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Lens Madness

By Eric Hartwell

A friend of mine is an avid photographer. He has a DSLR with a load of accessories and a series of nice lenses. He recently bought one that cost an arm and a leg and he was pretty proud of it.

On the other side of the coin, my father has a lens for his film SLR that he bought over 30 years ago. It is ragged, chipped and squeaks a bit. But he won't part with it. It was cheap(ish) but it lacks some of the functionality of my friend's DSLR lens.

My friend's lens is huge. I can see him coming in the distance simply because he had a large photo-rucksack on his back to hold all his equipment. It is a splendid piece of glass but requires a tripod or monopod for all but the brightest of conditions.

The lens is also white. It stands out and says to everyone "I am a lens to look at". My friend loves it and gives him added impetus to get out there and take pictures.

My father, however, gets the same results - and has been doing for 30 years - with his rag-bag of assorted accessories, some of which are nearing the end of their useful life. His lens, although tatty, produces excellent results and gets HIM out in the field taking shots, just like my friend's does for him.

My father's lens doesn't choose the subject for him, compose the scene and tell him at which point to release the shutter...

.... nor does my friend's.

And therein lies the reason why my father is a successful champion of many camera club competitions where my friend has yet to win one

Eric Hartwell runs the photography resource site and the associated discussion forums as well as the regular weblog at

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