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Using Lightroom to buy a Lens

I’ve been thinking about buying a new lens for several years now, and I can never figure out what I want to get.

At the moment, I only carry three lenses:

I lost my EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM last spring, when it decided to go for a swim, and picked up the 75-300mm as a quick replacement.

I must say there is a noticeable difference between those two lenses.

Anyhow…

In my effort to figure out what Lens I wanted to purchase next, I needed to assess my style of photography, again.

In my film camera days, I carried 5-6  fixed length lenses, but in the digital age, I’ve gone down to three.

Mentally I had an idea, but I had no data to back up my real work environment.

Or so I thought…

While in Adobe Lightroom, I realized I could use the EXIF data contained in the metadata of each file – Lens and Focal Lengths!

This is a very fascinating look, at all of one’s images, over 31,000 in this one catalog!

Using Lightroom and the embedded EXIF metadata information, I could clearly see:

Most Used Lens

  • 18mm-55mm –  8168 images (25.79%)
  • 28-135mm –  16332 images (51.56%)
  • 70-300mm –  3798 images (11.99%)
  • 75-300mm –  1996 images (6.30%)

Most Used Focal Lengths

  • 18mm – 4258 images (13.44%)
  • 28mm – 4363 images (13.78%)
  • 70mm – 1339 images (4.23%)
  • 135mm – 2626 images (8.29%)
  • 300mm – 1888 images (5.96%)

Needless to say, sorting by every focal length alone is a large grouping, but in my case, I looked for any Focal Length over 1000 images or spikes.

Oddly, there is no spike around 55mm (473 images), which suggests that I never really used the 18mm-55mm all the way zoomed in.

Here is an exercise: What if your Lens happens to cross over in their Focal Length?

In this case, simply isolate/select a given Lens and Record the Focal Length numbers, which can reveal which Lens you actually used for a similar situation, and Thumbnails, just below.  It’s a great way to remind you of what you did!

I wish there was a way to export the data and bring it into a spread sheet for my geeky fun! (Note to Self…)

In my case, it turns out to be the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, which is now verified with actual Lens data.

That did not surprise me in the least, but which side of the Lens should I consider for my next Lens?

Clearly, my next largest ranges are 18mm (13.44%) and 28mm (13.78%) — about 27.22% of the images.

At the same time do I look at the 70-300mm range, which is 18.29%, because I a shot 70mm+ 18.46% of the time?

If this confuses you, don’t worry, because the more you dig into the data, the worse it becomes!

Try some of these!

  • Sort by Year – See how your Capture needs have changed
  • Sort by Body – Most used combinations to compare results

The list goes on.

I just wanted to highlight another aspect of Adobe Lightroom that might help you in your decision-making.

Now if you have any ideas on what I should do about my Lens dilemma, please let me know via email.

Update(s) –

07/17/2015 – In my morning reading, I ran into this site lightroomdashboard.com, in which you upload your Lightroom catalog file (.lrcat), and it will visualize your shooting habits. With a backup of my live catalog (1.27 GBs), I tried the “Drag-n-Drop” interface, and Chrome crashes. There is a Note that says they are aware of issues with 2+ GBs LR Catalogs. I would not be surprised their server(s) are being hit hard today. Need to check later.

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- Andrew
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By Andrew

A Father, Photographer and Computer Geek living in Chester County (PA).

My Photo Journal of images taken in Chester and Lancaster Counties, including Covered Bridges, Barns, Nature, Fine Art and Events. Images can also be found on VisitPA.com and ExplorePATrails.com.