4. Recommended Lenses

There are two types of lenses: zooms and primes. Zoom lenses let you get closer/farther from the subject, while prime have fixed focal length – you can’t zoom in and out.

Nikon Canon Prime and Zooms
Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 50mm f/1.2, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Canon 85mm f/1.2

Prime Lenses

The biggest advantage of primes is that they often have a very wide aperture, such as f/1.4 or f/1.2 – a wider aperture lets more light in the sensor chamber and also makes the backgrounds softer while keeping the subject sharp. For example, the Canon 50mm f/1.2 or Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lenses allow you to take photos 4 to 5 times faster than zoom lenses in low light.

Zoom lenses

Zoom lenses are very popular among both beginner and pro photographers. Most of the semi-pro and entry-level cameras come with a kit lens such as 18-55mm, 18-135mm, etc. These kit lenses aren’t too expensive, and they perform quite well in available light.

Zooms start to get very expensive if they have a constant aperture of f/2.8 or f/4, as opposed to a variable aperture of f/4-5.6 in kit lenses. Many pros have to take photos indoors, and that’s when f/1.4 or f/1.2 primes come in very handy.

One of the things many photographers don’t understand about lenses, is that every focal length changes the way a subject looks both in relation to itself, and the background as well. So, while very convenient, having a zoom lens can result in the subject looking very different from one photo to the next, which is one of the reasons I prefer sticking with primes.

Lastly, a note about off-brand lenses like Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, etc. All these lenses are decent, but the resale value, build quality, focusing mechanism, and optics are often inferior. With a few exceptions that I will point in the lenses section, I would stick with brand name lenses.