Camera Lenses Explained: 3 Tips to Finding the Perfect Lens

by | Technical, Top Tips


What Camera Lenses to Buy

People ask me all of the time, “What lens should I use for…?” The camera lenses you should use for portraits is different from what lens you would use for landscapes; they are all different. Today I am going to break down lenses for you and hopefully give you a better idea of what lens to use when!

Ditch the Kit Lens

When you buy a DSLR camera, it usually comes with a kit lens, probably the standard 18-55mm lens. This lens is fine if you are a beginning photographer, but if you are getting a bit more serious, you will quickly outgrow this lens. 

One thing to remember when you are ready to ditch that kit lens and move onto the next is to do your research. Not all lenses are compatible with all cameras. There are differences between prime lenses and zoom lenses-I get into that below-and keep in mind the cost of the lens. Some lenses can be more expensive than your camera body. If you walk away learning anything from this, let it be to do your research before buying a new camera lens! So, let’s break it down!

Prime vs. Zoom

Prime lenses, or fixed focal, are my favorite. They are great for portraits, create fantastic bokeh because they can shoot wide open aperture-f1.8, f1.8, and you get a sharper quality then other lenses.

The upside to a prime lens is that they are lighter and usually less expensive than a prime lens and I feel push my photography as I have to think about every shot and where I need to be.

The downside is that you gotta move. Unlike a zoom, you have to move your feet to get closer to your subject and back up to get further away. Be aware of this as you can easily find yourself shoved in a corner with this one. You may also need more than one lens to capture all of the images you’d like.  

Your kit camera lenses are more than likely a zoom lens. Zoom camera lenses are great for large groups, weddings, and sports photography.  The upside to a zoom lens is that you usually only need one lens with you and you can capture those memories faster, all you have to do is zoom in versus moving your feet. You also will retain image quality as you can zoom to crop image versus cropping in post-processing.  

Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into what lens is best for what situation. I have listed some great lenses below, both Canon and Nikon, prime and zoom, and all price ranges.  

The Lens List

Portrait Lenses

These lenses are great for portraits and indoor photography.

Canon EF 50mm f1.8

Canon EF 50mm f1.4

Nikon AF 50mm f1.8

Canon EF 85mm f1.8

Nikon AF 85mm f 1.4

Lenses for Weddings, Sports, or Portraits From a Distance

Macro Lenses

Zoom Lenses

I hope that I’ve given you somewhere to start on your search for camera lenses.  Remember that you can rent a lens from most camera shops to ensure that it’s what you’re looking for, and remember once you have your new lens, knowing how to choose your aperture is key. You can learn how to do that here. Have fun and use this information to finally graduate from your kit lens!

Learn how to use manual mode and take control of your camera so that you can create the amazing images that you’ve always imagined with the Manual Mode Essentials Ebook!

Lifestyle Photographer & Mentor

Hi, I’m Dena, a natural light lifestyle photographer with 20+ years of experience capturing other people’s memories and teaching photographers how to understand and easily use their cameras.

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