This question comes from reader Heart Cruz (awesome name by the way). Heart owns an 18-55mm digital SLR kit lens, and although she’s gotten a lot of use out of it, she’d like to know which lens she should purchase next. This is an easy one. You should get a 55-200mm lens. Here’s why.
Capture most of the zoom range with no overlapping.
The 18-55mm lens you’re currently using captures most of the close range subjects. At the 18mm end, this lens is a true wideangle. It allows you to zoom out to fit more of a room into the frame for landscapes. At the 55mm end, it’s a handy normal lens, which is great when you want an unbiased and undistorted view of your subjects as you would see them with your own eyes.
But I’m sure you’re aware that your 18-55mm doesn’t do so well when you’re trying to zoom across long distances. A telephoto will do the job, and that’s what you’d get with a 55-200mm lens. Right now, you’ve got about half of the zoom range. A 55-200mm lens will give you the other half. It will allow you to zoom in to get as much as 4x the magnification you get at 55mm. This is really handy when your subject is faraway, and you can’t walk towards it to get more of it into the frame.
Somewhere around 75mm, you’ll have an ideal portrait lens too. Portraits tend to look better when you’re a little zoomed in. The zooming flattens facial features ever so slightly. It’s called the telephoto effect, but I wouldn’t judge you for calling it the “schnoz eliminator.”
The telephoto end helps with macro photography too
If you don’t own a proper macro lens, you can start using the 200mm end of this lens for macro photography. You won’t get the same level of magnification, but it definitely works. I’ve certainly gotten some decent results with it. Of course, it all depends of the look you’re trying to create. Don’t forget to use a tripod.
When it comes down to it, a 55-200mm lens is the perfect compliment to the 18-55mm lens you already own. It not only only completes your zoom range (except for some extreme cases), it gives you a portrait and macro lens that’s great for a semi-pro such as yourself.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the price. If I recall correctly, I bought my F4 55-200mm lens for around $250. You can get more expensive ones that give you a bigger aperture, but since I’m pretty sure you’re just starting to get into the DSLR world, I’d suggest you stick with the F4 version. It’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Good luck, and enjoy your new lens! Don’t be shy about showing me the pictures you take with it.