The Best First Lenses for Your New DSLR
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.
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I've never tried the 50 1.8 but I have the 50 1.4 and it's magic! I've rented much more pricey lenses and still think it's best!
I have a 100mm macro, my 50, a 35mm, a zoom, and a 24-70.
I've heard that about the 1.4! My daughter keeps telling me that! I'd love to have a dedicated macro lens too. That's more my daughter's specialty, but she's getting me hooked on it!
Great photos! The camera tips are appreciated my friend. xo
Thank you Katherine!
You take beautiful pictures. I have a Cannon and I do have one fixed lens. But I have so much to learn before I take the next step.
Beautiful photos! I am always trying to play with my camera and find out "how" it works (read take better photos!). Thanks for sharing these tips with us at the Hello Fall Linky party. PInned.
I own two lenses and they work great with my Nikon
Visiting from bloggerspitsyop
Really wonderful photos, Pam!!
Thank you so much! 🙂
And thank you for the lens tips.
Thanks so much, Dixie. You’re very welcome!