Is My Most Used Lens Holding Me Back?

I do love a bit of pointless analysis and no better time to do so than the dawn of a New Year. So I quickly worked out which was my most used lens in 2017.

It seems that the Fuji XF 18-135mm Zoom Lens has been my go to this past year, but is that a good thing?

The XF18-135 lens made 32% of my photos in 2017 compared to just 2% in 2016 (I purchased the lens in mid 2016). I took the lens with me on every trip this year generally at the expense of taking the 16-55 F2.8 and the 50-140 F2.8, opting for the simplicity, size, weight preference over ultimate quality glass.

Am I losing out by using a good but not amazing zoom lens?

Lets face it, the XF18-135 is a really nifty zoom lens. Covering approximately the equivalent of 27mm to 200mm in a full frame sensor it's certainly versatile. I shoot a mix of wide landscapes, close up landscape details, and I love a bit of floral macro and this lens can shoot them all. It's a good size and good weight, not too heavy to carry all day and small enough to fit into bags and packs without noticing.

The image quality is where the real debate comes in. It's not like I look at the 18-135 images and cry about their quality. Yet it's also not like I look at them in awe of the contrast, details and colour rendering. Does anybody look at those things in awe? Yes I do with other Fuji lenses such as the 35mm F1.4, the 90mm F2 and the 60mm F2.4. Often I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside when I view the beautiful bokeh and sharpness these lenses provide.

Am I too reliant or too lazy by using a zoom lens?

Yah, I probably am sometimes. I guess it all depends not only on the situation but also on the end use of the image. More importantly however I worry about losing opportunity to be creative and find not just a photo but a special photo.

Working within the constraints of whatever prime lens you have attached to the camera when something happens is probably where the difference comes in between a memorable photo and a memorable moment.

I really enjoy photos that have motion, movement and are brief moments. This means dealing with moving people, brief flashes of light, particular shapes of clouds all things that you can't control. If you miss them you get that real stomach churning frustration. Imagine for example having the 14mm wide angle lens attached as that tree in the distance is briefly illuminated.

I can't work out if having the flexibility to experiment with a single lens leads to more creativity than having to work with a fixed viewpoint until you find something that works visually.

What To Do About the Zoomy Zoom?

Firstly it's worth saying as long as I own the 18-135 I'm gonna end up using it, so I either sell that or sell the lenses it's leaving hidden in the cupboard. I could invest that cash into other things needed in the coming year.

If I do decide to sell the 18-135 then do I revert to the 16-55/50-140 setup which provides some of the flexibility with better image quality however also with considerable extra size and weight?

Or do I go all out quality and become one of those prime lens only kind photographers? You know, the really good ones. I could get hold of all the F1.4 bad boys (23mm, 16mm) as well as repurchasing the 90mm F2. Surely then every photo I take will be as sharp as a tack with beautiful contrast and creamy bokeh.

But What If I Miss The Shot?

Well I take too many photos anyway. I've just spent a few days culling around 15,000 photos from Lightroom so maybe I need to be more selective anyways.

I'm guessing the general thoughts here will be stop worrying about it and just go out and shoot and enjoy it. That's probably the way to go but I do love a bit of self analysis and being forced into a creative corner might just provide a bit of motivation in 2018.

A Full Breakdown Of My Most Used Lenses

Like I say I do love a bit of analysis, especially when I can use it for procrastination from my tax return for example. The charts below show the full breakdown as % splits for each lens uses and comparison between 2016 and 2017.  Basically the lenses which suffered the most in 2017 were the XF50-140mm and the XF35mm F1.4 both of which are beautiful, amazing lenses. The 14mm and the XF18-135 mm were the winning lenses in 2017 both growing their photo share.

Shot Count 2017

A chart showing which lenses I used the most in 2017 along with the Drone for comparison and also the Fuji X100F as my 23mm Prime.

Shot Count 2016

A breakdown of my most used lenses in 2016 for comparison.

I bloody love a good pie chart!

Would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on great Fuji Setups in the comments.

Happy New Year and All The Best for 2018

Dan

@dan_scape