Kristi Camara is a photographer and social media freelancer with a passion for rescue dogs, ice cream and all things creative. Follow her on Instagram. She was also an awesome photo intern at Fracture.
So you’ve bought a DSLR, and you’re trying to figure out what lenses you should invest in first. I say “invest” because I consider lens purchases to be an investment. Whether or not you’re making money off of your photography, you’re investing in advancing your craft, regardless of whether it’s a hobby or a passion.
Lens shopping doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Sure, there are plenty of options, but so long as you have an understanding of what kind of photography you want to expand into, your choices should narrow significantly. To help you out, below is a list of four lenses I recommend to start growing your photography arsenal.
1. Kit Lens, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
If you bought your camera in a bundle and it came with a kit lens, then you already have one down! Kit lenses truly do not get enough credit. They’re awesome for getting started because they can act as several lenses in one, roughly covering the basics in photography. The versatility of a kit lens is great because if you’re a beginner, you’ll have no problem shooting landscape photos zoomed all the way out and making portraits way in, all without swapping lenses. The prices of kit lenses vary based on the camera brand you’re purchasing. But, they’re usually some of the most inexpensive starter lenses available.
While it’s a great lens to start experimenting with, the standard kit lens does have one slight drawback that you’ll find with many lenses. Because the f-stop is a range and is not fixed, the depth of field is limited. This means that if you zoom in all the way, your aperture will automatically adjust from f/3.5 to f/5.6 and allow less light to enter the lens as a result. No need to worry though, you can compensate with a higher ISO or lower shutter speed.
2. Telephoto Zoom, 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6
This lens can get to be a bit pricier, but the range you’ll have access to zoom through is remarkable. If you’re a parent looking to take action photos from the bleachers of your child’s baseball game, or if you close-up photos of the animals at the zoo, this is the lens you’re looking for.
Because this lens also has an f-stop range of f/4.0-5.6 and is not fixed, you will lose the capability to allow more light into the lens when you zoom in closer. If you’re looking for a wider range of zoom and don’t want to lose any depth or light, there are great telephoto zoom lenses with a fixed f-stop. Some examples of these include the 18-200mm f/2.8 lens. The upgrade in glass won’t come without a hefty price tag though. Depending on the quality, these lenses can be anywhere from $400 to over $1,000.
3. Wide Angle, 10-18 or 24mm, f/4.5-5.6
If you find yourself shooting outdoors frequently and want to get as much of the view in your frame as possible, the width of a kit lens’ focal range just won’t cut it. These lenses are great for landscape and architectural photography, and work especially well for taking large group portraits.
4. My personal favorite, the Nifty Fifty: 50mm f/1.8
This lens is by far my least expensive, but also the one I use the most frequently. Although the 50mm lacks the ability to zoom in or out due to its fixed focal length, it allows for beautiful depth to achieve that blurry, dream-like background. The images you take will be sharper and crisper than those taken with your kit lens. This lens works surprisingly well in low light and the its compact size makes it easy to travel with. Especially for portraits, this lens is definitely my go-to!
You’d be surprised at the different kinds of images one camera can take with a set of different lenses. Despite this, know that while the lenses may make the camera, the camera doesn’t make the photographer. Photography is all about your eye, style and how you combine them.