Reader mail grab-bag

What's on your mind? Here are some Q's and A's

Every so often, Helen Oster, Adorama Camera's Customer Advocate, gets a question about stuff we sell--and passes it along to me. I’ve saved up some of the more interesting questions and answers. Enjoy today's customer email grab-bag!

Bookmark and Share

Polarizer pricing?

It's been over 20 years since I bought a polarizing filter, and things have clearly changed. I looked at what's listed at Adorama and there's some jargon I didn't understand. What does "hybrid" mean in this context?

The other thing I didn't understand is the huge range in prices from $26 up to $187 ($350 if we include Leica;-) for a 67 mm circular polarizer. When I see 5x price range in lenses I have an idea what that means and what benefits the more expensive lenses might offer. But in a polarizing filter I have no idea.

The biggest change in polarizing filters is accommodations for autofocus technology. The old kind of polarizer filtered light rays using straight lines. However, autofocus detection sensors rely on straight lines as well, and standard linear polarizers cancel out a camera's autofocus abilities. Hence, the advent of circular polarizers--the reflective light is filtered out using a circular pattern. Circular filters cost more to make, which is why they cost more.? A hybrid polarizer filters out UV (ultraviolet) rays.??

Extra-thin glass filters and anti-flare coatings can further raise the price of a polarizer.?? The least expensive polarizer is most likely an uncoated, standard linear polarizer, not useful in autofocus cameras; the most expensive are coated, filter out UV rays, and have extra thin glass. There are all kinds of in-between variations. That's why there's such a wide range of prices.??

Which way to zoom?

I just purchased a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G lens from Adorama for my Nikon D80. It’s great, but I still need a lens for more casual use. Would you suggest the 18-200? or maybe the 24-70?

It depends on your needs, how you define “casual use” and your budget. The Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens costs around $170 and is fine for everyday use. If you’re looking for a wider range and a step up in quality, consider the Nikon 24-120 f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF with Vibration Reduction. It’s currently available for about $510. There are two 28-70mm lenses, the faster, higher-end f/2.8 version--which would give you a total zoom range of 28-200mm lens between your two lenses (with a constant widest aperture of f/2.8!)--and a less expensive f/3.5-4.5 version which is currently only available as a refurbished model for under $300. ?

The 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G (around $680) seems unnecessary, since your 70-200 covers a substantial portion of that range already, although admittedly the 18-200 is lighter--an important consideration. But again, it depends on his budget and how often you’ll want to zoom to 200mm with the lighter lens.

Monster lens slugfest

I hope you can shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages of the Canon 400mm f/2.8 ($7,100) and the Canon 500mm f/4L IS USM ($6,140) lenses. I am an amateur, trying to decide which to purchase . Wildlife photography is my main direction for the lens. To me the 400 looks like the better lens; with a 2x it becomes an 800mm and can autofocus, but with the 500 you can only use the 1.4 x. And yet, most of the photos you see are from the 500. Any idea why?

Two observations: 1) You’re into some mighty big glass, and 2) beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Which lens is the “better” lens really depends on the end use; what’s better for you might not be suitable for the next guy. Both lenses are high-end and image quality is going to be excellent in most situations, and you pay a premium for that. So, what are the differences between these two lenses? The 500mm lens offers 20 percent more magnification than the 400mm, but lets in half as much light. Is it worth losing half the light to get a 20 percent increase in magnification?

On the other hand, the slightly smaller aperture means the 500mm lens weighs less: The 500mm weighs 8.5 pounds vs. 11.5 pounds for the 400mm. When you’re in the field, those three pounds can make a difference and that may be why you see more shots with the 500.

In either case, the lens you choose will be a major investment, so it’s good to do diligent research and ask questions. A quick search online will reveal plenty of tests and hands-on reviews by nature photographers for both lenses; also look at the Adorama customer ratings, which are at the bottom of each lens’s web page. They will help you make the right decision for you.


Share this: 
Related Articles: 

Discussion Box

Subscribe to our email updates

Subscribe to Comments for "Reader mail grab-bag" is top rated for customer serviceHACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99.9% of hacker crime.