3 Lens Kits For 3 Types Of Photographer :: Digital Photo Secrets

3 Lens Kits For 3 Types Of Photographer

by David Peterson 18 comments

The big selling point with digital SLRs is the ability to swap out the lens. Whether you are new to owning a digital SLR, or you’re simply considering a purchase, a lot of photographers want to know how many lenses they’ll actually need to buy. It’s an important thing to consider. After all, the true cost of digital SLR ownership isn’t in the camera body alone. It’s in all of the other gear that comes along with it. I want to show you some common kits a lot of photographers end up getting.

The Wedding Photographer

People see all the gear wedding photographers carry around with them, and there is this immediate assumption that you need a lot of lenses to do the job right. That’s not really true. Most of the money goes into external flashes, camera rigs, and reflectors. Some of it goes into purchasing an extra camera for your photographer’s assistant. There are actually quite a few wedding photographers who use no more than three lenses.

  • 24mm to 70mm F2.8 Zoom Lens. Ideal for more close up shots. The added F2.8 aperture makes it easier to blur out the background at a wedding. If you’re just getting started, F4 is fine.
  • 70mm to 200mm F2.8 Zoom Lens. Not every shot will be close up. Use this one during ceremonies when you are further away from the action.
  • 50mm F1.4 Prime Lens. This one doesn’t zoom, but you’ll get the ability to go all the way to F1.4. It’s ideal for close up portraits where you really want to focus on your subject’s face. At F1.4, the background will be completely blurred out, much as it is in the above photo.

The Macro Enthusiast

Not all macro enthusiasts are solely focused on the world of the small. Many of them also carry around a few lenses from a standard kit. In most cases, no matter how detailed the photos look, macro photographers use only three different lenses. The irony is that only one of them is typically reserved for macro photography.

Quite a few macro photographers only use one macro lens. Who knew?

  • 17mm to 70mm F2.8 Zoom Lens. A standard wide to normal range zoom lens. Once again, if you can’t afford the F2.8 aperture, just purchase the much cheaper F4 lens until you can.
  • 70mm to 200mm F2.8 Zoom Lens. Wait, isn’t this beginning to look like the wedding photographer’s bag? Yep. These two lenses are the foundation of any kit.
  • 60mm F2.8 Prime Macro Lens. This is the workhorse for macro photography. You can’t zoom, but the lens has added magnification to bring out the details in what you’re shooting.

The Sports/Wildlife Photographer

Sports and wildlife photographers are always looking to capture candid action from far away. If you’re taking pictures of wildlife, you can’t get too close, or you will risk frightening your subject. Here are the lenses you’re most likely to find in an action photographer’s kit.

Surfing is notoriously challenging to photograph.
It really helps to have a nice long telephoto lens, although most of the pros
use a jetski to make sure they are also inside the wave.

  • 70mm to 200mm F2.8 Telephoto Zoom Lens. A lens like this will work well when you’re on the sidelines of a game and mostly close enough.
  • 300mm F2.8 Prime Lens. Use this lens when your subject is just too far away for your other lens. Some photographers add a 400mm or a 500mm, or...
  • A 2x Teleconverter. This handy tool will give a little extra range at a small cost. When you use one, be aware that you end up losing an entire stop of light. You’ll need to adjust by slowing down your shutter speed or opening up your aperture by one full stop. Only use a teleconverter in the middle of the day when you have plenty of sunshine to work with.

All three of these photographers swear by their lens kits. They honestly don’t need anything else. As a matter of fact, there are some famous photographers who have used no more than one lens for their entire career. You can spend all kinds of money trying to play catchup with your rich friends, but that doesn’t always matter. Most of the photography products on the market are gimmicks solely designed to get you to part with your cash. Be careful and keep your lens expenses to a minimum, just as these folks have.

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  1. Nini says:

    Hi David,
    I purchased a Tamron 16-300mm lens for Nikon d5300 when I went to India, Nepal and Tibet because I didn't want to be changing lenses because I didn't want to miss anything that said, can I use this lens for landscape, night photography and wild life? Hope to hear from you.
    PS send response to my email.

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Nini,

      Yes, the 16-300mm lens can be used for landscapes, night and wildlife photography. And it's a good idea to take just one lens because when you are out in nature, dust and dirt can get inside your camera if you try to change lenses.

      (copy sent to email)


  2. Rajan Sethi says:

    I am just about to buy my 1st d slr and I am confused between Nikon D5200 and Cannon D700, which one to buy.

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Rajan,

      Those are both excellent cameras. I'd suggest you stick with the brand you already have. IE if you already have a Canon, go with the D700. That's because the menus change between the brands, so you'll have less learning than if you switch brands.


  3. SR says:

    Very nice post ! have one querry -
    What kind of lens do you suggest for landscape photography?
    Cheers !

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi SR,

      I recommend a good wide angle lens for Landscape Photography.

      I also have a free course on Landscape Photography that will help too: http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/courses/landscape


      • SR says:

        Hello David,

        Thanks for your advice.

        I have 18-135mm IS, 10-18mm IS, 55-250mm IS kit and 50mm/1.8 prime. I am in favour of 18-135mm only for my next holiday trip. This should give good wide as well as tele range. What do you recommend?

        • David Peterson says:

          Yes, the 18-135mm will work well because you can use the wider angle for landscapes, plus have some ability to zoom in.

          Enjoy your holiday!


  4. John Green says:

    Thanks for these tips on lenses to use, I have been given a 500mm mirror lens what are your thoughts on this lens. I will be using this lens with my nikon d3100.

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi John,

      My thoughts on your 500mm lens will depend on the brand of the lens. Those are usually very expensive lenses, so if it's a good brand (like Tamron or Nikon/Nikor), then that lens will be fantastic.

      If it's a less-well-known brand, then your mileage might vary. But definitely test the lens to find out!

      Just remember to always use a tripod when fully zoomed in because the magnification will greatly magnify camera shake and thus blur in your image.


  5. Unathi says:

    My camera sometimes does not want to go off when pressing a shutter button, it focuses on the object and doesn't go off at all. What would be the problem?

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Unathi,

      The two main reasons the shutter won't work are:

      1. Your camera not able to get focus. Listen for the beeps to tell you it has focus.
      2. You are using a flash, and it's still charging
      3. The 'buffer' is full. Wait a few seconds for it to clear and try again. Or purchase a faster memory card.
      4. Your memory card is full.

      The most common reason is focus. Although you said it focuses on the object, maybe it wasn't a focus lock. More on this: http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/5099/5-reasons-camera-wont-auto-focus/


  6. Gibran Risnutama says:


    Nice article!
    I would like to ask you about prime lens 35mm. When it best to use this lens?


  7. Jon F says:

    50mm is considered "normal lens" (closest to human eye perspective) on a full frame digital or 35mm film camera. On an APS or APS-C sensor camera, you would use a 35mm lens for the same effect.

  8. Sumit says:

    The lens mentioned above are they based on the full frame camera or the cropped ones? The question is specifically asked with regards to the 50mm f/1.4 lens in the wedding photographer section. Thanks in advance.

  9. Christoper B says:

    Great read! I've spent 2 months reading about Digital Photography essentials and in a few minutes have learned a ton in your direct, modern and simple article. Thank you.

  10. Mario says:

    This make sense! And helps as I am currently looking for the right balance!

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