My Three Go-To Lenses

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Like many photographers, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a gear-hoarder. It’s known as G.A.S. – Gear Aquisition Syndrome. I believe I have around 5-6 lenses, which is pretty small compared to some of my colleagues! Nonetheless, in my experience hoarding gear, I’ve found some really epic lenses and today I’m going to delve into my favorite three lenses – the ones I always pick up and the first to include when I go on vacation or out on a shoot!

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Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
currently $216 for Nikon | currently $125 for Canon

This is my absolute FAVORITE lens. In fact, I named it – Calvin. This was the first prime lens I bought and I’m so glad I spent the $200 because it IMMEDIATELY took my photos up a notch. Why? The depth of field. The aperture of 1.8 allowed such a beautiful, creamy background for my subjects that I couldn’t have gotten with the kit lenses that came with my first dSLR. Blurry backgrounds aren’t just beautiful, but allow the viewer’s eye to go straight to the subject. You can see below the pretty blur drawing attention right to my beautiful senior, Samantha.

What is a prime lens? Basically, a prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length – that is, it stays at 50mm and you can’t zoom in and out. I find my images are much sharper with my prime lenses and also seem to be a higher-quality. The wide aperture I also love because it allows shooting in low-light conditions without having to lower my shutter-speed or raise my ISO too much. The 50mm is considered a staple for photographers! It’s light-weight, relatively inexpensive, and has KILLER bokeh.

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Nikkor 35mm f/1.8
currently $196 for Nikon 

What’s the difference between the 50mm and the 35mm, you ask? Not very much. So why do I love this lens? When I got the 50mm, I loved the bokeh, but what I did find slightly challenging was the fact that it WAS a 50mm. Which means you can only get so much in the frame. Do a little exercise with your kit lens, fix it at 50mm and try taking several pictures, then zoom it out to 35mm. You can see just how much more you can get in the frame. As a rule, prime lenses are a much higher quality than kit lenses, and I wanted to be able to capture more without compromising on quality (as I would have done if I used a kit lens). I love this lens because the bokeh is still super creamy and gorgeous, but because the focal length allows much more in the frame, I can use it to take pictures of groups of people without having to walk back so far. I can still be within hearing range! It’s also amazing for indoor photography. I used it at Meadow’s party to get all of the pictures, and also for Hannah’s shoot since we were shooting indoors.

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Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
currently $249 for Nikon | currently $249 for Canon

This lens happens to be a zoom lens, not a prime lens! When I got my first dSLR, one of the kit lenses was an 18-55mm. I really loved how wide of a shot you could get with an 18, but I wanted a bit more zoom. I tried out my aunt’s 55-200mm for a time, but then of course, I couldn’t get a very wide shot. So I brainstormed and thought that the thing to do would to merge them. I went searching on Amazon and I found the Nikkor version (at $650!) which I’m sure is a great quality. But at that time, I couldn’t afford it so I found the lens made by Tamron, at a $400 discount.

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You can just see the epic range I get with this lens! I bought this before I really got into portrait photography, and I don’t use it on portrait sessions (I do bring it as a backup, however, and I did use it for the shot below). Mostly, I bring this one on vacations because it is super flexible and eliminates having to switch lenses. (However, when we went to Williamsburg, I still wanted to get creamy bokeh, so I actually brought two cameras, one with this lens, the other with Calvin…yeah, there I was, walking around town with two cameras strapped to me.) It’s especially good for photographing scenery.

That concludes my little guide to my favorite lenses! Do you have any of these lenses? What’s YOUR favorite lens?

8 thoughts on “My Three Go-To Lenses

  1. Allison says:

    This was a super helpful and informative post, dear! And the last lens sounds like something I should look into… I do have a zoom lens, but it’s my kit lens and not my favorite OR the best quality. Oh, and I LOVE your featured image too. 😀

    • Aria says:

      Thank you so much, dear! I’m glad you found it helpful. Yeah, it’s a great lens! Quality-wise, I think it could do better, but you can’t beat the price.

  2. Sassafras says:

    I agree with Allison–this post was very helpful! I’m a complete beginner with my DSLR, so I don’t know much about different lenses ( I only have my kit lens). I have a question about lens caps, though. My lens cap on my kit lens is broken, meaning that it stays on the lens very loosely. Do you know of a good replacement lens cap for a Nikon D3400? I don’t want another one that will break on me.
    ~Sassafras

    • Aria says:

      Thanks, Sassafras! Hmm…I’m assuming you mean your 18-55mm kit lens? If so, this is a good replacement for that. However, a little tip for you – it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have because the cap is for the lens. Different lenses have different circumferences, so I chose a cap that should fit your 18-55mm or a 55-200mm lens, which is 52mm, I believe. Hope that helps! :)

      • Sassafras says:

        Thanks for the link! I’ll have to see about buying it sometime (yes, I do have a 18-55 mm lens). Hopefully you don’ t mind me asking another question, but I would like to learn from a professional photographer. :) What do you carry your camera around in on photoshoots? Or do you just carry it around your neck without any sort of bag or case?

        • Aria says:

          No problem! Okay, good. Oh, I don’t mind! Anything I can do to help. Well, first I use this camera strap, which is super comfy and long (I like to wear my camera crossbody), as well as being really secure (I once had the standard neck strap fall off the camera!). But to get back to your question, because I bring a lot of gear with me on shoots (extra camera for my assistant and/or as a backup, different lenses, external flash, etc), I do use a bag. I found this one on Amazon; it’s a men’s messenger camera bag. I’ve used it for several months and I really like it! It holds a lot and doesn’t look half bad, either. :)

          • Sassafras says:

            Thanks so much for your reply! That looks like a really nice camera strap ( I added it to my wishlist). That’s awful that your other strap fell off your camera!
            That makes sense that you have a large bag for your photoshoots. It looks pretty nice, too. I have bag, as well, but it is a little bulky sometimes (though definitely not as big as your bag!). So I heard about a stretchy wrap for a DLSR (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EW1SFHS/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1W5XMZ4X5DIEQ&colid=21MTTCSW2HF46&psc=1), and I was wondering if it would be a nice thing to put my camera in when I don’t want a bag. What do you think of it? Do you think it’s a good protective case for walking around places?

          • Aria says:

            Hmmm, you know, you could try that. But honestly, when I’m traveling or on a shoot and not using my camera, I like to have it out and ready if I’m using it fairly soon. I’ve always got my hands on it and try to keep the lens cap on if I’ve remembered to bring it with me. The stretchy wrap won’t be waterproof and may be a bit of a hassle to get on and off. You could always try it, but I personally wouldn’t. Just my opinion! I’m sure they work great for some people. :)

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