Choosing Lenses for DSLR Cameras

Choosing Lenses: A Potentially Expensive Venture








Choosing Lenses

  • Your camera body will change with every new update from your favorite manufacturer. If you owned camera X yesterday, it probably was superseded by camera Y flaunting irresistible improved features. You have to buy it.
  • But, what will you attach to the business end of that new camera. If you are typical, you are tempted by all kinds of lenses with all kinds of capabilities. They all cost money and some cost a fortune. The question you must ask yourself is which lenses do I really NEED for what I like to photograph.
  • There are “Prime Lenses” and “Zoom Lenses”. So many lenses…so little money!

How do you choose? Some facts may help you:

    1. Prime lenses are great, but how many can you afford and how many do you want to carry around with you?
    1. Zoom lenses are great, but they can weigh a ton. They also can eliminate the need for many prime lenses in your bag. Ask yourself, if I can only carry one lens, what would it be?
    1. Zoom lenses used to produce lower quality images. That’s not necessarily true today. The are fine lenses that produce good sharp photos.
    1. Are there rules one should follow?
  • a. Know your budget.
  • b. Consider used lenses, but remember that they won’t necessarily give you better bargains.
  • c. Kit lenses are usually cheaper…but, not as good.
  • d. You buy the glass for life and the body until the next one comes out.
  • e. Buy the best glass you can afford. “L”I s better than “S”
  • f. Know your needs and buy glass that fits. What focal lengths do you require?
  • g. Pick your camera brand carefully, because you’re going to be stuck with your choice when you add accessories.
  • h. Consider third party lenses as today’s best bargain in many cases. The old story that they produced poorer quality images is no longer true.
  • i. If you buy prime lenses, plan on zooming with your feet.
  • j. Prime lenses give you larger apertures with which to control bokeh (depth of field). If that’s important to you, you will want some prime lenses.
  • k. Know what your lens will be able to do.
  • l. Know what camera specs you prefer. If you like full frame camera sensors, don’t buy digital only lenses. They won’t fit. If you buy glass that is digital only, you can only use that lens on less-than full sized sensors. APS-C or smaller. On the other hand, if you buy lenses that work on full frame cameras, you can generally use them on small sensor models. Example: If it works on your 5D Mark II or III or 6D (new) it will work on your 7D, 20D or Rebel camera body. The kit lens that comes with your Rebel probably will NOT work on the full frame alternatives.
  • 5. Buy what meets your needs in magnification:
  • a. Prime – perhaps one good macro lens for closeups and portraits.
  • b. Telephoto – if you shoot animals, like birds or wildlife.
  • c. Zoom – to fill a variety of needs and carry a minimum of choices with you.
  • 6. Know how your lens works:
  • a. Prime lenses don’t zoom so you have to.
  • b. Telephoto lenses can be heavy, costly, and limited in application. Owning a $10K 600mm telephoto lens is impressive unless you realize that you have rare or no use for it.
  • c. Zoom lenses are flexible in capability, but lack large apertures in many cases. The more you zoom the smaller your maximum aperture often becomes…Example:
    1. 280mm-300mm: f/3.5 – 5.6
    1. 240mm-105mm: f/4.0———
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