Cost of High Quality Glass vs. Photos

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Vautrin, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi,

    So I'm looking at getting a new lens for my olympus e-510 and i'm a little confused.

    The same lens in terms of focal length and maybe with a slightly different range of f stops can have a huge difference in price.

    Zuiko Digital Lenses

    A 14-42 mm f3.5-5.6 is $249
    a 14-54 mm f2.8-3.5 is $799
    A 14-35mm f. 2.0 is $2,299

    That's a HUGE difference in price.

    So for $2k I could literally buy "standard" quality lenses to cover the range of zoom from 15mm-600mm.

    Or I could get one really high cost 14-35mm lens.

    So my question is what do I really get for all that extra money? Is the $799 lens going to be huge difference over teh $249 lens?

    Or will it not show up enough in the photos I shoot and I should stick with cheaper glass?

    What do people do, how do you best trade off between price and quality?

    Thanks,

    Dan
     
  2. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    If you are shooting for fun and not for clients or professionally than by all means, use the cheaper glass.

    I would NEVER use cheap glass for my clients. There is a pretty huge difference in quality in my experience.
     
  3. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    There is no trade off between price & quality.....if you want quality, you pay the price.

    Read through this site. There are many threads about "Do I upgrade my camera or my lens?". The answer is always the lens. Many of today's dslr's, even the lowest end ones, are capable of taking great shots if they have a good piece of glass in front of it, and a good eye behind it.

    The grade of lens you purchase is going to depend on what you need it for, how often you really need the quality, and what you are willing to spend. Myself...I don't shoot wide angle much, so I have a cheaper Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6, and it does me just fine for what I need. If I were shooting with it in a lot of indoor low-light situations, I would definitely be upgrading.

    I am a Nikon shooter, and have no experience with Olympus lenses... but there is a 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II for $599 on that site that doesn't look too bad.
     
  4. mooimeisie

    mooimeisie TPF Noob!

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    This topic is also a recent conversation I have been having with a friend. I have come to the conclusion, I would rather save and wait to buy quality than purchase lower price lenses.
     
  5. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't suppose you have examples? I've tried looking online but I've never really seen a web site which says "OK this is the $200 olympus lens and it took this photo and here's the $2,000 lens and it took this photo" with both taking pictures of hte same scene.
     
  6. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    No, it's not. Some very few people (myself included) don't ascribe to the "one answer for anything" philosophy, and there are cases when buying a new camera is CRITICAL and the glass is almost a trivial matter.

    For example... I was running a D100, and my client DEMANDED higher resolution photos. Did they necessarily need them? Debatable. They wanted them. Rushing out and buying a $1000 lens wasn't going to fix this problem. D300 it is.

    That's just one example. I can think of plenty.

    In addition, MANY sub-par lenses have sweet spots where you can get some reall good images out of them by just knowing what the strengths and weaknesses of the lense are and taking advantage of them.

    One of my best and sharpest images was taken with a REALLY crappy 28-100 3.5/5.6.

    There is also an element of learning involved for newer photographers. People, by their nature, learn more rapidly through failure than success. If you give them really good glass, they will fail far less often because it gives them a wider margin of error. Jumping right to a $1500 lens for a new shooter will almost invariably slow their learning curve.

    One other thing to keep in mind is most amateurs will not see the difference between a $100 lense and a $1500 one. They will see they can go one or two shutter speeds faster, but that's about it.

    Now, am I saying that good glass is unecessary and you should blow it off? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I run a 50mm 1.8, a 80-200 2.8 and my next lense will be the 24-70(ish) 2.8. Good glass is absolutely awesome and should be on everyone's shopping list. The point is that good glass is NOT always the thing you must choose with TODAY's shopping dollars.

    Do an analysis of what it is you need now, and spend the money there.
     
  7. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Since you asked...

    This shot was taken with my piece of crap lense...

    [​IMG]

    Actually, this one was taken with an even worse lense than that one...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. mooimeisie

    mooimeisie TPF Noob!

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    OK, now that you've shown us the "crap", lets see your good ones. :lol: I guess this really proves, it's not what you've got, but how you use it.
     
  9. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well, I don't want to make this into a Gallery du Russo... :lol: ...and the fact of the matter is that compared to a LOT of photographers, I'm still a rank amateur. The point is mainly that you can get some really beautiful shots with crap. :)

    BTW, if you're truly curious you can see my work on my website (link below).

    MOST of my shots are taken with either a Sigma 10-20mm (also not a STELLAR lens, but better than most) or my Nikkor 18-200 VR (probably around the par of the 10-20 overall, but you have to know the lense because it has some real pitfalls at certain focal lengths). There are a few shots up there I took with the Nikkor 80-200 2.8 as well. The banner image was taken by stitching together shots with the Nikkor 50mm 1.8.
     
  10. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ok but this just makes me even more confused because images like that make me think I might as well get the cheapest glass out there... But really I think there's a point of decent quality which is affordable...the question is where?
     
  11. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    It is confusing.

    One thing you might like to consider is what you will be mainly using the lens(es) for.

    If you spend 90% of your time doing protraits you would certailny be better off splitting your budget so that most is spent on a first class prime for portraits and lesser glass for other focal lengths.

    If, on the other hand, you split your subjects across the spectrum you might be better of getting 'OK' glass that will cover the focal lengths you need so that you do not miss shots.

    You also need to bear in mind future budget. If you are going to be able to afford more in the future you may well want to lean towards getting the best possible glass for the area you mainly photograph at the moment and wait until funds allow before moving to ther subject fields.

    It's never an easy decision.
     
  12. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    heheh, this is an annoying concept, but...

    You can get good images with sub-par or great glass, but getting great images isn't entirely about the equipment. There's a lot more involved in both. It just so happens that you'll likely be able to get better images with a bit more ease with the better glass. Better tools can have better results, no question... they key is a better tool in the hands of someone who doesn't really know how to use it will generally net only slightly better results.

    Ultimately it boils down to budget. If you can spend thousands of dollars and don't mind doing so, then why bother? Buy the good stuff. Just don't feel like you're screwed if you cannot. You can still get great images with practice, skill and understanding.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009

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