It can be a difficult choice buying your first digital camera lens, you’ll be taking in factors such as image quality and focal range; should I buy a zoom lens? a wide angle lens? a telephoto or a prime lens? Which ever you choose; the cost, and what you’ll be able to afford, will play an important part in what you buy.
Standard lens kit
Perhaps you bought your camera with a standard kit lens and you’re finding this is limiting you in what you photograph, maybe your looking for a wide angle lens to shoot landscapes and sunsets or perhaps a telephoto lens to capture wild birds and animals, or maybe you want something between the two, such as a zoom lens.
The zoom lens is a popular choice for those looking to buy a lens, mainly because of their versatility; if you want to shoot a sunset or capture a wide vista, then just zoom out to a wide angle; if your subject is too far away, then just zoom right in to fill the frame; with a zoom lens you don’t have to keep changing lenses and so miss a photographic opportunity. If you’re looking for a good ‘walk-around’ zoom lens, there’s plenty on the market, such as the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is usm lens or, if you’re a Nikon owner; the 18-105mmf/3.5-5.6 af-s DX VR ED Nikkor lens, for Olympus owners: the 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 ED Zuiko digital lens and for Sony owners: the DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 ED zoom lens.
A good compromise
If the lens you want seems a little out of your price range, then you might consider third party manufacturers such as sigma, Tokina or tamron, who manufacture lenses to fit different dslr’s; the Tamron SP 10-24mm Di II has a Canon EF fitting and the Sigma 10-20mm F/4.0-5.6 EX DC will fit a minolta and a Sony AF.You may find a good compromise between cost and quality with a zoom range to compliment your kit lens (or any other lens you may have) and many get good reviews from those that already own them.
Unlike a zoom, a prime lens has a fixed focal length, they contain less moving parts, they are faster (lower f/stop) and lighter, and because of this, they’re able to take pictures in lower light situations where other lenses would need a flash.
They come in all sizes from macro to super telephoto. So why don’t we all have one then? well, there is a downside; you may have to carry two or three prime lenses to cover the focal range of what just one zoom could do and there’s always the risk of dust every time you change your lens. But once you see the quality images taken by some prime lenses, such as the highly regarded Canon EF 135mm f/1.8 USM, then you may be tempted.