Camera Lenses

My current camera is the Nikon D5300. (Not that I am biased towards Nikon. It was the first brand of camera I used and I’ve grown accustomed to it.) I would like to know if you have a preference?

I have 3 lenses at the moment. The lens I’ve used the most is the standard 18-55mm kit lens. It has served me very well and still continues to do so. Especially because it’s so versatile. You can take anything from landscape, macro, portrait, animals, cars, near and far.

I also have a Sigma 70-300mm. It’s great for wildlife photography. I’ve used a few times in Namibia. Other than that, it rarely sees any action.

Like many others, I’m a huge fan of a shallow depth of field. (That’s the strong blur in photos). Two years ago I bought a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It drastically changed how I take photos. I can now take pictures with a much shallower depth of field which means I can emphasise where I want you to focus when you look at the picture.

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Because it’s a prime lens, (which means it can’t zoom in. If you want to zoom in you have to use your feet), it challenges you to think differently.

A question that eventually comes up for new photographers is – a new camera or a new lens?

For me, a new lens. Having an excellent camera with a terrible lens is absolutely pointless, but having an okay camera with a good lens can change everything.

It’s better to have a $1000 lens on a $100 camera, than a $100 lens on a $1000 camera.

Why?

Because it’s pointless to have a good camera/sensor shooting through a low-quality lens. The good camera becomes redundant. On the other hand, having an okay camera shooting through a high-quality lens can drastically improve your photos.

Don’t buy expensive gear thinking it will automatically improve everything. Make sure there’s a reason why you buy your gear. The reason not being, “because I want to take better pictures or videos”.

Maybe you want to take pictures of wildlife, then buying a telephoto lens is a good choice. What if you want to up your portrait game? Buying a 35mm(if you have a crop sensor) or a 50mm(if you have a full-frame) can be a good buy.

But never allow the reason to be, “I want to improve my photos, this means I need to buy the most expensive gear I can find.”

Every piece of your gear is a tool, and it’s how you use it that makes all the difference.

53 thoughts on “Camera Lenses

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  1. Great post and discussion in the comments! My gear was always limited by budget but I learnt so much trying to push the limits of that gear. I chose Nikon D3200 because it was small and cheap(ish). I switched to used Sony RX100 III, smaller sensor, non-changing lens but has RAW files and super small and light! Loved it, but occasionally missed long zoom. After considering Sony full frame upgrade, I went with a used Olympus last year after playing with a mates. Absolutely brilliant system and features, still relatively small and light (especially compared to full frame). I finally feel the only limit to my photography is me 🙂

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    1. That’s amazing! In my experience. That’s one of the best ways to learn. Start with a budget camera and take it from there.
      Haha. That last sentence. Absolutely true! That’s what most people miss. Just because you’re camera gets better doesn’t mean your photography will.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a nice and good read, without complicating by using technical terms used by most experienced photographers. And yes what you said about and expensive lens on a not so expensive camera is absolutely correct. I use canon 4000D which is an entry model basic DSLR with kit lens and I have really got accustomed to it. The only additional lens I got is the usual recommended 50mm f1.8 lens.

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    1. Thank you! I try to explain things as simple as possible. How are you experiencing your 50mm? A few years ago I struggled to decide between the 35mm and 50mm. I eventually went with the 35mm because I have a crop sensor and I still want to be able to capture landscape if I want to.

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  3. I started with a Canon AE-1, shooting mostly slides, “wandered” up to an A1 and now mostly use a D30. I still have my old cameras but prefer the simplicity of digital. Sadly, some of my old slides continued “developing” and though I’ve scanned them and tried to rescue them, a lot of colour depth is gone. I agree with the comment elsewhere that the best camera is the one you have with you. I also use the camera on my mobile phone, though I don’t always remember to clean the lens.

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      1. I guess it’s just a habit to learn, as I did with dust on my SLR lenses. Starting with a Canon was something of an accident, but I was more than happy with the quality. And I stayed with Canon because of the lenses. The D30 was more of a choice because the old lenses weren’t usable. You can get an adapter but only for manual use and it messes up the focal length. I could have gone to Olympus at that time, but there we go. Still on Canon and still very happy.

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        1. Talking about old lenses and their adaptability. When I was in Namibia in 2017 I bought a Nikon F-301 film camera and it came with a 35-70mm lens. Little did I know I was able to use that old lens on my current Nikon, as they’ve had the same lens mount (F-mount) since 1959.

          I haven’t used a Canon before, but I have a friend who has a mid-range Canon. I will give it a try to see what it’s like.

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  4. To add to the comment about the value of good quality lenses, I’ll tell a tale of my own.

    Years ago, in the days of film, I had a Sigma 170-500mm lens. It was the best I could afford at the time, and it had excellent reviews. After a few years of using it, I went on a photography week led by a well-known wildlife photographer. One evening as he looked through my slides for the day, he threw up his hands in exasperation and said I was limited by my equipment. What? He couldn’t always find a point of focus in my images. It wasn’t until I got a digital camera and used the same lens that I understood what he meant. Now that I could see images (and the exposure data) enlarged on the computer screen, it was obvious that pictures taken at the 500mm end at f5.6 were soft compared with the same pictures at f8 or at 400mm. I replaced it with a Nikon 300mm f4, and even with a teleconverter added, the photos were always much sharper.

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  5. I agree with your post gear does not make you a better photographer. I started photography a few years ago with a D3200 after health issues forced me to retire. Like you suggest I first invested in glass and slowly into new bodiesI because of added flexibility. I would probably still be using my D7200 if I had not gotten a great deal on a D700. Now I have a Z6 and a 1.8 50 and 85 with a 24-70 f4 and 4 f mount lens as well.

    I had to get rid of my Motorcycle so it funded some camera gear… I love landscape and portrait photography mostly but I will shoot anything if it suits me. I am just an amateur so the pace is my own. .

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    1. I’m very interested to experience a full-frame camera. You have great gear! It’s good that you shoot anything that interests you. It’s good to ‘specialise’ in something, but to also be interested in shooting other things. For example, if you’re used to shooting only nature, go and take pictures of cares. Or if you only take portraits, go and take pictures of flowers or household object.
      In my experience, that’s how you develop having the ‘eye’ for things.

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      1. I agree. I started with landscapes but now like to do a bit of everything. If you are interested in exploring full frame I would suggest looking at the D700. It is an amazing 12 mp camera that will amaze you, and can be had for very cheap. I still love mine. I keep a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 on it now. I think you would like it if you could try it.

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        1. Thank you! I just might go to the camera store and see if I can rent one or just try it out to see what it’s like. I think I’ll definitely move to a full-frame someday. That extra bit you get in the frame can make a huge difference.

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    1. How long have you been taking photos?

      I also started out with the Nikon D3100. It served me very well. I took thousands of pictures with it and learned so much. It is a wonderful camera. Don’t ever think it’s not good enough. Besides taking pictures of nature, I’ve also done a few commercial shoots with it. Including taking pictures for Mercedes-Benz and made a film with Adidas and Redbull. I say again. Don’t ever underestimate your camera, it can blow your mind. Your only limit is your own creativity.

      What do you like to take pictures of?

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      1. I’ve been using it since my 21st birthday, so 7 years now. I’m very pleased with it. I have an awesome camera on my phone, but they can’t compete, lense camera photos will always be better. I like macro photography, bees, nature. I rarely take photos of the cities and people.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree. Although it all depends on what you photograph and how you use it. I took this and this with my iPhone 6 a few years ago.
          This I took with my standard 18-55 kit lens.
          I have a Sigma 70-300mm which is great for macro photography but I rarely use it.
          Once again, it’s just all up to you and how you use the gear you already have.

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          1. That’s an incredible lens for macros! If you want more detail and a higher resolution image, then I’d recommend upgrading your camera, if you want to 🙂 Seeing as you already have a high-quality lens.

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