Aug 9, 2012

Tidbits: Buying a Lens

Hi there! Hope you are having a great Thursday! My girls and I spent the morning in downtown West Palm Beach hanging out on the docks. It is a gorgeous, but very hot day.

I have a lot planned for the next few weeks of Tidbits… and I am always looking for even more great ideas. So please, feel free to email or leave comments with any questions you want answered… or ideas you may have for a Tidbits post!

Today, I wanted to answer a question I get asked quite a bit.

I have enough money to buy one lens, which one would you recommend?”

It’s a good question. Lenses can make a huge difference in your image quality. Have you ever put on a pair of cheap sunglasses? Feel like you can see as clearly? Not really.

Well in the same way buying a good lens is kind of like giving your camera nice glasses, verses crappy ones.

There are two main types of lenses out there. Zoom and Prime. Zoom lenses are simply lenses that have an adjustable focal length; prime lenses have a fixed focal length. I will tell you which I prefer in a minute… but first some advantages to both.

Zoom Lenses

The major advantage of a Zoom lens is its versatility. It can capture many different framings of the same subject within seconds without having to move. Some people also prefer them because they don’t have to carry around the weight of the extra lenses (because they can achieve several focal lengths in one lens… verses carrying three fixed length lenses). Another advantage, you don’t have to change lenses as frequently.

Prime Lenses

The biggest advantage to me of the Prime lenses is the clarity they provide. While the best zooms can test to be as sharp as prime lenses, my experience is that they still don’t offer images as “crisp” as those from prime lenses. Also, most prime lenses let in much more light than a zoom lens. They have a wider aperture, which in my case, helps me achieve the kind of image I am looking for. Another reason I enjoy prime lenses is they will only give you one angle of view (it’s a fixed distance). For some people this can be annoying because you have to move physically. But for me having to move in closer or farther changes my perspective.  I end up finding a better composition or backdrop then before. And last, cost wise, you can get so much more out of the prime lenses. Don’t get me wrong they are expensive too… but you have more options to choose from. The image quality you can receive from a $300 prime lens is so much better than a $300 zoom.

So, if you haven’t guessed it already…I prefer to shoot with prime lenses with the exception of my 70-200mm zoom lens which I use for ceremonies and sometimes portraits (especially when I am in a situation where I can’t move around a lot physically).

If I had a limited amount of money… I think a 50 mm 1.8 is a great way to start. And I love the 50mm focal length. The 50mm 1.2 is what you will usually find on my camera for everyday shots.

I hope that helped anyone who is out there shopping! To see other lenses we use… check out the full list of my gear here.

Don’t forget to leave other questions or comments below for future Tidbits posts 🙂




  1. […] I would then recommend getting the 50 mm 1.4. lens. I wrote more about lenses and the differences here if you want to learn more. I know there are a ton of those kits coming out around this time of year (where the camera body […]

  2. Pam Monaghan says:

    Love this! Would love a tidbit on flashes! Searching for one right now and would love some tips!


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