The Lens you Have Vs The Lens you Want

How many times have we felt…damn, I wish I had that lens right now.

Photography has evolved to dictate some cliche’s. Wildlife and sports need 400mm lenses plus, landscape needs 24mm or much wider, portraits need 50-85mm or narrower…

But what happens if you are in a situation with a lens quite contrary to the above view? Do you sit there regretting or make best use of what you have?

Creativity is all about the ability to revel in adversity. A good photographer does not crib but churns out good pictures in every situation. All it takes is rethinking, shedding inhibitions and just concentrating on creating good images

Over the years I have tried to reduce the load I carry around. One of the steps in that regard was to move to lighter mirrorless bodies and lenses and also carry 2-3 lighter cameras with lighter primes than zooms. Also since mirrorless cameras have inbuilt 5 axis image stabilization, it negates the need for lenses to be image stabilized and makes lenses lighter too

On Saturday, 3rd September a few of us decided to visit Yellow Springs, Ohio. It is an extremely colorful town and Sunflower fields were in full bloom. I picked the Leica Q with a fixed 28mm f1.7 lens which also has a superb Macro Mode, the Sony A7RII with a Canon 16-35 f4 and as an afterthought the Leica M with a 75mm Summarit. The last minute before we left I pushed in the Samyang 135 f2. All this still weighs lesser and occupies lesser space than a couple of SLRs with a couple of Zooms with IS

The idea was to get some landscape pictures of the Sunflower fields and do some street photography. But then on the way to Yellow Springs we hit upon this place called WaynesVille which was going to host an Air Show at 5 pm so we wanted to get back to view that. Now obviously while I would have loved a 200mm, 400mm, 500mm kind of lens, I had to make do with what I had

The key here is to change ones thought about the kind of pictures one needs to click with a given set of lenses. Yes, the cliche’ would have been to get a 500mm and click close ups of the planes in the air, maybe get a glimpse of the pilots head. We see such shots all the time but given that one has a 28mm, 75mm and 135mm the composition ideas need to change. Get pictures of the ambience, the crowd, people reacting to the flight maneuvers, the smoke trail left behind by the plane emphasizing the maneuvers, close ups of planes parked, play of light, rich and vibrant colors, the list of what you can do is endless to still highlight the event and come up with memorable pictures

Add to this the fact that the Leica M is a fully Manual Camera so no Autofocus and once you plonk the Samyang 135mm f2 on the Sony, that also is Manual Focus. You would think shooting an Air Show with manual focus is a virtual impossibility. Funnily enough it is not. Since the planes are way above all you need to do is keep the lens focused at infinity and slightly turn them to get perfect focus. The focus peaking in mirrorless cameras helps a great deal in indicating perfect focus and then just click away. Also since you don’t need to worry about Bokeh while clicking planes in the air you can be double safe and crank the aperture to f5.6, f8 to increase Depth of Field but that would also mean cranking up ISO as you want your shutter speed to be as fast as possible for capturing fast planes

So here are some pictures from the day. Some from Yellow Springs and the Sunflower fields and some from the Air Show shot in Manual Focus at wide open apertures with 28mm, 75mm and 135mm and a maximum of 3-5 frames per second. All contrary to what I always thought I needed…500mm or above, fast AF with fantastic focus tracking, 10 fps or faster 😀