Every professional photographer will have a different perspective concerning lenses. Some people want more options, more versatility—others only want the basics. The photography lenses you choose rely heavily on the type of photography you do. For example, if you’re a sports or wildlife photographer, you’ll want a super fast telephoto zoom lens with all the trimmings. Alternatively, if you shoot portraits, you may want a large aperture prime lens that will effectively flatter your subjects.
Although not an exhaustive list, these DSLR lenses will certainly help you cover your bases.
1. The general purpose/kit lens (17/18-55mm)
In a world full of highly specialized prime lenses, never underestimate the necessity of a basic general purpose/kit lens. This basic lens is a go-to in situations where you don’t know ahead of time what the environment will be like. The one shown here is 18-55mm, allowing for a degree of utility and control. Also, these lenses are fairly inexpensive. However, just because it’s an important lens, does not mean that you shouldn’t branch out. Remember, professionals are specialists.
2. Telephoto zoom (70-200 f/2.8)
Having a zoom lens frees you up as a photographer. No longer will you have to stand within a few feet of your subject; you can remain at a distance and create brilliant, sharp images. Telephoto lenses come in a variety of diameters—the one shown here is a 55-250. However, a 70-200 f/2.8 is a favorite among photographers.
Apart from being able to photograph objects from far away—a smart idea when you’re on safari in South Africa—telephoto lenses have brilliant macro capabilities as well, for stellar close-ups of tiny objects.
3. The nifty fifty (50mm f/1.4-1.8)
If there were an “all star” award for the photography lenses, the 50mm prime lens would be a sure win. This particular lens, in either f/1.4 or f/1.8, gives you a mastery over aperture with a extra shallow depth of field. The “nifty fifty,” as it is often referred to, works wonderfully in low light, because it lets in a great deal of available light, giving you clear, stunning images and greater versatility.
Also, if you buy it from Amazon.com, it won’t break the bank. Not only is this lens one of the most popular, it’s one of the least expensive prime lenses. The nifty fifty averages at around $125 for the f/1.8.
4. Wide-angle (16-35mm f/2.8)
Now, the wide-angle lens is not everybody’s favorite, but if you are an event, or most importantly, a wedding photographer, then you absolutely need this lens. There is no way around it. They have a large depth of field, granting you essential flexibility in cramped hotel ballrooms or sizable churches. In wedding photography, it’s vital that you tell the entire story.
With an event as grandiose as a wedding, taking a series of macro shots is simply not going to cut it. A wide-angle lens will not only ensure that all of the bride’s and groom’s friends and relatives are in the shot but also help you capture what’s happening around the two newlyweds at pivotal moments during the day.
5. Macro (90 or 100mm f/2.8)
There is something magical about macro photography. It gives you the ability to magnify tiny things and amplify the details. With a macro lens, you can capture the glint in the eye of man’s best friend, the shine of the wedding ring on a new bride’s finger, or the flutter of a bee as it lands on a flower.
Honorable mentions for other DSLR lenses
- 18-135mm f/3.5/5.6
- 35 mm f/1.4
- Fish eye