There is a pleasing and exciting diversity of lenses waiting for each photographer to choose as they explore and create within the stimulating medium of photography – it’s all about the glass. (John Enman photo)

There is a pleasing and exciting diversity of lenses waiting for each photographer to choose as they explore and create within the stimulating medium of photography – it’s all about the glass. (John Enman photo)

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

It’s all about the glass

My shop has been pretty quite these past months. I suppose that is to be expected.

However, this week wasn’t as boring with photographers stopping by to look for and discuss lenses.

I always enjoy talking lenses and thought I would repost an article I wrote back in November of 2014.

When a novice photographer asks any experienced photographer whether they should spend their hard earned money on a new camera or a new lens the answer will usually be, “It’s all about the glass,” or, “A good lens is more important than a good camera.”

A bad lens on a good camera will still make poor quality images, but a good lens on a poor or average camera will most likely give the photographer good results.

I remember listening to several friends talking over coffee about reviews they had read about the latest camera offering from Canon. Their discussion began with, “Why does a photographer that doesn’t shoot sports need a camera with seven or eight frames a second,” and, “I really don’t spend much time shooting in low light situations so why would I spend extra money on a camera because it is capable of a high ISO?” And as I expected, it wasn’t long before the discussion turned to an exchange on lenses.

The conversation easily moved from a difference of opinion between those that preferred prime (fixed focal length) lenses, and those, like me, that choose multi-focal length (zoom) lenses. When I joined in, the conversation was about wide angle and, of course, wide aperture lenses.

Selecting different lenses for a photo is like changing the visual personality of the image, and most photographers I know are (whether then are aware of it or not) engaged in what I’ll call a search for a perspective that fits their personality and personal vision. The camera might record some subject’s personality, but their lens choice will show what the photographer wants to say about their subject.

Several photographers standing on a picturesque hillside using the same camera and lens will probably produce much the same image, but give them each a different lens and the resulting photographs will be diverse, distinct, and individual.

“It is all about the glass” and there is such a pleasing and exciting diversity of lenses out there waiting for each photographer to choose as they explore and create within this stimulating medium of photography.

Most photographers I have become acquainted with are more apt to make their discussion or point of view “visually”. They don’t use words like, exciting, stimulating, intoxicating, invigorating, or compelling when they point their cameras.

Those words fit and could apply to the feelings I could see and hear from those photographers lounging around my shop drinking warm coffee on a cold day as they talked about the lenses they used and would like to use.

Lens perspective is the way to make their photographs thought provoking, interesting and inspiring to add a few more words that they hadn’t bothered to use.

I’ll just sum up with my opinion that a new camera is a lot of fun, and if I have money burning a hole in my pocket I’d certainly buy the latest and most expensive offering, but to be serious I would always be looking at the best lenses I could afford first, because it really is “all about the glass”.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at or

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