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Too Many Lenses?


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Is there such a thing as owning too many lenses, or sets of lenses?  

I have been cleaning out my equipment closet... trying to thin out the herd.

And I realize, I have a whole lot of effing lenses. I want to sell some to finance some other equipment.

The first camera I bought was the t2i and I hated the kit lens but didn't have enough money for any good modern Canon glass, so I started looking at vintage lenses.

With little knowledge and a Bill Me Later account, I started looking for inexpensive glass. If it was under 50 bucks, preferably under 30, I bought it and tested it.

At the time, my mother was dying, so that experience, left me lacking anything creative, so I bought lenses.

Then I upgraded to the EOS-M and I started getting lenses that I could use with the mirrorless.  

Eventually, I realized it was better to spend my money on better lenses than boring, cheap glass and I started acquiring better brands and faster lenses.

Now I have a good collection of 5 or 6 keeper sets. But is that still too much? 

How many lenses, or lens sets do you guys have?

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​I've shot a short film with the 110 25mm on a GM1.  Even though I don't use that camera except for only certain tasks, I do love it.  Great documentary stealth cam.  Such an awesome set up with the a

lenses will only increase in value.  think of them as money in the bank.  if in debt, sell the lenses.  if in credit, keep them and earn interest.    

I have a set of Nikon Primes & Tokina Zooms. Started building a Voightlander set of pancake primes. You can never have enough Unless you can't afford it.

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I have a set of Nikon Primes & Tokina Zooms. Started building a Voightlander set of pancake primes.

You can never have enough :) Unless you can't afford it.

I have a set of Nikkor non-ai and a couple Tokina zoom as well. I love the AT-X 24-40, but it's so big and heavy. Was thinking about getting the RMC 25-50 instead. 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

It depends on the person, and his job. Are these lenses affecting you badlt in anyway? If not, I don't see a problem with treating it as a collectors' hobby, no problrm. 

But for some, this may cause problems. The people who will have problems are those who have steady video jobs with fast turnaround and not much to spare being creative. 

It can be a problem before you leave home, unable to decide which 24mm of the 5 you have you should put in the bag. 

More so, you end up just putting them all in to havee the most options. 

Then on set you want to get a medium close-up, you stand there in front of the bag, staring, or your assistant yells which one? and you stare at him in front of the entire crew. 

In such cases I have found having too many lenses does cause a big problem and just makes working so much more time-consuming instead of having just one lens for each focal length, this thinking part simply vanishes and you involuntarely switch lenses. 

That's the only case where too many lenses (or cameras) or too many things that overlap and have the same function in general can affect you badly. 

I have too many lenses and too many of them I don't even know where they are now, but to combat the problem I recently just put a single wide angle and a fast 50mm, everything stays at home, just like a collectors' item, some kind of hobby or crappy home decoration. I found that even have two zoom lenses that overlap at one FL like a 24-70 and a 70-200 to be a problem for me, and having a 24-105mm and a 16-35mm was a complete nightmare, not to mention having three primes of the close focal length, even a 50 and a 40 and a 55, it just takes time and effort. So I just need two lenses that are FAR from each other, everyone has a different job. a wide angle for landscapes and a prime for closeups, that it. Simplr and effective, and I never feel limited, in fact I felt much more limited when carrying lenses that cover all FLs. 

Same thing with cameras, decided lately to never have a B camera working with me, just one, where I can concentrate and see each shot. Work has become so much more effective with one camera and two lenses. 

But for people who have no time constraints, who's to say he has too many lenses? If he enjoys having them, choosing, comparing, shooting with different looks he finds pleasing and fun, go ahead, there's absolutely nothing against owning too many lenses. So the answer is, is it affecting you badly? only you can tell

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I've been kicking this idea around, as well. I've a pretty healthy set of lenses, but I find myself using only about 3-4 on any given project: 11-16mm, 30mm, 50mm, and maybe an 85mm. Everything else just sits at the studio. I'd be interested to know what lenses/focal lengths others shoot on regularly.

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I rarely use anything longer than a 50mm with a prime, sometimes I'll throw a 105mm or a 135mm on if I need it, but I find I can get most of my long shots with just the 50mm and the crop factor. Recently I read another member, I think it was Andy Lee discuss how he will swap out adapters, dumb and speedbooster, to change his focal lengths. I don't have a speedbooster, but that seems like a great idea... You really can get by with 2 lenses in most scenarios. Otherwise my choice FLs are a 24mm, a 35mm and a 50. And I'll usually throw one zoom in my kit, just in case. 

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I have this same problem and have been trying to remedy it by walking out the door for shoots with only two primes.  Maybe one prime, depending on the level of the job.

After doing this for awhile and reviewing the results I'm realizing that I like the images I'm shooting on my 45mm M43 the best.

All this came about when I decided not too long ago to shoot a documentary with a FF cam and a 50mm.  The aesthetic had a cohesion that my typical undisciplined shooting did not.

More visual creativity seems to come about when I'm forced into thinking about the self-imposed limitations of a shot and finding ways to compensate.  Ironically, I'm getting more innovative by restricting my focal length freedom.

Since I have a broadcasting background I've spent most of my career with variable zooms.  Busting my old visual habits has been very rewarding.

But, right now, I've kind of sworn off zoom lenses for motion picture shooting.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Agreed fuzzy. But what about the wide end? 

I've never been able to use a wide prime, when shooting wide landscapes, there's always that river behind you, that traffic, you can't move so you need a zoom, especially shooting 1080p video, unlike stills or 4K where you just go widest and tweak. Something like an 11-16mm on s35 or a 17-35mm on FF is mandatory. 

I'd like to know if people find that as well, do you shoot on a wide prime? 

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Agreed fuzzy. But what about the wide end? 

I've never been able to use a wide prime, when shooting wide landscapes, there's always that river behind you, that traffic, you can't move so you need a zoom, especially shooting 1080p video, unlike stills or 4K where you just go widest and tweak. Something like an 11-16mm on s35 or a 17-35mm on FF is mandatory. 

I'd like to know if people find that as well, do you shoot on a wide prime? 

I have a Takumar 20mm that I like, it makes some nice images, but the 4.5 speed is putting it on the chopping block. I also have a Vivitar 17mm. Both are great for establishing shots or tight spaces, but I prefer the 24mm focal length over the 20mm. Of course, now with me potentially getting the G7, there will be a whole new slew of lenses to consider. The 11-16mm may be a great starting point. 

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Agreed fuzzy. But what about the wide end?

​I have a wide 10-20 zoom, but I've stopped using it.  I also have a 12mm.  As you say, there's always something that gets in the frame and it's very easy to quickly use a zoom lens to punch it a little to avoid putting something unwanted in the image.

However, that's exactly why I'm trying to get away from zooms.  Because it's easy to "fix" your framing by adjusting the focal length.  It's more of a challenge to work to find the shot by positioning yourself around to the proper spot.  And you never really get where you want to be, so you have to consider different visual options.  It forces you to think of a new solution you wouldn't have otherwise.

For instance, instead of a single shot that shows a building exterior, all of a sudden I'm finding that I need to shoot a sequence of medium shots and close ups to show the setting.  That's different than what I'd do in the past and creates something new for me.

BTW, most of this is for MY personal shooting.  I will do this for clients if the job is right for it, but I do have clients where I just bang out coverage as fast as possible...

Basically I'm saying I don't want a zoom to give myself quick solutions to framing.  I want less solutions in order to force my creativity.

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Yeah, I probably have way too serious glass for what I'm doing, but I like the choices. Instead of having tons of the same focal length for the sake of having more lenses, I actually group 'em by character and do my research before I get one. They have to have proven themselves, I'm not up for testing thousands of lenses all by myself. I don't have time for that; who does? So I'm not just gonna hunt for cheap vintage lenses on eBay, local online marketplaces or thrift shops and then just hope for the best.

So in the end you create different sets, based on their character. So for example you have your crazy Russians (HELIOS 44M-4 58mm f/2, MIR-1B 37mm f/2.8, INDUSTAR-61 L/Z 50mm f/2.8, INDUSTAR-50-2 50mm f/3.5, JUPITER-9 85mm f/2 & TAIR-11A 135mm f/2.8), your trusty Nikons (Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8D, 80-200 f/2.8D & AI-s 28mm f2.8), some modern APS-C ones (like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 II, Sigma ART 18-35mm f/1.8 and Walimex Pro 8mm f/3.5) and yes, you can choose either dummy adapter or focal reducer/lens turbo/speedbooster according your intentions. Then there's your native electronic mount glass (which not so much for their character, but perhaps above all a choice of convenience and travelling compact. So: the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and 20mm f/1.7 pancakes, the 30mm f/2.8 OIS, 42.5mm f/1.7 OIS, 14-140mm, 100-300mm, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, 60mm f/2.8, 14-40mm f/2.8, Sigma EX DN 19mm f/2.8 and 30mm f/2.8) or M43 mount fully manual (cine) lenses (ZY Optics/Zhongyi 24mm f/1.7 & 42.5mm f/1.2, SLR Magic 25mm T0.95, Veydra 16mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm T2.2's).

Then sure you'll wind up with a couple of oddball lenses, such as the Pentax-M SMC Asahi 50mm f/1.4, a bunch of Minoltas, Vivitars or the Tokina RMC 28-85mm f/4. But they all give off a certain character that sets them apart. So... if you're going to shoot something, you're not asking yourself 'which of the 50's?'. You decide the mood you want to set, then pick a focal length and character accordingly. The choice becomes obvious.

There's no real reason for two identical focal length lenses if they give off the same character though. Unless you have an additional camera to shoot on or the operation of one is better than the other (but then again, just lose one).

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*Deleted comment. After re-reading, I realized this last comment was prob a bit too off topic. My bad, @Mercer.

I don't think it was off topic at all but thanks for the sentiment. Part of the discussion, for me is, when are too many, too many? Of course, that opens the discussion to any type of equipment. Other filmmaker's decisions and workflow can be very enlightening. For instance, I have been toying with the notion of picking up a B cam. I only shoot narrative material, and a lot of impromptu lens tests, so I have only ever had the need, and budget, for single cam. But since the G7 was announced, I am contemplating picking one up plus an FZ1000. 

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I don't think it was off topic at all but thanks for the sentiment. Part of the discussion, for me is, when are too many, too many? Of course, that opens the discussion to any type of equipment. Other filmmaker's decisions and workflow can be very enlightening. For instance, I have been toying with the notion of picking up a B cam. I only shoot narrative material, and a lot of impromptu lens tests, so I have only ever had the need, and budget, for single cam. But since the G7 was announced, I am contemplating picking one up plus an FZ1000. 

Very good.  I just didn't want to muddy the waters. ​If the topic lends itself to be broadened, I'm a huge proponent of a second body/lenses, if only for backup, but preferably rolling. That said, your original topic of lenses got me thinking more about what it would look like to stream down not only my lenses, but my whole production process, cams and all. Being a person who owns several bodies, and traditionally shoots two cams, what about, "Too many lenses/cams?" Heck, I've a Canon XL1s I'm pretty sure I'll never shoot again. Genuinely have no idea what I still have it. On that same note, I find it interesting that, it seems, most here only shoot single camera productions. (But I think I may wandering again with that last statement.)

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Very good.  I just didn't want to muddy the waters. ​If the topic lends itself to be broadened, I'm a huge proponent of a second body/lenses, if only for backup, but preferably rolling. That said, your original topic of lenses got me thinking more about what it would look like to stream down not only my lenses, but my whole production process, cams and all. Being a person who owns several bodies, and traditionally shoots two cams, what about, "Too many lenses/cams?" Heck, I've a Canon XL1s I'm pretty sure I'll never shoot again. Genuinely have no idea what I still have it. On that same note, I find it interesting that, it seems, most here only shoot single camera productions. (But I think I may wandering again with that last statement.)

I'm a relative beginner with my only objective being narrative filmmaking. I have only ever used one camera but I have worked in sets where multiple cameras are used. I see the benefit in both. 

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I recently sold lots of lenses to keep sigma 18-35, 35 and 50 plus a canon 105 mm macro. I also have a 10.5mm Nikon fisheye ans a tokina 11-16. 

I do 75% of m'y vidéo work with the first three. Three others are a plus. 

Also have a couple of canon, Nikon and samyang primes... That i now rarely use

 

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I must have about 30 lenses. I only ever use Canon FDs on set though, unless I have to go super wide, when I break out a Tokina 11-16....I don't like it though.

I think I may have you beat, but I use different sets of lenses for different projects. Of course I have been searching for excuses to use my Minolta MCs

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