Choosing the correct lens to shoot with

September 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

As I was going through and preparing my camera gear for a shoot this weekend, I realized that I seem to always ask myself the same question: which lenses do I need to bring?

I am shooting a benefit golf tournament this weekend and I do not normally shoot such events. I love the outdoors and you can find me doing pretty much any sport or activity outside, however golf is not one of those activities. So, I struggled with what lenses I thought I may need.  As a child, I would go to the golf course with my grandparents and sit in their golf cart while they played and every once in a while, I would get out and try to hit the ball. I think I was 3-4 years old; that’s pretty much my golf experience. Oh, and the occasional mini-golf round with a date (and sometimes I have to pretend to lose because I’ve learned that guys egos are very delicate, especially on a first date).  So, what lenses I need to take for this tournament caused me to reevaluate what lenses I take for any event or shoot.

I do have a fair amount of lenses, not a ton, but I have options. I have full frame lenses, dx lenses, and much older ones from my film cameras too.  By far, my favorite lens to shoot with is my 85mm 1.4. If you could be in love with a lens, that’s my go-to lens for all portraits, family shoots (with not too many people), animals… I would even shoot some macro with it and jewelry too, in the right setting.  For this tournament, the 85mm isn’t going to cut it.

My everyday lenses, 24-70mm 1:2.8 and my 16-35mm 1.4 are probably the most versatile lenses for this particular event.  For most landscape photography, both of these lenses are fantastic too.  (usually having a more wide angle lens is also helpful) My dilemma usually occurs when I have to choose to bring my 70-200mm or not. It’s a great lens, but it’s very heavy. My 125lb frame can carry a lot of gear, but adding 7 extra pounds on top of two camera bodies, a minimum of three lenses, extra batteries, and all the other random stuff I keep in my camera bag, adds up!  For this event, I’m bringing that lens too. Who knows if I will need to get a shot from across the green and I can’t make it to where I need to be in time to get the shot.  Most likely, I will be shooting with two bodies, one with a zoom lens and one with a wider angle.  Now I could alleviate all of this and just use my 28-300mm lens.  Alas, that is my least favorite lens. I bought that lens to take to China so that I wouldn’t have so much gear with me while traveling around. Not the best idea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible lens, it just gets super soft if you shoot anywhere near 24mm or 300mm. In between, it’s a good lens. I prefer my shots to be in focus so this lens was not my best friend.

I also have an 17-55mm, a 35 mm fixed, a fisheye, and a 2x extender. None of those will be coming with me.

I am sure that there are many articles written about the correct lens to use for specific purposes, and I’m sure they all have good points. My feeling is to use the lens that you are most comfortable with in a certain scenario.  In this case for the tournament, I will feel most comfortable using my 24-70mm to be close to people. When I’m shooting from the top of a balcony (as I was told I will be doing for the gun start), I may use my 70-200mm. Most of my decisions will be made based on my location and what I need to shoot. 

I should also say that no one has paid me to write about any of this and all of the opinions here are only my own. I shoot Nikon and all of these lenses are Nikon lenses.

I will post a follow up after I shoot the tournament with images :)

What are your favorite go-to lenses?


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