I have been teaching photography to beginners for over seven years, and one of the most common questions I receive is, “What are the best lenses to use in my digital photography?” That is a loaded question, and the answer is usually, “It depends.” It depends on one’s budget and the genre of photography one is interested in. For example: a recommended lens for landscape photography might not be a wise choice for portrait photography or vice versa. Lenses vary a lot in price, starting with the Nifty Fifty at $125 to a prime lens priced at over $1500. Understanding one’s budget and needs are paramount in recommending the best lenses.
In this blog, I am going to break the mystery
of the best lenses by describing what I own as a portrait photographer and what the typical amateur needs for travel photography. Most of my students are hobbyists yearning to take better photos with their DSLR cameras, so that is why I am going to focus on that segment of the population, which could be you.
What’s in My Camera Bag?
- Canon 28-105mm f/4
- Canon 70-200mm f/4
- Canon 50mm f/1.8
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens
- Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f/1.6
The Canon 28-105mm is a good all-purpose lens. It covers a wide focal range and can be used for interiors, architecture, street scenes and portraits. The f/4 provides a great bokeh when used properly.
The Canon 70-200mm is the perfect portrait lens. It is light enough that I can hand-hold it at shutter speeds of 1/250 second or faster. It is much smaller, lighter and less expensive than the same zoom lens with a 2.8 aperture setting.
The Sigma 35mm is my newest lens. When I decided to go to Cuba for street photography, I purchased this lens. The short focal length forces you to get close-up to the subject for interaction. It is on the edge of the long limit of focal lengths for street photography, so sometimes you will have to step back a bit to include everything in your image. The lens is very sharp and the background blur is amazing at the widest aperture of f/1.4. It can also be used as a portrait lens but will show some distortion.
Lastly, is the Lensbaby Velvet. I rented this lens before I bought it and because I had so much fun with it, I knew I had to have it. This lens creates soft and blurry edges to an image, making it look more ethereal. It has a lot of creative purposes when you want to capture an image that looks out-of-the-box. Please see image below.
Lenses for Travel Photography
- Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3
- Canon or Nikon 50mm f/1.8The Tamron 16-300mm lens is terrific for travel because of its large focal length range. You can literally use this lens for an entire vacation capturing everything from the wide expanse of the ocean to a close-up of an egret. It is also very useful for travel to national parks where you can photograph a mountain range at the wide angle focal length and zoom in to capture a soaring eagle. It is small and lightweight and will fit in a smaller camera bag. To learn more about this lens, click here.The Canon or Nikon Nifty Fifty 50 mm is always a recommendation from me. Because it is so small, it is a good fit for the traveler. It fills in when you need a wide aperture that the Tamron lens cannot fulfill. To learn more about this lens, click here.
To learn more about digital SLR photography, visit my website at www.studio2point8.com . I offer online classes and private lessons for those who would like to become better photographers.