Choosing Lenses – Recommendations for Amateurs

If you like to take photos, you could definitely realize that a cheap camera (or the mobile phone camera) it is quite a bad one. Moreover, frustration occurs when catches of special circumstances fail to express even a fraction of what are you seeing. The next step would be switching to a more advanced digital camera.

A powerful digital camera (whether you go on a classic or the new DSLR mirrorless devices) is not all: you also need some good objective. And when I say "good" not just mean lens quality and specifications but rather to what are you thinking to shoot.

Without a doubt, the most common targets are 18 - 55mm F3.5 - F5.6 (for APS-C sensor devices or higher) and 14-42 mm if we opt for the Four Thirds sensor devices (4/3).

Standard zoom lens - for most situations.

These objectives are usually included in the kit and are suitable in most conditions. Therefore the lens are called "all arounder" or "standard zoom". In principle, for an amateur, that option is necessary at first. But if you want high quality pictures in difficult shooting conditions, can acquire lens with a similar focal range, but lighter.

How bright is a lens, you can tell by the F value (diaphragm) written on it. The smaller the F, the brighter the objective. What this means? Means that allows lighter to enter the sensor, which makes low light conditions and can make seizures at low ISO values, resulting in clearer images. Please note that the price of an alternative at this level is very high, because they provide not only a generous aperture, but also optical quality.

Again, for an amateur, an 18 - 55mm (or 14 - 42mm) is sufficient. However, if money is not a problem, you can opt for alternatives such as:

  •     Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
  •     Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED N (Nano Crystal)
  •     Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm 1:2.8 II -3.5

Depending on what you want to shoot you can find more affordable "specialized" lenses.

If you like to make portraits and macro images, it is worth investing in fixed lens. This, by design, ensures excellent image geometry, and due to generous aperture (small F) gives a deep depth of field, observed by the effect of isolating the subject from the background.

Fixed objectives - for portraits.

This offer is extremely broad, but for example I chose a few lenses with a good value for money.

  •     Sony SAL-30M28 30mm f/2.8 DT SAM Macro AF
  •     Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Micro
  •     Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro (1:2)

Telephoto lenses - for distant subjects or sensitive topics.

Telephoto lens are ideal to capture distant subjects. We are talking about sensitive subjects that doesn't let you get too close to them (insects, birds, wildlife, etc..), But also subjects you can not get to close because there is a physical separation between you and them (planes, people located across a road, stars in concert, VIPs protected by bodyguards, etc..). Here are some recommendations for telephoto lens for amateurs:

  •     Nikon AF-S 55-200mm f/4-5.6 G ED VR
  •     Pentax DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED SMC WR
  •     Sony DT 55-200mm f/4-5, 6 SAM
  •     Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
  •     Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6

Telephoto lenses make great standard zoom objectives, because they have a minimum distance close to the maximum focal length of a standard lens.

The most common situation, for an amateur, is a double kit 18 - 55mm + 55 - 200mm. Thus, we ensure a focal range of 18 - 200mm, similar to that provided by a super-zoom lens. The disadvantage of telephoto lens is a smaller aperture (high F) compared with macro and standard objectives. There are bright telephoto lens, but with fixed focal length (100 mm, 300 mm, 600 mm), but they are especially dedicated professionals.

Superzoom lenses - for any situation.

The superzoom is suitable for the wide as well as portraits and telephoto shooting. The disadvantage of such lenses is related to the poorer image quality, because of many elements of construction. The maximum length may be the vignetting slight of the image, and overall clarity is below a fixed lens.

We conclude that super-zoom is an acceptable compromise for those who want to invest in several dedicated lenses.

  •     Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR LD Aspherical IF Macro
  •     Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
  •     Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G AFS VR DX

Superangular lenses (ultra-wide) - panoramic images

Although are particularly recommended for professionals (through the high price), some amateurs are interested in them for truly spectacular results, especially in making panoramic photos, outdoor (landscape). In tight spaces, the wide angle advantage is that you can includ a large group of people. Sure, open angle geometry requires also a different reality.

Some examples of superangular lenses:

  •     Olympus Zuiko 9-18mm f/4-5.6
  •     Sony SAL-1118 DT 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6
  •     Nikon AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED-IF AFS DX Nikkor
  •     Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Super Wide Angle lenses.

These are the main types of lenses used by DSLR cameras and mirrorless. There are other categories (fisheye, lens baby, tilt & shift), but an amateur would find rather difficult and/or expensive.

Finally, our recommendation (for amateur) is to limit yourself to two or three lenses to help at the most common conditions:

  •     A standard lens for daily photos;
  •     A telephoto lens to sensitive subjects or that far away ones.
  •     A fixed lens for portraits and macro;

If you do not have much money, you can opt for a super-zoom one that will satisfy the above conditions, at the price of a something lower picture quality than if you opt for dedicated lenses.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

7 Responses to “Choosing Lenses – Recommendations for Amateurs”

  1. Jean Chiodi June 6, 2012

    colll... i like this text

  2. faelmkd June 8, 2012

    muito boas essas lentes eu acho q vou comprar n sei ainda

  3. I'm starting in photography, very good information. I don't have enough money to buy a good lense yet but soon I will! Good post.

  4. tahira sattar July 1, 2012

    nice device i think its gud and helping in photography.

  5. A good start for your photography. But better lens will give you superb results.

  6. I find this lens very nice and maybe I'll save and buy one

  7. Right now there is a great cheap lens on the market. It is really a tip to buy that one.
    It is the 50mm 1.8 it costs only 99 euro and it is beautiful especially perfect for filming and portraits

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