Sunday Classic / Choosing the Lens That’s Right You

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Everything is Cooler in a Fisheye Lens Photo by Louis Cahill

The most common camera question I get from my friends is “what lens should I buy?”

My usual answer is, “the one that costs the most.” It’s a joke, but there is some truth to it. Here are a few tips on choosing a good lens that’s in your budget.

First of all you do get what you pay for and it’s better to save up and buy a good lens than to buy one that you will not be satisfied with and need to replace. Be wary of third party manufacturers. If you have a Nikon camera you are likely better off with a Nikon lens. The term “prosumer” means amateur. These lenses have poor glass and good marketing.

A 200mm is Cool Too

Modern zoom lenses are very good but no one lens can do it all well. Choose a zoom with a modest range like 24-70 not 18-200. Lenses with fast apertures like 1.8 can be wonderful for freezing action but a zoom lens with that kind of aperture will be very expensive. If a fast aperture is important to you you might consider a prime lens like an 85mm f 1.8.

Special purpose lenses like fish eyes are fun but a fish eye is a one trick pony, even if it is a pretty cool trick. A lot of guys see a cool photo taken with a fish eye and run out and buy one. They shoot with it all the time for the first month, then it lives in the bag. If you’ve got the cash, why not, but if your on a budget put that money towards a better quality wide angle.

The other question I get all the time is, “What’s your go to lens for fishing?” Hands down it’s the 12-24 zoom. I like to be close to the action and a wide angle helps with that. It’s great the boat where you can’t always take a step back and it’s small so it fits neatly in my dry bag.

If you have a good camera store near by stop in and ask if you can try one on your camera or maybe even rent a lens for the weekend. There’s nothing better than getting a feel for it before you buy. There are a lot of choices when it comes to buying a lens for your DSLR. Think it through before you throw down the plastic.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Choosing the Lens That’s Right You

  1. I would just comment that for the most part wide angle shots would be more preferred for landscapes or even fishing, while telephotos are great for sports or candid’s of animals in the wild. However, there should be a distinction between full frame and smaller frame DSLR’s. DSLR bodies with less then full frame are more common and cheap to produce so you would see them say for under $1000. So in the cheaper DSLR the 12-24 mm they would not be as wide as say a full frame 12-24 which then would be very wide and distorted. My only comment would be to be careful when using an ultra wide setting so as to not get distortion, unless like most of us, you wanted that fish to look extra long. I’ve used the 17-35 mm Nikkor 2.8 lens, although a little expensive, the pics really pop. Most of the time I always use a flash to fill shadows, and shoot manually, or aperture preferred, so that much of the photo is in focus.

  2. Great article. I get the same question and often times the other question. “What camera should I get”. With technology changing and fast as it does in the bodies, send your money into a lens. They will work on any new body they come out with. I’ve taken some great images with low end camera bodies with a top end led attached to it. You can have the nicest sunglasses frame but if you don’t have quality lens you are defeating the purpose owning nice frames.

    I shoot with canon 24-105mm on a full frame. It is super versatile and I enjoy it.

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