Picking the correct ens is always tricky, especially for beginners. Here are 6 recommendations for all photographers. 

(1) If you like Portrait Photos: 85mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.8

One of the reasons people buy DSLR or camera is capturing the valuable moment of family and friends. If it is the case, you will not regret for getting a “portrait lens” like 85mm with large aperture f/1.4 or f/1.8. Although due to the long focal length, you may need to keep a distance from your model, the resulting image is rewarding. You will find the person in your photo becomes slimmer (compared to regular or wide lens) and the background is being “closer” to the person. Another apparent benefit of using such portrait lens is the perfect shallow depth of field generated. You will LOVE it.

(2) If you like Street Photography: 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.8

Street Photography is a big topic that many photography beginners like to explore. A 50mm or 35mm prime lens not only is light-weight but also more compact in size. With such a small lens, you are able to walk from street to street without drawing much attention. The large aperture f/1.8 can also provide fast shutter speed even in low-light situation. Did I mention these lens have every low price tag too?

(3) If you like Landscape Photography: <=16mm

Of course Landscape Photography is another hot topic that beginners are interested in. Getting an ultra-wide lens like 12mm or 16mm cannot go wrong. With an ultra-wide lens of focal length <=16mm (Full frame) or <=12mm (APS-C), you can get a much more powerful image due to lens distortion. Being wider also means you can now include more elements in the photo (Although in some cases it may not be a good idea in terms of composition). It is notably useful in shoot stars or star trail in the sky.

In landscape photography, smaller aperture like f/8 is very common to make sure everything is within depth of field. So either f/4 or f/2.8 is fine. What we are looking for is the wider focal length. That said, larger aperture f/2.8 can be helpful in taking handheld night or low-light photos.

(4) If you like Event / Concert Photography: 24-70mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8

If you are interested in shooting more event or concert photos, a tele-lens with large aperture is your choice. Usually a 70-200mm f/2.8 is sufficient in many scenarios. However if you can walk closer to your subject a 24-70mm f/2.8 can help a lot. Make sure you get the f/2.8 aperture because with such a large aperture, you can use much lower ISO (means cleaner image) to keep a fast shutter speed compared with using smaller aperture like f/4 or f/5.6.

(5) If you like Macro Photography: 100mm macro lens

Shooting tiny thing can create huge impact. That’s why many photographers like macro photography. General lens has a long “minimum focus distance” which makes shooting small things harder. By using a macro lens, you can get close to the object, focus successfully and magnify it with the 100mm focal length. It truly let you feel entering another world.

(6) If you like Wildlife / Bird / Sport Photography: 70-200mm, 100-400mm or longer

Speed and ability to see from far away are everything in this area. So try to get a long focal length lens like 200mm, 400mm or even longer. If applicable and affordable, choose one with  larger aperture can lower your ISO while keeping the same fast shutter speed.


Getting the correct lens not only let you take the desired photos effectively but also save you money for making the wrong purchase. So before buying any lens, you have to realize what kind of area you are interested in.


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Author: Alex Tam