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How to Choose the Right Lens for Your DSLR Camera

A DSLR camera can be a great tool, but only if wielded properly. With the right knowledge and lenses, you can snap the perfect picture.


  • Step 1: Know that a kit lens is inferior Know that if you bought your DSLR in a kit that included a lens, chances are the lens is not going to be as good as any lens you can buy separately.
  • Step 2: Learn about f-stop Learn that the f-stop on a lens indicates how much light passes through the aperture to the sensor of the camera. A low f-stop means a wide aperture, which means less light is needed to take a picture. F-stop also affects focus. A wider aperture keeps your subject in focus and the background blurry, but a narrow aperture keeps everything in focus.
  • Step 3: Understand focal length Understand focal length, which is measured in millimeters. The bigger the number, the higher the magnification. An 18 millimeter lens is very wide compared to a 250 millimeter lens.
  • Step 4: Budget Determine your budget for lenses, and start with the basics. Buy a standard prime lens. A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length. A 50 millimeter prime lens is the perfect starter lens.
  • TIP: Use your old SLR lenses on your DSLR camera if both cameras have the same lens mount.
  • Step 5: Get a telephoto lens Get a telephoto lens, like an 85 millimeter, to take portraits or to get closer shots of distant objects without moving the camera.
  • Step 6: Take landscape pictures Take landscape and wide pictures with a wide-angle lens. For very wide, go with an 18 millimeter lens. For just a little wider than the 50 millimeter lens, use a 35 millimeter prime lens.
  • Step 7: Zoom Zoom from a wide shot to a close-up with a zoom lens. Unlike prime lenses, zoom lenses let you change focal length. A good zoom lens is a 50- to 250-millimeter zoom. Understand, though, that you lose light and sharpness with a zoom lens.
  • Step 8: Take pictures Use your new lenses to get the shots you want using all of the technology available.
  • FACT: In 2006, Carl Zeiss of Zeiss Lenses, built a telephoto lens that weighed 564 pounds with a focal length of 1700 millimeters, making it one of the largest telephoto lenses in the world.

You Will Need

  • DSLR camera
  • Budget
  • Standard lens
  • Telephoto lens
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Zoom lens
  • SLR lenses (optional)

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