Friday, August 23, 2013

What is the best lens for DSLR beginner? 35mm v. 50mm

A few months ago, I got my first DSLR camera: a Nikon D5100.  I had wanted one for a long time, as I've always wanted to get into photography.  I knew that it would become even more important to me when I had a baby, and I wanted to give myself a few months of practice first.

My hubby and I did a lot of research before deciding what camera and lens to buy.  I had an especially hard time deciding what type of lens to buy, and I had a hard time finding the answer I was looking for online. I asked a lot of professional photographers their opinion so I thought I share my findings in case anyone out there has the same questions I did.

Should I get a kit lens?

One thing that was pretty much unanimous was that it's best to skip the kit lens (the lens that you can purchase with the camera).  I kinda wanted the kit lens since it was relatively inexpensive, I would be able to zoom in and out a little and I've seen some nice photos that were taken with a kit lens.  However, Logan and every photographer I asked definitely thought it was a waste, so I skip this and just got the Nikon D5100 body only.  But that meant I had to pick a lens too before I could use my camera.

Tamron 18-270 F/3.5-6.3 lens

When I purchased my camera, I left with a wide-range zoom len, because it was supposed to be all purpose lens.  It's got an aperture range of 3.5-6.3 that varies based on your focal length, which means it's not going to be the best for shooting in low light.  I knew I would be taking a lot of portrait style photos, so instead of getting a lens that could give me a lot of options, I wanted one that would be awesome at taking portraits.  This lens did a lot of things ok, but nothing great, so I returned it without ever trying it out.

35mm v. 50mm - Which is the best lens for a newbie?

Once I decided I wanted a prime lens (one that doesn't zoom) I had a hard time deciding between a 35mm and a 50mm.  They are pretty comparable, and I didn't really need both.

I first started out with a 35mm, but I had to get really close to the subject (99% of the time this was my dogs) to take the photo.  I didn't want to have to get super close to my sleeping baby or even my friends. I know I'm not the only one who gets a little freaked out when someone tries to take a photo super close up to me!.  Also, since 35mm is a wide angle lens, the edges can get distorted and make the subject look out of proportion   Being new at photography, this wasn't something I wanted to worry about.

Here's a few photos I took with my zoom lens (before I returned it!).

35mm - without flash f/2.8, 1/30 sec
35mm - with flash, f/2.8, 1/60 sec
35mm - with flash, f/2.8 1/60 sec
Overall I thought the lens took nice photos, but I did have to get very close as I mentioned, so I switched it for a 50mm.

My one and only lens: Sigma 50mm f/1.4

The majority of photographers I asked said that their favorite lens was their 50mm for portraits.  Granted I asked primarily photographers that took photos of people (weddings, babies, portraits, etc.). 50mm would not be the best choice if you wanted to focus on wild life photography (where you would want a zoom lens) or a landscape photographer where you might want a wider angled lens (probably 35mm or more).

However, when I take my weekly belly shots, my hubby needs to stand way across the room or it's too zoomed in with the 50mm.  So if you are taking a lot of group shots with friends and can't back up, this lens could be an issue.

f/1.4 refers to the aperture, which is size of the opening on the camera.  A larger opening lets more light in which lets you take photos without a flash in low light.  The aperture also create a narrow depth of field which gives photos that cool, blurred out background.  But a 50mm f/1.8 will still get you the blurred effect and is a super affordable lens.
50mm - no flash, f/2.2 1/500sec
50mm - no flash, f/2 1/500sec
Overall I've been happy with my 50mm choice and I've gotten more used to not being able to zoom in or out.  I'll get an zoom lens one day, but for now I'm happy with my lens.



Nicole {Life's Tidbits} said...

I have the Nikon D90 and recently got the 50mm lens. I LOVE it! Our Pomeranian makes for a great little subject when practicing new photography techniques. =) Glad you are enjoying the 50mm.

sorelle in style said...

I'm still in search of the perfect lens! I picked up a 50mm, too, but find the "standing far away" thing a pain sometimes.. Your doggies are SO CUTE! :)

sorelle in style

Faith said...

I love my 50 mm lend too! I've gotten use to moving front and back to take the pictures!

Your dogs are the cutest!