What Lens Should I Buy? All in One Buyer’s Guide


Any individual can buy a camera now and can upgrade it's performance by using lenses and additional attachments like teleconverters, filters and other camera technologies.

There are many things to care about while handling a camera, but most important is the lens. Lenses can either be permanently attached to the camera called ‘Fixed lenses’ or it can be removable known as ‘Interchangeable lenses’. 

Why is understanding camera lenses important? Because the quality of the lens majorly determines the sharpness of the picture as well as the overall performance of the camera. Also, each type of lens is used for a specific Thus, it’s better to learn about lenses beforehand to make an over-particular buy.

Keep reading to discover more options to choose from in camera lenses.

What Lens Should I Buy

What does the lens do on a camera?

There's much difference between lenses, but the key features remains the same: to bend the light coming from the lens elements, which is then delivered to the image sensor that captures the information about the received light. The camera's aperture is the part of the lens itself; the aperture is in control of allowing the amount of light meant to reach the camera's image sensor.

There are small camera lenses as well as big camera lenses. A big lens can be considered wide-angle and Zoom lenses, whereas standard and Telephoto lenses are small.


What do the numbers on a camera lens mean?

A camera lens has several markings and a bunch of things written on it from which only a few parts of it are important. The typical format looks like this;

  • A-B mm f/C-D (e.g., 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6).
  • A-B mm f/C (e.g., 18-50 mm f/2.8).
  • A mm f/C (e.g., 50 mm f/1.4).

Very often you’ll see an abbreviated notation with no units, of the value “50/1.4.” In exceptional cases, where old lenses are still being used at such instances the numbers might get overturned as: “1.4/50.” The expression can be written as “50 mm 1:1.4” or “50 mm F1.4.”

Neither of these ways isn’t incorrect and they won’t cause any effect on the value of the lens. Also, there are different ways where the numbering can be formatted although it means the same e.g. 60 mm f/1.4 // 60/1.4 // 1.4/60 // 60 mm 1:1.4 // 60 mm F1.4

The first number denotes the range of focal lengths in mm (millimeter), whereas the latter gives the lens speed. Irrespective of the differences in camera lenses the orientation one way or the other remains the same. While understanding camera lenses it is also important to understand the focal length range which is considered before the lens range itself.

Before proceeding to which lens is best for you. Let me ask you a question. Are you a beginner or a professional in photography?

If you are a beginner, you must consider using a single lens because extra lenses are expensive. There are many different lenses for DSLR cameras and before choosing a camera lens, you should consider several aspects. In the wake of understanding camera lenses as a beginner, you should opt for the kit lenses.

Best camera lenses for beginners

What lens should I buy next:

The kit lens is any lens that you get in the bundle while purchasing a camera. The 18-55mm lens is considered as one of the best camera lenses for beginners for a couple of specific reasons which are that its highly affordable, it is also one of the best DSLR lenses for beginners as in to kick off with your photography career it does not provide as sharp pictures as compared to the top-notch lense.


At the initial stage of photography, the dilemma of what lens to buy is pretty much of no use, an amateur photographer won’t be able to recognize the difference between camera lenses. Thus, kit lenses work best for beginners. If by any chance the manufacturer does not provide a lens, the first lens to buy can be 18-55mm because they are one the best lenses for beginners and are cheaper comparatively.

The reason why newbies must opt for the lens range "Kit lenses' is that they are typically cheaper than most of the high-end lenses as they are made with plastic, unlike metal. You will be able to get decent use out of it but it won’t stay faithful in the long run. As a beginner who has the camera lenses explained, one should make the best use of the kit lens in the beginning. With time, when you get more used to it you will eventually outgrow it.

What lens should I buy next:

So far it is certain that you at least understood what a lens does on a camera. Now after getting the maximum out of the kit lens it's time to buy a new and better one.

  • 50mm PRIME lens:

The best camera lens for beginners to buy is considered to be a 50 mm wide-angle lens. Different camera brands provide different types of 50 mm wide-angle lens but the best one at an entry-level would be a 50mm F1.8 lens. It's durable, helps you click pictures of all types, and comes at an affordable price range too.

From the various camera lenses explained, 50 mm lenses prove to be the most efficient and brands like Canon and Nikon provide them at reasonable price tags. There are considerable advantages for which one should opt for a 50 mm lens such as:

A 50 mm full-frame lens offers a similar field of vision to our own eyes which means the user can shoot what they are looking at. A 50mm lens helps you get rid of bulky big lenses and setups; it is easy to carry and it is considered a fast lens with a fast maximum aperture.

In comparison to differences in camera lenses the 50 mm, the lens allows five times more excess light into the camera’s sensor than a consumer-grade zoom lens. Out of all the budget camera lenses explained, the 50 mm lens provides the ability to use lower ISOs with a faster shutter speed so the user can eliminate camera shakes.

  • 35mm semi wide-angle lens:

A 35mm lens provides familiar and comfortable stability to capture images. It is considered under the “standard” lens range but it is very versatile.

It is not given much credit so as compared with the 50mm wide-angle lens but provided the camera lens number explained it is closer to the concept of “human lens”.

The 35-lens mm meaning the aperture would be pretty big resulting in the allowance of more light towards the camera sensor making them one of the best options for low light photography as well.

Best camera lenses for professionals

When it comes to professional photography, understanding differences in camera lenses is already known to them but there still are some points to be considered before purchasing a lens which is long focal length and wide fixed aperture which contribute equally to creating a spectacular photograph. High-end lens range from small camera lenses to big lens some examples are

  • 85mm f/1.4.
  • 70-200mm f/2.8.
  • 50mm f/1.8.
  • 18-55mm.

At 85mm the photographs come up with features such as flattening of facial features providing the finest mm in photography.

70-200mm lens helps the photographer to click medium to large space pictures, higher the lens mm meaning narrower the angle view and higher the magnification.

The third option raises the question “what does f1.8 mean” while the focal length is on the lower side the prime reason is the affordability under a considerably good performance.

The 18-55mm lens range offers an aperture between f/3.5-5.6 this variance can come in handy for clicking breath-taking portraits.

The debate over differences in camera lenses has no end. The difference between lenses will keep on varying but the best lens to buy depends on your decision, budget and requirement.

There are different types of lenses out in the market that are arispecific to a particular type of photography/videography. So, make sure you understand the differences in camera lenses before making a choice.

  • Portrait Photography:

Portrait photography is about capturing the essence and attitude of a person by keeping in accord with the background, the lighting as well as capturing the pictures in specific poses making the picture more natural. The art of portrait photography is considered to be the hardest to master. To master portrait photography, it is mandatory to have a professional set of equipment which includes a professional camera lens.

The ability to understand the camera lens is very important as you can’t expect extreme fine results unless you invest well in the camera lens itself. One of the most popular camera lenses for portraits is an 85mm prime lens, considering camera zoom lenses explained can deliver amazing portraits the prime lens will always be a step ahead of it.

The 50mm lens variant also does a good job when it comes to portrait photography, also it is available in two variants of aperture f/1.8 or f/1.4.As a photographer if you opt for an APS-C camera for shooting you can achieve the closest equivalent focal length of 52.5mm with a 35mm lens.

Meanwhile the micro four third users who use a 25mm lens can achieve an equivalent focal length of 50mm. When it comes to portrait photography a 50mm lens proves to work the best for full length as well as waist-level portraits, in the studio as well as outdoor locations.

The entire credit here goes to the wide field of view that it delivers in comparison with an 85mm or 135mm lens, an add on benefit is that you don’t have to be too far away from your subject in order to click such crops.As is said “what do the numbers on a camera lens mean” is the most vital facet when it comes to portrait photography as it needs a wide aperture ranging from f/1.2 to f/2.8. Hence, the best lens range concerning a focal length to get the best portraits lies between 85-135mm one cannot go wrong with such specifications.

  • Landscape Photography:

Landscape photography implies outdoor photography. The idea behind landscape photography is to provide a real-life experience to your viewers through the picture itself. When it comes to landscape photography the user can deal with a mid-range aperture lens. Even a lens with an aperture of f/8 works pretty well for landscape photography.

If the aperture is very low or very high that will affect the clarity of the picture, say a spectrum ranging from f/2.8 to f/22 thus a midrange aperture is most preferred. The difference between camera lenses makes a huge impact on what product you will receive in the end. Thus, it is always suggested to get these high-end lenses after you have figured out what lens to buy, or the best lens to buy based on your requirements and capital.


Besides the aperture it is also suggested to set the ISO as low as possible to click the best landscape pictures, higher the ISO setting grainier the pictures will look like this an ISO range of 100-400 usually works best to get the best results. You have to remember one thing that if you reduce the ISO settings the shutter speed will reduce too thus you might miss your shot, make sure you have maintained the setting in a way you can click the picture and also keep them as close to perfection as possible.

One of the golden rules about DSLR lenses for beginners when it comes to landscape photography is to use a polarizing filter, polarizing filters work best while capturing panoramas of water, sky, clouds, vibrant colors, and reflections. For example, using a polarizing filter you can enhance the blue color of the sky as well as reduce the shiny glare of the rocks inside the water to make the pictures look clean and livelier.

  • Macro Photography:

Macro photography is one of the wonders of “what do the numbers on a camera lens mean”, where it is been said that you can click extremely accurate pictures of insects and animals but when you put it in a photographic technical language it implies that during macro capturing you have to click where your object is the exact size as the sensor in your camera or even smaller so that it fits in the frame entirely.

Eventually, if your camera sensor is one inch wide, you would be photographing something 1 inch or smaller. In the use of macro photography, it is important to understand how the size of your subject will appear on the camera sensor. When you get the idea of your subject's size and number you would get a value called 'Magnification'.Macro photography requires camera lenses with a longer focal length like 180 to 200mm but are expensive.


No worries, a lens range from 100mm to 150mm will work just fine. In macro photography, the decision of the first lens to buy includes focal length and the working distance through which the photographer will be clicking the pictures. working distance is the distance between the front of your lens and your nearest subject.

  • Street Photography:

Street photography is one of the most demanding yet the most riveting genres of photography. A street portrait expects you to interact with the subject you wish to capture. Interacting with strangers on the street may strike anxiety in those who just started street photography. But, once you are familiar you can capture great pieces from street photography. Smaller cameras are less obtrusive than enormous DSLRs.

They are highly portable, especially when you are out for outdoor shoots. Whereas, bigger cameras are much heavier yet promising, quality-wise than any other smaller cameras. There are also mirrorless cameras that have a silent shutter mode, where you probably wouldn't listen to the shutter sound. The focal length range for street photography ranges from 23mm to 50mm.


Street photography is one of the most demanding yet the most riveting genres of photography. A street portrait expects you to interact with the subject you wish to capture. Interacting with strangers on the street may strike anxiety in those who just started street photography. But, once you are familiar you can capture great pieces from street photography. Smaller cameras are less obtrusive than enormous DSLRs.

They are highly portable, especially when you are out for outdoor shoots. Whereas, bigger cameras are much heavier yet promising, quality-wise than any other smaller cameras. There are also mirrorless cameras that have a silent shutter mode, where you probably wouldn't listen to the shutter sound. The focal length range for street photography ranges from 23mm to 50mm.

Prime lenses run smaller than zoom lenses, but most importantly, when you invariably use the exact focal length, you will become aware of how your frame will look even before putting up the camera at your eye level which is a really good practice to keep the entire street photography experience to make less awkward and not to offend anyone on your photographic journey.

  • Wildlife Photography:

Wildlife photography must be considered as the most aspired method of photography as it lets you connect with nature and wild animals on an enigmatic level. Wildlife photography has its fun but at times it can be a difficult task as well as life-threatening.

The most expensive sort of camera lens is used in wildlife photography which is levels above DSLR lenses for beginners, you cannot compromise here, you are not in the position to go close to your subject thus you require a decent zoom feature but at the same time, you want to keep the photograph as sharp and clear as possible which both cannot happen using a low-end camera lens.

A slight drawback of using a zoom lens is that zoom lenses often come with a varying maximum aperture as you zoom in. The popular Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens is an example of this. When you’re shooting at 150mm, you’ll be able to achieve as wide as f/5 for your aperture, but when at the 600mm end you’re limited to f/6.3 and smaller.


Prime lenses are comparatively more pricey than zooms lenses but are faster than zoom lenses. As these lenses provide maximum wider aperture, the price of the lenses justifies itself. For example, the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens is fantastic and very fast considering the lens mm meaning it’s one the best if not the best lens for wildlife photography but it will burn a hole of 11,700 dollars in your pocket. A teleconverter can be used as well which is a magnifying lens where it helps with the magnification of the image but you should be very careful while buying one as it might end up softening the entire picture.

  • Sports Photography:

Sports photography is all about recording an athletic event. It could be a major sports competition or it could be a local event, school sports competitions range from high schools to professional-level organizations, be it national or international events. When it comes to sports photography the question still pertains to what does the lens does on a camera. One needs to keep their eyes open wide and sharp at all times as historic moments come and go in the glimpse of a second.

There are several games where you can practice sports photography such as football, cricket, baseball, or basketball besides these major sport’s other sports such as tennis, swimming competitions, golf track, and field events, cycling tours, skiing, and water sports are also included. Even if you are not an athlete, photographing athletes or athletes is a great way to improve your photography skills.


The lenses you buy must provide you two things: they should get you as close to the action as possible, and they should work quickly with as little light as possible. As the movement gets closer, it will pull away a bit. A telephoto zoom lens in that case can be a considerable choice as it lets you zoom out a bit as the action gets closer.

The telephoto zoom lens of 100-400mm f/4 or lower makes a great starter lens for sports photography. Besides having a sturdy camera and a considerable camera lens, it is important to have a strong tripod or at least a suitable monopod as the players will always keep on moving. You cannot hold the camera in your hands if you do, you will end up getting blurry pictures.

  • Vlogging:

Vlogging has become a staple “occupation” in today’s day and age where individual records themselves using the camera for a couple of minutes or an hour depending on how long they want it to be for an entire day or more. The term vlogging came up from the traditional blogging where people used to write down what they experienced in a day but it's in a video format now.

Considering that you will be putting this on a social platform you want it to be of good quality as by attempting vlogging you are trying to make your viewers experience what you are experiencing in a virtual method. The focal length of a vlogging camera can range from 16mm to 35 mm to 50mm as well as 85 mm which can be considered the crown camera lens for vlogging.


On the surface level, the 35mm is the best for shooting YouTube videos. It's neither too close nor too wide, the 50mm is the cleanest and richest shot. And, the 16mm makes people feel like they’re watching a YouTube video or vlog and works nicely as expected. But if you want to make the experience for your viewers the best of the best then you should go for the 85mm which will burn a big hole in your pocket but is worth every penny you spend on it.

On a technical note, it is preferred for a vlogging camera to have an aperture range between f/3.5 to f/5.6 also it should have a wide-angle zoom lens ranging between 10-18mm (APSC sized sensor) or 16-35mm (Full Frame). One of the major aspects of concern is the camera to be light in weight as the user will be holding it the entire time using a short tripod or in hand. Besides that, the camera should have autofocus too but that depends on the camera you are using more than the lens.

What Makes a Good Camera Lens?

Various aspects enhance the quality of a lens giving in return amazing and sharp pictures and making it the best lens for beginners. Considering the camera lens specs explained as well as camera lens explained there are certain key notations that a good camera lens should hold such as:

  • Speed

The camera lens is responsible for capturing light and focusing it on the camera sensor. A better-quality lens generally has a larger aperture so light can pass through the sensor. The size of the opening is measured by f-stop. The lower the f-stop. Faster shots are the key to capturing sporting events and wild animals. They are also very useful for low-light photography, allowing photographers to reduce their dependence on the camera's ISO function.

  • Vignetting

Vignetting appears as a darker area around the edges of the photo. This is because more light enters the centre of the lens than the edge of the lens due to poor quality of the glass or lens structure.

  • Distortion

All lenses have some kind of distortion. This is most noticeable in wide-angle lenses, especially in very wide-angle situations. This happens when you try to place a large object remotely in a single frame and the entire image looks distorted. For example, this distortion can cause the building to tilt at an angle opposite to that of the photographer. Due to the use of more lens elements, better quality lenses have less distortion.

  • Vibration Reduction

Many lenses have built-in image stabilizers. The image stabilization function helps stabilize the lens through manual shooting so that photographers can capture clear images at a slower shutter speed than usual. For long exposure tripod photography, the lens must be closed.

Other factors to consider while choosing a camera lens:

  • Lens mount:

A lens mount is an opening of a specific size on an interchangeable lens camera that allows attaching lenses designed for that mount. Different camera brands have different ways of attaching and detaching the camera mount of the camera. When it comes to a lens mount it consists of a throat size, inner diameter, and outer diameter with different measurements. The question: what do different mm lenses do is what we are trying to find out from the beginning.

The size(mm) of the mount is an important factor in a camera system. There are two types of lens mount :bayonet type and breech-lock type. The bayonet mechanism precisely balances the mechanical and electrical properties between the lens and the housing, a rotating ring that frictionally attaches the lens to the camera. A breech lock assists with attaching camera lenses on camera bodies. Lens mount is a very important factor when it comes to photography overall as it’s the key to lock your camera and your lens together.

  • Lens Format:

The format of the lens determines the size of the image sensor. Nikon produces DX format sensors and FX format sensors. The DX format is the smallest 24x16mm sensor; the FX format has a maximum full-frame sensor size of 36 x 24 mm, roughly equivalent to the size of 35 mm film. FX lens and FX lens can be used interchangeably.

Therefore, if you have switched from an FX camera to a DX-format DSLR camera, your full-frame FX lens can still be used. The DX sensor allows the use of a smaller and lighter camera, but because it covers a smaller part of the image projected by the lens, a 1.5x crop factor is introduced because the smaller sensor crops the image compared to the image.

From a 35mm film frame. This means that, for example, a 24 mm lens on a DX sensor camera will provide a field of view of approximately 36 mm. Lens format associates with camera lens number explained for key aspects while deciding the first lens to buy as it helps you click cropped images as per your requirement.


The process of purchasing a camera itself is a really big deal, you have to take care of several aspects depending on your requirement, what sort of photography you are looking forward to doing that set aside choosing a lens is an ever-bigger hassle as many of the photographers expect their lens to perform well in all possible situations and settings. Understanding differences in camera lenses is a big deal, rest assured we hope the camera lenses explained in this article along with the secondary aspects will help you make the right decision and you end up becoming a spectacular photographer.


Hey, this is Stefan. I love filmmaking gadgets because I have been working as a cinematographer for more than ten years. So I have good experience working with almost all filmmaking gadgets. I can help people who are looking forward to buying these gadgets with my review articles. From my articles, you can find amazing products in the market.

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