Should I get expensive lenses? Maybe...

A lot depends on a few things like budget (a biggie!), desired image quality, and weight for example. More expensive lenses are usually a more robust build and better glass. But what are your requirements or desires? Most people looking at your images will not know, or probably care, whether you have an expensive lens or not. They will take the image on its merits. But there are people who will nit-pick an image. They are called 'pixel peepers'. I'm not a pixel peeper. Nor am I worried about having the "best" lens. Of course I wouldn't necessarily buy the cheapest either... But don't get me wrong, it would be great to have expensive lenses, I simply don't care to drop $1,200+ on one lens. Now if I had a photography business, or money coming out of my ears, it most likely would be a different story. Remember, I'm a hobyist just like many of you. There are so many people out there who will ONLY put OEM lenses on their cameras and buy the "best" lens. Sorry, I'm not going to get a second mortgage to get a lens or three because they are so "special". Nor am I out to impress anyone!

Primes (fixed focal length) vs. zooms. Primes usually provide better image quality than zooms as they are designed for a single focal length. Zooms however, will cover a range of focal lengths, eliminating the need to change lenses, maybe a lot. I used to have five prime lenses for my old film camera. Two were OEM, one was a Vivitar, one a ProMaster, and one a Pro-Soligor. If I wanted to crop in-camera, I changed lenses. Now I like the ability to do the cropping with a zoom. Faster and simpler, but that's my opinion. I've accepted any possible compromise in image quality. There are many people who only use primes. Maybe because they are fixated on the fact that they usually provide better image quality?

My main camera, a Canon T1i, came with two "kit" lenses, an 18-55 and a 55-250. They did well for me, however, I DID purchase a Sigma 18-200 that basically lives on the camera now. It's a nice lens and does well for MY needs. (I'm not shooting for NatGeo either!) I really like the fact that I don't have to keep changing from one lens to another to bridge the 55mm point as I would with the two kit lenses. That's another hitch with some people, they look down on kit lenses. Do you really believe a manufacturer would sell kits with lousy lenses??? The company wouldn't last long if word got around would it. I also have a 50mm prime since it has a wider maximum aperture than the zoom.

This image was taken with the 18-55 kit lens hand-held in available light. It works for me, how about you?

Rosie the Cat


Basically what it boils down to is how important a particular lens may be to you, and is it worth the expenditure or trade-offs. Only you can really decide on which type of lens(es) to get for how you want to work and what you require from them. Just get the best you can comfortably afford, and don't feel bad about it! Oh, and remember, if you have a 'middle of the road' sensor in the camera, a real expensive lens might not help that much...



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All images © Bill Harbison - All rights reserved