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It’s not like there isn’t a giant selection of lenses for virtually every camera system on the market today. That’s just a perk of being a photographer in 2019!
But some lenses are more important to have than others…
In this post, I outline three lenses every beginner photographer should have in their camera bag.
Let’s see if your kit ticks all the boxes!
Upgrade your lens collection without spending tons of money. Search for used lenses now.
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When you bought your camera, the chances are that it came with a standard zoom lens, like an 18-55mm kit lens.
These lenses aren’t usually dripping with features or build quality, but they’re a good starting point for beginners because they come with the camera, thus you can avoid the expense of buying a lens, at least initially.
The zoom range is sufficient for experimenting with everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-up portraits, so it’s nice for getting your feet wet with varying types of photography.
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Likewise, these kit lenses are good all-around lenses, so when you’re traveling, you can use just this one lens to capture photos.
The downside of kit lenses is that they typically do not have good low-light performance, thanks to a maximum aperture that might only be in the range of f/3.5-5.6.
That means that if you want better performance in low-light situations, you’ll need to upgrade.
Lenses Every Photographer Should Have: A Good Prime Lens
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Unlike zooms, prime lenses have a fixed focal length. Common focal lengths for prime lenses include 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm, though there are a plethora of other options available.
What’s nice about prime lenses is that they are ultimately sharp. That’s thanks to their construction, which includes far fewer lens elements than a zoom lens, and the fewer elements light has to pass through, the sharper the resulting images will be.
Many prime lenses also have huge maximum apertures, like f/1.2, f/1.4, and f/1.8. Lenses with f/1.2 and f/1.4 apertures are often quite spendy - unless you buy one used - but there are plenty of f/1.8 lenses out there that are quite affordable, even brand new.
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Personally, I don’t think there’s a better beginner photography lens than a 50mm f/1.8.
It’s a versatile focal length that can be used for portraits, landscapes, street photography, and just about everything in between. Many 50mm f/1.8 lenses are great for video, and if you really want to get creative you can often reverse-mount the lens and use it for macro work as well.
That’s why these lenses are so great - their sheer versatility allows you to try new things in photography and expand your skill set.
What’s not to like about that?!
Ready to add a 50mm lens to your camera bag? Find a 50mm prime that works with your camera.
Lenses Every Photographer Should Have: A Telephoto Zoom
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As your skills advance and you need to add yet another lens to your kit, a telephoto zoom is the next logical choice.
A telephoto zoom extends your abilities as a photographer because it picks up where a standard zoom leaves off.
With the extreme reach of a telephoto zoom lens, you can get closer to the action without having to physically move closer. That’s advantageous for everything from photographing wildlife to sporting events.
Many telephoto zooms are hugely expensive, so budget-minded photographers should opt for a budget-friendly telephoto zoom like a 55-250mm lens or perhaps a 70-300mm lens.
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Many different manufacturers make zooms like these that have a massive focal length range. Don’t expect superb optical quality, though.
Budget telephoto zooms are not going to match a prime lens in the sharpness department, that’s for sure. Having said that, many budget zooms offer perfectly fine performance for the money.
Regardless of what lenses you elect to add to your kit, do your due diligence, read reviews from buyers, and only buy when you’re sure you’ve got the best lens for you nailed down.
The lenses you use are the most important gear in your bag, so the more time you spend researching and learning about possible lenses, the better off you’ll be.