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.
- 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.
- 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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