I’m not as young as I once was! That bag on my back is beginning to feel just a bit heavy on occasion. Do I really need to carry all that gear around with me.
That’s the question this post seeks to address, and it comes to some interesting conclusions, and a new camera bag to justify those conclusions too! [Well it would have to, wouldn’t it – “all the gear, no idea”]
Hint: You can click on the images below to make them readable!
The starting point is to take a look at the Metadata stored in Adobe Lightroom for all the photos in my Library …
Some of the statistics this generates are quite amazing, but we need to funnel down to look at the lenses, I have on the cameras I’ve been using most recently. So I can make a selection on the three Sony digital cameras I’ve been using …
Now to refine further and see what lenses these have been using …
I hasten to add that I don’t own all these lenses now. I’ll own up to the FE 16-35, the FE 24-105, the FE 70-200 zoom lenses, and the FE 24, FE 55 and FE 90 Macro prime lenses. Still a lot of glass to carry around, just-in-case!
So … focussing principally on the ones I’ve used on the newer Sony Full frame models, the A7R and A7RIII, that I’ve owned, and then refine the filter further I get a dataset of c.11000 photos taken with these cameras and lenses.
Time to look at what focal lengths I’ve principally used. Picking out those with >100 shots, I find that 15 Focal lengths account for nearly 8,000 of the photos (c.70%).
Wow! That’s quite a focus (sic) on a limited range of focal lengths. What if I just select the Zoom lenses and see what focal lengths I use for them …
Can you see the clustering at the two ends of the zoom range? Now lets look at my favourite lens, the FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS – my walkabout lens …
The peaking at the ends of the zoom ranges is even more pronounced with this lens, can you see where this is leading?
I’m not going to even bother to show you the screenshots for the FE 70-200 F4 G OSS, I think you get the picture. Of the 1752 shots taken with this lens, 1164 were taken at either 70mm, or 200mm!!!! Now I’m either not using these lenses correctly, or I’m missing something far more fundamental in my use of lenses that I now am beginning to think, a high pixel count sensor can accommodate.
You’ve got it “zoom with cropping“.
Prime lenses are better optically, and are faster (lower F value or aperture). If I choose the right prime lens I should be able to accommodate my need to zoom by cropping and making the most of the 42 Megapixels that the sensor has.
The trick is to choose a low focal length prime and zoom by cropping; thus to cover my current range, and use the current “favourite” focal lengths, I need a 16mm, a 55mm, a 90mm and a 200mm lens. I have two of those, but perhaps I can do without the 16mm and use my current 24mm lens, or perhaps given the wide range of focal lengths used in the 16-35mm range, this zoom justifies its place in my bag. That just leaves the 200mm telephoto, as a gap in my bag. I’ll always keep the 24-105mm as my walk-about lens. It’s so versatile, it sits permanently on the camera. The problem – there just isn’t one in the Sony range between 135mm (just about affordable) and 400mm (way out of my price range). So the 70-200mm would appear to still have a place in my bag – just for the 200mm focal length.
So to answer the original question, what’s now in my bag – the 24mm F1.4, the 55mm F1.8, and the 90mm F2.8 macro. I’m leaving the zoom lenses at home for the time being, unless I have a specific reason to use them as the single lens on my camera with no camera bag – 16-35mm for landscapes, 24-105mm for walking about (travel) and general use, the 70-200mm for wildlife.
And the bag …
… it holds the three prime lenses comfortably allowing me to have either the 24-105mm, or the 70-200mm on the camera; or the 70-200mm, with the camera plus 55mm (or 16-35mm) in the bag; or the 70-200mm in the bag and the 24-105mm on the camera.
It’ll be interesting to see how my focus on prime lenses strategies maps out. I’ll keep you posted.