The most important part of your camera is the lens

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

  • Nov. 18, 2014 7:00 a.m.

It’s all about the glass

Ask any experienced photographer whether to buy a new camera or a new lens and the answer will usually be, “it’s all about the glass,” or, “a good lens is more important than a good camera.”

A bad lens on a good camera will still make poor images, but a good lens on a poor or average camera will most likely give the photographer good results.

I listened to several friends talking over coffee about reviews they had read about the latest camera offering from Canon.

The discussion began with questions like, “why does a photographer that doesn’t shoot sports need a camera with seven or eight frames a second” and “I really don’t spend much time shooting in low light situations, so why would I spend extra money on a camera because it is capable of a high ISO.”

However, as expected, it wasn’t long before the talk easily turned to an exchange of views on lenses. Remember, because after all, “it’s all about the glass.

The conversation easily moved from a difference of opinion between those that preferred prime (fixed focal length) lenses, and those, like me, that chose multi-focal length (zoom) lenses.  We talked about the importance of wide angle and, of course, wide aperture lenses.

Just because you can change the lens doesn’t mean you have to, but I don’t know many photographers that are that sensible. Mostly we are willing to change lenses as soon as we have extra cash in our pockets, more emotional and impulsive than sensible.

I know very few are content with the short zoom that came as a package with the camera any more than they are with the tires the manufacturer installed on their car.

Yes, the lenses, just like the tires aren’t high quality, but that’s not my point. What I mean is that changing lenses is like changing the visual personality of the image, and most photographers I know are engaged in, what I’ll call, a search for a perspective that fits their personality and personal vision.

The camera might capture some subject’s personality, but the lens, in my opinion, says more about the photographer than the subject.

Several photographers standing on a picturesque hillside using the same camera and lens will probably produce much the same image, but give them each a different lens and the resulting images will be diverse, distinct, and individual.

Yes, it is all about the glass, and there is such a pleasing and very exciting diversity of lenses out there waiting for each photographer to choose, discard, and choose again as they explore and create within this stimulating medium of photography.

As I wrote those words I wondered if there were others that I could use that were more applicable than stimulating. I could have used, intoxicating, invigorating, or even compelling. They all fit and, I think, could apply to some of the feelings I could see and hear from those photographers lounging around my shop drinking warm coffee on a cold November day as they talked about the lenses they used and would like to use.

A new camera is a lot of fun, but it really is “all about the glass.

These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops.

And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.

 

 

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