There are amazing lenses available. It is tempting to buy a special lens, because it can open doors to a whole different kind of images. But there are lenses which you probably won’t need anytime soon. Here are six of them.
Just look in any random online shop, a real camera store, or on manufacturers' websites, and you can find almost every lens imaginable. For any type of photography, you probably will find a lens that works best. It is easy to order a new lens because someone is saying how well it performs for some kind of photography. If you shoot landscapes, you must buy a certain wide-angle lens. For portrait photography, a portrait lens with a large aperture is a must. You probably can find a lot of other examples.
I have listed six lenses that are wonderful pieces of engineering and can provide amazing results if you are in the market for them. It is tempting to buy one of these or even more than one. But these are lenses you probably won’t need anytime soon, if ever.
1. A Tilt-Shift Lens
Perhaps this kind of lens is the most amazing piece of engineering. It originates from the old large format technical cameras, which use bellows to manipulate the plane of focus. The tilt-shift lenses make this possible for normal cameras with relatively small sensors.
The tilt-shift lenses for normal cameras have some limitations concerning the amount of tilt and shift you can have, but the lenses do make it possible to correct converging lines of large buildings or manipulate the plane of focus in a way to gain a large depth of field with a large aperture.
But, you don’t really need these lenses unless you do some real architectural photography or product photography. You might think real estate photographers also would use these a lot, but most of them don’t; I know from experience. With Photoshop, a lot of perspective correction is possible.
2. Super Macro Lens
We all love a nice macro photo — flowers, insects, mushrooms, you name it. But on a lot of occasions, these so-called macro photos don't even have a 1:1 magnification. With a macro lens, a 1:1 maginification is the maximum size you can get, and I bet most are not that much.
You can get even get a larger magnification. The Canon MP-E 65mm lens is a good example, reaching a 5:1 ratio, meaning it will enlarge the subject five times. A couple of other super-macro lenses are also on the market, like the strange Laowa Probe lens, making it possible to see the unseen.
But it is a completely different kind of photography that requires some real differentiation. I have shot some macro (not super macro), and one thing I have learned is how intensive this kind of photography can be. I believe some macro and near-macro is great, and it can be done with a regular macro lens. But on most occasions, you don’t need a super macro lens for that.
3. Fish-Eye Lens
A fish-eye lens has a field of view that is roughly 180°. There are different types of fish-eye lenses. Nikon even has a fish-eye that has a field of view that is larger than 180°. Can you imagine? That lens looks behind itself.
These fish-eye lenses seem great to use. But with almost everything in view, everything becomes really small, unless you get very close. In that case, some serious perspectives can occur. And don't forget the wide-angle distortion.
Although a fish-eye lens can be used for some great images, it is very difficult to use it in a good way. Often, it becomes a nice picture to look at, nothing more, nothing less. I know a lot of photographers that used one for some time, then left it at home eventually, or they even sold the lens.
4. Super Tele Lens With a Large Aperture
Yes, we all have seen the big white lenses of Canon and Sony. You can get a Nikon version if you like, but these are black and don’t stand out so much.
Regardless of the color, using super tele lenses, from 400mm up to an amazing 800mm or more, is all but practical, Especially when combined with large apertures like f/2.8 or f/4, these monsters are very heavy and not easy to carry with you. They are all but flexible in real life. Only a small group of photographers really need these lenses.
If you love shooting with long lenses, you probably are better off with a nice 100-400mm or a 150-600mm zoom lens. These fit into your camera bag, are not that heavy, and are often flexible because of the zoom capability. And you will save yourself a lot of money.
5. Lens With an Extremely Large Aperture
There are lenses that are called bokeh monsters. It is a range of lenses that have apertures that are f/1.4 or wider. Some of them even go to f/0.95, which is amazing.
These lenses don’t need a lot of light and can be used in relatively dark environments. But at the same time, the depth of field will be small. Very small. Too small on a lot of occasions.
Focal length and distance to the subject will play a large part in the depth of field story, of course. But on most occasions, these very wide aperture lenses are not necessary, I think. Oh yes, you can play with a nice minimum depth of field and have smooth bokeh. But, I believe in most situations, you would rather stop down and have both eyes of the model in focus. If you need a nice, small depth of field, perhaps a longer focal length will be the answer.
Nevertheless, these lenses are very tempting, as seen from the previous article I wrote on this subject.
I almost forgot about these babies. The Lensbaby is a strange little thing that is relatively popular among a lot of photographers. It works somewhat like the tilt of a tilt-shift lens.
But Lensbaby has more to offer. It is a lens for creative photography with flares and other things. Perhaps you should look into it if you are in the market for it. Although Lensbabies are not very expensive, they are expensive when you buy one and never use it.
Of the six lenses mentioned, the Lensbaby is probably the one you can try without spending a lot of money, but only if you like a strange and unexpected out of focus element in your photo. You love it or hate it.
To Sum Up
This article is not to prevent you from buying a lens, but to help you avoid buying something you don’t need. If you are one of the photographers that is a real target for one of these types of lenses, you will know. Or you will learn eventually. So, think twice before buying. Perhaps you will find out it is a lens you probably won’t need anytime soon, if ever.
I would like to know if you bought a special lens that is gathering dust. Or perhaps you can think of a lens that has a small niche and isn’t for a lot of people. Please share it in the comments below.