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Camera Lenses for the Beginner

Updated on March 9, 2023


A good quality camera is needed for great pictures, but if you are using bad lenses it will not make a difference how good your cameras is.

Cameras today come with so many features to take a better picture or make it easier on you to take a better picture. They are all limited by your lens choice.

Get the Camera that will do what you need, and then buy better lenses. These are investments because if you buy the same type of camera they can be used into the future.


When it comes to quality lenses, they are not cheap. I can not tell you the importance of a good piece of glass. You have many choices in lenses to pick from.

This comes down to the type of picture you are taking and the money you can afford to spend. Getting the right lens for the job will always produce better results.

A couple a good lens with a decent camera and you will be set up for taking quality pictures..

Your results depend on your know how and your equipment, learn what you can about your camera and get the best lenses you can afford.

Prime Lenses

A Prime lens has a fixed number for a focal length like 35 mm or 50 mm. The lens is stationary and can be of a better quality.

This is why prime lenses are able to go to lower aperture settings. This allows it to need less light to take a picture and your results will be a quality finished product.

I recommend you get a 50 mm and maybe even a 35 mm when you have the extra money. Then add a telephoto lens to your equipment.

When using a prime lens you only have one focal length and you will have to move back and forth to fit the frame properly with your subject.

What you get is a clearer image and you can use a lower F-stop to make the most of the available light. This lets you shoot in lower light situations.

Most prime lenses have better optics because they do not have to adjust which turns out a better image.

Telephoto Lens

Telephoto Lens

A telephoto lens brings things that are far away closer so they fit the frame of the camera. You can also see them better and they are closer exposing all of their details,

They are used many times in sports and outdoor type photos to bring the subject in close.

Focal Lengths

When it comes to telephoto lenses you have some choices to make. The focal range you need will depend on the type of photos you plan to take and the range you need.

Short Range

You have short range telephoto lenses the range from 12 mm to 24 mm or 18 mm to 55 mm. These are used for close up images or to bring close items in closer.

Mid range

The mid range telephoto lenses can be the 55 mm to 200 mm or the 70 mm to 300 mm lens. These are more commonly used to take sports and nature pictures. They are more of an all around lens.

Long Range

You have long range optics that are usually 500 mm or larger, these are primarily used for sports and animal pictures. These can bring the really far away objects in close enough to see little details.

Image stabilization

This is a feature the many quality lenses have. It gets the most use in telephoto lenses because the smallest movement can cause blur at telephoto distances.

When buying a lens you want to consider one with stabilization unless you plan to do all your shooting from a tripod.

Macro Lenses

Taking pictures close up involves using a macro lens. This is a lens made for close up shots of small items. These lenses can be either prime or telephoto.

The telephoto can give you a little more room to work. They will have a clearer lens that shows details better.

There is a cheaper way then buying several macro lens and that is to get extension tubes to use your existing lenses.

These tubes work by increasing the distance between the lens and the camera sensor. The quality may be slightly less but most of the time it is not noticeable.

There is also an extension lens that goes on the end of you regular lens and turns it into a macro by allowing you to focus closer.

Macro Photography

There is a whole series or type of photographs that consist of macro images. These bring little things into big pictures and show all the detail possible.

Macro pictures are used in teaching and information sites. They can also be used to advertise smaller items for sale.

This is a one type of photography that people specialize in. Then doing one thing over and over makes you better at it.

Wide Angle Lenses

There always comes a time when you do not have the distance needed to fit your subject into the frame. This is when you reach for a wide angle lens.

This lens pushed back the depth of field and take a much wider image with the same camera.

You also have a lens extension that fits the end of your regular lens and turns it into a wide angle. I feel this type of extension is not as good as having an actual wide angle lens.

I feel buying a wide angle lens with a short focal length is always the best choice for professional grade pictures.


The aperture setting of the lens is the amount of available light it uses. All lenses are usually able to adjust this and the ones with the lowest setting can use the most light.

These settings are called F-Stops and each setting doubles the available light used as the numbers go lower.

This means a 1.4 lens will use double the light a 1.8 lens. This allows you to take pictures in lower light conditions.

The lower the lens aperture number goes, the better the lens performs. They can go up in price dramatically.


Bokah is when the background of a subject is out of focus and blurry while the subject is crystal clear. This is a form of photography that has become popular.

It is created by adjusting your F-Stop or aperture to reduce your depth of field and move it to your subject.

Changing Lenses

Today's cameras have automatic settings that will adjust the cameras settings according to the lens being used.

Expanding your knowledge of different lenses is needed to become a better photographer. Your camera will need different settings for each lens. Until you know them you can try the automatic setting so the camera sets them.

As a suggestion, pay attention to how the settings change and then learn why they did. This actually gives you more of a working knowledge of the new lenses.

Example of Bokah



Quality lens come at a high price. The cost may dictate which lens you can afford. The entry level and kit lens are pretty good today.

I have a few expensive lens, but most of my stock site images are from the kit lens. Make sure you research each lens and get the model that has the best feedback.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Vince Alvino


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