If you have a DSLR, you may be wanting to take the next step and start learning about lenses.
Although the kit lens that came with your camera may be all you need, a prime lens with a wide aperture (f/1.4 or f/1.8, or 2.8 for example) would be a great next step.
Ok, back up. Some of you are nodding, and some of you are audibly saying, “what the heck does she mean by that? Prime lens? Wide aperture?”
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Nikon D5100 with 40mm, 2.8 lens
Simply put, a prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length, so it will not zoom. You zoom with your feet! Prime lenses tend to be sharper than zoom lenses. And a wide aperture lens (or “fast” lens) will let in more light than a narrow aperture. Better depth of field and the ability to shoot in lower light are the main reasons I love a wide aperture lens.
- Beside the kit lens that came with my first Nikon DSLR, my first lens was the 50mm 1.8 . It’s often the first choice after the kit lens, because it’s great in low light and is very inexpensive. It’s a fast (wide aperture), prime lens. It’s available for Canon DSLRs too.
Nikon 50mm 1.8
Several of these photos were taken in 2008, with the 50mm 1.8 lens when I had only had my first DSLR for a few months.
Nikon D200 DSLR with 50mm 1.8 lens
Nikon D80 DSLR with 50mm 1.8 lens (2008)
Nikon D80 DSLR, 50 mm 1.8 lens (2008)
- Another wonderful lens I use often is the 40mm 2.8. It’s a little more expensive than the 50mm 1.8, but in some ways, I like it even better. It is an amazingly sharp lens. It’s also a bit more versatile than the 50mm 1.8 in some ways, because not only is it a great all around lens, but you can also get closer and get some incredible close-up shots. Although the widest aperture on this one is 2.8, as opposed to 1.8 on the 50mm, I find it excellent in all but the very lowest light situations. Plus, I rarely shoot at 1.8 anyway.
Here is the Nikon version of the 40mm 2.8.
I leave the 40mm 2.8 on my D5100 most of the time.
Here is the Canon version of the 40mm 2.8.
I took this pumpkin pic with it.
Nikon D5100 DSLR, 40mm 2.8 lens
It’s great for close-ups of flowers and insects, detail photography for blogs, etc.
Nikon D80 DSLR with 50mm 1.8 lens
Tips for Choosing Lenses:
- Make sure you are getting the right lens for the make of your camera. There are specific ones for Nikon, Canon, etc.
- Determine if your camera has a focus motor so you will know which version of the lens to buy.
- Be aware that, although lenses can definitely make a difference in your photography, you don’t need a lot of them! Even if you just have a kit lens, you can get great photos by simply working on your composition, using the light well, and learning some basic photography techniques.