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Understanding the differences with third party lenses

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Understanding the differences with third party lenses

Choosing a new lens is always a complicated decision Swap the lens, get another one, maybe have the same problem.

Understanding the differences with third party lenses

Choosing a new lens is always a complicated decision because there's just so many different factors to weigh. Obviously most important there's price. But then you have to pick a focal length range you want. You've gotta worry about image quality. You've gotta think about other features that you might want like image stabilization. If all this sounds like gobbly goo to you, take a look at my Foundations of Photography Lenses course where in we talk about all of the specifics and give you kind of a workflow for how to choose a new lens. One question that comes up though, is third party lenses.

So I'm a Canon shooter, does that mean I should only by Canon lenses? I'm a Nikon shooter, does that mean I should stick with Nikon lenses? Certainly both Canon and Nikon make exceptional lenses, but there are third party lenses out there, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina. There are also just lenses made for other cameras. You might want to use a Nikon lens on your Cannon camera, or maybe you see a nice Olympus lens of some kind. But these third party brands, Sigma, and Tokina, and Tamron, should you really be considering those? They're much cheaper. Is it possible that they can be as good? Yes, it is.

And, for years, those have been viable alternatives to the branded lenses that match your camera brand. However, for years, you've also had to be careful when buying those lenses. For a long time, the image quality across the entire product range has not been consistent. Now, this is true with Canon and Nikon also, but with Sigma and, and Tamron and Tokina, you've had to be careful that they've had some great lenses and some real dogs. And so it's been worth doing some research to find out if the lens you want was one of the good ones. Also, for a long time, with the third party lenses, built quality was consistent.

You might buy a lens and it, it felt fine out of the box and you put it on and it worked and everything but focus was just a little bit off, or sharpness was a little soft. Swap the lens, get another one, maybe have the same problem. Swap it again, get another one, you'd have a perfectly fine lens. So, getting a specific unit that was good could often be trouble. Nowadays, things have improved a lot. The third party vendors are seeing the benefits of the digital photography explosion and the SLR proliferation and they've upped their game both in terms of build quality, consistency, reliability and in terms of the products they're designing.

Now in some cases, we're seeing third party lenses really take the lead in certain areas. For example, I have here. A Sigma 18 to 35 1.8 zoom. This is the first 1.8 zoom in existence. You can't get a zoom lens this fast from Canon or Nikon. And it's an extremely good lens. The build quality is exceptional. Image quality is fantastic and the functionality is amazing, especially if you're using a cropped frame camera. This is a great focal length for a cropped frame camera.

And having that extra speed buys you some of that shallow depth of field that you lose from having a smaller sensor. So this is a very, very smart niche for Sigma to be hitting. It's something that's not matched by one of the brands and they've managed to produce a really good lens. Another very nice lens, if you're looking for a wide angle, the Tokina 11 to 16. When you're considering any of these lenses, you want to go through the same process that you would go through when looking at a brand lens. Image quality. How's the sharpness? How's the sharpness across the frame? Is there distortion? Meaning do I look all fisheye, or do I look all pinched? Is there vignetting in the corners? Is there really bad flare? All those things you would address on a branded lens, are the same things you need to look at here.

You also want to consider build quality, you also want to look for those features you would look at in a branded lens, such as image stabilization. And, you don't just want to look to see if they have it, you want to check out some reviews on whether the stabilization is any good. There are a lot of different stabilizing technologies. Some companies have more effective stabilization than others. I mentioned before the option of using a lens from a different mount. So I have here a very nice Olympus 12 260. This is a two eight to have four. I can adapt to this to work on my Canon camera with the appropriate adapter.

And, in some cases, depending on the adaptor and the nature of the lens, not give up any functionality. In other cases, I might give up auto focus or some automatic metering. That's easy enough to research and find out. So, the short of it is yes, third party lenses are absolutely something you should be considering. You can get in many cases lenses that are an equivalent quality to branded lenses for less money, and in some cases get fantastic lenses that you cannot get from your camera vendor. Really the way to dig into this is you've got to look for specific lens reviews and really hit some good analysis of those critical features that you look at any time you're shopping for a lens.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

71 video lessons · 44536 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 5m 35s
    1. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
  2. 7m 34s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
    2. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
  3. 6h 54m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s

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