Buying Your First Camera Lenses

Before you set out to buy lenses it is well worth taking time to think carefully about the type of photos you plan to take. This is because the type of you are interested in will have an impact on the type of lenses that best suit your requirements.

A lens has a major impact on both the overall quality of your photos and what creative affects you can add. Therefore buying a lens is one of the important photography purchasing decisions you can make. You may even find that you want to adjust your budget to spend less on the camera body and more on a good quality lens or two.

Key points to consider when buying a lens include the focal length range and the maximum aperture size. The focal length will help determine how close you need to be to your subject when you take a picture. The aperture size will control some of the more creative aspects of your photography.

Another point to think about is whether you want a lens you can zoom in with or one with a fixed lens that does not zoom in and out.

camera lenses

Digital SLR Kits

If this is your first venture into the world of Digital SLRs then the likelihood is you will not have a camera body or any lenses. If this is the case then I would look out for an offer that includes a Digital SLR and at least one if not two lenses. This is known as buying a kit with the camera and lens or lenses all coming as part of the package. Be aware that camera bodies can be brought separately, so if you want to buy a kit then you need to make sure that is what you are buying.

What Kit Lenses Come as Standard

A basic kit will include one lens. This is normally a wide angle lens with a focal length of around 18 - 55mm. Wide angle lenses are most suited to landscapes and cityscapes.

Kits are often also available with two lenses. This type of kit typically gives you access to a telephoto lens as well. This gives you a lot of extra flexibility and greatly increases the range of photos you can take.

Kit Lens Quality

Nobody is going to pretend that the quality of the lenses you get when you buy a kit will be the best you can buy. They are a good way of getting started though, especially if you don't have endless supplies of cash. When you buy a Digital SLR kit the addition of the lenses does not add a great deal to the cost of the camera body. This makes buying a kit good value for money.

Adding Other Lenses

Whether or not you need to buy any other lenses immediately will depend on the type of photos you are planning to take. For example if you are looking to photograph insects or something similar then a macro lens is the best way to get sharp close up shots. Even then there are other options if you are on a tight budget.

If you see yourself as a budding sports or wildlife photographer then it is unlikely the telephoto lens supplied with the kit will give you enough zoom power. Therefore to get the best results you will need to consider a longer telephoto lens.

Getting the Best Deals

It is well worth planning your lens requirements before you buy your Digital SLR. That way even if the lenses you require do not come in a kit you may still be able to strike a good deal when you buy. It is worth keeping an eye open for special deals as well, as these are available from time to time.

Deals can be tempting. Only take up a deal if you can be sure the type of lens being offered fits in with the type of photos you are planning to take. The fact that a store is offering a deal shows that they are trying to shift a particular camera body. Therefore it may be well worth enquiring to see if they will change the lens or lenses they are offering to match your requirements more closely.

Related Pages

Camera Lens Introduction
Buying Your First Lens
Camera Lens Types
Camera Lens Brands
Buying Second Hand Lenses
Lens Sharpness
Digital SLR Crop Factor
Caring For Your Camera Lens
Common Lens Faults
Camera Lens FAQs

Aperture Basics

When you look at lens specifications you will notice a lens will have a minimum and a maximum lens aperture. Usually they are different, but on some lenses the aperture has the same minimum and maximum size. Having the same minimum and maximum size means the aperture size is fixed and cannot be adjusted.

Larger apertures let in more light. For example a camera with an aperture of f/1.2 has a much larger aperture than one with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. As larger apertures let in more light they are very useful if you are planning on a lot of lowlight photography.

Lenses with larger apertures tend to be more expensive. This is especially true for cameras with longer focal lengths. So if you are on a budget, but would like a lens with a large aperture for lowlight photography look out for ones with a short focal length. These are a good bet as long as you can get close in to your subject.

Focal Length Basics

Unless you are planning to cover subjects such as wildlife, sport or close up subjects, most photo opportunities can be covered by a 70 - 200mm lens. This is a common focal length for a second lens in any Digital SLR kit.

If you have an interest in subjects such as sports and wildlife a 200mm focal length is usually the absolute minimum requirement. Depending on how close you can get to your subject you may need lenses with a focal length of 400mm, 500mm or even longer. An option for increasing the focal length of your current lens without radically increasing the size and weight or paying out the full cost of a new lens is to buy a tele converter.

Wide angle photo opportunities include landscape scenes, wide buildings, interiors and groups of people. The 18mm - 55mm standard kit lens is a good starting point, but if you wish to get serious about wide angle photography 12mm and 14mm lenses coupled with Full Frame Digital SLRs are the order of the day.

For family portraits focal lengths of between 85mm and 150mm get the job done. So unless you want to increase quality and get a more specialised lens, a 70 - 200mm lens will cover standard portrait shots.

Candid or street photography is also well catered for by a 70 - 200mm lens. The issue here is that a lot of photographers are more comfortable with lenses that are a smaller size so that they are less likely to be noticed when they are taking pictures. Many opt for shorter focal lengths of 50mm and 85mm. The shorter focal length also gives your photos a different perspective than the longer zoom of the 70 - 200mm. The perspective from the shorter focal lengths is more in line with what people may consider to be classic street photography. In the end your choice of focal length may depend on how comfortable you feel about getting up close to your subjects.

Buying Second Hand

The first lenses I ever bought were second hand. If you can find the right equipment at the right price then I believe it is an excellent way to save money. Second hand equipment is often available in near mint condition.