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I have Sony A58 with 18-55mm standard lens. It's been almost 6 months that I have been using it and now I have started to feel that I can't either far away objects or very close-by objects with crisp clarity.

I don't have so much budget to go for a separate telephoto and macro lens. I am looking for something which can provide me optimal results with a single lens.

Can anyone spread some light on this area? Is there even such lens, or am I the lone bird here?

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If you want an all-in-one photographic solution, you are much better off with a "superzoom" fixed lens "bridge" camera than a DSLR with only one all purpose lens. See this question and answers: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/43488/… –  Michael Clark Nov 19 '13 at 9:36
    
The Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 is probably your best bet. It's the counterpart to the Canon and Nikon 24-70mm which is one of the most popular all-around lenses for both versatility and quality. –  jp89 Nov 19 '13 at 10:45
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But the 24-70 isn't a macro lens. Depending on how close to true macro the OP wants to get, it may or may not be suitable. –  Philip Kendall Nov 19 '13 at 11:47
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When on a tight budget I'd advice you to explore the questions under kit-lens tag for ways to get the best out of that kit lens of yours. Look for questions about "DoF" and "sweet spot" to begin with. Take a look under diffraction tag as well. –  Esa Paulasto Nov 19 '13 at 16:30
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Note that the clarity of far away objects is always dependent on the atmospheric conditions. Even with crystal clear skies, the more air between you and your target, the less contrast and saturation your image will have, and no lens in the world can compensate for that. –  JohannesD Nov 21 '13 at 11:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If, specifically, you want to cover telephoto and macro, and not necessarily general-purpose nearby photography or wide angle shots, then yes, this is no problem, because relatively long focal length macro lenses are a common design. Sony, for example, has a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. This won't quite give you the reach of a more extreme telephoto lens (the kind used for professional sports or for wildlife), but should be very sharp. It has a minimum focus distance of 35cm (14"), which gives it a true macro magnification: objects will be as large on your sensor as they are in real life.

You may already know all of the following, but just for some background....

Long focal length is generally thought of as giving the ability to photograph things far away, but really it just tells you the angle of view the lens covers. Higher focal lengths give a narrower view, which translates to rendering far-away details larger — but it also means that close-up details are larger. However, most lenses with high focal lengths can't focus on objects which are nearby, just as an inherent limitation of their design. Lenses which are made to be macro, however, are designed so they can. (See this answer.) This allows you to focus on close objects (such as the details of a flower).

That same lens will also be useful for general-purpose distance shooting, including portraiture, although with your APS-C DLSR it may put you a little further from subjects than is ideal for everything but the closest headshots. If the Sony lens seems out of your price range, you could also consider the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro, which is noticeably cheaper and also well regarded.

In combination with your existing 18-55mm (or an eventual upgrade to it), this should add a lot of versatility to your toolbox. You can use the 18-55mm for general use and wide angle, and this lens for more far-away objects and for macro.

If, on the other hand, none of the above sounds right to you and what you really want is a single lens which can do everything... well, there's really no such thing, but you can get "superzoom" lenses which go from super-wide to very long. These generally don't have the ability to focus nearby, though (so no macro), and they have a multitude of other drawbacks, including slow aperture and significant image-quality compromises.

It's also important to note that 100mm gives you more "reach" than your current maximum of 55mm, but isn't dramatically so. If far away is a priority over macro, you might want to instead get a different lens with a larger focal length, and then get a separate macro lens or (as you note you can't afford that right now) consider alternate techniques for getting close focus.

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Based on my experience with Canon's 100mm macro, it's remarkably adept at general-purpose shooting, including portraits. If Sony's is anywhere near as good, it's definitely worth a try. –  D. Lambert Nov 19 '13 at 14:40
    
I have been really pleased by the cheap plastic-fantastic for Sony: dyxum.com/columns/articles/lenses/cosina_100_35_macro/… --- It is noisy and slow to focus, but can be an economic way to see if going to a high quality prime fits one's style. –  Rmano Nov 19 '13 at 15:49
    
@mattdm Very informative & useful to me! Thank you. –  Amritpal Nov 20 '13 at 6:12

If budget is the constraint and you want "optimal results" then you might be better off looking for two lenses rather than one. Prime (i.e. fixed focal length) lenses are often simpler in design and less expensive than zoom lenses, so it may be the case that you can satisfy your macro needs with a lens that leaves enough in the budget for a decent telephoto lens.

For example, the 30mm macro SAL-30M28 comes in at under $200 and can focus on objects as close as 13cm. The 75-300mm SAL-75300 runs around $275. You could buy both for less than $500, which may be a lot less than you'd spend on a single lens that was as good at both ends of the spectrum.

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Thumbs up for good info. Thank you @Caleb. –  Amritpal Nov 20 '13 at 6:16

you want deeper sense, so you should be farther from the objest(but too far to see it), less mm(but to little to make it normal), and smaller F(but it depends on machinery. F/32 should be the smallest for most lens)

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