Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DSLR for Dummies- Lenses

Today we will continue our DSLR for Dummies series.  I’ll do Blogging 101 tomorrow..if I get my act together.  Today, I will be represented in pink.  Nate will be black.

Ok, lenses.  Teach me everything I need to know…but not in a boring way.

I can’t promise it won’t be boring but here we go…

When researching cameras I focused mostly on what body was going to be best.  I did not do much research on what lenses to purchase because i planned on buying the kit.  The kit contained an 18mm-55mm and 55mm-200mm lenses.

Uh, what’s that mean.  DSLR for the dummy, remember.

The lower the mm, the less zoom.  The higher the mm, the greater the zoom.

I  figured that these lenses would cover most all of the shooting situations I would want to shoot (the 18-55 for the closer shots and the 55-200 when I needed to zoom in). When I made the decision to purchase the Nikon D5000, I waited for the kit to go on sale with the two lenses.

A couple of months after buying the camera we decided to go on vacation to Colorado. After some online research, I decided that I could use a good landscape lens….a Tamron 10mm-24mm would be a good fit for me.  This lens is what is considered an ultra wide-angle lens.  I used is a lot when we went hiking in the mountains as it was able to get a lot more of the breath taking views.

Colorado 078

Another advantage of this lens is the ability to photograph a smaller room because of the wide angle.  It does have a trade-off as it does tend to distort the picture, so some caution has to be used when using it.  In the following picture of our mudroom, the room appears to have more room on the right side of the bench than there actually is.


After about 9 months of shooting with the kit lenses, I found myself being irritated with either having the wrong lens on (needed the zoom when I had the short range on, etc), or missing shots because I was in the middle of switching lenses.  Again, after doing a lot of research, I found that the Tamron 18mm-270mm had everything I wanted in an all-in-one zoom lens.  If I were to do it all over again, I would have skipped the kit lenses and purchased this one instead.  The lens does cost a little bit more than the two lenses but the convenience and zoom range (getting the additional 70mm) is well worth it in my opinion.

So, how is all of this changing lenses business different than me changing shower curtains and paint colors every other month?

It’s totally different.

Of course. Right.

I received my latest lens for Christmas, it is the Nikon 50mm f1.8.  This lens (or the Canon equivalent) is a must if you ever plan on wanting pictures with really nice bokah (we will talk about bokah and how to get it in a later post).  This also makes for a really nice portrait lens or a lens that will work good in low light.

Here are some shots with each of the lenses discussed above.  All of the pictures were taken on a tripod at the same spot in the room.…

Tamron Wide Angle 10mm
Tamron Wide Angle 24mm

Tamron All-in-One 18mm
Tamron All-in-One 270mm
Nikon 50mm

I still want to know why it’s a problem for me to switch out decorating type stuff but it’s okay for you to change lenses more often than most people change underwear.

People only change their underwear every 4-5 months.  That’s gross.

Lesson over.  I think I actually learned something.  But when do I get to touch the camera?

I didn’t think about you touching my precious camera when we started this series. Is it too late to stop?

Yes! Mwah ha ha.

Tell us your thoughts on lenses!  Any preferences.  Any questions?  Next week we’ll the camera settings from Auto to Aperture. Oooo, fancy.


  1. Nate, I'm right there with ya...I hate changing lenses. I'm gonna have to give the Tamron 18mm-270mm a try. Thanks for the useful info!

    Pet Michelle for me, I mean Ike.

  2. I hate changing lenses too. I guess I should start saving my pennies so I can invest in an all-in-one.

  3. I definitely agree with the benefits of an all-in-one lens - especially while traveling. That said, I kind of enjoy using our fixed focal length lens for shots at home because it makes me move around more. In doing so, sometimes I find another vantage point that I actually prefer.

  4. Excellent post! And I'm excited to see that the very lens I am saving my pennies for gets the thumbs up from Nate. Hooray!

  5. Hmmm I am really thinking about that all-in-one lens. Good thing I have a birthday coming up around the corner....

  6. I like the idea of the all in one lens. It sounds super fancy.

  7. I like the idea of an all-in-one lens! I also want a wide angle lens for interior shots. Basically my camera wish list is really long, but I can't seem to justify buying any of it.

  8. For the Nikon 50mm - did you buy the one that auto focuses or the manual lens? I know both will work on the D5000, but don't know if the auto focus is worth the extra cost.

    1. Nate says: The auto focus...and he thinks it's worth the money. My new shower curtain, however, is not.

  9. My boyfriend recently got bitten by the photography bug and I'm shamelessly leeching from him, haha! He got the Sony NEX-5N with two kit lenses (16mm Pancake... mmmh, pancake!) and 18-55mm lens. Then he bought a Zeiss Sonnar which features a 1.8 aperture :-D Yay bokeh!! I can seriously say I have never ever learnt so much about photography than I have in the last two months! I now shoot all my pictures in aperture mode or complete manual mode, and it was quite obvious from the beginning why having a DSLR makes SUCH a difference. That camera is with me that often, my boyfriend already made a joke about an "invisibility feature" because he can't seem to find it where it's supposed to be, hee hee.

  10. Wait - I did not know you could get all that zoominess in one lens. We do the changing-out-lenses all the time thing too, and it's so inconvenient. But I do feel pretty snazzy and impressive when I lug out the ginormous wide-angle lens, so there's that.

  11. I'm loving this DSLR for Dummies series! Great idea!

    A side note - did you paint those candlesticks on your dining room table, and if so, what color? That exact color would look great on the lamps in my living room... :)

    1. I purchased the candlesticks as is so I'm no help on color. Bummer.

  12. Ok, a question about the 18-0270mm. Do you have the one with PZD (“Piezo Drive”) or the older one without?

    1. We have the PZD and Nate most definitely recommends it. (I had to wait for him to get home to answer this question. I'm awesome.)

    2. Haha I figured it might be a Nate question. Thanks for getting back to me!

  13. Oops, not sure how the extra 0 got in there.

  14. Super helpful! I'm a camera retard and still need a DSLR, so this is great! :) Thanks Michelle (and Nate)!

  15. Thank you for the tip, I definietly need to start saving for an all in one lense- I hate taking time to change out.

  16. Ok, I just read this blog post three times and it's starting to make sense. (I'm a little scared for the next post, I should probably just block out three days to read it). But once again, this really is making it easier for me because I only own the two lenses that Nate got in his kit. I always hear people talking about using a 50mm so I think that's what I need. Low light is my nemesis. ALL THE TIME.


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