Camera Lenses

Not sure if this post belongs in Chase Equipment or not, but if it needs moved, then move it. Anyways, I know a lot of people on here are photographers of different things, not just storms. I am interested to see what lenses the various people here have for their cameras. Post exact details if you would, Thanks!
Well I shoot Canon and own:
50mm f/1.4 prime (good for basically anything.... especially for lightning at a distance and portraits)

17-40mm f/4 L ... an overall decent zoom lens... distortion is a bit bad at 17mm, but that goes with the wide angle territory.

70-200mm f/2.8 L Awesome lens... I'll use this for a variety of shots from portraits to landscapes to animals.

Lenses I've owned in the past (but sold to fund my current kit):

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 prime. Great wide angle prime. Suffers from lens flare easily, and is also less contrasty/saturated than Canon lenses, but is sharp.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime: Great cheap ($60) prime lens.... everyone should own one to see what their camera is capable of. Big problem with this is it has no focus range meter, and the build quality is cheap. Despite this, the glass makes up for it. Note that there are only 5 aperature blades, so the bokeh isn't as great on the 50mm f/1.4 (Out of focus lights will apear as pentagons instead of circles).

Canon 100mm f/2. Great medium telephoto, but in my experience the 70-200 is just as sharp at 100.

Canon 200mm f/2.8 Excellent, light weight prime telephoto. It really was hard to give this one up... Sharp wide open, great saturation and contrast.

Canon 300mm f/4. I miss the reach of this lens. Once again, with the prime telephotos, you can shoot comfortably wide open since they are quite sharp.

I shoot an older than me canon AE-1.

I currectly shoot with a 20-80mm f/3.5 JCPenny lense that I ogt real cheap used from a camera shop. Of course I was skeptical of the brand name ( :roll: ) but it really shoots nicely. Japanese glass is still scratch free and was well cared for by the previous owner.

Also I shoot the cannon 50mm f/1.8 that came with the SLR body. great all around lense but I find the versatility of the other lense to fit better into chasing. I prefer this lense however when doing portrait type work (rare).

for the long shot I have a Komuranon 90-250mm f/4.5. over all a good telephoto zoom. again got it cheap, used from a camera shop. Only down side is this lense is about 1" long and rather heavy.
Another pre-cambrian film shooter.


Canon T-90 "The Tank"
Arguably the best manual focus camera ever released; certainly the most functional Canon FD effort. A fantasic camera that does a very good job of getting out of the way of the photographer. Autowind is a guilty pleasure, and the ergonomics are excellent. The camera is well balanced and the most frequent controls are operable by touch - no need to 'pull out' of the viewfinder to adjust exposure, aperture, etc. The somewhat unique multi-spot metering system is extremely useful, showing you graphicaly where the scene's subjects/tonal areas will fall on the exposure scale. The information provided is similar to a digicam's histogram, with the bonus that you know what object is associated with what exposure.

Canon A-1 "The Brick"
(The Old F1 is the REAL brick, weighing only slightly less than an similarly sized chunk of lead).
Manual wind, manual focus, less transparent to operate, but sorta fun. I like the smoth draggy feel of the film winder, the soft mechanical noises as the shutter releases, the cool texture of the metal body. It's not a 50's Zeiss, but still serves as a nice counterpoint to my plastic(y) P/S digicam. Center weighted metering is fine for most shots, but I miss the extra spot data. Exposure compensation is a bit of a PITA.


My lens collection is NOT the result of any grand plan. I buy lenses when finances allow, and try to fill in any large holes in the FL spectrum. If I had to replace everything, I'd probably cough up the $ to replace the armada of primes with ~3 L zooms. (Even in the manual focus world, L glass is $pendy.) With a DSLR purchase pending within a year or two, it really doesn't make sense to replace what I have with even more unusable lenses. (FD mount does not work on EOS film or DSLR camera without effort. Even then, you lose most metering and aperture control functionality.)

All lenses are by Canon. I owned a Sigma 24/2.8 and 50/2.8 macro, and was content with them until I bought my film scanner. Upon critical examination, both lenses fell a bit short of my expectations. Neither were garbage, but FD equipment has became downright cheap and factory glass now makes much more sense.

20mm f/2.8
Great for slot canyons and other tight areas. The extended depth of field allows the cliche "Rock in foreground, sweeping vista behind" compositions. IMO, a better use of the DOF is to explore the same subject at different scales. Tree roots snaking into the foreground, with the trunk a few feet further back is still chiche, but seems much more interesting.

The edges are a bit soft wide open, the whole field is sharp by f4. (AFAIK, Very sharp for a superwide.) Slight CA below F6.7.

24mm f/2.8, breech lock (older mount)
About 10 degrees less coverage than the 20. The slightly larger subject size makes it better suited to panoramic landscapes. (With the 20, subjects tend to dissapear in the distance.) Still possesses great DOF.

Again, a tad soft, with slight vingetting, at 2.8. Quite good by f4~4.5.

28mm f/2.8
Purchased with the A-1.
Not quite wide, not quite standard. Lighter than the 24, so it gets backpack prefference. Slightly less crisp than my other lenses, but still sharper than the Sigmas. A good all purpose lens. If I'm hiking or travelling light with one body and one lens, this is a good choice.

35mm f/3.5 (Older "Chrome nose")
Swap meet - as new - $16 - nuff said!. Very solid (heavy!) construction and reasonable optics. A good substitute for the "standard" 50mm when shooting outdoors.

Tied with the 28mm as the 'lesser' optic. Some CA around edges at < f4.5. Clears up well by f/5.6~6.7; unlike the Sigma lenses that never did reach a truly 'crisp' aperture.

50mm f/1.4 SSC breech mount
A sweet lens. slightly soft edges wide open; killer sharpness by f/2.0~2.4 No CA or other distortions worth mentioning. 50mm is a handy focal length - it can mimic a semi-wide or short telephoto, depending on subject and use. The extra speed is good for night photography.

135 f/3.5
Simple optical design (only 4 elements!) but still a good performer. Small and light. Good for portraits, pets, intermediate range scenic details.

Not the best color correction - specular highlights show CA.

200mm f/4 breech.
Great for flowers and smallish critters when used with an extension tube. Very sharp, even wide open (OK, F4 is not very fast). Learning to cope with, and then exploit, the narow DOF was a good learning experience. You need to think in 3 dimensions when composing your shots.

Although I'm very happy with this lens, I lust for the f2.8 release - when used with a doubler, you get a very usable 400 f/5.6

I'm still on the lookout for a fast-ish 100mm (the 100 f/2 looks good) and a 300 f/4.

This year I'll be chasing with a Canon 20D and a Canon 28-135 IS, the 18-55 kit lens, and the 10-22 EF-S ultra-wide zoom. I'm really not planning to use the 18-55 much because the others pretty much cover its range already and produce superior images.

I've only had the 10-22 for a few weeks, but it looks really promising. I had a chance to use it for photos of some instability showers in Indiana last weekend, and it does a great job capturing the whole scene and surrounding clouds. The sharpness of the lens is okay but not stellar, however it's field of view is as good as it gets with 1.6x crop digital SLRs. There is some distortion at the corners at the wide end that can make buildings and trees on the horizon appear to be tilted inward, so that's something to watch out for. That's tough to avoid on a super-wide angle lens though.

As far as the 28-135 goes, it is a very versatile lens and it is on my camera the majority of the time. The image stabilization (IS) is a nice feature to have so you can hand-hold the camera in more low light situations. There is a "bug" with that particular generation of Canon's IS that can actually introduce shake during long exposures. So when using that lens for night shots (especially tripodded ones), it's best to turn off the IS and rely on the tripod for stability.

The telephoto end of that lens isn't really long enough though, and I'm in the market for a good telephoto lens. I don't think the bank account balance is gonna allow that this year though. I've been impressed with photos I've seen from the Canon 70-200 L and especially the 100-400 L.

One of these days I might buy a few primes too. But at least in terms of chasing, I'd rather not be changing lenses every few minutes (not to mention rain and blowing dust while changing them)
Originally posted by Mike Kruze
There is some distortion at the corners at the wide end that can make buildings and trees on the horizon appear to be tilted inward, so that's something to watch out for. That's tough to avoid on a super-wide angle lens though.

Mike, try one of these freeware apps:

PT Lens (Needs the Panno Tools library)

or the standalone program, Radcor
>Download here<
(This one does chromatic aberration corrections as well)

A luddite I am, as I still shoot film. Okay, I take that back -- I used to know a gal who'd shoot weddings exclusively using an ol' crank-it Mamiya medium format -- I suspect Darren knows her too :wink: -- whereas I'm using a Canon EOS-3.

The EOS-3 is really a top notch camera. If you're going to shoot film, I'd highly reccomend this camera, or its slightly better cousin, the EOS-1V. Both can do just about anything you've ever wanted to do with photography, though the EOS-3 doesn't work with infrared. With the optional power-pack, the EOS-3 can shoot seven frames a second until your film runs out, which is usually in a little over five seconds. It also supports ETTL flash metering, which is a must. It has two drips, vertical and horizontal so the same finger is always on the shutter button. It has a predictive focusing system that, when engaged, tracks an object and keeps it in focus as it approaches or receeds from you. It has a "best guess" focusing system that, when engaged, looks at the scene, guesses what you're trying to focus on, and focuses on it. This works about 95% of the time and is great for quick shooting when you don't have a lot of time to prefocus. It also has a laser system that, when engaged, tracks your eyeball through the viewfinder and focuses the camera on whatever you're looking at.

For a flash, I have a:

Cannon 550EX

This is a brilliant flash. Everything you could ever ask for, though if you're getting a flash today, get the new 580EX which does ETTL2. High power (with a telephoto, I can light up something 80-100 feet away in a dark room), ETTL (preflashes & everything), redlamp night assist, attachable base, modeling lamp, rear-sync mode, strobe ability, full tilt and swivel for all your bouncing needs, heck -- it even has a built-in radio so if you buy two, the two flashes talk to each other and work in tandem.

The lenses I use:

Tamron 17-35 2.8-4IF

I bought this lense about a month ago and I can't say enough good things about it. The Tamron 17-35 2.8-4 matches the performance of the similar Cannon lenses (the 17-35 4.0L & 2.8L), yet only costs around 400 bucks. The build quality of this lense is not, however, as good as it's Cannon brothers, but I can't justify spending $800 more dollars just to get a weathersealed lense. A lense like this is a must for storm chasing. Wide angle is used much more than telephoto.

Sigma 28-110 2.8-4.0

This is a so-so lense. It's an el-cheapo in a sense -- you can tell when you get it that it's nowhere near the build quality or performance of it's Cannon brothers. I've used it a lot, but I've grown tired of the cromatic abberations and the slow hunt-and-peck focusing and the tendency for the barrel, which moves, to slide out when the camera is pointed down. It's not a bad lense for the money, but there are now some much better choices in the price range. If I were to replace it, I'd replace it with either the Tokina or the Cannon that competes in this zoom range. Or, I'd just get a 50 Cannon macro prime and call it even.

Sigma 70-200 2.8EX

This is another "great value for the price" lense. This lense performs better than its Cannon brothers (at the time it was made), yet only cost around $800. Very fast and quiet internal focus, no hunting and pecking, excellent image quality, full time manual focus, great build quality. This is a "steal" of a lense. The only thing it lacks is Cannon's image stabilization. At the time I bought the lense, image stabilization didn't exist. Also, it's not Cannon's trademark white color, so you run the risk of some of the photojournalist sheep sneering at you for using a *gasp* non Cannon lense. OH NO!

Also, since we're storm photographers, it's not a bad idea to have a rain poncho of some sort to cover your camera and lense. There are several brands of these -- they work great. You velcro them to your lense and snap or drape them over your camera body. Pro bodies and lenses (Cannon EOS3, EOS1-V, EOS 1-N, EOS 1-D, and all Cannon L series lenses) are rated to take a half inch of rain or so per hour, but I wouldn't push it. You fry a lense's electronics, more often than not you're looking at replacing the lense.