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Registered: ‎12-02-2014
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What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

[ Edited ]
I am a starter photographer and have a canon 100D and was was wondering what the best starter lens is? I like to take photos of landscapes, buildings, scenery, people and flowers.
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Posts: 5,082
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

[ Edited ]

@nadineblakeway wrote:
I am a starter photographer and have a canon 100D and was was wondering what the best starter lens is? I like to take photos of landscapes, buildings, scenery, people and flowers.

A cheap lens, preferably the "kit" lens that came with your camera. Many self-styled advisors, most of them well-intentioned and some of them frequenters of this group, will tell you to buy the best lens you can afford; the lens is what makes the picture; you're making an investment for the future; etc.; etc. Don't listen to them. Once you're no longer a newbie, you'll have a better idea of what direction you want to go, and you can use the money you save now to buy a higher-quality (and possibly more appropriate) lens then. And when you do ask for advice, you'll have a better recognition of who makes sense and who's just sitting there and letting his fingers ramble over the keyboard.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
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Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

Good advice above but if you want to expand on it one of the basic Superzooms is my next recommended step up, such as a 18-200

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
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Registered: ‎03-06-2013

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

Check out this Flickr pool: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1410895@N22/pool/

It is 18-55mm Kit Lens group (assuming you're having this one), and there are tons of great photo taken with it.

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Weekend Travelers Blog | Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide
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Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?


@hsbn wrote:

Check out this Flickr pool: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1410895@N22/pool/

It is 18-55mm Kit Lens group (assuming you're having this one), and there are tons of great photo taken with it.


That's awesome.  I love seeing stuff like that.  Glad to see a group devoted to it.

 

I was just watching one of Mike Kelley's architectural photography videos the other day where he does the money shot with a Rebel and a kit lens:

 

sdf

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Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

I am one that says don't waste your money on junkie lenses or cameras for that matter.  But I can see, with your SL-1 you may not want a too big of a lens.  So, I am going to reccommend the ef-s 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is as a great first lens.

Also the ef 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is usm is a step up (very good lens) but not quite as versatile.

 

Either of these is way better than the standard "kit" lens and will stay with you longer.  Especially the ef 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is usm. So, there is both side of the matter.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Posts: 425
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?


@RobertTheFat wrote:

@nadineblakeway wrote:
I am a starter photographer and have a canon 100D and was was wondering what the best starter lens is? I like to take photos of landscapes, buildings, scenery, people and flowers.

A cheap lens, preferably the "kit" lens that came with your camera. Many self-styled advisors, most of them well-intentioned and some of them frequenters of this group, will tell you to buy the best lens you can afford; the lens is what makes the picture; you're making an investment for the future; etc.; etc. Don't listen to them. Once you're no longer a newbie, you'll have a better idea of what direction you want ot go, and you can use the money you save now to buy a higher-quality (and possibly more appropriate) lens then. And when you do ask for advice, you'll have a better recognition of who makes sense and who's just sitting there and letting his fingers ramble over the keyboard.


GONNA RAMBLE ON...... GOTTA SING MY SONG.....

 

Sorry, I find old Led Zepplin lyrics rather infectious. Haha.

 

High five on nailing the "answer"!

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

They practically give the kit lenses away with the cameras. Did you not get one when you acquired the body?

I agree with the others in suggesting the kit lens, but would bring up the old shopworn chestnut about glass being more important than bodies. If you start with a body and kit lens, upgrade the lens first. Don't buy a nicer body until you have at least a couple of non-kit lenses. Once you get a handle on what you like to shoot most, go get yourself a wider aperture "bright" lens, whether it be a 50mm f/1.4 or a pancake 40mm f/2.8 or an 85mm f/1.8. These are cheap, really, and give you a useful tool for dim light work, and for creating shallow depth of field.
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
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Posts: 3,816
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?


@nadineblakeway wrote:
I like to take photos of landscapes, buildings, scenery, people and flowers.

There's no "best" lens.  Part of the reason you have a camera which allows you to swap lenses is because each lens has different qualities depending on what you want to do.  This means you can attach the lens which is optimal for the type of shooting you'd like to do.

 

A "kit" lens is not necessarily a junkie lens.  Modern kit lenses tend to be pretty good anymore... but they do try to keep the costs down so the lenses tend to be opimized for common shooting scenarios and not specialty scenarios.

 

If you said you were trying to shoot wildlife which can run faster than you, has sharper teeth and claws,  and may decide to eat you for lunch... then you'd probably want a VERY long lens (and a safe place to stand).  If you said you needed to shoot a sports game...in a poorly lit indoor gymnasium or perhaps outdoors, but at night under artificial lights, then a zoom lens with a very low focal ratio might be in order (and those tend to be expensive lenses.)

 

But you've listed off some shooting situations which aren't going to stress the lens selection or the budget... landscapes and buildings aren't moving so it's not an action photography situation.  You can take all the time you need to get the shot AND you tend to want to maximize focus which means you don't need low-focal ratio lenses (low focal ratio lenses tend to be more expensive.)

 

A kit lens is a great starting lens for everything you mentioned.  If you wanted a bit more zoom range then perhaps you could replace your kit EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 with an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, but architecture and landscapes tend to use the wider (short) focal length end of the lens... not so much the long focal length.

 

Flowers is an interesting area because while you could use the kit lens... there's a minimum focus distance requirement... if you are too close, the camera cannot focus.  If you want "close-up" images of flowers you might want a way to get closer.  BUT... this doesn't necessarily even require a lens.  

 

You *could* consider a Macro lens... a "true" macro lens allows very close focusing... close enough to provide 1:1 scale.  That "scale" is based on the size of the object on the camera sensor... not the image on screen or a print.  I'll use a US penny as an example.  A penny has a diamter of approximately 19mm.  The sensor on your camera is about 15mm in the short dimension and about 23mm in the long dimension.  That means a 19mm diameter penny at 1:1 scale would just barely fit in the "width" (which just a couple of millimeters on each side to spare) but it wouldn't fit in the vertical dimension.  

 

Canon's most affordable true "macro" lens is the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM.  It's a VERY good lens.

 

But there are other ways to get close-up photos and not buy a new lens.  

 

You can use close-up diopters... these are lenses that thread onto the end of your current lens ... think of it like wearing "reading glasses".... except for your camera lens.  They allow it to focus on things closer than it can normally handle.  There are some trade-offs due to the way these diopters work, but they do a pretty good job for a very cheap price.    

 

You can also use something called an "extension tube".  This is a hallow barrel that you attach between the camera body and lens... it's job is just to hold the lens a little farther away from the sensor.  When you do this, two things happen... you get a larger image (it's like moving a movie projector farther away from the movie screen... the image naturally gets larger) and ALSO it allows the lens to achieve focus at a shorter focusing distance than it can natively do...   but what it really does is "shift" the entire focus range closer (meaning that while the camera can now focus on nearer subjects... it can no longer focus on distant subjects because it no longer focuses all the way out to "infinity" (you'd have to take the extension tube off the camera.)    But extension tubes are just tubes... there's no glass.  There usually are electronic contacts so that the camera can communicate with the lens, but that's it.  This means an extension tube is a rather low-cost item.  

 

The best image quality for close-up photography is by using a "true" macro lens... but that's also the most expensive solution and depending on why you want the images, you may not care about the subtle differences.  

 

I'd suggest starting with close-up diopters OR extension tubes... do your close-up photography of flowers and if you find you really enjoy it then you can always buy a macro lens later.  

 

For landscapes, buildings, scenery and people... buy nothing.  Use the kit lens.  It's great for that.

For flowers... buy either close-up diopters or "extension tubes"... if you REALLY find you love this sort of thing... consider a macro lens down the road.

 

For people... your kit lens is fine and frankly the best option as you're starting out.  You may EVENTUALLY want a lens with a lower focal ratio for more of a portrait look ... where you can deliberately blur the background more easily and with higher quality than you can do with the kit lens.  If you want that "look" to the iamges, then an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM would be a great lens (probably the best option).

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-06-2014

Re: What is the best lens for a starter photographer?

[ Edited ]

To add to what TCampbell has said, I figured I would share an example. I am pretty new to photography and I recently took the SL1, with kit 18-55 STM, added a 10x diopter filter (part of a $12 "Polaroid" set from amazon.com) and took the picture linked below.

 

Here is a Chrysanthemum close-up that has a macro feel to it on the cheap:

https://500px.com/photo/96112315/white-spider-chrysanthemum-flower-by-techjedi

 

I took this picture on a tripod with the flower sitting on my kitchen island with just recessed lighting and a long shutter speed.

 

So you can really just start with that kit lens, mess around with filters, figure out what technical specs are holding you back in the future, then get new hardware that resolves those issues. You wont know what features/specs you need to optimize until you practice for a while on the various types of photography you want to do.

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