So, you've been working with that entry-level DSLR and your kit lenses for a long time now. You've taken advantage of all the great learning resources here on PhotographyTalk and you're taking spectacular photos. In fact, you've pushed the boundaries of your current gear about as far as you can and it's time to see the difference better lenses can make. Unfortunately, the kids still have to eat, so dishing out the funds for those awesome pro-series lenses isn't easy.
For those talented photographers with tighter budgets, top-shelf gear doesn't have to be completely out of reach. It just takes a little bit of smart shopping with a reputable dealer in used and refurbished gear. As always, we've been doing the legwork for you and we're going to list a few great buys from dealers you can trust. Take a look at these examples:
Canon EF 135mm f2 L USM Lens
This is one of Canon's best rated prime lenses, great for portraits or street photography. It's equivalent to about 215mm on a Canon APS-C DSLR. With a max aperture of f/2, you'll get great low-light performance and awesome bokeh along with smooth, quiet AF. It's less than $800! Take a look here.
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM Lens
How about an L-series wide-angle zoom? With an equivalent range of 25mm – 55mm on your APS-C camera, great speed at f/2.8, and fast, ultra-quiet AF, this one may just become your favorite walk-around lens. There are 4 available right now, for right around $1,000. Choose one here.
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f2.8 D ED IF Lens
Okay Nikon shooters, here's a ED lens that will give you an equivalent focal length of about 25mm to 53mm on your DX format camera. Internal focusing and a 10.8” minimum focusing distance lets you get in nice and tight. This one is complete with a hard case and you can grab it for about 1/3 of what you'd expect to pay. Check it out here.
Nikon AF DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2D
Let's take a look at a refurbished lens. This one's a gorgeous, fast, prime portrait lens with an added feature: a defocus image control lets you control spherical aberration, shifting it toward rear or front elements. It's compatible with both DX and FX format DSLRs, so you can still use it when you go full-frame. It's just like brand-new, but not nearly as pricey. See the details here.
There's much more out there in the way of good used and expertly refurbished lenses and . There's more than enough available for Sony, Olympus and more, as well as great buys on used third-party lenses. As these examples show, a little bit of time invested in shopping can get you working with better glass at a price that fits within your budget. What's more, by shopping with reputable online retailers like Roberts Camera and Used Photo Pro, your satisfaction is guaranteed! There's no need to wait any longer to step up to better lenses.