Purchasing Your Next Lens


No matter how many lenses a photographer has, there are often added lenses we still wish for, and even more lenses after which we lust.

There are so many options that choosing your next lens can often involve a dizzying cavalcade of choices—manufacturers, focal lengths, prime or zoom functionality, auto or manual focusing, and price. Below, we offer up some thoughts on what your next lens might be based on your shooting preferences and needs.

To keep things simple, our suggestions are based on the use of a full-frame camera—those seeking a lens for use with smaller sensor size cameras will need consider the appropriate crop factor.

Since we don’t get too specific here, feel free to use the Comments section at the bottom of the article for further questions on what lens might work best for you.

The Need for Speed

The first question to ask yourself is, “What do I need that my current lens doesn’t give me?” In terms of functionality, your answer is most likely going to fall into one of two categories: speed (aperture) or versatility (focal length/zoom). Let’s look at the first factor and figure out what lenses can help increase your “speed."

When it comes to optics, the term “speed” is used to describe how much light the aperture diaphragm allows into the lens, relative to its size. And the mention of size invites a distinction between two lens types—primes or zooms. As described in the chart below, prime lenses feature a single, fixed focal length, which is often selected based on the subject one wishes to photograph. While this limited field of view makes a prime lens less inherently versatile than a zoom, primes are generally smaller in size, and often faster and lighter weight. And, as the adage goes, selecting a prime lens does offer the opportunity to “Zoom with your feet.”

General Attributes of Different Focal Length Prime Lenses

Field of View

Focal Length


Wide-Angle 35mm and wider Landscapes, street, documentary
Normal ~ 50 mm General purposes, portraiture, street
Portrait/Short-Telephoto 85 to 135mm Portraits, headshots
Medium- to Long Telephoto more than 135mm Distance shooting / sports

So, what is a “fast” lens? This desirable and popular category of optics generally has an aperture of f/1.8 or larger if it’s a prime lens, or f/2.8 or larger if it’s a zoom; both of which are relative figures depending on the focal length of the lens. The larger the aperture, the more light the lens allows in, which is an important factor when shooting in low-light conditions. A large aperture setting also corresponds to the ability to produce shallow depth of field, which enhances one’s ability to achieve selective focus and out-of-focus backgrounds for isolating subject matter. For low-light shooting and banging bokeh, you’ll want a “faster” lens.

A Primer on Primes

Getting back to the subject of primes, let’s unpack the various options for fixed focal length lenses below. For further details and links to prime lenses across all manufacturers, check out the article, A Primer on Prime Lenses.

Starting with the widest field of view, if your response to the question, “What do I need that my current lens doesn’t give me?” is that you want to explore broader perspectives or just squeeze more people or scenery into your frame, then a wide-angle should be your next lens choice.

As explained in Allan Weitz’s FAQ: Wide-Angle Lenses, prime lenses in this category generally range from 14mm to 35mm focal lengths. The most extreme wide angles are known as fisheyes, due to the very distorted image they produce. This category of glass is generally thought of as a novelty, but if you’re looking to escape down a rabbit hole and have some fun, check out the optical possibilities in Weitz’s article, Tips & Tidbits: Shooting Landscapes with Fisheye Lenses.

Mid-range wide-angles in the 20mm to 28mm range are solid choices for landscape photography, and also very useful in situations such as wedding or event photography. To learn more about options for these applications, check out Bjorn Petersen’s buying guide, Essential Wide-Angle Lenses for the Wedding Photographer.

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens

The 35mm focal length marks the transition from wide-angle to what’s generally considered a “normal” field of view. While I’d strongly suggest that there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to photography, many people choose the 35mm prime for a slightly wider than “normal” look. As Shawn Steiner explains in The Lens Every Photographer Should Have and Use: The 35mm, this is a great choice for environmental portraiture, offering “more opportunities for capturing part of the background along with your subject, and telling a complete story.”

The first choice for a second lens that most people recommend to novices is the “nifty fifty.” As Todd Vorenkamp opines in The One Lens Every Photographer Should Have and Use: The 50mm, the pairing of a relatively inexpensive 50mm prime with whatever type of camera you own will likely be lighter, smaller, and have a larger apertures than any zoom you can buy.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Experienced photographers and novices alike are keen on capturing portraits with nice blurry backgrounds. A nifty fifty can fill the bill for that need, but a fast prime lens with a slightly longer focal length is often a better choice for flattering portraits or objects that are a bit farther away. Short telephotos with focal lengths from 85mm to 135mm are often considered classics for portraitists, since they have little perceivable distortion and allow you to be at a greater distance from your subject. For more on the best lenses to pick your next portrait session, check out Josh Taylor’s advice in Top Ten Lenses for Shooting Pro-Caliber Portraits.

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens

If you need more reach than a short telephoto can provide, or perhaps you’re looking to tackle challenging photo subjects such as wildlife or sports, you’ll want to consider longer medium- and super-telephoto lenses. Common focal lengths for prime telephotos range from 135mm or 180mm to 300mm, or even longer, up to 800mm, but these big boys come at a price. You can study up on the options in Shawn Steiner’s Introduction to Super-Telephoto Lenses buying guide, or else consider the somewhat more economical and versatile option of picking up a telephoto zoom.

Exploring Beyond Your Kit Lens

If your initial camera purchase might have included a “kit” lens, it is most likely an entry-level zoom with a variable aperture that gets slower as you extend to a longer focal length.

As Todd Vorenkamp notes in the article, Why You Should Go Beyond the Kit Lens, “Camera kits, in general come with either one- or two-lens options. Single-lens versions usually have a wide-angle to short telephoto zoom lens. A second lens is most likely a farther-reaching telephoto zoom. These kits are designed to give you maximum versatility along with minimal cost and weight.”

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens

If you’re shooting outdoors on a sunny day, or indoors with a flash, or have a tripod for support, these lenses will do the trick, but using a slow lens in low-light situations can otherwise cause blur from camera shake.

Telephoto Zoom Lenses

Turning back to our question of an added need that your current lens doesn’t satisfy, if you’re missing out on shots due to camera shake, or because you can’t zoom in close enough to your subject, you might consider getting a more powerful telephoto zoom. Even if you have a kit lens that reaches 200mm, if the maximum aperture at that reach is only f/5.6, your shutter speed might be too slow to freeze the movement of your subject. In this case, you need a faster telephoto lens. The most common “pro” telephoto zoom lenses are the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, which are fast enough to stop action and give you nice depth-of-field control, while keeping your subject sharp. If you don’t need the speed that an f/2.8 lens offers, a more economical option would be a 70-200mm f/4, or if you need the extra reach, a 70-300mm variable-aperture lens might be your answer.

Another point to consider, especially with telephoto lenses, is whether or not you need a built-in image stabilizing system. Nikon calls this VR (vibration reduction), Canon calls it IS (image stabilization), Tamron has VC (vibration compensation), and Sigma refers to it as OS (optical stabilization). Whatever you call it, the benefit of having a lens with image stabilization is that you can effectively use a longer shutter speed when shooting without a tripod, giving you sharper images, and making the lens more effective in low-light situations. To learn more about this subject, check out Allan Weitz’s FAQ: Image Stabilization.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses

If you just can’t get enough of the world around you and want to pack every last detail of your surroundings into your pictures, you probably need a wide-angle zoom, which offers a broader field of view than we're able to see with the human eye. As described earlier under wide-angle primes, 28mm and 24mm focal lengths are great options for a wide angle, but often times you might want more versatility with a second lens. There are many different zoom lengths available, not only from the main manufacturers, but from Sigma, Tokina, and Tamron, as well. One thing that most photographers will tell you is that when shooting with a zoom lens, most of their shots are made at one of the extremes, either the widest or the longest end of the zoom. While we think the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (available in Nikon and Canon mounts) is one of the sharpest super-wide lenses, it doesn’t offer as much range as the 12-24mm, 16-35mm, 17-50mm, or 24-70mm zooms. This is when you have to decide exactly why you need this lens and how you plan to use it. If you’re not exactly sure, the 24-70mm is a good choice, because it will let you shoot full-length body and headshots. If you don’t need that much range, and just want a very wide lens, then the 11-16mm might be your best option. For full details about both zooms and primes within this popular category, organized by manufacturer, jump to Alan Weitz’s article, The Wide Bunch: A Guide to Wide and Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses.

Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF Lens for Nikon F

Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF Lens for Nikon F

Specialty Lenses

Macro Lenses

Perhaps you’ve admired really close-up photos of insects or flowers, but when you tried it yourself with your kit lens you discovered the lens wouldn’t focus close enough. This type of picture calls for a special type of glass called a macro lens, with a very small minimum focusing distance. These lenses usually focus at a foot or less, all the way to infinity, with high magnification, so you can use them for macro photography, as well as everyday photos of people, landscapes, or other subjects at any distance. The same choices apply here, whether you need a fast lens or not, and whether you need a wider-angle or telephoto lens.

Pentax smc Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens

Pentax smc Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro Lens

There are a couple of important things to consider when choosing a macro lens. First, the wider your lens, the closer you’ll need to get to your subject. If you’re shooting flowers, and you want to focus on one flower with the other flowers still appearing recognizable in the background, then a wider lens, like a 40 or 50mm, would work best. On the other hand, if you’re trying to shoot moving insects, like bumble bees or butterflies, chances are you won’t be able to get close enough to them with a wide lens, so something like an 85mm or longer would be better for you. Also, when you’re shooting with your camera and lens very close to your subject, you often cast a shadow, meaning less light, and requiring a faster lens or special ring lights for your camera. If you don’t want to worry about shadows or purchasing flashes, consider a longer macro lens for your camera. For more details about wide-angle and telephoto macro lenses, read Bjorn Petersen’s buying guide The Long and the Short of It: Wide-Angle and Telephoto Macro Lenses.

Canon MR-14EX II Macro Ring Lite

Canon MR-14EX II Macro Ring Lite

Pick Our Brains

So, we’ve covered a lot of ground here. We’ve discussed choosing the lens based on what focal length you need, whether you want a prime or a zoom lens, and whether you need a fast lens with a constant aperture, or if you can deal with a slower variable aperture.

Once you figure out exactly what will satisfy your photographic requirements that are as yet unfulfilled, you should be able to make an informed decision confidently, to ensure that your next lens purchase will be the right one for you.

What is your experience in adding a second lens to your existing photo arsenal? Is there a specific focal length you lust after, or do you have a preference between primes and zooms? Whatever your fancy, please tell us about it in the Comments section, below.


Great article and lots of really valuable nuggets of information for a newbie like myself. I just got a Lumix G7 and wanted to experiment with landscape photography so I purchased a Meike 12mm f/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Manual Fixed Lens for MFT camera and I have zero idea where to start changing the settings .. Any assistance would be appreciated

As the Meike MK-12mm f/2.8 Lens for Micro Four Thirds is a fully manual lens, all of the controls for aperture and focus are built into the lens.  The large ribbed ring on the front of the lens is the focus ring, which you would turn clockwise for close focusing and counter-clockwise when you wish to focus to infinity.  The ring closest to the lens mount is the aperture ring, which you may set anywhere from wide open at f/2.8 for relatively shallow depth-of-field (I state "relatively" because the wider the lens' focal length, the less bokeh you will see in comparison to a lens with a longer focal length) to f/22 for increased depth-of-field and sharpness.  

If the shutter release will not release when using your lens, you will have to go into your camera's menu system to [MENU] ➔ [(Custom Menu)] ➔ [Shoot w/o Lens] and set it to [ON], which will allow you to release the camera's shutter even when the camera does not detect a lens on the camera.  One other setting that may be beneficial would be Focus Peaking.  Also under the Custom menu, you can go to [Peaking] and turn it [ON], and also under the Custom menu, you can go to [MF Assist Display] and choose either [FULL], which would enlarge the display in full screen when focusing manually, or [PIP], which will give you a picture-in-picture view, enlarging the display in a window on the LCD screen.  When using Focus Peaking, the edge of the items in the image the camera detects are in-focus will be highlighted when you are focusing manually.  As you rotate the focus ring, you will see the highlighted portions of the screen change corresponding with the items currently in focus.

I hope this information helps.

Hi B&H Team,

Thanks for this nice article. I am looking for adding my first Telephoto lens. I would want to use that for multiple purpose, including wild life. After research I am looking at  "Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 L IS USM" as possible candidate. Can you validate/provide expert opinion on this lens for my requirement ( a.) First Telephoto b.) Nice image quality c.) wildlife photography d.) multipurpose) 

("Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM" is also tempting option, but price is limiting factor)

The Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 L IS USM would be an excellent telephoto zoom for wildlife photography, particularly in situations where there is plenty of light in the scene. It would also give you added range if you're using it with a Canon DSLR that has an APS-C sensor, where a crop factor of 1.6X will be applied to the focal length. Otherwise, it would not handle a low light situation as easily. The same would apply for the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, despite it's much longer telephoto range. 

Hello B&H Team, Thank you for very nice article. My daughter is in 2nd years of high school photography. We purchased a Nikon Z5 with Z 24-70 F4 lens and learnt that this is not good enough for long range photography. Now we are looking for an additional lens/es.

When we are investing in this, we are thinking of long term which covers all purpose maybe outdoor on vacation, wildlife photography or sports for year book.

Can you please assist which lens should be added or replaced. I was checking various options with replacing Z24-70 with Z24-200 with F4, F2.4 or add Sigma 100-400 or other lenses. Could you please also suggest if other high range lenses need other accessories.


In terms of lens with longer range, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens, BH # NIZ7020028 would be something to consider to capture wildlife or sports and would provide a constant aperture of f/2.8 across the entire zoom range. To extend its range, a Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x, BH # NIZTC14, but the lens would loss a stop.



Another consideration with even greater range is to get a Nikon F mount lens such as the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Nikon F, BH #  SI100400N and the Nikon FTZ Lens Adapter, BH # NIFTZ. Although the maximum aperture is variable on this lens, this Sigma lens would definitely allow you to get closer and the use of the adapter opens the door to utilizing the Nikon F mount lens options out there. 






I have a Nikon D3300 with the standard kit lenses. I am hoping to start taking photos for clients and am wondering which lens I should purchase next. I heard about the 'nifty 50', but am still not sure what lens would be best to get. I have a family photo session coming up and hope to buy a lens that can do family/couples photos and that would possibly help if I shot at weddings as well. 

I appreciate any insights you'd like to share!

Thank you!

If using a 50mm lens on the D3300, that would be more like 75mm due to the size of your DX sensor. It will force you to back up more to get more subjects into the shot if you intend to use it for the entire group portrait. Otherwise, a 50mm lens such as the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens, BH # NI5014GAF can work for single portraits. To shoot the group more effectively, a wide angle zoom such as the Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF Lens for Nikon F, BH # TO111628CFN would be applicable.



Hi there I am shooting with a  Canon 77d   I am just starting on a new path with Art Photography (paintings mostly, large and small)  - I know absolutely nothing about studio shooting / lighting / lens .  I have always been a natural light gal. 
i have been shooting with a 50mm in a new gallery and am finding I can’t get back far enough for some of the larger paintings and also there has been some distortion on some of the larger ones . I thought a prime lens would be good because of the quality and detail captured with them but finding it won’t work ..  What lens would you recommend for this type of work ?  To keep quality of artwork but no distortion .. 

i was also told 2 transparent continuous umbrella lights would be beneficial to me to even out the light on the surface of the paintings .. can you make a recommendation there as well ? 
thanks so much

- Crystal 

In terms of the lenses, a 50mm lens on the Canon 77D would be more like an 80mm lens due to the smaller APS-C sensor in this camera. It get further back, we recommend using a wide angle zoom such as the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon EF. As for lighting to shoot your paintings, the GVM LS-p80s LED 2-Light Kit, BH # GVP80S2D as well as two umbrellas like the Impact Umbrella - White Translucent (43"),  BH # IMU43T. These lights can be placed at a 45 degree angle on each side for even lighting.





I have a Canon E80D, I'm trying to get into motorcycle racing photo & the races take place at night. These guys are going around 90-130 mph. I'm wondering a couple of things. What would be a good lens to use? And what settings should I use on my camera. I've struggled with night shots because I don't have a big flash for my camera either & not sure if or what to invest in as it's still just a hobby at this point. I've noticed the 'Pro photographers' moving with the bikes as they're shooting & wonder why? I have no problem getting great daytime shots with the lens that I have. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks so much!

A great lens to use with a long reach is the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Canon EF, BH # SI1506005SC. The autofocus on this lens would be fast enough to keep up with fast moving subjects. Some photographers that move with a moving subject are panning, which will help convey motion by using a slower shutter speed.


I have a canon t7i with a 55-250 lens and a 18-55. I'm into agriculture photography and kids outdoor pictures. I know long term I want something with more reach for agriculture landscapes but for the kids up close what should I choose?  

To cover landscapes, a lens such as the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon EF, BH # SI183518DCC would be an excellent choice in terms of low light performance and its range of available focal lengths. As for shooting close up portraits of kids, a good lens to pair up with the Sigma 18-35mm is the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF, BH # SI8514CEF, offering a very shallow depth of field and a focal length equivalent of 136mm on your T7i. 




I have a Nikon d7500 and I need a good all around camera but want to focus on portarit and street photography. I'm a huge fan of phots with a smooth backround full of bokeh. I don't have a huge budget but want a lens that I can grow with and use for many years. I'm not new to photography but more like somewhere in the middle as an intermediate.

For your needs, going with a full frame camera will help give you more control over your depth of field, especially when using a lens with a larger aperture. One such camera is the Nikon Z 6 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only), B&H # NIZ6.


This camera would also have a very familiar menu layout to make an easier transition from your D7500. 

Hello!  Very new to the camera world.  Recently purchased a Canon rebel t7i and love it.  My girls are involved with sports (track, cross country, gymnastics) and then there's theater and cheer.  I currently have the standard 18-35mm lens but (answering the question from your article...what do i need that my current lens doesn't give me....well zoom! LOL.  I'm not a professional by any means and simply enjoy capturing the memories of family and friends including all activities my girls (and nephews - football and baseball) do.  Any suggestions on what to begin looking at?

A important factor when choosing a telephoto zoom lens for sports and indoor theater photography is the aperture of the lens.  For sports, having a bright aperture is important so it can let as much light into the camera as possible so you can use a fast shutter speed to freeze action.  With theater, a bright aperture is still a benefit to assist in capturing movement in the dark environment even with stage lighting.  For use with Canon cameras, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens, B&H # CA7020028L3, would be a great option from Canon, but if you are on a budget and need a more economical option, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Canon EF, B&H # SI7020028OSC, or the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens for Canon EOS DSLR Cameras, B&H # TA7020028MC, would be good options for your usage needs.  All of the above lenses have a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range, so the lens will retain the f/2.8 aperture from the 70mm wide angle setting to the 200mm telephoto setting.  While they are more expensive than entry-level kit lenses, they would be the options I recommend for your stated usage.   The Tamron lens would be the best budget lens, and the main feature it does not offer that the other two lenses do have would be built-in Image Stabilization.  Stabilization is a benefit, but not a necessity, and many people looking for an economical option find the Tamron lens to be great for their usage needs.

I have a Canon 5d MK4 and would like to get into macro. Is the Canon 100mm IS a good start? I need the "IS" because I tend to shake a bit now that I'm up in age and the lighter the better too. Is there anything else that is not Canon? Thanks

A Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro is an excellent lens, but if you're on a budget, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Canon EF, BH #SI10528MDGCE is a good option with similar features.  https://bhpho.to/2KvyXef

Hey - great article - thanks!  

I especially read the MICRO lens discussion.  But, I have a specialized question I hope you can help me with.

I have a Nikon D5600 DSLR that came with two lenses:  18-55m VR and 70-300m ED.   I plan to use this camera to digitize thousands of family photos that I've inherited - B&W, color, some over 120 years old - many have adhered to the plastic they were put under, so, need to leave them as is and do the best I can - the commercial scanner I thought to use does terrible things to the colors, so that's a no go. 

After reading Peter Krogh's book on digitizing photos, I now have a horizontal mount for camera, along with add-on lighting.  Am figuring I'll need a macro lens to be able to take good digital pix of these photos, which vary from 2"x2" up to 12"x14".  The lens' I have seem to distort and not do a good job for this level of work.

What do you think about me purchasing the

AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR

lens for this purpose?   Would it give me the clarity and precision for this "odd" usage? 


The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR would definitely work in your case with no distortion.  Also, the minimum focusing distance of 11.3" is a plus. 


I have been buying lenses from BandH for the last 20 years. I am not a professional but I am the family photographer. I have a 70 - 200 4L Canon lense that I bought for outside portraits. I now again have grandchildren playing sports in gyms. It will not let me use a high shutter speed without uping the ISO very high. I have a 17 - 55 2.8 IS that is good but cannot get close enough. I am considering selling the 70 - 200 4L and buying the 70 - 200 2.8. Would the 70 - 200 L II be ok for sports inside a gym and also for outside sports and portraits. 

Hi Sheryl,

Thanks for your continued patronage!

The 70-200 f/2.8 will only give you one more stop of shutter speed over the 70-200 f/4. That means you will be able to shoot at 1/500th sec. at f/2.8 instead of 1/250th sec. at f/4. If that stop is critical to you, then go for it.

I don't usually tell people to get a new camera (I often recommend new lenses), but, in your case, may I ask you what camera you are shooting? My thought is, if it is an older model, by two generations or more, you might be able to upgrade the body, get better ISO performance, and keep your 70-200mm lens.

Thanks for writing in, Sheryl!

I use canon 700d . Which lens should I buy? Tamron 18-400mm Di || VC HLD. OR. ( CANON 10-18MM IS STM  &  70-300mm IS || USM). ?

The question would depend on what you would like to photograph with the lens you wish to purchase.  The 10-18mm lens is designed for wide angle photography usage needs, and would be a good option for landscape photography, group photography, and interiors/architecture photography usage needs.  The 70-300mm lens is a telephoto lens designed for photographing items that are at a longer distance from your physical location, allowing you to zoom into your subject to make them appear larger in the frame,  It would be good for sports photography or wildlife photography.  The 18-400mm lens would be an all-in-one zoom lens designed for all-around photography usage needs.  It can be used as a standard zoom lens for everyday photography, but it has enough zoom range for use as a telephoto lens, so it is the best of both worlds.  Lenses with shorter zoom ranges typically have better optical performance, but the 18-400mm lens would be a good option if you only want to carry one lens and need the most flexibility.  As you did not state how you plan to use the lens or what you plan to photograph with the lens you wish to purchase, I would recommend sending an e-mail with this information to [email protected] so we can make a more informed recommendation on which lens may be best for your usage needs.  If you currently own lenses, letting us know which lenses you already own would help our recommendation to see which may also work in addition to your current focal length range.

I have a nikon d90 with a nikkor 18-200 general use lens and a nikkor 200-500.  Looking at something to take close up portrait shots and close up insect & flower shots.  What would be the best lens for that? I have a filter kit that I haven't used that is 72mm and am wondering what lens would be good for use of those.  Thanks

Hey Colleen,

Right off the bat, I was tempted to recommend two lenses for your two different needs. In general, photographers will have a dedicated portrait lens for portraits and a dedicated macro lens for close-up shots of flowers and insects. But, having said that, there are other options friendlier to one's budget and I have a great idea for you...so read to the bottom!

Before I get into those options, lets talk portrait lenses and macro. I'll be brief, but feel free to follow up.

Traditional portrait lenses are usually large aperture prime (not zoom) lenses at 85mm or 105mm like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens.

Macro lenses [https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/macro-lens] are the best tools for close-up macro photography and Nikon has a ton of options that will work on your D90. Check out that buying guide if you want to see the choices.

Here is your "Todd just saved me a ton of money" option...

For portraits on a D90, I don't hesitate to recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. On the D90, it has the field of view of a 75mm lens (very similar to a traditional 85mm portrait lens) and it is small and lightweight. To make it great for close-up work, you have a few options, but the best and least expensive will be through the use of extension tubes [https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/macro-photography-gear-lenses-extension-tubes-and-filters]. You could also use close-up filters, but I prefer extension tubes as they do not alter the optics of your lens.

I tried to keep this short and sweet, but feel free to ask follow-ups!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Todd, 

I'm a beginner in photography who's really confused and could use your help. I'm looking to buy my first ultra wide angle lens and not sure which to go with or even if I should get one at all. I'm also open to hear any input and advice you might have for my situation. 

What I need from the lens: more landscape, experiment with wide angle portraiture, and also try night sky. Budget < $500 USD. 

What I currently have: canon rebel T5i and the 2 kit lenses it came with, an 18-55mm and 75-300mm. I then added the canon 50mm 1.8 STM lens. 

What I'm considering: CANON 10-18mm f 4.5-5.6 (pros: inexpensive, ultra wide at 10mm, IS. cons: not very wide aperture/fast lens), TOKINA 11-16mm f 2.8 (pros: ultra wide, affordable. cons: limited focal range, no IS, lens flare per reviews). Also considering SIGMA 10-20 mmf f 3.5 and ROKINON f 2.8.

I know that was a lot, but hopefully relevant information for you to help me with. I'm currently leaning more towards the canon 10-18mm and the tokina 11-16mm with slight preference for the canon, but I'm also open to hear your take on the sigma and the rokinon. Please advise me on what you think might be best for my situation and why. Thank you in advance! 

Hello Bilal,

I hope we can bring an end to the confusion here!

So, it looks like you have done your homework here and you likely have read more about these lenses than I have. I am not sure exactly which Rokinon you were looking at, but the 3 other lenses all have very similar reviews. Therefore, I will give you my $0.02 on your takes on the lenses you mentioned...

Canon 10-18mm...There is always something that feels safe about sticking with lenses from the body's manufacturer. There are many photographers who never venture towards 3rd party lenses. The maximum aperture is very narrow (relatively), but that is not a show-stopper as a lot of landscape photography is either done in good lighting or tripod-based. The disadvantage of that aperture will be if you want to do starscapes or shallow depth of field work with very close and far objects in the same frame. You mentioned night sky shots, so I might be tempted to skip this lens. The benefits of IS are lesser on wide-angle lenses. It is "needed" more on telephoto lenses.

Tokina 11-16...I used to own a Tokina wide-angle lens for Nikon. It was superior to the similar Nikon in every respect—optics, color rendition, and build quality. Lens flare can often be managed by using a lens hood or by simply blocking any direct sunlight hitting the front of your lens with your hand or a baseball cap. And, honestly, it is not always objectionable...just ask J.J. Abrams. The f/2.8 will be your best option for night skies.

Sigma 10-20...Sigma makes great lenses. This one seems to fit nicely between the wide-aperture Tokina and the Canon.

And, last, but not least, Rokinon. Depending on what lens you were looking at, you might be entering the manual focus world. This isn't the worst thing, but if you are used to autofocus, there will be a learning curve. For starscapes, manual focus is sometimes a blessing. In general, Rokinon/Samyang lenses offer great value and very good performance. Where they have struggled in the past is distortion control and consistency in manufacturing—you could get a stellar copy of a lens or one that isn't perfect. I own a 12mm f/2 for starscape work that I really love.

I don't know if that cleared anything up for you or not, but, if I was shopping I might go with the Tokina as my top choice with the Rokinon as a close second if I was ready to do manual focus.

Let me know if you have any follow-ups! Good luck!

I am not a great photographer (let me start out with this)....

I own a nikon d3300 that was a bundle deal with 2 lenses18-55 and 55-200.    I am an avid traveler and have been to some amazing places and have gotten some amazing photos BUT i have also missed out on some crazy photos.  I am looking to purchase another lens that will help me to achieve some longer distances.   I am currently in the process of booking 2 more adventures (1 to tanzania for the great migration and the other to uganda to trek with gorillas).    I just got back from borneo and missed out on some opportunities bc my lens just couldn't get me as close as a i needed to be (really mad about the flying fox i missed photographing and the orangutans).   I do not want to spend thousands of dollars .....what would be my best options?

Hi connie,

Good morning!

First of all, let me start out with this: I am sure you are a good photographer! If you think there is room for improvement, then you should work hard to improve by shooting and studying, but if you are taking photos that you like, then you are a good photographer!

Before I give you a couple of recommendations, remember that mo' telephoto does not necessarily make ones photos better or make someone a better photographer. However, especially when traveling, I know that a longer reach can make the difference between getting a great shot and getting a photo where you have to explain to someone what was in the distance.

Having said that...you are already getting out to 200mm which is a pretty good reach for a DSLR camera. Getting out further means breaking open the piggy bank, unfortunately.

The least expensive option is the Nikon AF-P 70-300. This lens is inexpensive (comparatively) but will not really give you an increase in image quality over what you already own. It would replace your 55-200. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801669665-USE/nikon_20062_af_p_dx_nikkor_70_300mm.html

The next step up is the full-frame-friendly AF-S 75-300mm. This is a bigger and heavier lens, but will likely have a bump up in image quality compared to the AF-P lens. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801840180-USE/nikon_2161_af_s_vr_zoom_nikkor_70_300mm.html

The next two options are a definitely step up, but they are prime, not zoom lenses at a fixed 300mm focal length:

The older version of the 300mm f/4 is very very good (I own one) and not super spendy. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801812917-USE/nikon_1909_af_s_nikkor_300mm_f_4d.html

The newest version is a Fresnel lens and it is incredibly lightweight and small compared to other 300mm lenses...but more expensive: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801821214-USE/nikon_2223_af_s_nikkor_300mm_f_4e.html

NEWS FLASH: Check our Used Store for savings on these two lenses!

And, your last option...and one that you might really enjoy....the Nikon P1000 point-and-shoot bridge camera. If you want a longer reach, there is nothing else on the planet that can touch this camera and its 24-3000mm lens. Yes...3000mm. You would leave your D3300 and lenses at home and head out with just this one camera. For your African trips, this might be a great camera to have...easily portable but with unmatched telephoto reach.


Also, check out our announcement and video: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/news/get-an-incredible-3000mm-zoom-with-the-nikon-p1000

Let me know if you have more questions and good luck!

Thanks for stopping by!


Depending on your budget and on the size of the lens you wish to carry, the two lenses I would recommend for your stated usage needs would be either the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Nikon F, B&H # SI1506005CN, or the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Nikon F, B&H # SI100400N.  The 150-600mm lens would have the most range and would be a great option for wildlife, but it is slightly large (check the Specifications tab for the size and weight), though I still love it for wildlife usage.  If you need something smaller, lighter, and more economically-priced, the 100-400mm lens would be a great alternative that is only slightly larger than a standard telephoto zoom lens.

I just upgraded my four year old Canon Rebel T3 with a Canon EOS Rebel T7i after reading your article on purchasing cameras. I have the basic lens it came with and a 4yr old Sigma 70-200 lens with stabilization. I'm looking for a lens, perhaps the Sigma 150-600mm, to capture in focus images of swimming action. My son swims for USA Swimming and I take photos for our team from the stands, often quite a distance from where they start off the block. The more I try to learn about the lenses the more I'm not sure which one best suits my needs. Stabilization is important. I can lean against a side rail and sometimes rest the lens on one hand on the front rail but a tripod isn't an option. I was looking at the Sigma 150-600 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM, but with your comments about shutter speed I'm worried it won't be fast enough. Thank you for any feedback.

The Sigma 150-600 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM lens should work for your planned usage needs.  However, I would also state it depends on the light levels in the arenas in which you will be photographing your subjects.  In the meantime, I would recommend looking at the EXIF data from your images taken with the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens you own, specifically looking for the shutter speed and ISO setting that was used on the images.  Guessing that you were shooting with the maximum aperture, f/2.8, if you wanted to use the same shutter speed as your current images to freeze action, then you will have to increase your ISO by 2 to 2.3 stops.  For example, if your current images were taken at ISO 1600, to use the same shutter speed with the Sigma 150-600 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM lens, you will need to set your ISO to 6400 or 8000 to use the same shutter speed.   Increasing your ISO would be the best option, as you do not want to lower your shutter speed too much to prevent blur from movement.  If you wanted to use the same ISO, then you would have to use a slower shutter speed (for example, if you are currently shooting images at 1/500 sec to freeze motion and do not want to change your ISO, then your new shutter speed range with the same lighting will be between 1/100 to 1/125 sec, which may cause motion blur.  If you have an upcoming event, you can test this with your current lens and adjusting your ISO and shutter speed to see if it will be in range, but in either case, the Sigma 150-600 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM lens would be my recommendation for your application and budget range.  The better performance of the Canon EOS T7i DSLR camera should also assist you in obtaining less noise at higher ISO settings compared to the Canon EOS T3 DSLR camera, and you can further improve your images using noise reduction during post-processing.

Hi There

I'm looking to purchase a mirrorless camera (likely Oympus OMD-EM5Mk2), primarily for landscape photography in the mountains. I'm confused about lenses for the mirrorless cameras.  Is the terminology / specs the same as for SLR cameras?  If I used an SLR, I'd probably look at a 24-105mm lens.  However I can't seem to find similar specs for the mirrorless lenses (eg M.Zuiko).  Can you please advise if there is a translation table that will help me?  Thanks in advance!

Hey Kris!

Great question! I touch on "crop factor" in the above article, but I do not delve into the information you need for your purchase. Sorry!

The Olympus (and Panasonic) mirrorless camera line has a sensor size known by the trademark Micro Four Thirds. The sensors in these cameras are half the size of a 35mm piece of film (or a "full frame" digital sensor). This means that, when shopping for lenses, you multiply the focal length by 2x to get the field of view equivalent to what you were familiar with in the SLR world.

Example: On a Micro Four Thirds camera, a 25mm lens produces the same field of view as a 50mm lens on a 35mm SLR.

So, for your 24-105mm experience, you want a 12-50mm-ish lens like the beautiful M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens. There are also some Panasonic lenses that are near that focal length and will work on the Olympus.

Oh, if you want to read more about crop factor, click here.

Standing by for follow-up questions, Kris! Thanks for reading!

Also, as a follow up to my last question, which of the lenses I currently have do you think would work best for portraits? Thank you!!!


Hey Deborah,

Thanks for bringing me to the end of your wits with you! :)

Luckily, I am not sure you can blunder completely here, so don't lose too much sleep.

If my research is correct, only the Sigma 18-35 ends up on the sidelines if you switch to full-frame as the Art 50mm is an EF (not EF-S) lens. Please correct me if I am wrong.

So, the options you laid out are the 7D II and staying in the APS-C world plus a refurbished 6D, or the 5D IV.

Have you considered the 6D Mk. II? If you are happy with your 7D, the 7D Mk. II will be a familiar upgrade. May I ask why would you add the refurb 6D to that option? The 5D IV is a great camera, but so are the others. You really can't go wrong, you just need to figure out what is best for your needs.

As far as portraits, regardless of the sensor size, I would probably be leaning heavily on that Sigma 50 Art for portrait work.

Standing by for your answers/follow-ups!

Kind of at my wits end here, not wanting to blunder into a wrong expensive choice.  I have a 7d (about six years old).  Lenses include three kits (nifty fifty, 70-300mm and 18-135mm all canon).  I've upgraded lenses with a canon 70-200 f4,  a sigma art 18-35mm and another sigma art 50mm.  I'm wondering if it makes sense to upgrade my camera to the 7d mark II along with a refurbished 6d or bite the bullet and go for the 5d IV (in which case will my art lenses be useless???) 

Hi Todd,

Thanks for general lens overview in your article. I've just purchased a Panasonic GH5 to fit as a bridge to shoot nice images and also record videos. The reason I'm writing to you is because I'm looking for the best lense to record "private" videos with my wife. Actually, I'd like to record the action using the POV style. Right now I have the 42.5mm (85mm equiv.) f/1.2 Nocticron but obviously is not right one for this purpose.

I was thinking on the Leica 7-14mm (14-28mm 35mm equivalent) but Panasonic is releasing the 8-18mm f/2.8-4 by the end of month and that might be equally or better valid for this. Could you please give me your advice? Should I go for that one or should I consider a completely different one (fixed/variable, different brand, ...)

Thanks a million Todd, Regards

Hey Ralph,

I bet either the Leica 7-14mm, or the new Panasonic 8-18 would work well for that task. You might also consider a wide-aperture wide-angle prime lens depending on the lighting conditions.

But, to be unique and flexible, you could try a helmet or chest-mounted GoPro or a 360-degree spherical camera like the Ricoh Theta S.

Good luck!

Hi Todd,
This was a great read, thanks for all the information.
I am looking at getting either a 24-70mm or an 85mm for my Canon. I noticed that there is a big price jump between the 85mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.2. It's the 1.2 really THAT much better or why such a difference?
Also, should I stick with the Canon brand, or am I safe to try a lower priced brand?

Hey Becky,

Thanks for the kind words! I am glad you enjoyed the article!

Great questions!

Is there a big difference between the 85mm f/1.2 and 85mm f/1.8? Well, if you talk to someone who purchased the f/1.2, they will say, "Definitely!" Whereas someone who loves their f/1.8 will say, "No way!" :) 

The true answer is that there is probably not a great deal of difference between the lenses. Some people love the extra light-gathering capabilities of the f/1.2 version and the super-shallow depth of field they get with the lens. In the real world, an f/1.8 lens is still extremely bright and has shallow depth of field abilities as well. If you don't have a pressing need to go to f/1.2, or drain your savings account, you should be totally happy with the f/1.8 version. Finally, history has a few examples where the f/1.8 versions of f/1.4 (and maybe f/1.2) lenses actually outperformed their more expensive stable mates.

Canon vs. Third Party? That is completely up to you. Third party companies make some fantastic lenses and have been in business for a long time. Sigma, in particular, has been rocking the market with some amazing new offerings that have been getting rated consistently higher than the big brands, and the premium brands like Zeiss. Do your due diligence and research your options on the interweb. Remember, there are variances in lens production, so your lens, be it Canon or a third party, might not be as good as one tested the web. Or, it might be better!

Let me know if you have follow-up questions and thanks for reading Explora!

Thank you! I appreciate your quick reply.

You are very welcome! Have a great weekend!

The biggest difference between the EF 85mm f/1.2 L II and the EF 85mm f/1.4 is the way they do not or do correct for field curvature. This affects the way out of focus highlights (often called 'bokeh') will be rendered.

The EF 85mm f/1.2 L II (and the first version before it) don't use much correction for field curvature. This allows the bokeh to be very smooth and creamy, but it makes the lens not as well suited for shooting flat test charts. The edges of a flat test chart will look soft because when the center is focused at its sharpest, the point of focus on the edges is a few inches in front of a flat test chart. You can actually refocus the lens to make the edges and corners sharp, but that leaves the center soft! Since most portraitists that would use the 85 "L" frame with the edges covering the background that they want to melt into the creamy bokeh that only that lens can deliver, the loss of sharpness on the edges is not as issue for them.

If you are doing flat reproduction work or landscape work in which you want the field of focus to be as flat as possible so that the image is sharper from center all the way to the edges and the corners, then the 85mm f/1.8 is a better lens for that task. But the price of a flatter field of focus is less smooth out of focus highlights.

The newer EF 85mm f/1.4 L IS also has a fairly high degree of field curvature correction. This makes the lens look a lot better when shooting flat test charts than the EF 85mm f/1.2 L II, but the newer lens doesn't render out of focus areas near as smoothly.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for chiming in!

Ironically, a pro-shooter friend of mine grabbed the f/1.4 version after doing a good bit of research.

I hesitate to forward your comments!

Hello, Mr. Vorenkamp

There's so much I could ask on the subject. Here's one question.

I have a Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 and have always thought that Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 would be my next lens. I know it would certainly be much better in low light apart from just being better glass. But would it be a good addition for wildlife photography (among other things) seeing as I already have a telephoto lens? 

Any help you could offer would be much appreciated. 

Hey Jameson,

You will definitely see a jump in your images between the Sigma and the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. The bad news is that you will be carrying two lenses instead of one, and the Canon is not small! But, my guess is that, when going out to shoot wildlife, you will be carrying your 70-200 all the time and not being bothered by the fact that it doesn't extend quite as far as the Sigma.

Great question! Thanks for reading!

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