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Through The Lens

sony50mmI have a small digital camera, the Sony NEX-5 which was one of the first in that NEX series of mirrorless exchangeable lens cameras. It is no longer the latest or greatest camera body but great pictures are made by the photographer, not the hardware.

The only thing the tool (the camera) has to do is accurately capture the light for the image. The NEX-5 does that well.

Would I upgrade the body of the camera? Maybe someday, there are some user features I would like, but the real work in photography is managed by the lens and the skill of the photographer.

I have five lenses I use with the NEX-5. Two are adapted Minolta brand lenses that use an adapter to connect to the body, and the three others are Sony lenses designed for direct mount to the camera.

I am not going into the details of each lens but they do cover any need from wide angle to telephoto.

The quality of a lens can vary, usually in proportion to its cost. General rule: A great lens cost more.

Zoom lenses are very popular and I have three. Another two of my lenses are called “prime” meaning they are fixed and do not zoom. Prime lenses can produce very high quality images as they are not compromised in design to achieve the flexibility of being zoomed. That doesn’t imply that zooms lenses are inferior, just that good ones are more expensive and complicated than a prime.

My newest lens is a 50mm f1.8 prime made by Sony. Don’t worry about the numbers. On my NEX-5 they mean that it is a short telephoto, sometimes call a “portrait” lens as it doesn’t make portraits look “fat”, caused by lens distortion in shorter lenses. It is also considered “fast” meaning it can capture good photos without flash in low light. There are a lot more “artsy” features this lens can produce with which I like to experiment.

Here is a LINK to a series of test photos I made with the new lens. The Dr. Pepper series is testing the “brokeh” or how the background blurs at various F stops.

I obtained the lens because I had some gift money from my retirement party at work and it was very reasonably priced for a prime lens. But the deciding factor was the reputation for the excellent quality images that the lens can produce.

My initial tests prove the reputation is deserved. Certainly not the best lens made but the image quality is very far above its price range. A universal lens for all uses? No. But it is a lens I can already tell will get a lot of use in my photography. I love how a good lens improves my personal satisfaction with my photography.

There is no such thing as a universal best camera or lens. There are far too many choices and options and needs. Many folks do not require high quality. They want to capture a memory or experience, rather than create a great technically perfect photograph. Cell phones win there, hands down. I used mine to take the image for this post.

I don’t dote on what tools I use. I do know for me the magic is in the quality of the lens. The rest is how the photographer uses the tool.

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