Picking your first camera lens can be a daunting task. With all of the different options and features available, how do you know which one is right for you? In this guide, we will walk you through the basics of buying your first camera lens and help you make the right decision for your needs. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced photographer, we have the perfect lens for you!
What To Consider When Buying A Camera Lens
When buying your first camera lens, there are a few things you need to take into account. First and foremost, what type of photography do you want to do? There are different lenses for different types of photography, so it is important to know what you want to use the lens for. Below are the main considerations to make when buying your first camera lens:
One of the main things to consider when buying a camera lens is focal length. Focal length is the distance between the lens and the sensor in your camera. It is measured in millimeters (mm). The lower the number, the wider the field of view and vice versa. For example, a 50mm lens will have a narrower field of view than a 20mm lens.
Buying a lens with the right focal length will depend on the type of photography you want to shoot. It may be a good option to choose a camera lens with a versatile focal length, rather than fixed length, as you build up your skills in regards to setting up the right composition for your photos.
Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens through which light passes. It is measured in f-numbers or “f-stops”. A lower number means a wider aperture and more light can enter the camera. This is good for low light photography or when you want to create a shallow depth of field (blurry background). A higher number means a narrower aperture and less light can enter the camera. This is better for daytime photography or when you want a greater depth of field (sharp background).
When buying your first camera lens, it is important to consider the maximum aperture of the lens. If you are shooting in low light conditions or want to create a shallow depth of field, you will need a lens with a low f-stop number (e.g. f/1.4). However, if you are shooting in bright conditions or want a greater depth of field, you will need a lens with a high f-stop number (e.g. f/16).
Size & Weight
Another thing to consider when buying your first camera lens is the size and weight. If you are planning on doing a lot of travel photography, you will want to choose a lens that is lightweight and compact. However, if you are shooting in studio conditions, size and weight may not be as much of an issue.
Prime Vs. Zoom Lenses
When buying your first camera lens, you will also need to decide between a prime lens and a zoom lens. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning they cannot zoom in or out. They are typically smaller, lighter and cheaper than zoom lenses.
Zoom lenses have a variable focal length, meaning they can be used for a variety of different photography styles. They are typically larger, heavier and more expensive than prime lenses.
Which one you choose will again depend on the type of photography you want to do. Prime lenses are better for low light photography and creating shallow depth of field, while zoom lenses are more versatile and can be used for a variety of different styles.
Should A Beginner Use A Prime Lens?
You may be wondering if a beginner should use a prime lens. The answer is yes! Prime lenses are great for beginners because they are typically cheaper, lighter and easier to use than zoom lenses. Plus, they can help you learn the basics of photography and composition.
However, zoom lenses offer photographers an easier way to shoot photos at a number of different ranges without knowing the fundamentals of composition. Both come with their own set of pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which option is right for you.
Types Of Prime Lenses
There are several different types of prime lenses to choose from, which we cover below:
It captures what you see, just how it appears. It has a 35-80mm focal length. For beginners, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM AF Lens is regarded as the best option.
Allows you to snap a wider perspective of a location or situation. It’s perfect for capturing groups of people and areas.
The wide-angle lens is a type of wide-angle lens. It has the appearance of a cross between a panoramic and spherical perspective.
It reduces the apparent distance between two subjects while preserving the picture’s clarity. It is generally accompanied by a lens of 75-300 mm.
Its 200-400 mm range allows you to capture more distant things. This lens is preferred by bird photographers.
Types of Zoom Lenses
There are two main types of zoom lenses, which we also cover below:
Crops the picture to a lower resolution and then resizes it to fit the frame for a closer look.
According to your preferred distance, it changes the focal length and increases magnification.
Camera Sensor Compatibility
When buying your first camera lens, it is important to make sure that the lens is compatible with your camera’s sensor. Most cameras will have either a full-frame sensor or an APS-C sensor.
Full-frame sensors are typically found in DSLR cameras and produce high quality images. APS-C sensors are typically found in mirrorless cameras and produce images that are slightly lower quality than those from a full-frame sensor.
The type of sensor you have will determine the size of the lens that you can use. If you have a full-frame sensor, you will need to use a lens that is specifically designed for full-frame sensors. However, if you have an APS-C sensor, you can use a lens that is designed for either full-frame or APS-C sensors.
Camera Lens Price
When buying your first camera lens, you need to consider your budget. Lenses can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It is important to find a lens that fits your budget and meets your needs.
Typically you’ll want to spend less money on a camera lens and work on your shooting skills before purchasing more expensive equipment. While there can be significant improvements in photo quality with high-end equipment, your skills as a photographer are what will produce great shots.
Should I Buy A Used Or New Lens?
You may be wondering if you should buy a used or new lens. While there are benefits to both, we generally recommend buying a new lens. New lenses will come with a warranty and will typically have better image quality than used lenses.
If you do decide to buy a used lens, make sure to inspect it carefully for any damage. You should also ask the seller if the lens comes with a warranty. However, there are many reputable sellers of used camera equipment that will be just as good as if you were to purchase it brand new.
Image stabilization (IS) is a feature that can be found in both lenses and cameras. It helps to reduce camera shake and produce sharper images.
If you are buying a lens for a camera that does not have image stabilization, we recommend buying a lens with image stabilization. However, if your camera has image stabilization, it is not as important to buy a lens with this feature.
Limited Distortion In Photos
Some lenses can produce distortion in photos, especially at the edges of the frame. This is typically more pronounced with wide-angle lenses.
If you are buying a wide-angle lens, we recommend choosing one that has limited distortion. This will help to produce sharper and more accurate images.
Limited Chromatic Abberation In Photos
Chromatic abberation is a type of distortion that can occur when light waves of different colors are not focused in the same plane. This can cause your images to appear blurry or have color fringes around the edges of objects.
Some lenses are better at minimizing chromatic abberation than others. If you are buying a lens, we recommend choosing one that has limited chromatic abberation. This will help to produce sharper and more accurate images.
Good Quality Build
When buying a camera lens, you want to make sure that it is well built. A good quality lens will have a solid construction and be made of high-quality materials.
We recommend buying a lens from a reputable brand. This will help to ensure that you are getting a well-built lens.
Best Lenses For Each Photography Type
Now that you know what to look for when buying a camera lens, you may be wondering which lens is best for each photography type. Here are some of our recommendations:
For portrait photography, we recommend buying a lens with a focal length of 85mm or longer. This will help to produce sharp images with a shallow depth of field.
For landscape photography, we recommend buying a lens with a wide angle and an aperture of f/16 or higher. This will help to produce sharp images with a large depth of field.
For wildlife photography, we recommend buying a telephoto lens with a focal length of 400mm or longer. This will help you to get close to your subject and produce sharp images.
For sports photography, we recommend buying a telephoto lens with a fast shutter speed. This will help you to capture fast-moving action and produce sharp images.
For travel photography, we recommend buying a lens that is versatile and can be used for a variety of photography types. A good all-purpose lens is the 18-200mm zoom lens. This will help you to capture a wide range of subjects while traveling.
A fisheye lens is a type of ultra-wide angle lens that produces a distorted image. This can be used to create unique images with a wide field of view.
We recommend buying a fisheye lens if you are looking for something unique and different. This will help you to capture images that are unlike anything else.
For street photography, we recommend buying a lens with a wide angle and a fast shutter speed. This will help you to capture candid images of people in public places.
For wedding photography, we recommend buying a lens that is versatile and can be used for a variety of photography types. A good all-purpose lens is the 24-70mm zoom lens. This will help you to capture a wide range of subjects at a wedding. However, you’ll want to keep a number of lenses in your toolkit when photographing weddings to appropriately match any shooting situation.
For everyday photography, we recommend buying a lens that is versatile and can be used for a variety of photography types. A good all-purpose lens is the 18-55mm zoom lens. This will help you to capture a wide range of subjects in your everyday life.
Insect Or Flower Shots
For insect or flower photography, we recommend buying a macro lens. This will help you to capture close-up images of small subjects.
For food photography, we recommend buying a lens with a fast shutter speed. This will help you to capture images of moving subjects, such as dripping sauce or melting ice cream.
For night photography, we recommend buying a lens with a wide aperture. This will help you to capture images with a large depth of field and produce sharp images.
What Camera Lens Should I Buy?
Now that you know what to look for when buying a camera lens, and some of our recommendations for each photography type, you may be wondering which lens is right for you. The best camera lens to buy depends on the type of photography that you want to do.
If you are just starting out in photography, here are the most popular camera lens options to choose from:
Best Beginner Prime Lenses
Below are some of the best prime lenses available to beginners:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 is a low-cost prime lens for all of your Canon DSLRs. A lens with an aperture of f/1.8 will perform well in low-light situations, which is why it’s one of the greatest lenses for new photographers on my list. It’s a really light lens, weighing just under 6 ounces. The design of the focus ring has been updated, allowing it to be more compact. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet, which is plenty for anyone except macro shooters.
Finally, it has a 7-blade circular aperture, which will allow you to play around with incredibly soft backgrounds and bokeh. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 is available for as little as $75.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8D
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is one of our top lenses since it performs well in low light, just like the Canon prime lens, and weighs only 5.5 ounces. If you buy a new one, it comes with a 5-year warranty directly from Nikon. The Nikon 50mm f /1.8D is relatively affordable to buy new.
Sony 50mm f/1.8DT
The Sony 50mm f/1.8DT is recognized for its smooth autofocus motor and short minimum focusing distance of 13 inches, making it one of the finest lenses for any Sony shooter. It also features a seven-blade circular diaphragm for smooth bokeh and will shoot well in the middle of the day or at dusk/dawn. It weighs about 6 oz and fits in your pocket. The Sony 50mm f/1.8DT is available new for less than $200.
Best Beginner Wide-Angle Lenses
Below are some of the wide-angle lenses available to beginners:
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is the best wide-angle lens for photographers since it is only 4.4 oz and packs a wallop. This lens has a full-time manual focus, so you can get comfortable with it as you develop your skills as a photographer. It also has a minimum shooting distance of 6 inches and shoots very softly. Now, this Canon lens can be purchased for around $130 new, but you can locate a cheaper version by purchasing used.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX
The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX has an itty bitty body that is almost silent when focusing. This lens is known for delivering photos with lifelike colors and pictures that are sharp. The real clincher, however, is that this lens produces photographs that appear to have been shot using a human eye. Photographers may now capture exactly what they intended to in their imaginations with this feature.
Best Beginner Zoom Lenses
Below are some of the zoom lenses available to beginners:
Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD
The Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD is great since it comes in a variety of versions for Canon, Nikon, and other popular camera brands. This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 37 inches and can be used as an ultra-telephoto lens. You’ll never be restricted to using only one camera because this lens may also be utilized with DSLRs and old school film cameras. Depending on the camera’s compatibility, the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD may cost anywhere from $140 to less than that.
Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT
The Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT is a fantastic lens for novices because of its adaptability. It weighs 11 ounces, but if you replace your other lenses on extended trips with a zoom lens, you’ll save money in the long run. It includes 9-diaphragm blades for a smooth background and a minimum focus distance of 37 inches. The Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT is available for around $200 new and comes with a one-year warranty from Sony.
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6
The next Canon we recommend is the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM, which is the last zoom lens on our list of the best lenses for beginners. It has a wide angle of view (32 degrees) to record everything in sight. It performs well in low light and uses a USM motor instead of DC to generate quieter autofocus. You can get the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 for $200.
We hope this buying guide has helped you determine what camera lens is best for your needs. If you want to explore other options, check out used lenses at a fraction of the cost. With a little research, you’re sure to find the perfect lens to kickstart your photography journey. And don’t forget, practice makes perfect! So get out there and start shooting.