What are the benifits of a better lens vs a cheap lens?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by anubis404, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    I know this is kind of a noob question, one I should know the answer to by now, but what is the difference between a good lens and a crappy lens? I know that some lenses offer more zoom and wider apertures, but what else do better lenses have to offer, and why should I get one? Will it make my pictures look clearer? Better? I am deciding whether I should save up for a better lens for my D40 or stick with my 18-55mm kit lens.
     
  2. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The main difference will be Image Quality, like sharpness- you have to consider sharpness in the center and sharpness at the corners, also sharpness varies through the zoom range. Cheap lenses often have huge variations in quality throughout the range. Higher quality lenses minimize this, but that takes a lot of research, engineering, development, and testing, hence the large price tag. Very good zooms often have a large maximum aperture like f/2.8, and it stays at 2.8 throughout the zoom range.

    Will better lenses make your pictures better? the short answer is YES, but there are many other factor to consider. A lens is only a tool, It's really how you use the tool that matters. When you find that you are reaching the limits of your tool set, then absolutely, better tools will help you create better results.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There are also the less tangible benefits; that of better quality construction, metal vs. plastic barrel, one which won't creep out of focus, etc. A good lens should be a lifetime investment.
     
  4. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Top end lenses also, generally have a much better physical build quality, better and faster auto focus, are bigger and heavier. Now size and weight could be a pro or con, depending on the use, I personally like bigger and heavier cameras and lenses(to a point) I find them easier to grip hold, adjust and balance.




    OOH! and some of them are WHITE!
     
  5. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    Is a 50mm lens a good lens, even though it lacks an AF motor and a zoom? In terms of clarity?
     
  6. Copacetic

    Copacetic TPF Noob!

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    If you're referring to the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, I've heard nothing but good about it, and it may well be my own next lens purchase. It is purported to be extremely sharp, and very well made.
     
  7. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Example is CANON not Nikon...but basically the same thing :p (when referring to examples)

    Well based solely on a focal length, a lens isnt sharp or soft. That doesn't decide it. Ex: 50mm

    What does decide it is the glass pieces inside called elements, better glass...layers on the glass.... Better lenses have less "Chromatic Aberrations" for instance...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_aberration

    Edit:
    Also, better lenses often have a bigger aperture.. (Smaller F/number)
    A bigger aperture also means it probably needs more glass (wider)
    Example:
    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-50mm-f-1.2-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

    There are 3 (three) canon EF 50mm lenses. The difference besides quality is the aperture number...

    Left to right:
    Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
    Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 USM
    Canon EF 50mm F/1.2L USM

    You can see a size difference... The F/1.8 cost about what < $100?
    The F/1.4 is like $300
    The F/1.2L is > $1,000

    In USD

    But ya....better lenses are better! You get what you pay for...

    Other stuff too like faster/quieter focusing etc... Sharp images, better build quality...
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    This is one of those things that falls into the category of "When you try it for yourself, then you will know".
     
  9. nymtber

    nymtber TPF Noob!

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    picture quality is all about the glass. Aspherical lenses tend to be much better at reducing chromatic aberration, which reduces the number of elements needed in a lens. However, aspherical lenses cost more (I know this first hand, I polish aspherical lenses). Spherical lenses have been made for many many years, the process is pretty cut and dry. Aspheres are a whole different animal.

    Lens build quality is another factor. seems a lot of newer lenses are plastic. Plastic is great, for grocery bags. Of course lens manufacturers realize some people just wont pay more for a better lens, so they offer cheaper quality lenses, that for most of us, do a fine job. Im no pro, the kit lens with my Sony A200 does a pretty nice job when I do things right :)

    if you can save up money, even only a little here and there, buy a better lens. Its too bad you dont have the higher-end Nikon that has an autofocus motor built into the camera body, you could then buy one of the millions of older, better quality lenses out there. You still can, you just wont have autofocus. In your position I would at least buy a 50-200mm or equivilent...Tamron and Sigma make GREAT lenses these days. The extra zoom will really expand your photographic horizons!
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So kiddies:

    Better chromatic aberration control
    Better sharpness
    Wider apertures
    Constant apertures
    Better build quality
    Better focus motors
    Quieter focusing
    Faster focusing
    Image stabilization
     
  11. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    I am asking because I am thinking of getting a new lens. I have a fairly tight budget, around $100, and I think a 50mm may be for me. But, I can go to $200 if there is something a lot better about another lens. So, a 50mm will definitely be the best for my D40 (I don't care about autofocus)? Which one? Does Sigma and Tamaron make any good 50mms in that price range for the D40?
     
  12. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

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    Build
    Color that "jumps out at you".
    Image Quality

    Those are the three qualities that you can touch/see difference when you use a "better lens" - for me it is. I'm thinking Canon "L".

    Not saying that you will not get those qualities in a "lower priced" lens, but more difficult to find all three qualities in same lens.


    Never touched a Nikon 50mm (f/1.8?). The Canon one has good IQ, decent color, but horrible build. I swear it's made of plastic, and if I shake it, I can imagine the glass/plastic rattling around. My daughter's Mattel toddler camera feels sturdier.
     

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