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How to Buy Your First Digital Camera Lens

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/12/2012

It can be extremely exciting to be a beginner photographer. You want to learn everything that there is to know about your digital camera. But, the hardest part may be buying a lens for your camera. Learn how to pick a lens for your digital camera here!

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    Simple Advice for Buying a Lens

    PentaxSMC 

    When you are just starting out as a photographer, it can be a fun and exciting adventure. It can also be a frustrating one when you go to buy lenses. Whether you think that you need them or not, you probably will, especially if you plan on taking landscape or animal photography. But, how do you go about choosing a lens for your camera?

    First of all, buy the lens that is the same brand as your camera. A Canon lens is not going to fit a Nikon camera. Or, if you really want a third-party lens, take your camera to a dealer or the store where you bought it and ask the person behind the counter. He/she will probably be able to help you find a third-party lens that will fit your camera. Or, you can always try researching the lenses on the Internet.

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    Types of Lenses

    There are three basic types of lenses: standard, wide-angle and telephoto. A normal lens will take the picture almost exactly as to how you see the scene. 50mm focal length (the distance between the lens and what you are photographing) is the most typical type of lens and the most popular. Overall, the shorter the focal length, the more crisp the photograph. This lens is relatively light weight, and the aperture (the opening in the lens that allows light to come through) lets you to take photographs even in low light.

    Wide-angle lenses are great for capturing the whole picture. If you're planning on taking landscape pictures, these will help you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lens_mount capture the entire scene. But, while they do help you capture the entire scene, you want to be able to zoom in as close as you can to get a great picture. These lenses are perfect for landscape photography and group/wedding photography. The 24mm and 35 mm are the most popular focal lengths for this type of lens.

    A telephoto lens is a necessity because it brings your subject to you. While everybody loves being in on the action, sometimes the action is too far away. For example, if you plan on taking animal pictures, you can't be standing over the lion as it attacks the wildebeast. You're going to have to be able to zoom in and get a great shot. These lenses are also very popular with sports photographers. This is where the telephoto lens comes into play. The s 70mm and 300mm focal lengths are the most popular telephoto lenses.

    These lenses don't have to be particularly fast if you are just starting out. A fast lens lets in light a lot quicker. This means a faster shutter speed and the ability to hand hold a camera in lower light situations. If you're just beginning, you're probably going to be taking it slow anyway so you don't need your lens to be that quick. Plus, the faster the lens the more expensive that it's going to be. Stick with something simple.

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    Mounts

    The next thing to think about when buying a lens is the lens mount. This is where your lens connects with your camera. This is where you can change out one lens for another. The lens mount come in three different types screw-threaded, bayonet or friction lock type, but most cameras that you will use will be bayonet type. These types usually have three tabs that fit into recesses on the camera.

    If you buy a lens that has a lens mount that doesn't fit your camera, you're going to have to return it. Lens mounts are different for each brand of camera. All SLR cameras now come with an electronic connection that allows you to change the lens setting. So, if your lens isn't communicating with your camera, it won't work.

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    Great Amateur Lenses

    To help you narrow down your choices, here is a list of some of the best lenses on the market for beginners.

    The Pentax SMCP-67 55mm f/4 lens is very easy to use and is a perfect lens for beginners. The main problem with this model is the price. At over $500, it's a little expensive for a first-time user.

    SonyTelephot Sony's 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Compact Super Telephoto Zoom lens is great for amateur outdoorsmen. It's very affordable at only about $170 retail and takes great animal photographs.

    For Canon users, the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS EF-S Lens is quite affordable (under $200 retail) and has CanonLens outstanding reviews. It's probably the perfect lens for any Canon users that are just starting out. This is the lens that is bundled with many of Canon's entry level cameras.

    Whatever the lens that you decide to go with, just remember that practice makes perfect. Read the manual, and take practice shots. Do this before you go on that African safari. You don't want your water buffalo photo to be blurry.