When to Buy a Telephoto Lens

So we previously talked about why you should get a prime lens before a telephoto lens as your first one. But when should you buy a telephoto lens? Let’s talk about the different ways a telephoto lens can be used.

  1. For Faraway Subjects

Of course, the most obvious use of a telephoto lens is to zoom in on subjects that are far away. You can take photos of birds, the stars and the moon, wildlife, and sports with a telephoto lens. A telephoto lens will allow you to optically zoom in on subjects that you can’t physically get close to.

  1. For Portraits

Many people don’t realize how useful a telephoto lens can be for taking great portraits. Specifically, a telephoto lens can let you take portraits with a bokeh in the background if you can’t afford a prime lens with a wide enough aperture.

  1. For Walking Around

While I do recommend carrying a prime lens as a walk around lens when going for street photography, a nice short telephoto lens is also a great choice. It gives you a lot of flexibility while walking around in busy streets where you can’t always go up to your subjects with a fixed focal lens.

 

What should be your First Camera Lens?

So you’ve bought a shiny new DSLR or mirrorless camera are now ready to go out and do some serious photography, so you might be wondering what the best lenses are that you should buy to complement your camera.

 

Here are some of our recommendations for the types of lenses you should be using before you get something very expensive ad specialized.

  1. The Kit Lens

Many people fail to realize the fact that the kit lenses coming with cameras these days are actually quite good. The typical lenses you’ll find packaged with a camera are either the 18-55mm or the 16-50mm. These are both very good focal lengths for everyday shooting. Use the kit lens to get to grips with how a lens works. Experiment with different focal lengths and see which kind of photography suits you more. Practice focusing manually, try to take images from different perspectives, play with the aperture values. Use your kit lens to the best of its ability and you’ll see why you don’t always need a new lens right away.

  1. A Prime Lens

Once you have gained enough practice with your kit lens and want to get something else for your arsenal, I would recommend a prime lens. A 35mm focal length for a cropped sensor body or a 50mm focal length for a full-frame body is a great place to start.

A prime lens is one with a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in on your subject. Many young photographers think this is a bad thing and opt for a telephoto lens instead (I would know that because I did the same). However, the value of a prime lens in developing yourself as a photographer is something no one can deny.

Not only is a prime lens challenging to use as it restricts what kinds of shots you can get with it, it also forces you to be more creative. You have to walk around more, which makes you actually study your subject. You see how the light falls on your subject from different angles, how it looks up close, what details you can capture in your frame. All of this makes you a better, more inquisitive photographer. Rather than just standing some twenty feet away and zooming in to take a photo, you actually interact with your subject up close and try to find more creative angles.

So if you’re looking for a new lens for your camera, especially if it’s going to be something that teaches you how to be a photographer, get a prime lens.

Which Camera Should be your First?

This is a question that so many aspiring photographers just can’t seem to answer. There are so many options out there these days that beginner photographers just get confused as to which camera is best for their needs.

So let’s take a look at the different kinds of cameras that you can use if you want to take a shot at photography.

1. Your Smartphone

This may sound like a non-serious suggestion, but the first thing I always tell young photographers is to start taking serious photos with their smartphones. Phone cameras these days have gotten really advanced, and you can do amazing things with them if you want. A phone camera teaches you the basics of photography, from lighting control to compositional decisions. So if you’re really new to photography, be sure to give your phone camera a serious shot.

2. A Serious ‘Point and Shoot’

If you want something more capable than your smartphone, then go for a compact camera. These ‘point and shoot’ cameras now offer full manual controls as well which are vital in developing your photographic skills. Cameras like Fuji’s X100F and Sony’s RX100 line provide excellent results for a compact camera. However, these cameras are very high in price due to the balance in size and performance.

3. DSLR or Mirrorless

And finally, we come to the ‘serious’ cameras. Some people just can’t take a smaller camera seriously, and others might want something for professional-grade work. For those people, there are DSLR cameras. These are big, heavy, interchangeable lens cameras that can be used for both enthusiast as well as professional needs. You can use multiple lenses with these to suit your needs in any given situation. However, they are heavy and not easy to use as walk-around cameras.

To fix those issues, mirrorless cameras exist. These newer cameras have really given DSLRs a run for their money. They provide very comparable performance to a typical DSLR, with the same sensor sizes, but boast a much smaller body due to the lack of a mirror system. They have electronic viewfinders too which some people love and others hate (I am in the former category). They can also be used with multiple lenses, and are much easier to carry with you all day.

 

So before you go out throwing cash at a high-end DSLR, be sure to explore some other options. If you’ve never done photography before and just want to get started, it doesn’t really make sense to buy an expensive camera. Use your phone to learn the basics, or a compact camera to develop control over manual settings. Then, when you are sure that you want to be a photographer, you should consider whether to buy a traditional DSLR or a mirrorless system.