The most important part of a camera system isn’t the camera body; it’s the lens. A photographer may have a top line camera body in their hands but if they stick a $20 pawn shop treasure on the front of it, they’re likely holding the equivalent of a $5,000 disposable camera. There are times when the “vintage” look to an image is exactly what one is after and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by rooting through your local camera shop’s used equipment section. But, it’s an “effect” lens and not the sort of thing you need for the day-to-day work of product, portrait, sports and other demanding applications. This requires real glass and choosing the right lenses for the job can be arduous and expensive.
It seems logical that networking with contemporaries would narrow the field; no… not really. Each advertising and photography professional has their own shooting style and deals with different work flow environments. Based on their experience, they will have an opinion to offer, sometimes good, sometimes bad and almost always one that doesn’t fit your needs.
There are many on-line resources available that are supposed to help sort through this process but, as you compare one source to another, you tend to see that even they contradict each other most of the time. Again, they’re opinion-swayed results created because the tester was focusing on certain features; usually cost, aperture, distortion, weight, image quality or build.
One on-line resource that differs in its’ approach to all of this is the website: www.photozone.de
This is a group that tests camera bodies and lenses by the numbers with each piece tested, standing or failing on its’ own merits. The results are cleanly displayed and when a personal opinion is offered it is clearly identified and disclaimed as something that may or may not apply to you. If a particular strength or weakness is inherent to a lens class, it is identified so that results aren’t unnecessarily skewed. You compare apples to apples and when done, will have a reasonable idea of expectations and limitations for lenses that will give you the best location or digital studio photography.
Lenses may be an expensive habit at best but properly selected are a pleasure to use and help to maximize your camera’s potential. This on-line resource will go a long way in your search for that perfect fit in optics.