Which lens to take on upcoming hunt?

Pasty_Man_Thighs

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2017
Messages
10
Newbie camera owner here and also new to western hunting. Heading out to Colorado for an OTC 2nd rifle hunt and I keep debating on whether or not to bring along my camera or just stick with my phone for photos (iPhone 11 pro). I have a Sony a6600 with two lenses: the Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and the Sony 55-210 f/4.5-6.3 lens. I'm very much a newbie when it comes to photography so my photo use is generally just snapping pictures while out hiking and family events so feel free to school me on which of these would be best for taking trophy pics, maybe some small snips of video footage of the hunt/around camp, just fairly basic stuff.

Is it worth it to drag both lenses along for the hunt or am I better off just picking one that will be a good enough do it all setup. We plan on doing mostly truck camping and venturing out each day, maybe spike out if we get out far. I'm a bit of a worry wort when it comes to not breaking my gear, so I plan to keep the camera handy on my peak design clip on my shoulder when I know we may want photos/video but also carrying some level of case/protection in my pack when we won't be wanting pics (Exo 4800 pack). I know these two lenses are probably not the most ideal lenses to have, but they are 'good enough for now' for me and my use case. I may look at upgrading to something different in the future if there are better options that suit my use case but I got this as a gift so just trying to learn how to use everything for now.

I appreciate any and all advice, since I'm really new to all of this (western hunting and photography).
 

Berger024

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
220
Location
Great Lakes Region
I would take only one lens. Your 16-50 will work well to capture the landscape and it's a faster lens (f3.5) plus you can always crop in on your image a little in post-production if you wanted.
Auto settings take amazing pictures, but learn how to use manual settings. You'll have free creative control over the image. Don't rush photos, take time and crop in camera. Shooting manual will allow *you* to select the depth of field and exposure.
If you have funds available I would get a prime lens that is faster f1.4, 1.8 or 2.0. This will allow you to shoot hand held around dusk and dawn and will really blow the background out (depth of field) and make it blurry.
Learn how shutter speed, F stop and ISO all work together to make a photograph. Another good rule of thumb is to never shoot below 1/60 shutter speed handheld or your images will be blurry. Sometimes you can cheat this a little by holding very still and having your subject hold very still. F stops that are low require less light by opening the aperture up and giving you a shallow depth of field, while a higher f stop constricts the aperture requiring more light, but gives a greater depth of field and sharper images further out...There is a science to it and you'll make much better photos more often if you understand what you're doing, rather than just being "pleasantly surprised" by what the camera randomly churns out in an auto setting.

Good luck!
 

Hunt_Jefferson

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2020
Messages
210
Location
El Dorado County, CA
I would take only one lens. Your 16-50 will work well to capture the landscape and it's a faster lens (f3.5) plus you can always crop in on your image a little in post-production if you wanted.
Auto settings take amazing pictures, but learn how to use manual settings. You'll have free creative control over the image. Don't rush photos, take time and crop in camera. Shooting manual will allow *you* to select the depth of field and exposure.
If you have funds available I would get a prime lens that is faster f1.4, 1.8 or 2.0. This will allow you to shoot hand held around dusk and dawn and will really blow the background out (depth of field) and make it blurry.
Learn how shutter speed, F stop and ISO all work together to make a photograph. Another good rule of thumb is to never shoot below 1/60 shutter speed handheld or your images will be blurry. Sometimes you can cheat this a little by holding very still and having your subject hold very still. F stops that are low require less light by opening the aperture up and giving you a shallow depth of field, while a higher f stop constricts the aperture requiring more light, but gives a greater depth of field and sharper images further out...There is a science to it and you'll make much better photos more often if you understand what you're doing, rather than just being "pleasantly surprised" by what the camera randomly churns out in an auto setting.

Good luck!
Funny, I would have the opposite approach and take the 55-210mm if I'm picking between the two. The Iphone 11pro will take pretty good landscapes and camp photos but the one thing phones can't do is zoom. I would bring both and just leave the 16-50 in the truck in case you find an amazing vista that you really want to use the camera on.

Agree with the rest of your post though.
 

Lambfish

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
14
The wider lens will be better for object close by and landscapes but will leave you wanting if you are trying to photograph wildlife more than a few feet away. I think @Hunt_Jefferson hit the nail on the head, use your phone for the close stuff and keep the longer lens to get some reach. Long term, maybe look at getting a more versatile lens such as the sony 18-105 f/4 G. You can find these used for <$500 and you will have better image quality.
 

Berger024

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
220
Location
Great Lakes Region
@Pasty_Man_Thighs All responses are correct. I guess it comes down to what you are looking to photograph and what you would like to potentially do with the images after the hunt? I agree the iPhone will allow for decent landscapes and allow you to print maybe an 11x17 or a little bigger pretty well. If you are looking to capture animals and things at a distance, the zoom will come in handy. I was thinking primarily of photographing your hunting buddy, yourself, and the elk/muley/whatever after you've had a successful hunt. People rarely print images anymore, so if you're just posting on Facespace and Insta, go the route the others suggested and you'll be fine.
I have made photo books from my hunts and an iPhone will do just fine with prints that size. Take your time and make photographs from start to finish on your trip and you'll have a nice visual storyboard to look back on in the years to come. You'll be glad you took the time to make them. Good luck.
 

bowhuntrben

Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
212
Location
Minnesota
I’ve tried carrying a camera in the past and find it to be too big and bulky for my liking and it would just stay in the truck after Day 1. I now just carry a point and shoot. I don’t know how big your camera is, but I don’t imagine it hurts to bring it along and give it a try to see if it works for you. I’d pick the longer lens as I’d be interested in trying for wildlife shots. Use your phone for a wider view shot.
 

idcuda

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
320
Location
SW ID
If you're on Facebook, join the "Sony a6600 Shooters" group. I'm in the a6400 group and it's great for tips, tricks, and lens info.
 

RS_Non-Res

Member
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
54
Study about *composition* and *light* before worrying too much about specialized gear.
After you know (see in your mind's eye) the image that you want to create, then you figure out how to make your camera do what you want.

The gear choice can become a tradeoff between usability and image quality. My subcompacts have produced the most good pictures for documenting a hunt because they're easy to carry, I don't worry about banging them around a bit, they're easy to whip out and snap a pic, and the images are good enough. My phone sux too many electrons to be useful in the woods.

Canon 70D (15mm to 400mm with several lenses),
iPhone 6
Nikkormat FT3 w/100 f2.8
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8
Canon Powershot ElPH 170 IS
 
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