Photo Taco – Choosing Which Lens To Buy

Jeff Harmon brings on guest host Brent Bergherm to answer two listener questions about buying lenses:

Steve Blacket: I need to upgrade a lens. I keep looking at different lenses; Nikon, Tamron, Sigma…. It is really tough to decide as every lens has reviews that point out faults. Do you have any advice on choosing lenses or maybe a Podcast topic for a future episode. I shoot Nikon crop sensor and have been looking at full frame lenses. My kit zoom just does not give me sharp images. Anyone else have input??

Catherine Johnson: Continuing the theme on lenses. If we get a podcast on them, Jeff Harmon, could there be some mention on third-party lenses? I'm considering jumping ship from Canon to Sony and Sharky James talks a lot about Samyang lenses. I'm running into controversy on which is better – that brand or Rokinon for Sony e-mount.

Jeff and Brent talk about the following when answering the questions:

  • Samyang vs Rokinon vs Bower
    • They are exactly the same Korean manufacturer, producing lenses that have high image quality but a little bit lower build quality. In fact, Bower is a 3rd brand name for the same manufacturer. From what I have read there isn’t any real difference between them and the different names were supposed to be for marketing purposes in different regions of the world.
    • The more recent lenses they have produced have increased their build quality, but they are plastic lenses held together by glue and small screws. They produce sharp, high quality images, but they might fall a bit more into the “disposable” lens category where you shouldn’t expect them to live through harsh conditions or last for lots of years. Perfect for a lower budget like I have as a hobbyist photographer. They also mostly offer only fully manual lenses. Manual focus and manual aperture. Again, a way to produce a lens that is much less expensive.
    • Jeff has a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens that I picked up on Black Friday in 2016. He has tried it out a couple of times but haven’t really had a good chance to use it yet as my intention is to get Milky Way shots with it and it isn’t the season for it here in Utah.
  • The process Brent used to determine which lenses he was going to make available in his business?
  • Should you take into account the reviews from Amazon or other online stores? Do we recommend that a photographer consider those reviews?
  • What about 3rd party lenses? How would you Brent rank the biggest of the third party vendors like Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, and Rokinon/Samyang, Zeiss.
  • Are there any lens brands to make sure to completely avoid?
  • What about buying a lens used? What would you look for?
  • What about buying lenses made for full frame to use on crop sensor bodies?

 

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