Regardless of the focal length of your favorite lens, I'd venture to say you've been in situations where you've tried to focus in tight on your subject and inevitably hit the wall—the minimum focus point of your lens. Sure you can crop, but in a perfect world it would be swell if each of our lenses would focus as close to our subjects as our mind's eye focuses. Alas, the world isn't perfect... but we do have macro lenses.
The first words usually uttered by somebody peering through an ultra wide-angle lens for the first time is usually something along the lines of “Whoa!”—and the wider the lens, the louder the “Whoa!” While peering through an extreme telephoto lens can also coax a “Whoa!” from the viewer, it’s because of its ability to bring distant subjects seemingly within arm’s length. Ultra-wides are different in their ability to interpret objects that actually are within arm’s-length distance in a different light. And that’s what makes them special.
For many shooters, telephoto lenses are a means of bringing distant scenes closer, and for the most part, this is an accurate description of what telephoto lenses do. But there's more to telephoto lenses than narrow fields of view. Perspective, compression of spatial relationships between subjects within the frame and the dynamics of selective focus are equally part of the game.
For many DSLR owners, there comes a time when one wants to go beyond the kit lens that came with the camera. The reasons vary. For some it's a matter of sharpness. For others it's a matter of speed and/or focal-length restrictions. And for some it's simply the fact they don't like the ''icky" feel of a plastic lens barrel, regardless of how sharp the lens may or may not be.
While there may not ever be a "perfect" lens, there has long been a need for a one-lens solution for shooters who want to head out the door with one camera and one lens over their shoulder. The reasons vary. For some it's a matter of convenience. For some, it's a matter of pure laziness and for others it's the fear of getting dust on the sensor. For frequent flyers it's a matter of logistics, i.e., there's a limit to how much airlines allow you to carry aboard the plane (almost all of these lenses are surprisingly compact).
In the right hands, almost any lens—including a fisheye lens—can be used for portraiture. Wide angle, normal, even super-telephoto lenses can be used successfully for portrait work. But if you had to narrow them down to select an optimal focal length for shooting portraits, it would have to be a lens in the range of 85 to 105mm.
When director Rick Mowat needed a quick and inexpensive solution for staging a play that involved multiple street locations and a hospital room, he turned to New York City photographer Stephen Andrus and a Panasonic projector. The nearly carpentry- and paint-free production of the new drama, Coda (For Freddie Blue) by Fred Crecca, can be seen June 10 - 13 at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, 340 W. 47 St.
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