Usually we try to give you good advice. In this article we do our best to give you bad advice. So here are 9 golden rules to make sure that you buy the wrong lens.
1. Sharpness is all that matters
You should discard any but the very sharpest lenses and put the sharpness high above any other aspects. Only inspecting your über-large prints with a loupe will impress your neighbor more than the super heavy $5000 lens you took that picture with.
2. Buy Bob’s favorite lens
If your mate is raving about his new Fantastilux 7.2/14-140 then that lens is perfect for you as well. Bob will certainly be very experienced when it comes to lenses. It also doesn’t matter that he mostly shoots soccer while you are more interested in landscape photography. If the lens does one thing well it will do other things as well.
3. Trust in numbers
There is no better way to judge the quality of a lens than going by the numbers since the numbers are always right. Luckily many sites provide very exact numbers to help you in your search for the perfect lens. To keep your faith in the numbers you shouldn’t let yourself be bothered by a heretic called Roger Cicala and his mutterings on lens variance.
Our favorite site even calculates how many megapixels a lens resolves. This is super handy because instead of becoming confused by a number of tests which disagree whether the MTF50-score LW/PH which lens X resolves 12 mm off center at f/5.6 with a focal length of 42mm when tested at a reproduction ratio of 1:30 is 1234 or 1432 you just have one handy number. This makes comparing lenses so much easier! You also don’t need to understand yet another complicated technical term. You can use the same one you used to determine which is the best camera.
4. Trust every review
The sole motivation of every lens reviewer ever is to help you make educated buying decisions. They simply have superior morals and are therefore never tempted to spin their reviews so you buy the reviewed lens trough their affiliate link so they can earn a $30 commission on a $1000 lens.
Manufacturers like Sony also go out of their way to provide you with independent advice: When they announce a new product they fly a number of influencers to exotic locations and provide them with some colorful subjects and nice food. Of course no reviewer’s review has ever been influenced by this nice treatment and privileged access.
5. Buy new lenses. Always.
New lenses are exciting and always better than the lenses you already own and know. So the smart photographer changes his gear as often as possible. What, after all, is the worth of knowing a lens well? What does it matter that you will burn a lot of money in the process? You are right that is worth nothing compared to being at the bleeding edge of technology.
6. Trust in brand names
Today’s world is confusing. Brands are one of the few guideposts you can rely on. When your lens has that blue Zeiss label you can be sure that it was 100% developed by Zeiss and that it is both optically superior to other brands and also underlies extensive quality control. Chinese products in contrast are always a let-down. So the smart photographer will always go for more prestigious brand without considering actual test results.
7. Invest in cameras not lenses
Superficially it might appear like it was smarter to invest in lenses which will far outlast your camera and have a bigger impact on image quality but in truth it is much smarter to invest most of your money into the newest camera model. What good does your fancy lens do if you missed a scene with last generations obsolete AF? Your new camera will do twice as many frames per second as your old one but your new lens won’t be twice as good. So because of the extensive improvements each generation brings it is much smarter to always have the newest camera model.
8. Buy faster lenses
How can you distance yourself from the amateurs? Right you need to have faster lenses. A f/1.8 prime or f/4 zoom just doesn’t cut it. “Professional photographers use f/1.4 primes if they have to but they prefer f/0.95 primes. F/2.8 zooms will do because with very few exceptions there aren’t any f/2 zooms. Even if you rarely use your fast lens at its fast aperture, everyone knows that fast lenses are better at every aperture, so all that extra weight and cost is definitely worth it!
9. Real men use heavy lenses
Don’t let yourself be compromised by puny little men who tell you that you are much more likely to actually use lighter lenses. Only with the sharpest and fastest lens will you be able to unleash your creative potential. A proper lens is heavy. So stop complaining about your back-pain and put that set of Otus lenses into your camera bag.
10. It’s the gear stupid
You aren’t happy with you images? There is a great hack: Instead of studying the work of others and critisizing your own work you shoulf spend more time on gear forums and review sites and buy more gear. Prefearably with a red dot. That way your compositions will rapidly improve, you will learn to see and use the light and you will develop a deep connection with every subject in no time.
Did I miss any important tipps? Please tell me about them in the comments!