Light is Everything!

5 Year Plan

Beginners to photography always ask what lenses should I buy (after they ask what camera should I buy). ;) It is good to have a plan in place so that you don’t spend money on junk glass that you will want to sell later on to buy better stuff. I came across the whole 5 year plan concept on one of Jared Polin’s YouTube blogs and I thought the idea was superb. Have a plan in place that allows you to save your money and upgrade to the very best of lenses and camera bodies over time. Quality is everything! And we pay dearly for it! But it is worth it. :)

The plan I present here is for the beginner who has gotten into photography and really likes it & wants to take it to the next level – either hobby or business wise. As such, it starts out with the entry level camera body and kit lens.  Then, it encourages buying professional level glass as the next step. Why? Because if you waste your money on junk glass now (because you can afford it), then as you get better and want to upgrade, you’ll have a bunch of junk glass nobody wants. But if you purchase higher end glass, you’ll be fine and dandy as sour candy for your entire photographic career. Camera bodies come and go but lenses last forever (well, a LOT longer than camera bodies!) ;) As for camera bodies, you want to jump from the entry level body to the top of the pro-sumer line, then to the top of the professional line. It’s not advisable to simply buy the next update of the entry level camera body you already have. They don’t change that much from update to update.

This proposed plan may take you shorter or longer to accomplish and that’s OK. It’s totally up to how aggressively you want to pursue photography and how much cash you have on hand to bank roll it.

Check out this plan for both Canon & Nikon lenses & bodies and let me know what you think. Lists of accessories are also included. The over arching goal is get good glass in your hands that covers the focal range from super wide to long telephoto. But it really depends on what kinds of photography you want to do. For example, if you really want to do Macro photography, that lens will be further ahead on your list than say a 300mm f/2.8 wildlife lens :)

5 Year Plan.pdf

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5 responses

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the theory of invest in good glass that will work on a full frame!

    Some thoughts on year 4 – I’d say that you could almost have a year 6 and beyond, depending on what work you do. C has a fisheye, but it doesn’t get used much. Fun, but you can’t fisheye every shot. I’d put the “fun lenses” in year 6 and put year 4 as the lenses you need to do the kind of work you do most.

    Get a pro body before lenses that you might not use too often.
    That’s my $0.02!

    March 18, 2011 at 3:41 am

    • Yep, the plan is flexible depending on needs, that’s for sure. The basic over all principle is to start with better glass sooner. I think now, all of the lenses that I have except 1 can be used on full sensor bodies. So, when I eventually get an FX camera, all my glass will be ready to rock & roll. :)

      March 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

  2. Great post, pretty much agree with what you said about sticking to pro/L glass (I shoot Canon) with one exception – a couple of the EF-S lenses deliver top-notch performance for crop frame bodies and often have more appropriate focal lengths for crops; for example I rented the 24-70 for my 500D (Rebel T1i) and found it wasn’t wide enough. I’m much happier with the 17-55 f2.8, equally the 16-35L may not be wide enough for some users who may prefer the EF-S 10-22.

    I’ve found that these “top end” EF-S lenses hold their value very well too. Don’t get me wrong – in principal I agree with your principle of sticking to pro, full frame glass which you can still use at the end of the 5 year plan. However I think that for the 4 years preceeding some people (myself included – 2 years in and recently purchased the 7D) might be better served by the best solution for them at that time.

    Thanks for the post!

    PS looks like we use the same theme!!
    http://double-take-photography.com

    March 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

    • This plan’s recommendations are definitely flexible. The “problem” with crop sensor cameras is that they are not really designed to fully make use of wide angle. To get true wide focal lengths, you need a full frame camera body. Because of the crop factor on your Rebel, which I think is 1.6, the 24-70 actually becomes a 38.4-112 — far from a wide angle zoom. Even the 17-55 starts out at 27. I’m pretty sure this is why anyone who shoots landscapes/ultra-wide angle seriously gets a full frame camera. On the other side, crop sensors give you longer reach which is a nice perk. Totally depends on what you want to shoot. Henceforth and thusly, this plan lays out buying top notch glass from the get go so that as you make the progression to full frame, you will take the glass with you and not have to sell it to buy stuff one could have bought in the first place.

      That being said, I have in my camera bag 1 DX (Nikon’s crop sensor lens) that is fantastic, but I will have to part ways with it when I upgrade to my next full sensor body. But it works for me very well right now on my D300s. :)

      March 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  3. Yep I agree with what you’re saying… 38mm definitely isn’t wide at all! The 17-55 is ok as a standard zoom but again you’re right, it’s not “wide” in the traditional sense.

    Thanks for stopping by my site :)

    March 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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