkable for an enthusiast to find him or herself in a situation and not have a lens to cover it.

Figure 1 – A 10-20mm, 16-85mm, and 80-400mm three lens kit

Most photographers end up with a three-lens kit for their daily usage (figure 1). Why three lenses and not just one of the new super-zoom lenses that cover a large range of focal lengths? Primarily, because enthusiasts are interested in above average quality for their images. There are times when convenience overrides quality, but not often for you and me!

Several lens manufacturers provide one-lens-does-it-all solutions. The lenses are very convenient and might even be a good choice when one is forced to use just one lens and camera body for a wide range of photography purposes, such as on a vacation or hike where a lot of walking is required.

For instance, several camera manufacturers offer 18-200mm f/3.5–5.6 zoom lenses. Some aftermarket lens manufacturers offer even wider coverage in one lens. However, no one lens can offer high quality at all focal lengths. There are compromises that must be made when too many focal lengths are crammed into one lens design. In fact, you will not find any truly professional lenses that have a wide range of focal lengths. The pro lenses are made for demanding photographers who will not put up with softness or aberrations at one or more zoom settings.

While not professionals (yet), most enthusiasts reach out for greater quality and end up with three lenses that cover a very wide range of focal lengths. Figure 1 shows a three-lens kit that is similar to what many enthusiasts use. The kit goes from extremely wide angle to long telephoto, with a small amount of overlap in focal lengths. With this type of kit, a photographer is ready for almost any type of shooting situation, and since they do not have too many focal lengths crammed into one lens, the quality of the image is maintained.

Figure 2 – A medium sized camera bag with a camera body, extra batteries and memory cards, a flash unit, and three lenses covering a large range of focal lengths, plus a macro lens

You can carry this type of three-lens kit in a medium-sized camera bag (figure 2). It does not weigh too much and can be carried easily to any location. Many use a small backpack camera bag, while others use an over-the-shoulder style bag. The reason you bought into a camera brand with a system concept is to have a system of lenses and accessories to carry with you.

Therefore, you can add some other goodies like extra batteries, memory cards, an external flash, and even a small GPS unit. If you are like most of us, you will be constantly seeking the ultimate camera bag to contain your camera system. If you find it, please let me know!

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:

1 comment:

  1. My "three-lens-kit" started with a D50, a Nikon 18-135, a Nikon 70-300 and a Sigma 150-500, so a "medium-sized" camera bag was not in my future! Now I have two(2) D5100 bodies, a Nikon 35mm f1.8, a Tamron 18-270 PZD and still love the Sigma 150-500 (and have a Tamron 1.4X TC). With batteries, SB600 flash and all the other "goodies" one acquires along the way,ve a Sherpa that totes my gear everywhere I go! (Hope my wife doesn't mind being referred to as a Sherpa!)

    Seriously - I bought a Vanguard 46 case (the liner unit) that I use for our "on the road" trips. It is large enough to keep all my gear well organized and protected, but I do have several smaller bags that I use for "walkabout" shooting.

    Here's a link to the Vanguard 46:

    I have two backpacks that I "built out" to carry smaller portions of gear, but think this Amazon basic backpack has a lot of utility:

    There are some really "nice" (and very expensive) "brand" bags and cases out there, but "search and ye shall find" there are som very good economical solutions too.