Zoom Lenses Make you Lazy

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Blog | 1 Comment

Yes.. Zoom lenses make you lazy. Most of your compositional creative thinking is shut down.

Before I explain that I gotta say that I love Zoom Lenses.  I have Canon’s 17-40mm f4,  24-70mm f2.8, and 70-200mm f2.8.  I also have Tamron’s 24-70mm f2.8 VC

Canon 17-40mm f4L

Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L









Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L


Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC









I love them all for different reasons.   So why do I say they make me lazy?  Well if you only shoot zooms you will never experience what I am about to tell you.   For me…. with zooms, this is how I take a shot.

  1. I make sure all my settings are right for the shot.
  2. I will see something that catches my eye.  I call that my “muses” talking to me.
  3. I whip up the camera to my eye from my nifty RS-4 Strap.
  4. I adjust the zoom so that the framing is just right.
  5. Then I click away taking 3 speed bracketed shots at a time at different f-stops using Av mode.
  6. Done…. move on to the next subject.

So what is wrong with this?

Well  lately I have not been happy with my some of my shots.  In particular its the close up shots of fruits, veggies, flowers with soft backgrounds of the same in the background.    I have mostly used the Canon 24-70mm f2.8.  I looked at my historical shots with this lens.   They run the gamut from 24 to 70mm.  But….Most of my shots seem to be in the 70mm range.   There were focusing issues with the DOF not really being where I liked it.  I was also taking shots in a low light environment.   I could only push the ISO to about 800 without having to do noise reduction  (its a microstock image necessity).  So many shots were less than 1/70 sec.  My older, 62 year old, hands are not as steady as they were.  So there were some shake focus issues.

So…… I  bought the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC.  Vibration control.  BTW I did a comparison between the Canon and Tamron Here.   It really solved the hand shake issue and offered larger DOF’s (higher f stop) for the low light stuff.  But after a lot of AF MA adjustments.  I found that part of the problem with both the Canon and the Tamron 24-70’s is that both auto focus systems go a little screwy near minimum focus distances at 70mm.   I verified this with Reikan’s focal system and LensAlign and real image capture.   The MA adjustment that you make at 50X the focal length ( recommended by Canon)  will not work if you are at 6x.  So I was faced with changing the MA, in the field, for close ups or going to manual.  I also covered that Here in detail.

Ah….. but there is another option.

Try a prime lens.

I had a Sigma 50mm 1.4.

Sigma 50mm 1.4

I tried that but it was  just a little wide for the shots I like and I could not get as close as I wanted.  On top of that, for the close shots,  I was not that impressed with the sharpness.

I read a lot of good reviews about the Canon 85mm 1.8.  So… of course,  I got that one and tried it.

Canon 85mm f1.8

Well guess what….for portraits this is a keeper of a lens.  But now I was a bit too far from the subject and I could not get close enough for the kind of shot I wanted.  But I was not getting close enough.


Hmmm  What could get me closer????  Duh!!!  A MACRO lens.

Well I did have a Canon 100mm f2.8 IS Macro-

Canon 100mm f2.8 IS L Macro

That should solve all my issues.  Right?   It did take GREAT shots and I can now get close to the subject.  BUT….  its not wide enough.  It became clear at that point that what I needed was something like this Canon but at 70mm.

Yesterday I got the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro.

Sigma 70mm f2.8

Bingo!!!  Its too bad that it does not have IS…. but I think its sharper than the other alternatives and gives me the DOF and field of view that I need for these kind of shots.

What about the ” zoom lenses make you Lazy”?

Well because of all of this the past few weeks I have been shooting mainly with primes.  I have never done that before.  And it has altered my image capture work flow.  Its the same as the what I described earlier in this posting but when I get ready to frame the shot.  I have to stop and think.  I almost have an idea in my mind about what the 70mm field of view will be before I take a shot.  So I most likely will take that one but then I will probably step back and take some shots, step forward and take some shots, step to the left, step to the right, kneel down, up on my toes (new form of the hokey pokey).  In other words,   for some reason,  the prime is forcing me to think a bit more about the composition and move around to experiment with that composition.    Also for some reason  I don’t do this that much with the zooms.   I had read about this before but always dismissed it as a bunch of old fart photographers (wait… that could be me I am describing) that probably still shoot with pin hole cameras on film.

So now I think that if I know what I will be shooting and the subjects are mostly the same kind of thing.  I will put a prime on my lens.  If I don’t know what I am going to be shooting then a zoom is a good idea.  Or if I just want to exercise the compositional part of my mind a bit, a prime is the way to go.

By the way… you may be thinking…. what is this crazy guy doing buying all of these lenses.   Who can afford that??   The secret is selling the lenses you do end up not using much.  I talk about that Here.  And then Isupplement my buying money with money I earn on Microstock sites that I describe Here.

Here are some of the shots I took today at the market with the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro.





1 Comment

  1. My journey to get to the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro Lens
    September 6, 2012

    […] covered part of my thoughts on this in my blog about How Zoom Lenses will make you Lazy.    This post is sort of an extension of those ideas with more detail on the Sigma.  Before I […]


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