Today’s article is a companion piece to that article (part 2 of 3), where I look at what to do when you decide you need several lenses. (Assuming you don’t want/can’t afford to buy them all at once.)
There are 3 basic forces at work when deciding what lens to buy.
- How much you’ll use it
- How much it’ll improve your photos
- How much it costs
How Much You’ll Use It
This is fairly simple conceptually. If you take most of your photos of landscapes, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a pressing need for a long Telephoto Lens. If you like shooting sports or wildlife, however, you’ll probably get a lot more use out of it.
So, when deciding what lens to get, think very carefully about how much you’ll actually use it.
How Much It’ll Improve Your Photos
This criterion often runs counter to the first. You’d probably get the most use out of a straight upgrade to your kit lens, but it’s unlikely to improve your photos dramatically.
A Macro Lens can make a huge difference to your close-up shots, but if you only take a few close-ups a year it shouldn’t be your top priority. (What I’m getting at here is that balance is critical in determining your priorities.)
How Much It Costs
Budget is of course a driver in decision making. However much you might want a 600mm f/4 lens for a safari trip, you may decide £11,000 is a little bit too much to spend.
The rational thing to do is to decide your budget, then work out what lens will best balance usage and improvement for you. In short, you’re deciding what area presents the best value for your use.
Some alternatives to buying a new lens are; making panoramas instead of getting a Wide Angle Lens, cropping instead of getting a Telephoto Lens, increasing ISO rather than buying a Fast Aperture Lens, etc. None of these is a perfect substitute for the correct lens, but you may decide to accept a compromise in one area so you can spend money in another.
In the final part of this series, on Monday, I’m going to consider budget in a bit more detail. There will be some discussion of each of the lens types I introduced in part 1: Wide Angle, Telephoto, Large Aperture, & Macro Lenses.
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