Which lens to buy first?
I bought my first camera, but I don’t know which lens to choose. With so many different options, how do I choose? The answer to the question of which lens to buy first is surprisingly simple.
The best first lens for a beginner to buy is the camera kit lens. For many entry-level cameras, this lens will be 18-55mm. With its moderate zoom range and affordable price, this is by far the most versatile kit lens for beginners.
As you progress, you will want to expand your equipment beyond the kit lens. Use this guide to help you decide which lens to purchase first.
Best Lenses For Beginners 2022
There are many lenses that are considered “good” for beginners, but that does not necessarily mean they are the perfect fit for you. Before deciding which lens is best for you, first consider what kind of photography you are interested in.
If you are a complete beginner, you may have no idea what kind of pictures you want to take. You want to photograph everything and see where you stand. This is how many people, myself included, start out: getting an idea of different genres before sticking to one.
The philosophy I like to use when considering beginner goals is which ones are the most versatile. Especially if you are an amateur, you want to have one lens that can capture everything.
What is the most cost-effective while still being able to take the pictures that you have in mind? Let’s take a look at some lens suggestions.
Best Lenses For Beginners | Comparison Table 2022
5-Star Picks | Great Prices | High Quality
|Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed||Canon||Check Price|
|Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras||Nikon||Check Price|
|Voigtlander Nokton Vintage Line 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II VM Multi-Coated Lens, Black||Voigtlander||Check Price|
|Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens for Canon SLR Cameras||Sigma||Check Price|
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLRs||Canon||Check Price|
|Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon||Sigma||Check Price|
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L is II USM Lens (9524B002) with Professional Bundle Package Kit for Canon EOS Includes: DSLR Sling Backpack, 9PC Filter Kit, Sandisk 64GB Extreme SD Card + More||Canon||Check Price|
|Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras||Nikon||Check Price|
|Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras, Lens Only||Canon||Check Price|
Best Lenses For Beginners | Reviews 2022
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens is a high-performance lens designed for use with Canon SLR cameras. With a fixed focal length of 85mm and a maximum aperture of f/1.8, this lens is well-suited for portraits and other applications that require a natural angle of view and perspective.
One of the key features of this lens is its ring-type ultrasonic monitor (USM) which enables the lens to quickly bring subjects into focus. This is especially useful for capturing fast-moving subjects or for situations where you need to quickly adjust focus. The closest focusing distance for this lens is 2.8 feet, allowing you to get up close to your subject while still maintaining a good working distance.
In terms of design, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens is built to produce beautiful background blur, and its compact size of 3 inches in diameter and 2.8 inches long makes it easy to handle and use. The lens weighs 15 ounces and comes with a 1-year warranty. Please refer to the user manual for troubleshooting steps. However, it is important to note that this lens is not zoomable.
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens is a high-performance, medium telephoto lens designed for use with Nikon's FX-format SLRs. With a fast f/1.4 aperture, this lens is ideal for portraits, low-light photography, and other applications that require a fast maximum aperture. The lens features a classic portrait design and offers an ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, which allows for shallow depth of field and selective focus.
One of the key features of this lens is the Nano Crystal Coat, which greatly reduces ghosting and flare. This coating is applied to the lens elements, and it helps to minimize the amount of light that is scattered by the lens, resulting in sharper, more contrast-rich images. Additionally, the lens has a 9-blade rounded aperture that produces a soft and pleasing blur characteristic.
In terms of focusing, the lens has a M/A Focus Mode Switch that enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation. The internal focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus, and the closest focusing distance is 0.85m. The lens is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both FX and DX cameras, which makes it a versatile option for all types of photography. Additionally, the lens is built with durable construction and has a long-lasting quality that professionals and enthusiasts can rely on.
The Voigtlander Nokton Vintage Line 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II VM Single-Coated Lens is a high-quality prime lens designed for use with rangefinder cameras. The lens offers a fast maximum aperture of f/1.5, which allows for low-light photography and shallow depth of field control. The lens has a new improved optical design that provides outstanding sharpness and clarity. The lens is small and compact, making it easy to carry and use.
One of the key features of this lens is its aperture design. The lens has a dozen aperture blades, which create a smooth and buttery bokeh. This is particularly useful for portraits and other photography where a pleasing background blur is desired. The lens also has a 43mm filter size, which makes it compatible with a wide range of filters.
The lens comes in three different vintage-style barrels, including Black Paint, Silver Paint, and a nostalgic 1930s design. Each barrel is available in two different coatings: Multi-Coating, which provides a modern look with a minimum of flare, or Single Coating, which creates a 1960s-style flare when shooting against the light. The Voigtlander Nokton Vintage Line 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II VM Single-Coated Lens is a versatile and high-performing lens that will appeal to both professionals and enthusiasts.
The Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens is a versatile and unique lens that is compatible with Canon SLR cameras. The diagonal fisheye design of the lens allows for a distorted scene to be shown in a full frame within the camera's field of view. This allows for creative and eye-catching images to be captured by taking advantage of acute perspectives that are not visible to the human eye.
The large F2.8 aperture of the lens makes it capable of handling any lighting situation, and the close focusing distance and extreme angle of view allow for fun and creative placement of subjects near the camera with distorted backgrounds. This lens is a great choice for wedding photographers looking to add an artistic touch to their images, as well as for underwater and scenic photographers looking to capture a maximum field of view.
The lens is made by Sigma, a company that has been in the business of designing and manufacturing imaging products since 1961. Sigma's dedication to its craft is evident in the quality of its products, and the 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens is no exception. The lens comes with a carrying case, front and rear caps, and a front adapter ring. It has a weight of 370 grams and dimensions of 73.5 x 69 millimeters.
The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR lens is a wide-angle zoom lens that is specifically designed for use with Canon EOS digital SLR cameras. This lens provides a focal length range of 10-22mm, which is equivalent to a 16-35mm zoom lens on a full-frame camera. This allows for ultra-wide-angle coverage, making it a great option for landscape, architectural, and interior photography.
The lens features a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-4.5, which allows for excellent performance in low-light conditions. The lens construction includes three aspherical lens elements and a Super-UD element, which work together to produce the high image quality and minimal distortion. The lens also features a ring-type USM, which allows for fast and silent autofocus, as well as full-time manual focus with the turn of a ring. Additionally, the lens has a close focusing distance of 9.5 inches, making it possible to fill the frame with subjects as small as 3.6 x 5.4 inches.
The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR lens is compatible with a wide range of Canon EOS digital SLR cameras, including the 7D Mark II, 7D, 80D, 77D, 70D, 60D, and Rebel series. The lens also features a circular aperture design, which produces natural highlights in images. The lens comes with a 1-year warranty, providing peace of mind for the users. Overall, this lens is a great option for photographers who want a versatile, wide-angle zoom lens for their EOS digital SLR camera.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon is a high-performance prime lens that is designed for professional photographers who want to achieve exceptional image quality. With a 50mm focal length and a maximum aperture of F1.4, this lens is ideal for portrait, landscape, studio, and street photography. On APS-C cameras, the lens has an equivalent focal length of 75mm, and on Canon APS-C cameras, the equivalent focal length is 80mm.
One of the key features of this lens is its ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing. This ensures that the lens can focus quickly, quietly, and accurately, making it ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects. Additionally, the lens has a minimum aperture of F16, which allows for great depth of field control and beautiful bokeh. With a minimum focusing distance of 40cm, the lens is also great for close-up photography.
Sigma is known for its exceptional lens design and manufacturing, and this lens is no exception. It features 13 elements in 8 groups, which provides unsurpassed performance even at wide apertures. It also features Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass and Super Multi-Layer coating, which ensures that the lens provides excellent image quality even in challenging lighting conditions. With a 77mm filter size, this lens can be paired with a variety of filters to further enhance its capabilities. Overall, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon is an exceptional standard prime lens that will help photographers achieve their vision.
The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM Lens and is a high-performance telephoto zoom lens that is perfect for sports and wildlife photography. Its compact construction and brilliant resolving power make it a great choice for photographers looking to capture high-quality images at long distances. The lens features a rotation-type zoom ring that allows for more precise composition and excellent balance when handholding. Additionally, the improved zoom torque adjustment ring allows for easy setting of zoom tension.
The lens also features new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) that helps to significantly reduce backlit flaring and ghosting. It is highly resistant to dust and water, making it durable enough to be used in harsh conditions. The lens also features a 9-blade circular aperture that renders beautiful, soft backgrounds, and a 3 mode (standard, panning and exposure only) Optical Image Stabilizer that provides up to 4 steps of image correction.
The inner focusing AF system of the lens helps ensure fast and accurate focus down to 3.2 ft. with a .31x maximum magnification.
The lens also features a redesigned tripod mount that can be attached and detached without removing the lens from the camera, and an all-new lens hood with a side window that makes it simple to adjust specialty filters, like polarizers, without the need to remove the hood. Overall, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM Lens is a high-quality and durable lens that offers advanced features and refined controls for a wide variety of situations.
The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens is a versatile telephoto zoom lens designed for Nikon digital SLR cameras. With a maximum focal length of 300mm, this lens is perfect for capturing distant subjects such as wildlife, sports, and landscapes. The lens features an internal focus (IF) system that provides fast and quiet autofocusing, and a minimum focus range of 4.9 feet.
This lens is also equipped with Vibration Reduction (VRII) technology which minimizes the effects of camera shake, allowing for sharper images even when shooting handheld. It also includes two Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements which deliver superior contrast and resolution performance, making it a great choice for both digital and 35mm photography. The Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast and quiet autofocusing, and the internal focus design ensures that the subject-working distance remains unchanged throughout the focus range.
This lens also features a non-rotating front element which is convenient for using circular polarizing filters and the Nikon Wireless Close-Up Speedlight System. Additionally, it has a nine-blade rounded diaphragm that helps make out-of-focus elements appear more natural. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens is a high-performance lens that provides a wide range of focal lengths, making it a great choice for a variety of shooting situations.
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens is a versatile wide-angle zoom lens designed for use with Canon DSLR cameras. With a focal length range of 17-55mm, this lens is capable of capturing a wide range of subjects, from landscapes to portraits. The lens features a large maximum aperture of f/2.8, which allows for a shallow depth of field and excellent low-light performance. The lens construction includes UD and aspherical elements, which deliver impressive image quality throughout the entire zoom range.
One of the key features of this lens is its image stabilization system, which compensates for camera shake and allows for sharp, clear images, even in dim lighting. The lens also features a ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM), inner focusing, and new AF algorithms for quick and quiet autofocus. Additionally, the lens offers full-time mechanical manual focusing, allowing for fine adjustments even in AF mode.
Measuring 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches long, and weighing 22.8 ounces, this lens is relatively compact and lightweight. It is also compatible with a range of Canon DSLR cameras, including the EOS 30D, EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel XT, and EOS Digital Rebel SLRs. Overall, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens is an excellent choice for photographers looking for a versatile, high-performance lens with a wide focal range and excellent image stabilization.
What to know before buying the Best Lenses For Beginners
Focal length, shutter speed, wide-angle... The field of photographic lenses has its own lexicon. To choose your lens without drowning in technical data, do a little clarification. First, you need to be familiar with the key terms.
It tells you the zoom capacity of your camera in millimeters (the distance between the optical center of the lens and the focal point).
For example, 18-55mm indicates that the camera can zoom to a maximum focal length of 55mm.
It designates the opening capacity of the diaphragm of your camera, adjustable according to the quantity of light desired.
Body type available on the SLR market. These cameras have a smaller sensor than full-frame cameras and are often less expensive. If your DSLR belongs to this category, make sure that the lens will be APS-C compatible!
Another name for the full-frame camera. It offers a wider viewing angle than APS-C.
Be also clear with your expectations vis-à-vis your objective:
- Is it suitable for your level? Some lenses have more features but are also more complex to master.
- What do you want to photograph? Portraiture and wildlife photography, for example, will not require the same type of lens.
- What budget do you want to put into your goal? Prices vary widely: from $70 to more than $3,000 for the most advanced lenses. Fortunately, you don't have to go very high in range to find a satisfactory objective!
A Wider Aperture
An aperture is a small hole in a lens, the size of which can be adjusted to change its effect on the image. A larger aperture increases the amount of light passing through the lens, resulting in a brighter image. However, a larger aperture also results in a shallower depth of field, making it more difficult to focus on a single shot.
For many photographers, the availability of a large aperture lens is always ideal. It is nice to have an option when you want to shoot in low-light situations or at night. Just because a lens has a fast aperture doesn't mean you have to use it.
Ideally, the aperture of a lens should be the same at all focal lengths. Most beginner camera lenses have a maximum aperture of f/4-5.6. This means that when the lens is at its longest focal length, an f/4 aperture can be used. However, when you start zooming in, the maximum aperture is f/5.6.
For many photographers, this is a major problem in determining whether a lens is good or bad. If you have to change your camera settings because you zoomed the lens, it can quickly become a hassle. But to begin with, variable aperture lenses are by far the least expensive lenses, not the ones that cost thousands of dollars.
Image stabilization is a feature of the lens that allows the camera to maintain a sharp image even at slow shutter speeds. When shooting hand-held, the camera is constantly moving when the shutter release button is pressed. If the shutter speed is too slow, this movement can cause blurring. With IS (Image Stabilization), however, this movement can be canceled out and the picture will not be blurred.
This does not mean that any shutter speed can be used while using IS, but it does provide a little more freedom than without IS. Image stabilization technology is also found in many camera bodies and lenses. With both, you have an unstoppable and stable Hercules. The better the image stabilization, the more expensive a lens with IS will fetch than one without. IS is also a major factor in determining whether a lens is good or bad, especially since it plays an important role in the lens' ability to perform in low light.
Limited Amount Of Distortion
Light passing through the lens is bent and reshaped to hit the camera's sensor. Some lenses bend light so much that the image appears distorted. This phenomenon is often seen with wide-angle lenses, where the edges of the frame appear slightly distorted compared to the center. To see this effect, look around the room with the wide-angle lens itself. Notice that the corners and edges of the walls are not perfectly straight. This is due to lens distortion.
There are many lenses in the world, some with minimal distortion. Lens distortion can cause subtle discomfort in a photo and change the impression of the scene. For many photographers, it is desirable to have as little distortion as possible. This allows for more realistic reproduction of the scene.
If you think about it, it would take a lifetime to read and compare different lenses and their degree of distortion. Don't get too carried away and try to find a lens that has minimal distortion and does not destroy the overall image. If a lens distorts an image slightly, it is not the end of the world.
Low chromatic aberration
Chromatic aberration is one of the most important factors that determine the quality of a lens. Each ray of light that enters a camera is composed of a number of colors. As light passes through the glass part of the lens, the camera focuses that light to a single point on the sensor. Some lenses struggle to collect light of all colors, causing certain color regions to be out of focus. The result is colored flare (often cyan or magenta) at the edges of the image.
Chromatic aberration is a sign of a lens defect. It can be corrected by photography but should be avoided if at all possible. Modern lenses are getting better at handling chromatic aberration, but high-end lenses usually have chromatic aberration completely eliminated. Even if all the requirements are met, poor chromatic aberration may be the deciding factor between a good and a bad lens.
To get your bearings: the standard focal length
Acquiring an SLR requires knowing the settings of the camera well before leaning on the lens. If you're a total beginner, there's no need to invest in a lens right from the start: the standard focal length sold as a kit with your SLR will do just fine. This is most often an 18-55mm lens. It allows you to obtain a very good quality image and introduces you to landscape, portrait, macro photography...
For moving subjects: the telephoto lens
Wildlife photography, sports, street scenes: these three types of photos require candid capture and a good zoom capacity. Choose a lens with very good speed and a long focal length.
Canon, Nikon, and Sigma regularly offer new models and the choice is very wide. It's up to you to choose depending on where you want to put the slider in terms of aperture, shutter speed or ease of transport.
Recommended model for beginners: the Tamron AF 70-300 mm, a telephoto lens with dazzling focus and at a very affordable price.
For portrait photography: the portrait lens
Unlike the landscape, the portrait lens is designed to capture detail and emotion. The focal length will therefore be wider: between 50 and 200 mm, in order to obtain a greater depth of field (including the famous bokeh effect, the round blurs in the background). This lens has a large aperture for finer light management.
Recommended model for beginners: The Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM. Excellent quality and optimal value for money.
For landscapes: the wide-angle focal length
If you primarily want to photograph landscapes, streets or buildings, opt for an optic designed to open up a wide field of vision: the wide-angle lens. The image obtained is enlarged compared to your vision with the naked eye, which makes it possible to encompass a larger surface. 10-20mm focal lengths are best for this type of shot.
Recommended model for beginners: the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM (for APS-C). A safe bet for photographers of all levels!
For versatility: the fixed focal length
Do you want to test different areas without investing in 5 objectives? The 50mm fixed focal length is an excellent investment. Its advantages: compact, efficient, very good sharpness even in low light, very aesthetic bokeh background for portraits... The fixed focal length is used by both professional photographers and beginners. If you do not know which lens to choose in front of the abundance of choices, the focal length to remember is this one!
Best Lenses For Beginners | Infographics
Three Lenses EVERY Beginner Photographer | Video Explanation
Which photo lens to start with?
What type of lens to choose?
What type of lens for what type of photo?
TO RECAP, HERE’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO TO FIND THE LENS THAT’S RIGHT FOR BEGINNERS:
- clearly define your needs, this is the most important step to see more clearly among the plethoric offer of optics available on the market.
- depending on the previous step, choose the focal length you need (wide-angle, standard focal length, zoom, etc.), without forgetting the "crop factor" trap...
- is the maximum aperture decisive for you? How far open are you willing to climb?
- after these 3 steps, you will already have a small selection of lenses. All that remains is to sort according to the budget, then refine according to the opinions & tests consulted on the Internet.
- finally, before using your credit card, go to the store to try on the lens you have selected, just to confirm that you like it. After all, this material is expensive, you will carry it around for several years. Make sure you like it!