…does not exist, of course. But I think I have found mine; at least for my balance (as an amateur) among portability, flexibility and quality.
I am an amateur photographer; I do not sell photos (apart from some wet dream), and my needs are to produce photos for my family in the form of a periodic A4-format photo-book and an occasional big print (A3 or so). My budget is not so deep too; I switched to DSLR three years ago, I own a Sony DSLT A-55 and I really feel I have not (yet) the need of updating it.
My main photo opportunity is travel; some car-based trips but most of them in the form of hikes. So the portability of my kit is important; but much more important is the fact that sometime the photo opportunity just pass by and you have no time to switch lenses. I own a Panasonic LX-5 too, which is great for day-to-day, but the quality is what it is — we’ll see how the rumored LX-8 can change this.
So after a couple of years, I ended with this lens kit with which I am very happy indeed.
- A Sigma 18-250 superzoom. Yes, I’m hearing the cries of dilettantism over there. I don’t mind; read this funny article if you want to understand my point of view. This lens stays on the camera most of the time in new hikes or in random walk-around. Ok, it’s not sharp. But it’s there when you need it, so you can be doing a shot of a nice pattern in the lake:
and turn rapidly around when you hear your daughter laugh when a squirrel steal her walnut:
- A Sigma 10-20 wide angle zoom; this is probably the funniest lens I have, although I am still learning it. You can use it to “take it all into the frame”:
but also to explore nice perspectives and funny shots:
- A nice, sharp, normal prime: a Sony DT 35f1.8 which I use when I know I want a shot to be printed big. It is a real bang-for-the-buck lens, and can give wonderful results. Especially with a monopod or tripod and a bit of patience. This is the lens I put on the camera when I go out for nice, high quality photos. Obviously you can’t see that in web-sized jpeg, but…
- And finally, a macro which double as a portrait lens (ok, a real portrait lens would be better). Difficult but not impossible to use on the field…
So this is my kit. Two primes, two zooms — I would have quite likely switched the wide zoom to a nice 12mm prime, but I couldn’t find it in my budget, and I bought the 10-20 at a very nice price used in ebay. If I could, I would change the macro with a fastest one (a 90/2.8 would be great), and maybe add a fast moderate wide (20/1.8). But I think that now the limitation is the photographer and not the gear; so I have to get better to convince myself I need an A77-II (although it’s big — I love the size of my A55).
The three lenses can be carried over in a waist bag while the fourth one is mounted on the camera. I complement it with a walking stick that doubles as a monopod (a no-brainer if you like hiking and photos); I have a lite Manfrotto tripod too, but in the end I use it just in counted cases.