Know Your Usual Focal Length Before Buying DSLR Lens

Knowing Your Usual Focal Length Before Buying DSLR Lens

The year comes to an end and I’m sure most of you are looking forward to end your year with that purchase long-intended. 😀 Furthermore, it’s holiday season! Paycheck + Bonus (sorry if you don’t have) and of course, the DCIM Show 2011 here in KL.

BUT WAIT! Before you plop your cash on THAT piece of glass, how about getting to know your usual focal length?

Introducing the software called Exposure Plot, it’s an old software that I really like. You can also use the Wega2 software that’s found on that page, said to have Exposure Plot as part of the feature.

Why should you get to know your usual focal length?

Upgrade Your Most Used “Weapon”

This is the most logical course of action, it applies in every area of life.

Let’s say you have an 18-55mm and a 55-250mm lens already, which one should you upgrade? Ideally you should be upgrading the one lens with the range that you use most often because a better lens could actually improve your overall user experience. Even if it doesn’t improve anything, you might as well part your money to something that you use more often.

There’s no reason to spend RM 4,000 on a telephoto zoom that you hardly use, it’s no different from buying a paper weight………… well probably the paper weight costing RM 4,000 is still used more often than a lens sitting in storage.

Studying the Chart

Here’s what what my focal length chart looks like.

Knowing Your Usual Focal Length Before Buying DSLR Lens

The chart is based on 35mm equivalent so if you’re on an APS-C sensor body – remember to multiply accordingly.
In my case, 16mm comes mostly from my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM that I used from 2008 to 2011, and most recently the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM – a huge boost in 16mm range due to my quite regular interior photography projects, mostly using the UWA lens at widest.

80mm holds the record as the most used focal length, that points to my EF 50mm f/1.8 II and EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lenses – my most common food photography lens, however nowadays I’m doing more “photos of my lunch / dinner” with my EF-S 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (the 35mm equivalent for 15-85 is 24-136).

Overall, the bulk of my photos are from 24 to 220, largely contributed by my old Canon EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS. Over the past year, the EF-S 15-85 has replaced my 18-200 and is currently my most used lens, you can see how often I use it at widest focal length based on the 24mm mark on the chart.

I’m actually surprised at the 320mm bar as well, considering the EF 70-200 f/4 L USM is my least used lens. This made me realize how often was I using the 200mm side of my 18-200.

Buying What You Don’t Have

Buying a lens of a focal length you not yet have will allow you to experience more focal lengths and photographic style ….. and you most certainly do not need a software to tell you what range you don’t have. 😉

Happy Buying!

While I discourage spending obscene amount of money on any hobby – I’m not against people spending their hard earned $$$$ to reward themselves. *there’s a difference between “discourage” and “against”.

I hope this article has shed some light on how you can make best from your hard earned $$$$.

Even if you’re not buying anything at all, I’m sure the software gives you an interesting insight of how you use your lenses, and they’re an indicator of what kind of photos you usually take, and also the focal length you like to use for your composition.

Take care! And if you’re in the Klang Valley on 23rd, remember to drop by for my talk at DCIM Show 2011.

*btw, the software also shows you the common ISO, aperture and shutter speed you use. 😛

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  1. I think it is best to avoid excessive frequent use of 18-55mm lens because too much use can damage the CCD electronics in the camera.

  2. Author

    1. define excessive

    2. any source to the “damage the CCD” claim?

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