Dslr Camera Lens Buying Guide
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The majority of beginner-friendly DSLRs, including the Nikon D3500, have now been discontinued. For now, it's still possible to find stock of the D3500 and many others in our list below. But if you're on a tight budget you should definitely consider delving into the second-hand market.The used camera market is booming right now, which means there are plenty of reputable places to pick up a bargain DSLR. In the US, we recommend the likes of B&H Photo Video (opens in new tab), MPB (opens in new tab) and Adorama (opens in new tab), while those in the UK should check out Ffordes (opens in new tab), MPB (opens in new tab), Wex Photo Video (opens in new tab) and Park Cameras (opens in new tab).The Nikon D3500, for example, is available for only $354 in the US and even mid-range DSLRs like the Nikon D5600 can be found for $464 / 359 (around AU$655) in 'good' condition on MPB. The only downside when buying used is that you don't get the kit lens bundles that are often available when buying new, so it's still well worth comparing second-hand deals with the latest offers on new bodies shown in our guide below.Mark Wilson, Cameras editor
We've tested pretty much every beginner DSLR you can buy to create our ranked guide below. After countless hours of testing, the Nikon D3500 tops our list. Though it was recently discontinued, you can still find it stocked at many retailers. Thanks to its accessible controls, excellent image quality and catalogue of compatible lenses, we still think its the best DSLR camera for beginners to learn and grow with.
The new Pentax KF is a very mildly updated version of the Pentax K-70, bringing minor features like a slightly higher-res LCD. Still, it's effectively a K-70 in all but name, so this camera remains in our guide for those who are fans of the Pentax brand or its lenses.
Another factor to consider is the camera's sensor size. Most beginner-friendly DSLRs have APS-C sensors, which are much larger than a smartphone's and more than good enough for those starting out on the photography journeys. But if you're buying second-hand, you may find that full-frame options like the Nikon D610 and D750 come into your price range.
Still not entirely sure whether you need a DSLR or a mirrorless camera Don't forget to check out our Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras guide. Alternatively, if don't quite know what kind of camera you need at all, then read our easy-to-follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy
Buying a camera these days is a big investment, so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. These days, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera's performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.
Despite buying cameras which have been specifically designed to take and make use of different lenses, a large number of photographers only ever use the kit lens that their DSLR or interchangeable lens camera came with. But it's really not that surprising, picking the right next lens can be daunting, which is why we're going to try to help with our guide to life after the kit lens.
Lenses are arguably the most important part of your camera set-up, they make or break your pictures. They control the image that's projected onto your imaging sensor, and ultimately what photos you are taking home. As such, many photographers would prefer to shoot with an okay camera and a great lens, than a great camera with ho-hum glass attached. But knowing the importance of good glass is one thing, it's another to know what lens will give you the creative freedom to capture the photos you want to get.
If you currently only have the kit lens your camera came with, the short answer to this question is that as soon as you have the cash available, you should go out and get a fast normal prime lens or a telephoto zoom. The longer and more considered answer is that you need to think about the type of photographs you currently take. You need to understand how different lenses could improve your current photos and allow you to take ones that you currently can't. If that all sounds a bit confusing, read on.
Focal length is expressed in mm and a higher number means a bigger zoom, while a lower number mean the lens can be used for wider shots. As a rough reference, the human eye is said to see about the equivalent of 30-50 mm on a full frame camera (more on that later). A number lower than 30-50 mm will take in a bigger view than you naturally see, while higher numbers mean focus will be on a smaller aspect of your view.
To make understanding focal length more difficult, the same focal length lens gives different views on cameras with various sensor sizes, because of the crop factor (the sensor only takes up part of the projected image). As a result, many manufactures give a 35 mm-format equivalent on lenses designed for cameras with smaller sensors and in this article descriptions are based on on 35 mm-format. Therefore, if your camera has a smaller sensor, and there's a good chance it does, you'll need to consider this when deciding which lens you need.
That means a 35 mm lens would give a field of view equivalent to 56 mm on an APS-C camera like a Canon 70D and equivalent to 70 mm on a Micro Four Thirds camera like the Olympus OM-D E-M1. On a Nikon 1 it would act like a 95 mm lens does on a full frame camera.
It goes without saying that you want to buy a lens that will attach on your camera, and this is known as the lens mount. Camera manufacturers generally make lenses with proprietry mounts which will only fit their devices, sometimes having multiple lens mounts for different camera lines. The major exception to this is Micro Four Thirds lenses which can be used on respective Olympus and Panasonic cameras. Third party manufacturers also make lenses with mounts to fit various brands.
It's important to know which mount your camera uses before heading out to buy a lens. Example lens mounts for DSLRs include the Nikon F-mount, Canon's EF or EF-S, the Pentax K and Sony's Alpha (A) mount. For mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, these are things like the Canon EF-M, Fujifilm XF, Nikon 1, Sony E, Samsung NX and Pentax Q. As mentioned earlier, Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras take any Micro Four Thirds mount lenses.
In addition to being able to mount the lens on your camera, you need to be sure it will produce an image big enough to cover the image sensor. Because different cameras use different size sensors, manufacturers produce specific lenses to work with them.
For example, while Nikon DSLRs come with full frame or APS-C sensors - and both take F-mount lenses - its DX lenses only produce an image big enough to cover the smaller of the two sensors. Meanwhile, FX lenses cover the full frame and can also be used on DX and even Nikon 1 cameras (with an adapter). This is done because lenses designed for smaller sensors can be physically smaller and lighter themselves.
What the are: The kit lens your DSLR or interchangeable lens mirrorless camera came with is probably an example of a standard zoom lens, covering a focal range of around 35-70 mm. Ones with better optics and faster maximum apertures are also available. Many photographers consider a 50 mm prime (in 35-mm-format) as a normal lens, as it's said to reproduce an image with a angle of view which feels \"natural\" and similar to what you see with your eyes - even thought this isn't technically true.
There are a number of other features which you may want think about, regarding your next lens. Image stabilization allows for use of slower shutter speeds without suffering camera shake (though some brands incorporate this into camera bodies rather than the lens). Stabilization is also very handy if you're shooting lots of video, in which case you might also want to think about lenses with power zooms which can zoom at adjustable speeds.
While the majority of photographers buy lenses from the same firm as their camera, there are a number of third party manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron and Tokina which produce lenses for DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Traditionally seen as a less desirable option, some of the newer third party lenses are as good if not better than their Canon/Nikon/Sony counterparts. They are often also considerably cheaper.
Below are a number of typical situations that kit-lens-toting photographers often find themselves in. For each example, we've highlighted some of the factors that should be considered when trying to find the right lens for the job. While these are factors which are relevant whatever camera and lens system you're using, in each case we've also highlighted a couple of lenses that would be a good choice for specific set-ups without blowing the budget.
Unless you want all of your subjects looking directly at the camera, you'd probably be best served by something discrete. It's also important that street photography lenses feature a fast maximum aperture for lower-light situations. This means that something like the Fuji XF 23 mm f1.4 R Lens would be a great selection. The Sigma 35 mm F1.4 DG HSM has also been very well received by many DSLR street shooters.
Many people shell out for a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera when they have a child, but by the time that child starts running around, the kit lens struggles to keep up, both in terms of aperture and focal range. This is especially true if you're trying to photograph the kids running around in the garden or on the sports field.
While the kit lenses which come with most cameras are surprisingly good at the wide angle end, you could find that they don't quite go far enough for some of the landscape images you try to take. So, unless you're able to keep moving backwards, you're going to need a new lens.
Focal length is key here, and you'll only get some landscapes if you've got an ultra wide angle lens. You could go for