What lenses should I buy?

How on earth do you decide what lens to purchase?  The glass you put on your camera will make or break your photos, so this is almost a more important decision than which camera to buy. 

First: the sooner you can get out of stock lenses, the better.  The easiest, cheapest, and most versatile lens (hands down, absolutely!) is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 that can be purchased for less than $200. Buy it.  Right now.

Second: what are you hoping to do with the lens?  A landscape photographer will be using dramatically different lenses than a portrait photog.  (Case in point: my brother adores his 10mm wide angle lens while I drool over my 85mm bokeh.  He’s shooting landscapes, I’m shooting portraits.)

Third: how much money can you spend?  Can you wait a little longer so you can save enough for what you really need rather than settling for something almost good enough?  I bought my Sigma 24mm f/1.8 early in my photography journey and retired it less than a year later when I purchased the Nikon 24 – 70mm f/2.8; I could’ve saved pennies by just waiting until I had the full amount for what I knew I actually needed.


My family of lenses is complete (for now) and it’s a beautiful collection (if I do say so myself):

  • Nikon 70 – 200mm 2.8
  • Nikon 24 – 70mm 2.8
  • Nikon 105mm 2.8
  • Nikon 35mm 1.4
  • Nikon 85mm 1.8
  • Nikon 50mm 1.4

My lens arsenal more than doubled with one swipe of plastic this year, making a hefty dent in a bank account that I’ve been loathe to use and heretofore revolutionizing my technical opportunities. A couple months ago, I brought home a new family of Nikon glass: the 50mm 1.4G, the 85mm 1.8G, the 35mm 1.4G, and the 105mm 2.8G.

As I prepare to shoot my first wedding with these gems of plastic and glass, I can’t even begin to imagine how much these lenses are going to transform my photographs.  My nifty fifty Nikon 50mm 1.8 is officially and happily retired (I’m currently shocked to realize how long it took me to actually replace that very first prime lens from seven years ago!) and the fun of new toys is amplified by the fun of the art waiting to be created.


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