All photographers get it, and for good reason. The sensors in today’s DSLR’s can pretty much outresolve most lenses on the market. In fact, the sensor in the D5000 is no worse than, and some may say better, than the top of Nikon’s DX lineup, the D300. What many users of the D300 know, but most likely users of the D5000 do not, is that that tube of plastic and glass attached to your camera makes all the difference.
Initially one may think the sharper the lens, the better. Sharpness may be of the utmost importance to a landscape photographer, however in many other applications, other factors may be more important. A list of these include, but certainly are not limited to: weight, maximum aperture, light falloff, focal range, bokeh, color rendition, contrast, minimum focus distance, ease of focusing, build quality, image stabilization, filter size, autofocus speed, autofocus accuracy, flare, chromatic aberrations and of course that hard to describe “rightness” of a lens.
It is true that although I love my trusty 18-200mm workhorse that accompanies me in the backcountry, I can instantly tell when I’m viewing a photo shot with one of my pro lenses, such as the 14-24mm. I could go on forever about this topic and people can get very animated over lenses. But where do you go when you want to make the first steps toward deciding if a lens meets your needs?
That’s a very good question, and although there are endless “reviews” out there, there are only a few that I feel are clear and consistent. Use these as a starting point and then read a FEW opinions online. Once you’ve made a decision, use your lens as soon as you get it and don’t be afraid to return it, or try out another copy.
And if any of you readers out there know of other sources of of good lens reviews, please let me know!