Posts Tagged ‘Buying Lenses’

Shopping Tips for Buying a New DSLR Camera

Tips for Buying the Right Lenses

When shopping for a new camera, it is important to ask yourself: What am I likely to photograph? People and Pets? Landscapes? Closeups of plants and bugs?

You’re probably wondering, why is what you’re photographing so important when buying a camera? These questions aren’t so much to do with what type of camera you need, but what kind of lens you should buy. Camera stores and Big Box stores will often try to sell you both the camera and lens together, for a discounted price. It will seem like a really good deal, but take my word for it, that will be the first lens you’ll replace. We call this type of lens a “kit lens”.

The biggest issue with a kit lens is that the aperture doesn’t go wide enough. Usually they will only go to f/3.5 and f/5.6 at their lowest, where as a quality lens can go down to f/2.8 in a zoom lens, or even lower (down to f/1.4 or f/1.2 for a prime lens). Why is being able to go down to a low f/stop important? If your plan is to shoot indoors this will be essential for you. It is impossible to capture images properly, in low light, without your f/stop being low (f/2.8) unless you are using flash. It is also impossible to get a nice shallow depth of field without a low f/stop. For example, When you see a photo of children sitting in front of a christmas tree, with the lights blurred in the background, this can not be done without your aperture setting at f/2.8.

Low aperture blurred lights in backgroundlow aperture low light

You will also need to decide if you want a Prime or Zoom Lens. Prime lenses have only one focal length, however, they can be purchased in a variety of lengths that can include wide angles through to the longer telephoto ones. A Zoom lens has a range of focal lengths available within one lens. On the surface, it would seem that a “good” zoom lens would be the way to go. Prime lenses are “better glass” and better quality than zoom lenses at the focal length they are fixed at. This is the portrait photographer’s big debate and many use a variety or both. So, if you ask yourself from the beginning what you will most likely be shooting, the answer becomes specific. A macro prime lens is excellent for up close photographs. A prime lens at 50mm or 85mm is perfect for portraits of people. A prime lens of 55mm or 35 mm or a 24-70 zoom lens may be the way to go for someone who loves photographing nature. Photographing birds or animals from far away you may like a 300mm lens. Most wedding photographers would never part from their 200 mm lens or their 70-200 f/2.8 aperture zoom lens. That said, if you go from shooting landscapes to close ups of plants, you will need to switch out your lens- are you up for that? If you care less about being able to photograph without flash and having a shallow depth of field then perhaps a kit lens is okay for you. If you are going on a vacation to Italy and want a lens that can “do it all” (though not as well) then getting a lens that zooms from wide (24mm to close up… 200mm) may actually make sense for you.

Lenses investing in lenses buying lenses

The best advice we can give you, when buying a camera, is to focus on the lens. Camera bodies get upgraded many times over the years, but over ten years of photographing I have never replaced a lens. So, figure out what you’ll be photographing and buy yourself the right lens from the beginning!