Beginner Digital Photography: First Prime Lens

Kit lenses only take you so far in your photography journey, If you have been shooting on your kit lens for a while now, you may be thinking about buying your first lens, which in my opinion should be a prime lens. There are hundreds and thousands of prime lenses on the market, whether it be a vintage lens, new lens or a used lens. They come in all different focal lengths and different maximum apertures. This is all very very confusing, so today I will boil it all down to the lens you would buy depending on your camera mount.


First lets look at the difference between a kit lens and a prime lens. A kit lens has a range of different focal lengths, let’s say from 18mm to 55mm. You may have noticed that as you zoom in, the maximum aperture increases, this is due to the aperture adjusting to the amount of zoom. These kit lenses often have a lot more glass and are typically not as sharp as the prime lens due to all the addes glass and moving parts, which can create softness in your lens. When shooting zoomed up taking a portrait, you may struggle to get good enough creamy bokeh due to the physical limitations of the aperture. You can get a lower min aperture by walking closer to the subject and reducing your zoom, however your depth of field of the subject changes and the subject has end up being distorted by the fisheye structure of the lens. Here, the prime lens comes in handy, you can bring the aperture right down, normally f/1.8, producing extremely creamy bokeh, sharpness and you zoom with your legs. With a prime lens, you cannot zoom, so you will need to zoom in and out by using your legs. I will have an article coming up in the coming days that will talk about aperture.


The reason why many photographers suggest the first lens to be a prime lens is due to their weight and how cheap they can be. They have the best bang for the buck in terms of sharpness and bokeh and would definitely recommend buying one on sale, as they are constantly on sale. The lightweight nature makes it easy to carry your camera around and can fit in your bag with ease. Not only this, they are very durable due to the lack of moving parts and don’t cost too much to replace. Furthermore, prime lenses help you progress in your photography game into the next level and remember to share your photos.


You may have come across the term nifty fifty before, this term refers to the 50mm prime lenses you can buy for your camera. These lenses are one of the most versatile lenses on the market today, they offer the best sharpness, bokeh and weight. 50mm prime lenses are most commonly used for street photography, portraits and event photography. These lenses are extremely sharp, making your images really pop out and have some of the best bokeh that can be produced. Bokeh is the creamy blur of the background behind your subject, it adds emphasis on the subject. Not only this, having a lower aperture allows you to let in more light to your camera, making it better for night photography or low light photography. This being a photography guide for those who are beginners, your camera would have a x1.5 up to x2.0 crop factor. This would mean we must adjust for these factors.


The following is table of which lens I would recommend you to buy depending your camera brand, remember these are crop sensors, if you are on a full frame camera, go ahead and buy a 50mm prime lens, make sure the max aperture is below f/1.8.


Camera Brand Lens
Nikon – f mount Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 35mm f/1.8G F1.8 G DX
Canon – EF-S mount Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Panasonic – Micro four thirds Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH
Sony – E mount Sony E Mount 35mm f1.8 OSS Lens
Olympus – Micro four thirds Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens
Pentax – K- mount Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 AL Lens


Remember, you can opt for different focal lengths, these distances are for getting the nifty fifty prime lens focal length (apart from the canon). For the canon, I would opt for either 24mm or the 50mm. Both are fantastic lenses and very affordable. Not only this, you can look at other different brands such as sigma for their fantastic lens selection. But for now, I would strongly recommend purchasing a lens from that table as they are the best bang for your buck prime lenses which you should have. I don’t think I could live without my 35mm prime lens from NIkon, it is a fantastic lens and I use it on nearly every outing due to the incredible sharpness and crispness.


I hope to catch you next week as we go through which 4K cameras to buy at this current time!


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