So my fellow Welshoter’s I’ve just had a very informative hour and a half with Boss Tog (aka Eifion) all about lenses.
I have had an Olympus EM-5 micro four thirds camera with a 45mm prime lens and a 14-150mm zoom for about six year and wasn’t really getting to grips with it until I joined Welshot earlier this year. I was still getting a little frustrated with myself for having a fairly vague understanding of what lens does what, and which ones would be most usful to me and my photographic interests. Having booked several full day workshops for the coming summer, which include macro, seascape, landscape, street and architecture, so to my mind quite a varied mix of genres, I wanted to make sure I had suitable lenses for each event. Being on a limited budget (aren’t we all when it comes to photographic equipment) I didn’t want to splash out on a new lens only to find it didn’t really suit my needs, but my list of possibles was quite extensive.
With all that in mind I emailed Eifion asking for advice. Having given an overview of my questions in my email, I was expecting an email back with one or two suggestions on what would be suitable, so was delighted when he emailed back suggesting we meet up for a chat and an opportunity for me to try out a whole selection of his lenses. I’d already had my one to one back in February, so this was really above and beyond the call of duty as far as I was concerned.
Arrangements made for the following week, and not wanting to turn up completely clueless, I thought I’d better get my finger out and do some of my own research. So I spent several days getting out and about with the two lenses I already have, putting them to the test given my potential requirements for the above mentioned events, on a mission to find out their benefits and limitations. I also did a bit of reading up on lenses in general, along with the manufacturer’s blurb on each of their lenses and what costs were involved. So when finally meeting up with Eifion this morning I had a much better idea of what I actually wanted to learn from him. At this point I thought I knew which lens would be the one I’d go for, I just wanted to have a brief opportunity to try it out first.
We met up over on Anglesey, at Hootons Farm Shop near Welshot Towers, and armed with a mug of coffee, cameras, lenses, lots of questions we sat in the café and chatted. The conversation wasn’t immediately all about lenses, it was very laid back, easy going and friendly, there was no sense of being on a time limit, and Eifion is so good at making you feel as ease. As promised he had brought a whole range of lenses for me to try out, including the 30mm and 60mm Macro, 17mm and 25mm Prime and a 9-18mm zoom, the 14-42mm zoom was also under discussion but I’ve already been able to try that. I had also seen a deal that included a 12-40mm pro zoom, but this was quickly dismissed as being too heavy as well being well beyond my current budget.
We discussed each lens in detail, looking at the pros and cons of each, and I took a few practice shots with each. It became apparent that I get much more satisfaction out of my results with the faster f1.8 lenses, so to me it’s worth paying a bit more for a decent prime, than to have the jack of all trades f4-5.6 lenses. So the f1.8 primes are the way forward for me, and although the 25mm is currently has a cashback deal, I’d rather go for the more versatile and robust 17mm which has a metal casing and is dust, frost and splashproof, and will be great for landscape, seascape, street and architecture. The only thing missing being Macro. I had thought I was going to favour the 60mm Macro, and it is a possiblity in the future, but it won’t be as versatile as the 17mm and as suggested by Eifion trying out some close up filters with my existing lenses may give me reasonably good macro results. And at less than £20 a set, it won’t put a massive dent in my finances.
All in all, that hour and a half with Eifion has been immense. It prompted a whole lot of practical research before the meeting, and Eifion’s input has helped me to make confident informed decisions about what lenses I need, preventing me from some potential costly mistakes.
I don’t know any other organisation or person who could have given me that sort of advice and guidance, in terms that I easily understand, with such knowledge and patience and with no other agenda other than to see me happy in my knowledge, understanding and confidence. I’ve learnt more about my camera and how to use it in the last four months of being a Welshot member than in the last six years I’ve owned it.
Thank you Welshot, and thank you Eifion you are a star.