Musings about orchestrating the lens lineup

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by pniev, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    After going back and forth (the Nikon Df sensor was sooooo appealing and, no sorry, the Sony A7r did not work for me) I decided to stick to the APS-C based Fuji X…. for now. I am very happy with the X-T1 and will keep the x-pro1 for wide-angle-2-normal shooting in bright sunlight. Well, I made an exception for the Sigma DP3 Merrill (en perhaps the DP1 and 2 ;-) ).

    The next challenge is the lens lineup. I want to borchestrate a lineup that serves various purposes and trips.

    I now have the 14, 23, and 35mm Fuji lenses (21, 35, 50mm FFeq). The 27mm, 55-200 zoom and the Zeis 135mm f2 lens are on their way. That covers the FF focal length range from 21 to 300mm. The 27mm seems to be overkill but it's cheap now and it's great for travel. The 135mm is my "special purpose" lens.

    That gives me the following options:
    - 1-camera-1-lens (city) trips: X-T1 with 23mm or 27mm lens or 35mm lens.
    - travel kit consisting of X-T1, x-pro1, and 14mm, 23mm, and 55-200 lenses.
    - “isolation”/bokeh shooting (portraiture, flowers, etc): X-T1 with 135mm Zeiss lens
    - filmsy/huge dynamic range shots: Sigma DP3

    Besides adding a super tele for nature/wildlife later, I do wonder if I should add a 50mm Zeiss Touit Makro or the Fuji 56mm lens. I sold the Nikon 105mm macro, so a 1:1 macro might be more useful than (another) portrait lens. But then again, the 1.2 aperture of the Fuji lens is very appealing too.

    What would you do? Any recommendations?

    What is your lens lineup?

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  2. Chris2500dk

    Chris2500dk Top Veteran

    Dec 22, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I've simplified my setup quite a bit.

    Wide angle shots - DP1 Merrill.
    Non-wide shots - DP3 Merrill.
    Backup - Sony RX100.

    I generally don't need high ISO or fast focusing and the Merrills just delivers in the image quality department, so I'm finding it a good match.
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  3. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Having recently been forced to venture into a massive superstore for my food needs due to the closure of my relatively small sized local supermarket, I felt much the same as having a large selection of lenses, too much choice leaves me bemused :confused: Better to know a small number of lenses and how they behave.

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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...

    Having been through a very similar journey, stopping off briefly in Nikon Df-land but landing mostly with Fuji, here's my approach. I say MOSTLY with Fuji because I'm maintaining a minimal m43 system mostly for portrait length and longer lenses, but this gets used mostly around home or for specific events where I need longer lenses or fast portrait type lenses. And I have the Nikon Coolpix A which is my pocket camera and my street camera (the Fuji does OK here too now, but I still prefer the Nikon).

    But the Fuji is my primary system camera again because I mostly shoot with primes and they have GREAT primes (and I prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio for most prime lens shooting too - much less picky with longer lenses). And I like to be able to travel with just a relatively small and light Fuji kit, plus the Nikon which doesn't take up any room. So here's my Fuji kit:

    56mm (sooner than later)

    The 50-230 won't get much use but I like to have SOME telephoto capability when I travel and would rather not bring my m43 kit for that rare shot. I had the 55-200 on my last trip and used it VERY little and it was heavy enough that I left it behind in the room on all but a couple of days. The 50-230 has more range and is a LOT lighter, so it's a better option for me. It's a stop slower, but they're both slow lenses, it's got more range than the 55-200, and it just works better for what I want it for. It's also less expensive, although at the moment only about $100 cheaper.

    I've thought about the 10-24, but it seems like when I have the 14 with me, I never reach for or want for anything wider. I think ultra-wide (I have the Pany 7-14 currently) is another of those applications that I use for specific types of shooting but I'm OK for now leaving that as a special purpose lens that doesn't travel with me. If I change my mind someday, I'll sell the Panasonic and get the 10-24, but I'm not moved to do it anytime soon.

    I actually have the 18mm lens but I probably won't use it much at all since I'll usually have the Nikon with me and that's a better lens and the camera takes up functionally less space than the 18mm lens.

    So for the foreseeable future, that's my Fuji kit, my main kit, my travel kit. I've got 21-345mm covered with a gap between 35 and 85, but I never shoot in that range anyway. I"ve had the 35mm in the past and never used it - I just seem to be functionally blind in that "neutral" focal length range - can't see worth a damn. The lenses I shoot 98-99% of the times are primes, and that's the way I like it.

    That's what's currently working for me - YMMV. BTW, my kit has changed a lot over the past few years, but my focal length preferences really haven't. I've always liked the same focal lengths and it's just a matter of figuring out the best way of nailing them down. These days is mostly Fuji with a side dish of Nikon at 28mm...

    • Like Like x 1
  5. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    I read these musings with a lot of interest as I teeter back and forth making decisions about what to get when I upgrade in a few days. Currently, I shoot with 3 cameras: X100 (35mm equiv), Minolta XD-5 (using a 28 f2.8 and a 55 f1.7), and sometimes a Yashica A medium format with a 50mm equivalent lens on it. Going forward, the film cameras will remain a fun hobby, but I want to carefully think through the Fuji setup for all the reasons mentioned above. The X100 is staying - I'll never give it up, and if it ever dies I will give it a proper viking funeral with full honors. It's family. But that means I have this odd "given" right in the middle of the length lineup. 35 is spoken for. I often wish for something slightly wider than the 28 Rokkor (currently my widest lens, short of an iphone or something). I also love shooting the Rokkor 55, and yet I long for an 85, and I am spoiled by the speed of the X100 (f2) and the Rokkor 55 (f1.7).

    All this has me thinking I will blashpemously skip the 18-55 kit zoom. I know it's good, and it has OIS. And f2.8 on the wide end is fairly fast. F4 on the long end will still blur the backgrounds ok... but if I have it, I'll never justify / use something like the 35 1.4 or the 56 1.2, both of which are significantly faster (and in my heart, just "better," because I am so incredibly used to primes now). Thus, I see myself going for the 14 f2.8 no matter what, and then I teeter over the 35, the 56, or both.

    A likely set of kits for my normal uses, then...

    DAILY = X100. That thing goes everywhere with me, and does so much so well in such a tiny / fast package that for just tooling around, it's still the one.
    SCENIC DAY TRIP = smallish Domke bag with the X100, and an X-T1 with the 14 on it.
    WORKING DAYS = This is when I'm shooting a ride for the Mrs's website, which curates bike rides in different cities. Shots needed range from architectural to crowds to dark bar interiors to tracking motion "oncoming cyclist using a bike lane" shots, and god knows what else. The more I think about it, the more I think this would be the X100 in its tiny black bag on my back with no camera strap for quick snaps during the rides (fast access is key), then in the Domke the X-T1 with the 35 on it, and the 14 and 56 stashed.
    VACATIONS = All the above, plus the Yashica? Good lord, I'm turning into that guy. I have to think about this more. There's a helluva lot of logic to that kit zoom for travel. Sigh.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. I do tend to like the 35mm and 50mm equivalent focal lengths. I have quite a nice little set up at the moment but also have a constant amount of G.A.S!! Not good!

    I have the GX7 and a G6. These are my main cameras and will be the 'goto' cameras when going out. The lenses I have for them are:

    Oly 17mm f1.8 - This I use most of the time but it fights for position with the 20mm f1.7.

    Panasonic 20mm f1.7 Mk2 - Seriously good lens and a great focal length.

    Olympus 45mm f1.8

    Panasonic 45-175mm for those odd times that I may need a tele

    I also have a Fuji X-M1 which is a good little camera and was bought to replace the GF1 as 12 megapixels is not enough any more. The IQ is superb and with the 35mm f1.4 I get a similar DOF look to what full frame gives me. I also have the 18mm which is a great semi wide for landscape.

    I LOVE full frame but hate the weight and bulk of DSLRs. I have thought about the Sony A7 but there is a lack of any lenses that I would want. The RX1 looks pretty good and I may get one one day.

    I would love to have just one system and I wish it could be Micro 4/3 but the sensor is just too small to get those narrow DOF images that I love. If someone could make a system the same size as the Panasonic G6 with lenses to match (same size) that's Full frame then I would be a happy man! It will never happen though.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    I'm loving my time with the choice of just a 28 & 50mm on my FF prime shooter at the moment.
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  8. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    I really love a good prime, but that Fuji 18-55 is so good, I just don't feel the need for a 23 or 27 (the 14 might be tempting, but I think the 10-24 would be more useful so I haven't bothered even looking at "samples"). That 56mm f1.2 is something totally different and is on my radar, but not in my current budget. The 55-200 will end up in my bag sooner rather than later.

    So my kit will eventually be (maybe when our house sells) 10-24, 18-55, 35, 56 and 55-200. I'd really like a macro lens, too. But the 60mm and I did not bond. I'm researching other options now. Good luck with your research, Peter. But it sounds like you're just going to buy them all....LOL.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. mnhoj

    mnhoj gee aahrr

    Jan 27, 2012
    I have 14, 27, 35, 60, and 55-200.
    The 14 is my favorite.
    I don't use the 35 much but will keep it. I love the images it makes and for now it's my budget 23/56 substitute.
    I just bought a second 55-200 a few/three months ago and haven't used it - again. It is such a good performer but I have finally accepted that I don't use it.
    The 27 is nicer than I thought.
    The 60 is nice too.

    Which now brings me to my road map. An ultra wide and a 28mm equivalent.
    The 55-200 will likely go. ):
    I wanted to see what the 10mm Samyang was like but I think it's going to be too expensive. I'll probably pick up another 8mm.
    And lastly, I will pick up a Ricoh GR. I've been wanting a second body and an 18. The GR sounds perfect. I can't wait.

    So 8, 14, 18(GR), 27, 35, 60, and a humble little X-E1. Within my means, plenty potent, and all should get quite a bit of use.

    Good luck with your lineup Peter.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    The 55-200 arrived today, so I had to get out for a few shots. I am surprised how light it is compared to the - already lightweight - Nikon 70-210 lens. Easy to use and carry around.
    That one will be a keeper. So the score is now: 14, 23, 35, 55-200. ;-)

    Thanks for your ideas! Luke: I will probably stick to the 14mm. The 10-24 seems to be huge.

    Some snaps (Yes, I had permission of the lady to take the shots):
    View attachment 88008
    View attachment 88009
    View attachment 88010
    • Like Like x 2
  11. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Wow, those are clear and crisp.
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  12. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    NEX-7 with 19, 30/35 and 50. The 30 does most of the work and the 35 comes out when the light gets a bit low or for interiors. I still have the 18-55 but will sell it when I get round to selling of the NEX-5. I also have the 55-200 which I got because it was going cheap. Like Ray I don;t use it much but it's handy to have. Most of it's work involves photographing pandas at the zoo.

    At some point I will acquire the 10-18. I would like the 24 but will never buy because it is overpriced.

    RX100 for everything else.

    Less is more.
    • Like Like x 1