Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy taken with Olympus EM5 12 - 50mm f3.5 - 6.3 kit lens
at f8, ISO 200, 1/80sec

How To Choose Your Next Lens

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy taken with Olympus EM5 12 - 50mm f3.5 - 6.3 kit lens at f8, ISO 200, 1/80sec

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy taken with Olympus EM5 12 – 50mm f3.5 – 6.3 kit lens
at f8, ISO 200, 1/80sec

There’s a wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket and you want the money spent upgrading a lens. Choosing the right lens can be a daunting task with the vast variety of lenses on the market. The easiest way, if money is no barrier, is Plan A. Give me double the amount of the lens I choose for you and we both walk away with a “Win Win” situation. 🙂 What’s that? You don’t like that plan of attack?….. Ok then let’s try Plan B: Using Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW to determine what our favorite focal lengths are. Of course this only works if you have your images in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW.

Step 1: Open Lightroom in the Library Module and select folder or folders where your images are located. Then select Grid View.

Select Image Folder then Grid View.

Step 1: Select Image Folder then Grid View.

Step 2: Select Metadata from the Library Filter

Select Metadata

Step 2: Select Metadata

My Library Filter panel may look different to yours so don’t panic. We are going to change what is displayed on your screen. If you have used this before and have it set up the way you like it you may want to write down or screen capture your settings so you can change them back later if needed.

Step 3: Change the column names to match mine.

Change column filter Metadata display.

Step 3: Change column filter Metadata display.

Note:  You can add or delete columns if required. Don’t worry it will not affect your photos.

Adding or removing column filter Metadata display.

Adding or removing column filter Metadata display.

Your overall number of images taken, the quantities taken with each lens, focal length and aperture will now be displayed.

Why I purchased Olympus 9 – 18mm f4 – f5.6

I purchased Olympus OMD EM5 in 2012 and it came with the Olympus kit lens 12 – 50mm f3.5 – 6.3.

Overview of Olympus EM5 with 12 - 50mm lens.

Overview of Olympus EM5 with 12 – 50mm lens.

As you can see in above figure when I select 2013, E-M5 and the 12 – 50mm lens I have taken 5818 photos and by looking at the Focal Length column and I have shot at every single focal length available to the lens. What stands out is the number of shots taken at 12mm, 3152, which is more than half the number of total images taken. It looks like I really loved the 12mm focal length or more likely that was as wide as I could shoot. Maybe I needed a lens with a wider view. Generally a Landscape photographer likes to capture a wide field of view and these figures suggest the same.

When I click on the 12mm focal length I can see the majority of my shots were taken with apertures between f5 – f11.

12mm focal length with f5.6 and f8 the most used.

12mm focal length with f5.6 and f8 the most used.

So based on this data my decision was to purchased the Olympus 9 – 18mm f4 – f5.6 premium lens December of 2013.

1765 out of 2886 taken at 9mm. Maybe I need an even wider lens!!!

1765 out of 2886 taken at 9mm. Maybe I need an even wider lens!!!

This is my go to wide angle lens…until Olympus release their 7 -14mm f2.8 pro lens in 2014. I still like to have the option of shooting wider, closer and have even better image quality….if money was no object.  :))) I could run through other lenses I have purchased since then but this post is getting a bit long and you should get the idea by now.

Storm Front Coming, Collaroy Beach, Sydney. Taken with Olympus OMD EM5, 9 - 18mm f4 - f5.6 at f8, ISO 200, 0.4sec

Storm Front Coming, Collaroy Beach, Sydney.
Taken with Olympus OMD EM5, 9 – 18mm f4 – f5.6 at f8, ISO 200, 0.4sec

Just remember a good quality lens will get the best image quality out of your camera more than a better camera with the same kit lens. An added bonus is if you ever decide to sell off your gear later, good lenses hold their value than camera bodies and cheaper lenses.

Also let’s make this point perfectly clear that a better lens and/or camera will not make us a better photographer. The only thing that will improve is the quality of the image. It won’t help you recognize an interesting subject, see great light, compose the shot, and process the image to the desired outcome you saw before you even picked up the camera. That takes time, patience and lots of practice.

About Author Mykal Hall

At the age of 34 my life changed from aimlessly wandering through life without a purpose, to finding the "WHY" to my life in the form of my wife/soulmate/best friend Dianne and her 3 children. My home life is now perfect and I could not imagine a better family to spend the rest of my days with. There was however, another yearning that wasn't fulfilled. My work life. Having no real passions to pursue at an early age, I fell into various work situations from Storeman, Forklift Operator, Service Technician to finally a Truck Driver. After 43yrs my interest for "Geekdom", from my Service Technician days, was reignited once again. I discovered "Podcasts". The ability to learn about any subject at my own leisure was too tempting to resist. So what subjects did I choose to fill this quest for knowledge........Psychology and the latest technology trends. It was the former that I thought I would be pursuing as a career until I stumbled upon the podcast "This Week In Photo" (TWIP). It sounded very geeky with all the cool gadgets and the creative side would make up for past failed interest in drawing.​That's when I purchased my first camera, a Nikon D90. Having never held a DSLR or for that matter a SLR camera I thought I should learn to use it in Manual mode first. When I say manual mode I even mean manual focus too.

Almost a year later I managed to get an invite to Google+ before it went public and it was here my passion for photography escalated rapidly to new heights. I was discovered by the hierarchy at Google Australia and was added to their "Suggested Users List" for photography. The SUL is a list of people Google suggests you follow in various interest categories. What an honour!!!!! I had found my lost "TRIBE", Google+. ​I also found the "HOW" to my life.​ I think the great Sufi poet Rumi says it all,

"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."​​​

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3 replies
  1. Mykal Hall
    Mykal Hall says:

    Hi James. Yeah when you’re first starting out it can be a bit daunting. Trying to use Photoshop just turns my brain to mush. 🙁 If you only come away with the knowledge that there is a way to search photos by Aperture and Focal lenght then that’s great. You’re in good hands here at Visual Wilderness. 🙂

  2. James Smith
    James Smith says:

    All very interesting how ever a little advanced for me at this time I am just now starting to move toward a photo program such as adobe but i also have limited computer skills . I recently took your histograms exposed course it helped me understand the process . I have to go slow as time is a issue and i have other obglations . i am also limited with my equipment my camera is a canon 7D mark 2 and i have a 100 to 400 lens and a kit lens 18 to 135 so i am stumbling along reading and trying to understand . So far i have been using all the information i can understand shooting lots of pictures and not keeping very many Thank you Jay and Varina

    • Jay Patel
      Jay Patel says:

      You are most welcome….Glad our video courses were useful. Look for more practical easy to follow courses from us. Your lens collection looks great to get started. My first lens was Canon: 28-135 that I used for years. Only when I got more serious into photography did I upgrade the lens.


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