Photography tips – dslr lenses

When I first bought my Nikon D50, I thought I was done purchasing my camera equipment.  Camera – check, Kit lens – check, memory cards – check, lens filter – check….done right??


Now that I have a year under my belt, I have purchased two more lenses and have my roving eye on many others.  In this post, I will just let you know why I have my specific lenses and why I chose them for my type of candid portrait photography.

Kit lens – 18-55mm zoom f3.5-5.6 – approx. $120

With this lens the lowest f-stop depends on the zoom.  At 18mm it will stop down to f3.5, but at 55mm it will only stop down to f5.6.  It is a great lens for summertime when you have more light available, and the wide angle at 18mm can make for some fun shots.  The versatility it gives as a first time lens is very nice; however, once you have to start using it inside in low light situations the limitations become frustrating.

50mm f1.8 – approx. $110

This lens is a great lens when you have to move inside.  It isn’t a zoom, so if you need to get closer or further from your subject you have to use your feet.  Once I got this lens a whole new world of natural light possibilities opened up for me.  Even using it outside is great due to the depth of field it can create.  It is only limited by small space.  If you are in a small room and want to get a shot of multiple people it can prove difficult since you can’t get back far enough.

35mm f2.0 – approx. $300

I wanted this lens due to the small space issue, and the fact that it is easier to use for group photos.  It isn’t such a wide-angle that it causes much distortion, so that is an important point for portrait photography.  In addition, I wanted the low f-stop.  When looking at lenses that is one of the big selling points for me.  In the winter, especially, I have to shoot indoors most of the time.  If the lens doesn’t open up enough (like the kit lens), then it is pretty worthless for me during many months of the year.

That’s all I have…for now!

Here’s what I want:

85mm f1.4 – approx. $1,000 (EEK!) – This one is on my wish list so I don’t need to be as close to the subject.  This is a great lens for outdoor photography since the kids are usually running around the yard.  They generally aren’t very close to you, so this is a nice telephoto with a great bokeh.

80-200mm f2.8 –  approx. $900 (EEK!) – This one is more for when the kids start playing sports.  I will need a decent zoom lens to be able to pick them out of a field of a lot of other kids wearing the same clothes.  I have a few more years before I really need it, though, thankfully.

These are just my preferences.  I know some people like zoom lenses better than prime lenses, but I prefer primes as they tend to be sharper.  In addition, the cheaper zooms change the aperture when you change the focal length, which just drives me batty because that changes your exposure.

Okay, so I know some other photographers read my blog.  Care to chime in on your favorite lens and why you love it?


I now have an 85mm f1.8 lens, and it has wonderful bokeh on it.  I also have a 18-200mm lens and it is a great travel lens and just all around lens.  It is heavy, but it has a lot of versatility in its focal length.

5 Replies to “Photography tips – dslr lenses”

  1. I hear wonderful things about that 85mm 1.4! I want it!

    I tend to prefer a zoom lens. I know the zooming changes my exposures, but I’m bad about actually setting them anyway. I’ll set them specifically for my landscapes and flower shots and such, but when I’m zooming in and out with the boys I mostly have the camera on P anyway and it doesn’t matter.

    I love my Sigma 17-70 2.8 zoom. It’s sharp and fast and has good bokeh, although since I’ve dropped it, the focusing isn’t quite up to par. And recently I borrowed a Canon 28-125 macro with image stabilization, and that’s next on my “to buy” list.

  2. Tis post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me! thanks for sharing your experience. I still have a hard time with the idea of no zoom, but I think I’m going to go with just the kit lens and a 50mm for now. Do you find yourself using the 50mm or 35mm more?

  3. Like you, I love my 50mm f1.8 lens (the Canon version was just a hair over $50), but it’s not really a 50mm lens on my digital, so I’d love something a little wider.

    I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’ll be getting the Canon XTi body, so I’m not going to invest a ton in a lens this summer, as I’m working with a limited budget.

    So…I’m thinking about the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens, which is about $360. I’ve heard good things, it would give me a little more versatility, and it’s a macro, which I would love.

  4. Great post! Just what I need as I’m asking for a new lense for Christmas. Down here, we start making our Christmas list EARLY so Jolly Ole’ Saint Nick can start saving his (and her) money.

  5. I think I have heard that the Sigma and Tamrons are decent lenses and cheaper than the equivalent Canon and Nikon lenses. I should look into that.

    Christina, I use my 50mm more, but we shall see how much I use it during the winter time. That is when it will really get a work out!

    Natalie, glad I could help in any decision you need to make for your Christmas list! 🙂

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