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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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