The age old question
I think the number one question I get relates to what to purchase when it comes to a camera and the lenses to get. It's really tough to give a definite answer, because just as with anything when you use a camera more your photography will evolve. One could be a photography for twenty years and you will still find them asking that same question on forums and social media. So I think I will take a crack at it and open up the kimono on how I make my camera gear decisions. Who is this for? I would place this post on someone who is just starting out with their first camera, or revisiting photography and having a tough decision on a system to build on.
What do you like to photograph?
Here are some popular types of photography that you should at least take your time to consider before you even consider a system. Some types may cross each other, but to start the list below is just a general sample:
Portrait - one person headshots, a couple of people, attention to the subject
Macro - close-ups on flowers, insects, coins, an extreme to bring out details or make very small things very large
Events - pictures of crowds and groups, birthday moments, you expect to see lots of things going on and lots of people
Landscape - the architecture of buildings, vast land, bodies of water, there's a lot of area that you want to cover
Night - you might be doing all of the categories above but doing it at night is your thing
Give me an example!
Let's take one category from the types of photography I listed, and we can go from there. I'm going to pick macro because that's a category that's very distinct and most of the time requires a specific lens for the job. What I normally do is skip the camera choices altogether and focus on the lens first. Why? Because, I believe that when you have the lens that you want you will definitely enjoy your photography much more. Nothing is worst than using a lens that you didn't really want, but it's just in your bag just because.
So what lens should I choose? There are so many!
Go ahead and clear your mind of all camera bodies. Don't let that affect you right now, because as of 2014 all the brands are extremely competitive and offer great value. Focus on the lenses that are offered for macro right now. I'll list the lenses that I looked at when I was considering a macro lens then and also recently. I'll put the effective length on cropped, brand, and price after the lens printed length and f-stop.
35mm f/3.5 (70mm) Olympus $229.99
50mm f/2.5 (80mm) Canon $299.99
60mm f/2.8 G (90mm) Nikon $529.99
50mm f/2.0 (100mm) Olympus $499.99
100mm f/2.8 (160mm) Canon $599.99
100mm f/2.8 (150mm) Pentax $849.99
105mm f/2.8 G (156mm) Nikon $899.99
I looked at all of the photos from the offerings and I really liked the Olympus. I used it for most of my macro and portrait shots. After a year I eventually left Olympus and got a Nikon for other purposes, and purchased the Nikon 60mm. I was very disappointed in the image quality that I was getting so I hardly used it ever again.
A few months went by after that and I purchased the Olympus again. From then on I was pretty much invested in Olympus. Nowadays I've been experimenting with many lenses and many systems after that journey six years ago.
You can't go wrong with glass that you love and enjoy.
Here is just a small sample of some photos that I was able to take with the Olympus 50mm Macro.