DSLR lens buying guide 2015
Saving up for your first DSLR camera is an exciting time. You are all ready to get out there and start taking some great photographs and yet when the time comes to taking home your new shiny gadget often a sense of anti-climax appears. Many consumer level digital cameras come with a ‘kit lens’ its a standard piece of kit which gets you and and running however it lacks the degree of zoom that your average compact camera has and for many people this is a huge disappointment.
As photographers we are spoilt these days as even your trusty camera phone with Instagram installed can produce stunning results. Moving onto a compact or hybrid camera and you find yourself in control of some truly amazing zoom lenses which we now take for granted and so when you move onto your DSLR which you believe to be an upgrade the ‘lack of powerful zoom’ you may have been expecting cuts deep. For many people this results in an immediate knee-jerk reaction of a quick dash to the local camera shop to invest in another lens – which one? well this is where the worry creeps in.
Why are camera shops so scary?
There seems to be some unwritten rule that camera and photography shops have to be intimidating places – you might as well leave all of your dignity at the entrance as when you enter some of these places your lose all sense of self-worth. When it comes to photographers we seem to like nothing better than lots of complicated jargon, numbers and big, bulky kit. The key here is try not to be intimidated and a little preplanning can go a very long way.
I would suggest that your choice of new lens is based upon a number of criteria:
- Your budget
- The type of images that you are looking to shoot
- How much weight you are willing to carry about
- How often you are willing to change lenses
- Where and when are you shooting / indoors, outdoors, night or day
I strongly recommend that before you go out and invest some money that you surround yourself with images and look at as many photographs as you can find. try to create a small portfolio of images that you like and see if there are any similarities between how they have been shot – by careful attention to:
- How close the photographer was to their subject
- How wide the field of vision is
- How broad or shallow the depth of field is
All of the above criteria will start to influence your next choice of lens.
In my experience most new photographers tend to look for the single lens with the biggest range of zoom so that they don’t have to continually be changing lenses. The problem with this approach is that in my experience one tool that is deigned to undertake the role of many tools rarely does any one job really well. By this I mean that you are likely to be sacrificing something (often quality) for convenience. This is not to say that this is the wrong approach if convenenience is the most critical so – when I go on holiday this is for more a crucial factor and I am willing to sacrifice a little quality for ease of transporting.
So what is in my photography kit bag!
For what it is worth my primary lenses are:
- 24-70mm 2.8
- 70-200mm 2.8
- 16-35mm 2.8
- 50mm 1.4
- 85mm 1.2
- 400mm 2.8
- 1.4 converter
This is a fairly weighty collection and not one that I am suggesting you should run out and replicate – this is a collection that has been built up over time and meets all of my needs. I know many wedding photographers who shoot only with a 50mm prime lens and this helps to create recognisable look in their work.
The Outcome – so what do I suggest!
When it comes down to it recognise that most professional photographers do not walk around with a huge range of focal lengths, I would say somewhere in the range of 18-200mm. Having big apertures is a great advantage when shooting indoors or at night so availability of a 50mm prime is cost effective way of adding this capability.
In summary when starting out a good range of lenses would be something similar to:
With this selection you would be able to cover most subjects and situations.
For more information why not come along to our beginners photography courses which are run in Chelmsford, St Albans, Cambridge and Maidstone.