During Rob’s Youtube live stream yesterday I started thinking about all the reviews one sees for lenses. I have often read comparisons where the reviewer is comparing like for like lenses of a certain type and focal length. Whilst this is useful if one is looking for help choosing between such lenses it’s not, in my opinion, as useful as comparing a similar, non “PRO” lens with its more expensive rival and trying to evaluate in real world terms the pros and cons of doing so, not the least of which is the difference in cost or as my American fiends call it “bang for buck”. I also think there is an inescapable snobbery where the term Pro immediately screams better and that, in my experience, isn’t anywhere near as often the case as the marketing people would have one believe.
Some would argue that that is comparing apples with oranges well, when I’m looking for a new lens, I want to know how the lens compares with what I’ve already got or if it’s a new focal length how the cheaper and dearer options compare before I buy and then I can make my own decisions on whether the often not inconsiderable difference in price can be justified in terms of better performance, note I said performance and not paper specifications. I don’t often think that the difference is very easily justified. I’ve used lenses which have cost me a fraction of their “Pro” counterparts which have been just as sharp, sometimes sharper and considerably smaller and lighter. Sure the build quality is usually not of the same standard but, if one is careful and takes care of one’s gear then this point is not of such great importance.
PS. Then there’s the size and weight of the gear to consider. Below my OM-D E-M5 II body fitted with my M.Zuiko 12-40mm constant aperture f/2.8 PRO lens. An excellent weather-sealed combination which I’d certainly prefer to use in very inclement weather. Below this, in an identical size bag, my PEN-F body fitted with my Lumix 12-32mm, Olympus 9-18mm and Sigma 60mm f/2.8 (both packed underneath on the right), Olympus 17mm f/1.8, Lumix 14mm f/2.5 and Olympus 25mm f/1.8, so all my most frequently used lenses packed on top. Five more lenses including faster primes, giving greater coverage, a good degree of overlap/backup and not appreciably heavier in weight compared with my first example.
As my principal interest is in landscapes the 14mm, 17mm and 25mm focal length prime lenses are very useful, the two zooms allow me to go wider and wider still and the 60mm gives me a moderate telephoto option and none of these lenses are marketed as pro lenses and are thus a lot more affordable, especially when purchased second-hand 😉 . For my work an f/1.2 or suchlike lens, let alone several of them in different focal lengths, collectively costing thousands of pounds and being very much bigger and heavier wouldn’t be that much good to me. Apart from the fact that I don’t shoot wide open, nor in the desert or rain forest, they’d just end up severely limiting my mobility, hurting my back, my shoulders and, to add insult to injury, my wallet! 🙂