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Choosing a lens can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of choices, a huge span of cost and a plethora of focal lengths.
Choosing a lens can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of choices, a huge span of cost and a plethora of focal lengths. A good place to start is by deconstructing your experience with the kit lens that came with your camera. What shots were difficult to get with that lens? Was it the focal length or the speed of the lens that made a given shot hard to get. Once you are familiar with the weakness of your prior lens, that information will help you looking forward. A choice hierarchy will equip you with the answers you need to make tangible choices based on your needs and budget. Here are some simple questions that will help point out what your needs are. First, what focal length do you want? Will a wide, normal or telephoto lens fit your needs better or rather what field of view do I want? The field of view will determine the composition of your shot, set the sense of space and proportion in the final image, control how deep or shallow the depth of field in your image will be and determines overall sharpness and contrast. It will also tell you whether you can work as quickly as you need to get the shots that you want. Next, how much are you willing to pay? Knowing your budget will clear out those lenses that are out of reach. Is a zoom or a prime going to suit your needs more? Remember, a prime will be better for shooting in low light, and give you more shallow depth of field, but a zoom gives you many more focal lengths to choose from. And lastly, what maximum aperture speed will you require? Will you be shooting in low light? Is a shallower depth of field called for? Once you answer those questions, you will need to still continue to remove choices out of the choice pool. What you’re looking for? Do you need good sharpness, contrast and color? Do you need creative flexibility? After answering these questions, the choice pool will be greatly lessened. For the remaining choices, it's best to get your hands on them. If you have a store near by that stocks what you're looking for, go there, touch them… bring your camera and use them in store. If you don't have a fully stocked photo video store, as many of us don't, then using an online lens rental company to rent and experience the lenses before purchasing. Its a great way to solidify your assumptions about the lenses you are interested in. Once you have done all these steps, a clear winner should emerge. If you are left between a few lenses, go and read user reviews of them, but remember, everyone has an opinion, so weigh them as such. Choosing a lens can be a huge task, and it's best not to take it lightly. So take on the challenge, answer the questions and get your hands dirty, you’ll be glad you did.