DSLR accessories

Interchangeable lens quality

Written by Gail Bjork

You don’t have to buy an expensive interchangeable lens to get decent image quality. Expensive lenses, while very expensive and often heavy, are as good as lenses get…and they will cost.

Lens qualityThe prices of interchangeable lenses for digital single reflex cameras range from about $100.00 to those costing thousands of dollars.

The prices of most professional grades lenses can take your breath away, or cause you to mortgage your house.

Benefits of expensive lens

High quality lenses, called “glass” by photographers, render better colors, images can be sharper and they have less distortion, though are not necessarily distortion-free. High quality lenses are built ruggedly and many are waterproof. Professional quality lenses are as good as they get.

Some of the main reasons to purchase better lenses are that they focus quicker, have quieter motors and may be “faster.” A fast lens has a large maximum aperture that lets more light pass through during a given time span. Fast lenses are particularly useful for low light photography and when high shutter speeds are required.

Don’t balk at budget lenses

For many, a quality budget lens will meet their photographic needs.

A gowning number of these lenses are designed for today’s smaller DSLRs. They are compact and lightweight compared to their more expensive counterparts. Their light weight may be of particular benefit to compact digital camera users moving to small sized DSLRs.

A heavy lens, though, may not balance well on a lighter DSLR body. Those who use and like the spontaneity of a super zoom camera may balk at the fact that heavy, long and super telephoto lenses may require the use of a tripod or monopod. Tripods and suitable tripod heads for specific photographic needs, such as panning or photographing panoramas, can be expensive.

Budget lenses have gotten better

Shop carefully and read a few reviews before purchasing a lens. You’ll find that a number of the newer budget DSLR lenses, including those with Image Stabilization, provide very fine image quality. They lack the build and some of features found on more expensive lenses but those features may not be missed.

Image sharpness

Images produced by high megapixel count cameras often do not appear sharp when viewed at 100 percent on a computer monitor, even when properly focused. When an image is reduced in size and edited, including sharpening, it may be near impossible to see the difference between images taken with a quality budget lens and one that costs a lot more.

Buy a budget or expensive DSLR lens?

If you’re a new DSLR user, you may want to begin with a quality, budget lens. Some DSLRs come packaged with a kit zoom lens, or lenses, which range from wide angle to telephoto. Kit lenses, when purchased along with a camera body, can cost less than the exact same lenses purchased separately.

This is not to say you shouldn’t start off with a better lens if it meets your photographic needs and is affordable. Just don’t assume that a better lens will automatically make you a better photographer.

How do you know if you need a better lens?

The answer is simple: when you are no longer happy with the results of the one you currently own; when you find you need a longer or wider focal length or one that has faster, more accurate focus.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.