Lenses - What Do I Need?
I am a newbie..

I amd looking for advce/recomendations for a lens/lenses to buy with a Cannon dSLR body purchase..

The choices available from Cannon (and others) are bewildering and I'm not knowledgeable or confident enough to make an informed/wise choice..

I don't know much and I don't know where to start. Asking questions in a camera shop is too much pressure especially when I they want to sell me something..

I think it's sensible to go for quality over quantity and adding lenses is always an option as my interest/experience grows..

I will not be taking any sports action shots nor will I be doing any wildlife work so a long telephoto is not need initially..

I will be doing indoor & outdoor photography, general landscapes & vacation type shots..


Comments (13)

Darkestar, I was in your shoes two months ago. I'm not sure if you mean that you just aren't aware of the "quality" of lenses out there or if you don't know what any of it means or how to interpret what you need. I didn't know what anything meant on a lens or anything at all. My only recommendation is to first read up on the general principles of photography and lenses..

And it's going to matter what kind of budget you are working with. So I assume you have no lenses at all?.

The first order of business if for you to gain an understanding of the lens "data", such as aperture, focal length, etc if you do not understand that..

Then once you ahve those concepts down, you'll need to figure out what type of lens you'll need. Then you can select from the options..

So you mention indoor shots - you'll need a fast lens (large aperture, small f-number). There are some good ones out there, but what type of indoor shots? Are you shooting people, portraits, rooms? A great lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.8. A great low light lens with excellent optics. The 50mm will not be great if you have a big group of people and can't back up or if you need to get the whole room in a shot, but if you want to shot individual people, a great lens. Also, I use it outdoors a lot too..

Landscape - you'll need a wider lens, I generally use my kit lens which is the 18-55mm for landscape, use the 18mm focal length..

Vacation shots - again this can vary and depends on the locale. Some vacation spots will take you indoors in very dim lit rooms where you'll need a fast lens. Others will be focusing on the outdoor beauty which will be good for landscape. Yet others you may be shooting things far away where a good telephoto comes into play..

Currently I have the kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6). Its a pretty good lens in good light. Indoors it's not great. Its versatile and is a wide to short telephoto. I also have the Canon 50mm f1.8 which I like to use as much as I can b/c of the optics and the images produced are awesome and beat out the kit lens..

For me, my next purchase would be a telephoto lens. The kit lens doesn't have enough reach for some of the shots I want to do..

If you get a little more specific, I'm sure people on here will have some good suggestions. Again, it'll depend on your budget too..

Just trying to learn.


Comment #1

Some good links:.


And the site has a bunch of articles too..

Just trying to learn.


Comment #2

I'm a newbie too and this is my two cents worth..

Lenses ar like golf clubs. Great clubs and lots of clubs will only make my great golf shots better. Unfortunately they are few and far apart. Great clubs will not improve my handicap - yet..

Taking a lot of photographs will make my photographs better..

With two inexpensive kit lenses I cover 28mm - 300mm. That enough for me..

They have their sweet spots, and when I find them- I'll enjoy it - just like golf clubs..

Spend money where there is an immedeate reward, like a quality tripod, quality light , stands, reflectors and lots of stuff..

Then, when you know why you need that 50-200mm f1.4 DZ6 MKIII - buy it!.


Comment #3

You gave some good info...but if you let us know what camera you will be using along with a will get far more responses..

Lenses can cost from $80 into the $1000's....


Comment #4

With kit lenses low light condition is most tough situation when you need to do shot of people. Bounce flash will help as is much better then camera flash because it could be directed into ceiling instead. You can attach diffuser to it too..

For indoor when flash is not allowed fast lenses could help. Something like 50mm f/1.8, 24mm f/2.8..

This shot was made with 24mm f/2.8 lens (my camera has Antishake):.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.


Comment #5

Thanks for the response..

The quality vs quantity comment means that it seems sensible to invest in one or two quality lenses than four or five inferior lenses for the same amount of money..

I have no lenses curently - I'm looking for one or two to get up and going with..

Thanks again,..

Comment #6


Thanks for the response..

I don't have the body yet. But I'm thinking 30D or 40D..

I'm looking for a lens to get with it (and possibly one or two more) to get me started..

The budget is not unlimited - again, I'd rather by a one (or two) quality lenes than four or five "inferior" lenses for the same money..

Thanks again,..

Comment #7


Interesting why Canon? Do you have canon lenses already?.

Pentax, Olympus and Sony DSLRs have camera body based image stabilization that will increase % of successful shots made with kit lenses handheld. With Canon you will need to buy each lens with IS. Canon mid range IS lens ( Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS) costs more then $1000..


Comment #8

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS lens can be your main, 50mm f/1.8 for indoors, 12-24mm wide angle for landscapes..


Comment #9

Darkestar wrote:.

I am a newbie..

I amd looking for advce/recomendations for a lens/lenses to buy witha Cannon dSLR body purchase..

The choices available from Cannon (and others) are bewildering andI'm not knowledgeable or confident enough to make an informed/wisechoice..

I don't know much and I don't know where to start. Asking questionsin a camera shop is too much pressure especially when I they want tosell me something..

Agree with you..

I think it's sensible to go for quality over quantity and addinglenses is always an option as my interest/experience grows..

Yes, your photos will only be as sharp as your lens can produce no matter what camera you decide on..

I will not be taking any sports action shots nor will I be doing anywildlife work so a long telephoto is not need initially..

I will be doing indoor & outdoor photography, general landscapes &vacation type shots..

Knowing this is a good start, just need to think a little more detailed in terms of lens reach. In other words how close are your subject going to be? Indoor about 50-10 feet away, etc...?.

Vacation type shots to me sound like snap shots. So pick a range lens in terms of millimeters that will cover that need and you probably want some flexiblity in terms of zooming in and out. So why not a 24-70mm. A lens in that range, depending on maker, you probably have a choice between a fast len(f/2.8 through out the 24-70mm range) and one that at 70mm, you will not be able to maintain f/2.8. The fast lens would probably come in handy in low light flashless situations. The regular lense would most likly be alot less expensive with faster lens most likely being a pro lens which in turn will give you the sharpest pictures..

A lens in this mm range would allow you to shoot most situations such as indoor outdoor kids, portraits, groups of people, vacations, Disneyland, etc...just about anything. You could even shoot animals at the zoo, but depending on how far they are from you, you may not get super close like you would with a range above 70mm. Of course there are other options for zooms such as 17-55mm, 17-85mm, 28-105mm just to name a few. Just a matter of how much range you think you need. I would suggest looking through a few at a shop and just estimating how close and far your subjects would be..

For "general land scapes" there's no reason why you can't also use the same lens. But if you really want to shoot wider landscapes you would want a lens with a range of say 10-24mm or 12-24mm as a couple of examples. These would probably be about an f/4 or something like that. But with a wide lens such as these, you don't want to photograph people because parts of the body will look drastically out of proportion. So a lense in this range would almost stricly be an architecture and landscape lens, generally speaking..

I will not be taking any sports action shots nor will I be doing anywildlife work so a long telephoto is not need initially..

As you say you don't need this but if you might change your mind later. Here you would be looking at a range above 70mm like 70-200mm, etc, etc..

You may decide you want to shoot a kids T-ball game or just get a closer shot of a Panda at the zoo. In that case you would be looking at a lens in the higher mm range with some sort of image stablization..

Another route to go is buying a "prime", a lens with out zoom. It has a fixed focal length and you have to zoom in and out with your feet. They are very sharp lenses, but that is not to say that a good zoom can be just about as good..

Hope that helps and that I didn't bore you...

Comment #10

If you dont have the body yet, check out the Olympus E-510 with the two kit lenses, 14-45 mm and 40-150mm. ( the equivalent to 28-90 and 80-300 in regular film).

Check out the Oly forum here:)Tom..

Comment #11

Words from an old person: I purchased my first SLR camera in 1969. It came with a quality, fast, 50mm lens and was the only lens I used for a few years. I suggest that this approach might have merit yet today..

While I have a few other lenses, I still use a similar setup today: a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens with a Canon 5D. I am very pleased with it. The lens is very sharp, very fast and cost me (if I remember correctly) right at $300 US. The equivalent setup for a 30D or 40D is probably the Sigma 30mm f1.4 (which cost more - something over $400, I think)..

Just my two cents..

Have a good day.Respectfully,Mike SneddonMattoon, IL USA..

Comment #12

Photography is a very personal thing. My advice is buy very little until you don't have to ask others on this forum to make your decisions for you..

Get one decent "walk about" zoom. Take lots of pictures with it. Find out what YOU want to shoot but can't because that lens is a limitation. When you know that, you will know what the next lens should be. Get another good one that does what you need..

Repeat until you don't have any more needs..

But wait until you have a need. Don't just go out and buy stuff because someone here says he thinks you need it..

Decent walkabout? Tamron 17-50 f2.8. Canon 24-70 f2.8 Canon 17-55 f2.8 Spend what you must to get one good lens and start from there. Don't try to cover all the focal lengths at once..

Nothing is enough for the man to whom nothing is enough...

Comment #13

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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