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There are so many beginner photography lenses, and all in vastly different price ranges. Are the best lenses really the most expensive ones? Do you need the best lenses in order to learn as much as possible about photography?
All of these questions may leave beginner photographers wondering whether photography is really only a hobby for the rich, which is truly disappointing because photography should be accessible to everyone.
So, I compiled a list of the best lenses for beginner photographers at a wide range of prices so the best lenses are available to all.
Firstly, you’ll definitely need a prime lens, even if you don’t purchase any of the other types of lenses on this list.
A prime lens is the first choice of many photographers, because as you’ll see below, you can capture a wide range of subjects so you can try different photography niches before buying more specialized equipment.
Likewise, many prime lenses are small, lightweight, and in the case of 50mm f/1.8 lenses, they’re also cheap.
These are the best beginner prime lenses for Canon, Nikon and Sony.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 a low-cost prime lens for all of your Canon DSLRs. A lens with an aperture of f/1.8 is going to function really well in low light shooting, which is why this is one of the best lenses for beginner photographers on my list.
It’s a really lightweight lens, weighing in at under 6 oz. It’s also compact thanks to the updated design on the focus ring.
It features a minimum focusing distance of 1.15 ft., which is more than enough for anyone other than macro photographers.
Finally, it features a 7-blade circular aperture which will allow you to play around with incredibly soft backgrounds and bokeh.
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 is available for as low as $75 on Gear Focus.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8D
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is one of our best lenses because it shoots in low light well, just like the Canon prime lens, it weighs just 5.5 oz, and if you purchase a new one, then it comes with a 5-year warranty directly from Nikon.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is available on the cheap new. While there are currently no Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lenses listed on Gear Focus, make sure you check for yourself because they rotate through hundreds of used products each week that can save you a ton.
Sony 50mm f/1.8DT
The Sony 50mm f/1.8DT is known for its smooth autofocus motor and short minimum focusing distance of 13 inches, making it one of the best lenses for any Sony shooter.
It also features a seven-blade circular diaphragm for smooth bokeh and will shoot well in the middle of the day or at dusk/dawn.
It weighs around 6 oz and will fit in your pocket.
The Sony 50mm f/1.8DT is available for less than $200 new. Again, this lens isn’t currently available used on Gear Focus, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any by the time you’re reading this article. It’s well worth a look.
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photo by Nikolay Chekalin via iStock
Now that you have your best beginner prime lens picked out, you’ll need to be shopping for the best beginner wide-angle lens.
Wide-angle lenses are used for landscapes or cityscapes, as well as architecture photography and any other photography types where you need to capture a large scene.
However, wide-angle lenses take more know-how. We wrote an article all about learning how to use wide-angle lenses a while back, and you can read it here.
But, once you feel you’re ready, come back and purchase one of these best lenses for wide-angles.
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM tops our list of the best lenses for wide-angle shooters because it weighs just 4.4 oz while packing a punch. This lens comes with a full-time manual focus so you can grow into this lens as you grow as a photographer.
It also features a minimum shooting distance of 6 inches and shoots incredibly quietly.
Now, this Canon lens is available for $130 new, or you can search Gear Focus to find a cheaper version.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX
The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX also features almost silent autofocus in an itty bitty body. This lens is known for creating photos that have incredibly realistic colors, as well as photos that are sharp.
But, the real kicker that makes this one of the best lenses around is that it creates images that look as if they were taken with a human eye. This allows photographers to accurately capture exactly what they hoped to in their imaginations.
photo by TommL via iStock
Alright, now that you have both your best beginner prime lens and your best beginner wide-angle lens picked out, it’s finally time to go shopping for the best beginner zoom lens.
Zoom lenses allow you to use different focal lengths with one lens and are especially useful for photojournalism and events, since you can’t always get closer to the action with your feet.
Also, if you travel frequently, a zoom lens will allow you to cover multiple focal lengths at once.
Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD
The Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD is great because there are different versions for Canon, Nikon, and other popular camera brands.
This lens features a minimum focusing distance of 37 inches and can be used as an ultra-telephoto lens.
This lens is also incredibly fun because you can use it with DSLRs and old school film cameras, so you’re never limited to a specific camera.
Depending on the camera fit, the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD can be found for $140 or less. But, make sure you check Gear Focus as well since they specialize in used camera gear.
Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT
The Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT is one of the best lenses for beginner photographers because of its versatility.
It weighs a bit more than other lenses on this list at 11 oz, but if you use a zoom lens to replace your other lenses on long trips, you’re really saving yourself in the long run.
It features 9-rounded diaphragm blades for a smooth background and a minimum focus distance of just 37 inches.
The Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT is around $200 new and comes with a 1-year warranty from Sony.
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6
This Canon is the last zoom lens on our best lenses for beginner photographers list.
It features an incredibly wide field of view (32 degrees) to capture everything in sight. It performs well in low light situations and uses a DC motor instead of a USM to create quieter autofocus.
You can purchase a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 for $200 on Gear Focus.