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Top Camera Lens Brands – Which Should You Buy?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 4/14/2009

Selecting a camera lens can be a daunting task. Luckily, we've put together some of the best that you can get on the market, no matter what you plan on using it for. Learn which camera lens you should buy for which type of photography!

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    Deciding on a Type of Lens

    Trying to decide on a camera lens can be a daunting task. But, perhaps the first thing that you need to do before you start shopping is to try to figure out what you want to use your lens for. Do you want to take landscape photographs? Do you want to take pictures of your son’s hockey game? Are you planning on taking portraits? Once you figure out the purpose of the lens, then you can narrow down your choices. To help you with this process, here are some of the top lenses on the market.

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    Landscape Photography

    In recent years, it just seems that the number of photographers experimenting with landscape photography has exploded. But, before you start, you should try one of these amazing lenses.

    The Tamron AF18-270 mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC LD ($600 to $700 online) is a wide to telephoto zoom lens. It has been out since last year, but has already created a lot of buzz in the industry. You can take pictures from wide angle all the way out to ultra telephoto by using the built-in zoom control. When in the 35mm format, it can cover views from 28mm to 419 mm. It comes with its own optical stabilization technology, the tri-axial Vibration Compensation. The weight for this one is 19.8 ounces, and the filter size is 72mm.

    It can be used with specially Canon and Nikon mounts, and you can zoom out to a 15x zoom ratio. This lens was made to be strictly used with SLR cameras that have an APS-C sized senor. And, the images that you will capture with this lens are phenomenal.

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    Sports Photography

    Canon’s EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM (between $5,000 and $9,000 online) is definitely a favorite amongst sports photographers. What makes this telephoto lens so special is that it not only takes crisp, clear photos, but it’s extremely fast. This lens also comes with Canon’s version of optical stabilization, the Image Stabilizer, which compensates for shaking hands to deliver better quality photos. This helps with both low-light situations, but also the quickness of sports events like track and field. The lens also sports a fluorite element and two UD-glass elements which help with resolution and contrast.

    But, it’s the speed that makes this lens so great for sports photography. The combination of a ring USM and a new and improved AF drive algorithm makes this one of the fastest lens that you can get, especially when you coming it with EOS-1v and EOS-3. The filter size is 52mm, and the weight is a hefty 11.8 pounds.

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    Portrait Photography

    The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR di LD ($350 online) has a filter size of 67mm and only weights about 18 ounces. But, what sets this baby apart for portrait photography are the focal lengths (28 to 75mm). It’s just perfect for taking the most natural-looking portraits that you can. It also has a wide maximum aperture (f/2.8), which allows for a shallower depth of field. The lens allows you to do to extreme close-ups without blurring, and it also allows you to soften the look of your subject without post-processing touch-ups by using the extreme aperture settings.

    The picture quality is stunning, getting as close to real life as possible, which is just what you need for portraits. It also comes with a pretty impressive six year warranty so that you can return or exchange it if anything goes wrong with it.

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    Everyday Use

    There are quite a number of lenses that will work best for everyday use. For example, the Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D (filter size 52mm, weight 5.1 ounces and online price $110) is perfect for the amateur who wants to take everyday pictures with her Nikon camera. The lens is one of the sharpest made by Nikon. Plus, it’s small and lightweight, which makes it easier to carry in a backpack or camera bag. It’s also extremely durable and reliable.

    For Pentax digital SLRs, you can’t go wrong with the Pentax SMCP-FA 50 mm f/1.4 (filter size 49 mm, weight 7.8 ounces and $200 online). It’s also extremely lightweight and small. It’s also the sharpest lens that you can buy for a Pentax. The images that it produces are crisp, but you can also make some pretty soft sweet images with it as well.