Deciding on which camera lens you are going to buy first is a personal preference, but a lot of factors should go into your decision. Depending on what you are shooting will determine which lenses to have in your bag. Are you a nature photographer? Sports photographer? Portrait photographer? Just a Mom photographer (which is awesome!)?
First point: there is not a one size fits all lens for anyone. What you shoot the majority of the time will help you pick a lens that will showcase your vision. Here are a few pointers:
1. Focal Length
The focal length of your lens really just determines how ‘zoomed in’ your photos are; the higher the number, the more zoomed your lens will be. For example, a 200mm lens will zoom in closer than a 50mm lens.
Lenses with focal lengths less than 50mm are referred to as wide-angles lenses because they offer a wider view. Lenses with focal lengths greater than 70mm are known as telephoto lenses, and these offer a much narrower view.
Here are the "types" of focal ranges, (I will post the name and examples from Amazon, so you can see what they look like):
Ultra-Wide (12-24mm) or the 8mm Fish Eye!: Ultra wide angle lenses are often used in event and architectural photography for getting a lot into a photo when shooting in a confined space. It's like putting yourself inside the middle of the picture. It will look a bit unnatural and distorted.
Wide Angle (24-35mm) to Standard (24-70) : Your standard camera kits may come with a lens starting w/a 24mm. The Canon 5dMarkII came with a 24-105mm lens. 24mm is the point at which the distortion disappears from the Ultra lens or Fish Eye lens, and makes things look more natural. My go to lens is my Canon 24-70mm. It gives me the right amount of zoom and close up that I am looking for.
Mild Telephoto (70-105mm) to Telephoto (70-300+mm): My go to lens to shoot from far away is the Canon 70-200mm lens! I even use it for my 100mm headshots!! (the sweet spot!). Lenses in this range are often used for distant scenes such as buildings, or mountains. They’re not suitable for landscapes because of the way that they flatten the perspective of a scene (grab one of the wider angle lenses). Lenses in a range higher than this are mostly used for sport and animal photography. Be ready to grab a monopod because these suckers get heavy!
2. Do you want a PRIME or ZOOM Lens?
The next thing to consider would be do you want a prime lens or a zoom lens? A Prime lens, is a lens where the focal length is fixed. The best quality and sharpness will be found in a prime lens. Most people start with a 50mm fixed, prime lens (the f/1.8 costs under $150). YOU are the zoom with prime lenses! You get closer and farther away from your subject by moving your body closer to further away from the subject.
A zoom lens is a lens that the focal length can be varied. You may sacrifice some sharpness, but the versatility is amazing. Zoom lenses usually have a focal length range and can go from wide angle to telephoto in one lens (see descriptions above). Some popular zooms lenses are the 24-70mm lens, and the 70-200mm.
This is VERY important when you go to upgrade your camera lens. You can spend anywhere from $120-$1000+ for lenses. Start slow and add the items that make the most sense for you! The more you spend the better the "glass" inside, but sometimes just because the "glass" is better or more expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's going to give you better quality (see this great article from SLR-lounge). However, you may not be shooting for billboards, or magazines, so choose the lens that is right for you and your budget. Add on more lenses as you and your business or hobby grows.
Which lenses do you have?
Which one is your GO-TO lens?
Which one are you saving for?
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