Why You Should Go Beyond the Kit Lens


Many interchangeable-lens cameras, be it DSLR or mirrorless, are sold today with what we call "kit" lenses. Current kit lenses, in general, thanks to computer technology and advanced manufacturing techniques, are more capable and of higher quality than those of yesteryear. However, many of us who use interchangeable-lens cameras feel the gravitational pull of other lenses that are not yet in our bags.

Adding lenses to your quiver is all about choices and selection and, in photography, we often find ourselves at a sort of "gear crossroads." The first crossroad is during the initial purchase of a camera: what brand, how many megapixels, which kit, etc. The next is when we debate which lenses to add to our camera bags or, to not add lenses at all.

Focal Length Explained

Before we go any further, let us talk, very briefly, about lens focal length. For years, with SLR and DSLR cameras, the 50mm focal length has been known as "normal" or "standard." The perspective afforded by the 50mm lens, when used on a 35mm film camera or full-frame DSLR, closely approximates that seen by your own eyes, minus your peripheral vision. Got it? Good.

What is focal length? The focal length of a lens is the distance from that lens's rear nodal point to the image plane (often illustrated by the "Φ" symbol on the top plate of a camera body) is the distance from that lens’s rear nodal point to the image plane when the lens is focused at infinity. Changing this distance by zooming or putting different lenses on a camera changes the photographer's field of view.

The wrinkle... digital cameras with smaller sensors will change the perspective of that 50mm lens, since your eye (and the sensor) is looking through a smaller portion of the projected image circle. So, when shopping for lenses, always pay attention to the "35mm equivalent" specifications to apply what you just read about 50mm lenses and what you are about to learn about the other focal lengths. For the purposes of simplifying this article, we will keep the numbers in the full-frame or 35mm world.

Any lens with a wider view than that of a standard lens on a full-frame sensor, for example, is referred to as a "wide-angle" lens. The wider field of view is quantified with a focal length smaller than that of the standard lens, i.e. 24mm coupled with a full-frame sensor. A telephoto lens is one with a focal length that's longer than a standard normal lens, which sees a narrower angle of view and captures a magnified image.

Adding a Lens to Your Bag

Camera kits, in general, come with either one- or two-lens options. Single-lens versions usually have a wide-angle to normal or slight telephoto zoom lens (i.e. 18-55mm zoom). A second lens is most likely a farther-reaching telephoto (i.e. 55-200mm zoom). These kits are designed to give you maximum versatility along with minimal cost and minimal weight.

" One of the best ways to improve your photography is to use a high-quality lens that is designed in such a way that you can better express your artistic vision..."

May I mention the drawbacks of adding additional lenses to your camera bag without dissuading you from purchasing a new lens? I hope so, or I will not be working at B&H much longer. (So, whatever you do, when you finish this paragraph, KEEP READING… and buy a new lens!) There are two possible negatives to adding to your lens collection. The first is: cost. More gear means that more of your hard-earned money is invested in your photography. The second: mass. What do I mean? You will figure it out when you try to add a lens to a small camera bag that was not designed to accommodate additional stuff or, if your bag had extra room, you might wonder why your shoulder has gotten sorer, quicker. Adding lenses (or any other gear) to your bag requires more space and adds weight. Luckily, your wallet will be lighter.

Are you still here? Still interested in adding a lens to your bag? Whew. Good!

Improve Your Photography

I will go on record as saying this: One of the best ways to improve your photography is to use a high-quality lens that is designed in such a way that you can better express your artistic vision.

What do I mean by this? Two things. First, the visual improvements in your photographs might be noticeable when you make the switch from a kit lens to a more precise optical instrument; better sharpness, color rendition, focus performance, etc. All of those things will combine to help get you a better image. Secondly, there are dozens of different types of lenses that are much better suited than a kit lens for many photographic chores and, having one of those in your bag may bridge the gap between snapshot and suitable-for-framing.

Primes vs. Zooms

Before we look at lenses, a quick treatise on the age-old debate of primes versus zooms. A "prime" lens has a fixed focal length. A zoom lens expands and contracts (internally or externally) and has an adjustable focal length.

Prime lenses almost always have better optical quality than zooms of the same focal length neighborhood, but today's zooms are very good and always improving to the point where fewer and fewer photographers carry prime lenses anymore. Zoom lenses almost always contain more glass elements than a prime lens, and the more glass that light has to pass through, the more chances are that the light is degraded in some way.

The largest single benefit of the zoom is the versatility: the photographer can stand in one place and frame the image in the viewfinder, or on the LCD, by zooming in or zooming out from a subject. With a prime lens, either you, or the subject, may have to move to compose the shot you envision.

The biggest benefit of a prime lens, aside from optical quality, is the fact that many have larger light-gathering power than their zoom brethren. A larger-aperture lens allows a given camera to photograph in less light than one with a smaller aperture, such as those common to zoom lenses. The secondary benefit is that they are usually lighter and smaller than zoom lenses.

The Nifty Fifty

There is an old-school philosophy that suggests that, if you want to learn photography, your first lens should be a “standard prime.” In fact, I penned an article The One Lens Every Photographer Should Have and Use: the 50mm. For many photographers, these days, they start, right or wrong, with one or two kit lenses. I will not delve into the educational theory about what lenses are best for beginners, but I will tell you that a solid, high-quality, wide-aperture 50mm lens is a great addition to your bag.

On a full-frame camera, the 50mm is perfect for many photographic tasks: travel, landscape, portrait, group shots. On a camera with a smaller sensor, the 50mm is still versatile and, for portrait work, it is superb.

The other good news: You can easily find a superb 50mm f/1.8 lens that will not require pawning your inheritance. A top-tier 50mm f/1.4 lens will set you back a lot more, but some people prefer the extra light-gathering capabilities of the larger aperture.

Why do I always carry a 50mm f/1.8 lens in my camera bag? Well, there are several reasons. It is small, light, and unobtrusive. The large aperture makes it my go-to lens for handheld low-light photography. And, it is one of the sharpest lenses I own, so if I am doing night photography on a tripod and I notice I am using a zoom lens around the 50mm focal length, I will swap it out for the better image quality of the 50mm prime.

Learning theory aside, I will not hesitate to recommend a quality 50mm prime lens for everyone's camera bag.

If you aren’t feeling the 50mm lens, my colleague, Shawn Steiner, wrote a counter piece recommending the 35mm lens for everyone: The Lens Every Photographer Should Have and Use: the 35mm.

Landscape Photography

Yes, you can use standard and telephoto lenses for landscape work, but many of the masters of photographing landscapes produced their art with a tried-and-true wide-angle lens. Many photographers just starting out in the world of photography are drawn into the magic of the telephoto—reaching out farther and farther to capture that distant object or scene. However, some of the best-known landscape images of our time were created with relatively inexpensive and compact wide-angle prime lenses.

The late, great Galen Rowell was a big fan of his Nikon 20mm and 24mm. The versatility of a wide-angle lens extends past landscape photography, as it also makes a great travel companion to your favorite town or city.

Street Photography

The popular genre of "street photography" is as popular now as ever. When I think of street photography, I think first of the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, the undisputed master of the genre. What did he use for the vast majority of his images? A Leica rangefinder camera and a 50mm prime lens. If that does not make you want to run to B&H and grab the first 50mm lens (and Leica rangefinder) you can get your hands on, I do not know what will.

Other artists in the street photography field prefer a 35mm lens and its wider perspective. Another thing to consider if you want to blend into your surroundings when looking to make photographs on the street is your physical presence. A 50mm or 35mm prime lens is a fraction of the size of many wide-to-normal zoom lenses, which will allow you to slip in and out of scenes with greater ease and capture your chosen moments with more stealth.

Sports Photography

In-your-face sports photography is the domain of the telephoto lens. Watch any professional sporting event and you will see armies of photographers on the sidelines wielding enormous, heavy, expensive lenses. If you are going to be a professional sports photographer, by all means, get the best and biggest lens that your budget allows, but for most of us, the occasional action of a little league baseball game or outdoor kids’ soccer tournament is a more likely photographic scenario.

If your camera came with a two-lens kit, chances are you can reach out to 200mm or 300mm, depending on the maximum focal length of your longest lens. Many pro sports photographers are likely working the sidelines with lenses that range between 200mm and 400mm. That means you are reaching just as far onto the field as many of the pros with their huge lenses. The difference is that their larger optics allow more light to enter the camera, enabling them to shoot at faster shutter speeds while simultaneously reducing their depth of field to better isolate subjects from the background.

The price tag of a large "professional" telephoto lens makes most of us cringe. However, there are more economical solutions that will allow you to improve upon your telephoto kit lens without breaking your wallet. Still expensive, but not when compared to their f/2.8 cousins that cost around four or five times as much, the 300mm f/4 lenses offered by many manufacturers are sharp, fast, and much more portable.

Another outside-of-the-box option is the classic mirror lens. Mirror lenses are not great for low-light shooting, since their maximum apertures are usually in the f/5.6 - 11 range, but, for extreme telephoto and very good portability, they cannot be beat. Just be sure to read up on them so that you are familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of mirror lenses. The mirror lens represents a relatively inexpensive way to get into super-telephoto imagery.

Portrait Photography

The classic portrait lens has always been the 85mm lens. Prime lenses between this and the 105mm focal length are staples for many portrait photographers.

Like the price-point differences between the 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses, the same economics apply to your choice of portrait lenses. Many manufacturers make 85mm lenses with f/1.8 and f/1.4 maximum apertures. You will likely find that the quality is almost indistinguishable, but, again, some prefer the slightly greater light-gathering capabilities of the f/1.4 lenses.

One of the most famous portraits of all time, Steve McCurry's "Afghan Girl," was taken with a 105mm lens. When he and National Geographic found the girl, years later, he photographed her with an 85mm lens.

Architectural Photography

When you tilt a camera up or down from the horizon, distortion occurs. When you are photographing buildings, distortion is generally unwanted. With today's powerful software, many photographers have access, with a few clicks of a mouse, to some amazing geometric corrections to their photographs; however, if you want to straighten the geometric lines of a building in your image before you open the shutter, you will need to acquire a perspective shift lens or combination tilt/shift lens. The advantage is that you are bending the light entering the camera and not "stretching" pixels in digital post production.

Tilt/shift lenses from major lens manufacturers have never been inexpensive; however, several third-party lens makers now produce lines of relatively inexpensive tilt/shift lenses to meet the needs of budding architectural photographers.

Close-Up Photography

If you, when walking around with your camera, keep seeing the world in a smaller and smaller frame and find yourself wishing you could get closer to small objects, a macro lens is in store for you. A macro lens is a lens designed specifically for close-up photography and it allows the photographer to get very close to a subject to reproduce it, in the image circle, at life size.

Kit lenses are generally not well suited for macro photography, and this is one genre of photography in which having the right gear might make all the difference between enjoying the photographic process, and pure frustration. But, even with a kit lens, you can certainly add different accessories to allow the lens to perform macro magic. See this B&H Explora article on ways to achieve macro photography.

Passion for Prime

As I wrote before, today's kit lenses are very capable and dependable, and you can capture fantastic images with them. However, if you are getting passionate about your photography and you want to help yourself improve your images in a specific category, adding a high-quality prime (or non-kit zoom) lens to your camera bag might be just what you need to help advance your artistic vision.

What is your next lens going to be? Feel free to comment below, if you have questions, or would like to know about more non-kit lens options.

For a summary of this topic on video, check out this link!


My first color slide camera was a Bolsey B with a 44mm (as the diagonal, the theoretical perfect normal lens for 35mm), and this fixed my notion of what I liked, until I got a Topcon with a 35mm, and then a 24mm, and finally a 20mm (this, a pancake, had a dozen different dime-sized filters which bayoneted on the back of the lens).  The Topcon had light meter built on the rapid-return mirror and interchangeable viewing screens and viewfinders, but the company couldn't compete with the advertising barrage of Nikon, and then Canon.  Canon now has a 32mp sensor, aps-c size, and a 28mm macro (which matches the Bolsey's 44mm for viewing angle) for its M-series cameras, but, with the exception of color noise and loss of resolution at high ISOs, just doesn't seem to outperform, out-resolve my somewhat outdated Olympus P5 and M5mk2.  The Panny 20mm and Oly 17mm, and 9-18mm WA are highly satisfying performers for travel, as is Oly's 75-300 for wildlife.  I would like Canon to issue the equivalent of that old Topcon 20mm (my calculations, 12mm), pancake sized, and sharp— that is, with truly high resolving power for the 32mp sensor, not for full frame.

Good stuff! Thanks, Norwood!

Let's hope Canon is reading! :)

Thanks for stopping by!

I purchased a Panasonic G85 with 12-60mm kit lens from B&H last year. The kit lens wasn't suited to the type of photography that I aspire to, so I sold it and used the proceeds to buy my first prime - a 20mm pancake. I absolutely agree with your suggestion of having too many lenses. I purposely keep my lens count minimal for a couple of reasons. First, I don't want to tote 8 or 9 lenses everywhere I go when I will realistically only use one or two on a given shoot. Second, as a hobbyist photographer I don't need that many lenses. I was very analytical, maybe too much so, calculating what lenses to buy. I didn't want to drop two or three grand on some specialty lens that I'll use just for 'that' situation once in a blue moon. All of my lenses are practical and used equally without much overlap in focal length. They include: 20mm that I use for architecture/landscape, 42.5mm that I use for portraiture, 45-200m that I use for wildlife/street photography and a $35 58mm Helios 44-2 that I use for artsy-fartsy stuff. I can fit all comfortably in a shoulder bag with room to spare for a couple extra batteries, filters and lens cloths (everything I need for a day of shooting). Yeah, it'd be cool to have a $2000 prime zoom on rare occasion but the return on investment isn't there for an intermediate photographer such as myself.

This was a great article. As I reactivate my interest in photography it really helped to focus my thinking for the types of equipment or the upgrades I will do in the future. 

Great tips. 


Need advise quick. I have a Nikon D3300 camera and I want to make sure I buy the correct lens to fit this camera and can still use all the cameras functions. This is gen 2  https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1277357-REG/tamron_sp_150_600mm_f_5_6_3_di.html but I can find a NIB gen 1 for far less. Should I spend the extra money and why?  We are going to be shooting wild life this summer but at this time only have an 18-300 Nikon which is not going to bring the animals in as close as I'd like. Is this the right move to make since my budget is not unlimited. 

Hey Erv,

Thanks for your questions.

First, both Gen 1 and Gen 2 versions of that lens should work fine on the Nikon D3300.

As far as what version to get, that is up to you and your budget. The newer version is likely better than the last, but that isn't saying that the Gen 1 version is bad. I would scour the interweb for hands-on reviews and see if the new one is clearly better than the older version. Optically, they may be identical with the newer one featuring electronic upgrades.

Please let us know if you have follow-up questions. Also, sorry for the delay in replying, we are just back from break!

My fave street lens has become the Canon 40mm 2.8 pancake on an SL1 body.  I still have my 28mm, but 40's 64mm equivalent focal length seems just about right. 

Good combination, Panache! Thanks for stopping by!

This is the best, most articulate and easy to understand article I've ever read on photography. Thanks!


I am glad you enjoyed the article and I do hope this wasn't the very first photography article you have read! :)

Thank you, sincerely, for your comment and thanks for reading!


You bring up some great points to consider. My Canon FD lenes are 28mm f2.8 (bought used from B&H), 50mm f1.8 (kit), 3rd party 80-205 f4.5, and Spiratone 400mm f6.3. The 28mm that my wife bought in 2011 has become my favorite lens. But with sports, air shows, and other events, a longer reach is needed. In 2012, we visited the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center and I was able to get photos of Space Shuttle Discover using both the 28mm and the 80-200mm from various points.

The kit lens for my Canon 5D III is the EF 24-105 f4L. My next lens purchase will be the 70-300 f4.5-5.6L since it provides the longer reach that I want and the length is under 6 inches which is allowed for some sports venues. I photographed an NCAA Women's Basketball regional tournament using my F-1 and the 80-205 zoom. We were above the row above ESPN's camera crew; I found that I didn't go beyond 150mm, so the next days, I brought my 5D. But there are other sports, like baseball where a 24-105 won't work.

I rented the EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L for a practice round of the 2014 Masters Golf Tournament. I didn't get to use the lens for that intended purpose since that practice round was cancelled; I did get a nice portrait of one of our dogs when I was testing the lens. I rented the Mk II version for 2015 and that lens was great!

Labor Day weekend, my wife and I traveled to Alabama and one of the stops was Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. There I realized photographing the Saturn V rocket that sent astrronauts to the moon, was that 24mm just wasn't wide enough. Two weeks ago, we visited Kennedy Space Center and saw Space Shuttle Atlantis. I did take telephoto shots of Atlantis, but there were some photography opportunities where wider than 24mm would've been desirable. Also, when I was there, I found myself switching from auto focus to manual focus because of autofocusing difficulties.


Hi Todd,

I wasn't there for the handover ceremony, but I watched it live. My wife and I visited in October 2012. We're headed back near the DC area the last of September/first of October 2017. I hope to visit again and shoot in color this time. 2012 was the year that I shot exclusively with B&W film.

Yup! More lenses and a bigger camera bag. When I was at NASM Udvar-Hazy, I didn't bring a camera bag; I wore cargo pants and a shirt that had extra pockets. I brought my Canon A-1 with the Sunpak 522 flash mounted, film (Kodak TMAX 400 and 3200), FD 28mm f2.8, 80-200 f4.5, LensPens, and lens cleaner fluid. I've taken this approach on several different occasions, bringing what I was going to shoot with versus what I may shoot with.


Hi Ralph,

I guess we didn't miss each other! The ceremony was super cool. It was incredible to see the stark differences between the Enterprise and Discovery. One is a mock-up, the other is a true spaceship.

I wish you could use a tripod at Udvar-Hazy. I've gotten some good stuff, but I really wish I could do some work off of sticks.


Thanks for stopping by!

I forgot about the Canon Macrophoto 20mm f3.5 lens that I bought from B&H.

This is my Flickr album of Discovery from 2012, the year in B&W.

Paula and I have seen Discovery, and Atlantis in Florida at KSCVC. For other reasons, we didn't make a return trip to Udvar-Hazy in 2017. It is our plan to visit the California Science Museum once they get Endeavour stacked and ready for launch with the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters.  I love how the museums are displaying the Space Shuttle in the three phases: Launch, Flight, and Landing.

Thank you for a very informative article in lay-man's terminology. When I changed from film SLR's to DSLR's I now have several zoom kit lens from three DSLR's bodies with plans to ourchase a fourth DSLR body.

In addition to my six kit zoom lens, I have purchased two DSLR prime lens; Nikkor 35mm and 105 mm macro. Even though I'm no longer using film cameras, I'm still have their Nikkor prime lens; 24mm, 35mm, 55mm, and 105mm.

I'm considering having these SLR prime lens converted to work on my DSLR's. On DSLR's they will lose auto focus but will gain better low light capability. Auto focus (AF) is not critical due to my many decades of manually focusing using film SLR's. Besides in low light I find that AF doesn't work well.

Those SLR prime lens are tact sharp. What do you think about having them converted to use on DSLR's?

You are also correct on having multiple camera bags. I have four bags. After a recent trip. I'm planning to buy another bag and the 18-300 mm zoom lens.

Hi Anthonie,

Thanks for the compliment!

If you have Nikon DSLRs, you shouldn't have to do any modification to the lenses. On some lower-end model Nikon DSLR cameras, you might not have full metering and shooting mode options, but the Nikon F mount has been virtually unchanged since it was invented, so put your lenses on and go shooting!


Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks for reading!

I've had my eye on a canon 50mm lens! Now this really makes me want to go for it. I have a canon t5i and really want a lens that I can take beach photography(just moved to the beach) and sports pictures (cousins/brothers and high school) but still be able to take it too Jamaica in August! 

Thanks for reading, Jasmine! Good luck with your new 50! I use mine all the time...great quality and very versatile!

Great article! I've read it at least twice while I try to figure out my next step up from the kit lenses and basic primes. Shooting a Canon T5i (18-55mm and 75-300mm kit lenses along with the 24 and 50mm primes), I want better glass (not ready for the "L" investment yet) so I'm considering the versatility of the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Zoom and the 35mm f/1.4 prime. Typical subjects are natural light portraiture, urban photography and music-related activities.

Any recommendations on upgrade paths? Thanks, Jason

Hello Jason!

I will admit that I am not very familiar with the Sigma lenses, but I do know they are known for offering exceptional quality for the price. You might find yourself not using the 18-55 if you take to the 18-35. You could probably part with it and collect a few dollars to put towards another lens.

Your primes are also living inside your wide angle zoom range, so the need for another wide zoom might be super redundant. I also love the fact that you are building your prime lens stock. Many people gravitate towards primes as their experience grows and skills improve, however, there is always something to be said for the convenience of zoom lenses.

I'll leave you with this thought. A lens is an investment and will generally be with you through several camera bodies. I am still shooting a lens that I got with my first film SLR many moons ago and it is still one of my favorite lenses.

I know this came short of recommending a path, but maybe it has given you some food for thought. Please feel free to follow up!

Thanks for reading!


Thank you for the reply. You've brought up great points, particulrly about a new 18-35 taking the spot of the current 18-55. I've continued reading up and may just stick with the primes for now-it does force me to "think" a bit more as I compose shots. Added bonus, the 35mm is fast at f/1.4 and it is something I'd keep as I upgrade over time.

B&H is now on my daily trolling list. Keep up the great work!


No worries, Jason! Thanks for stopping by!

Hi - I have a question.  I have been looking at the Nikon D3300.  I had been thinking about something like a point and shoot such as the panasonic Lumix FZ200 or the Canon powershot sx50.  However, I really like my old Rocoh KR-5super II even though I was/am a real novice with it.  I have two questions:  Do you think the Nikon D3300 is a good camera or do you think there is a better one in that price range?  I have a Tamron 70-210mm 1:4-5.6 zoom with an adapter for my Ricoh.  Would that be a good zoom for the Nikon D3300, or am I better off getting the zoom that you have for sale with the 3300 - Nikon AF-S-55-300mm G EDUR, and why?

Thank you for your help,

Barry Sheriff                  





Hey Barry,

Thanks for your questions! All of the cameras you mentioned are good options and all have features that make them different from the others you are considering. It is difficult to point you in the right direction as camera shopping is actually more complicated than you might think. A lot depends on how you plan to use the camera, how much gear you want to carry, what gear you already have, etc.

Depending on the Tamron you have, it may work on the Nikon D3300 and that will save you money over adding a new lens. The two point-and-shoots you mentioned are supremely versatile with great zoom lenses and no need to carry additional lenses and add weight to your bag. Last, you can always keep enjoying your Ricoh!

Sorry I am not full of answers, but feel free to come by the store or call us to talk to a sales person for some more specific advice!


Hi Barry,

I know I'm not technically a pro, but another prospective never hurts right?  I'll start by saying I've never been a point and shoot gal.  I've tried them, and while convenient, and easy to carry, I always felt limited in their capabilities.

When I felt the urge to return to photography (on a semi-serious level), I started out with the Nikon D3200 (baby brother to D3300). I LOVED that camera. It was easy to use, and versatile. For average shooting it did a fantastic job!  For shooting my kids sporting events it was good enough. The kit lenses it came with were capable. And I loved that I could use a wide range of lenses if I wanted to.  I added a 50mm prime, and a 55-300mm to my collection.  Eventually, as I started shooting more and more sporting events, getting asked to shoot sports for other athletes, and getting asked to do portraits for other people; I felt like I grew out of its capability and went to the D7100. The D7100 was excellent as well. It did everything I asked it to do, but as business grew, I expanded to the full frame D750 (thank you B&H).  Now I use my D750 as my work horse, and my 7100 as a back up.  My daughter is learning on the D3200  she LOVES it too!

Personally, for a novice or casual shooter, not looking to spend a small fortune-- I'd highly recommend the D3300. It does everything you'll need it to do, but if you can afford a few extra dollars, and eventually want to expand your capabilities, I'd seriously look at the D7100/7200 model.  Either way, you will have a variety of lenses you can add should you feel the need to expand your collection down the line. But you'll have a good camera to catch your everyday shots you want. 

Hope that helps. 

Thanks for helping a fellow B&H customer, Tara! Good advice!

Excellent article - very informative and easy for the beginner to understand! Thank you :-)

Hi Cami! No worries! Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment!

Nice explanation of the conversion between 35 mmm and the APS-C sensors.  I wanted to know how Nikon identifies their better lenses, and how they now compare with Nikkor prime lenses from the 70's and 80's.  I am considering a D7100 since it is compatible with two of my older Nikkor manual lenses (50 mm and 24 mm AIS).  The last question to answer is which of the new VR lenses to buy with the body.  My first instinct is to buy a medium telephoto prime. 

For me, photography is therapy, not an occupation.

Hello Richard!

Thanks for your comments and questions.

Honestly, Nikon does not have a set system for identifying their "better" lenses. Canon has always differentiated their top-tier glass with an "L" designation and a red ring. Nikon's "ED" lenses with the extra-low dispersion elements have traditionally been identified with a gold ring around the barrel, but a majority of their lenses today seem to have the ED glass and not all have the gold rings. The true way to determine how they identify their upper-end glass is 1) the price and 2) the number of acronyms in the name of the lens (N, ED, AF-S, etc).

As far as what to buy as a new VR lens, that is completely up to you. There are a lot of mid-range VR zooms and mid-range telephoto primes to chose from. It all depends on what type of shooting you do and how versatile you want the lens to be.

Feel free to write back and let me know more about your photography and I might be able to point you in a good direction.


I own a Nikon D7000. I like to increase the telephoto power of my Nikor lense 80-400mm 1:45-5.6 by using a teleconvertor. Is this possible?  I have asked around of camera shops and other photographers and I get different opinions and advice. Can you tell me if it is possible and the pros and cons of the teleconverter (that is if evern possible to do)

Hey Tim,

Thanks for your question!

You can use a teleconverter for your 80-400mm NIKKOR. Check out the Nikon teleconverter compatibility chart and then come back to B&H to make your selection!

I'll keep it short and sweet. The simple pro of a teleconverter is a longer reach for your lens. The cons are cost (they are not free), weight (more stuff in your bag), light (the lens will no longer be f/4.5-5.6 with a teleconverter added, your maximum aperture will be reduced depending on the teleconverter), and sharpness (the light will have to travel through more lenses and, therefore, will suffer slightly as it is bent and diffracted).

Having said that, I have seen some extraordinary images taken through teleconverters, so I would not discourage you to try them if you are looking for longer reach for your lens

Good luck!

Boa noite, adquiri recemtemente a nikon d3300 gostaria de uma segunda lente para fotogarfia em geral(casamentos, aniversarios, reuniões, etc) pode me indicar alguma lente no preço de 100 a 220 dolares.



Nessa faixa de preço essa Tamron é uma boa opção. Ela tem a distância focal de 18-200 que permite voce tirar fotos tanto de grande angular até o zoom grande de 200mm sem ter que trocar de lente. Aqui esta o link:


Outstanding article, I own both prime and zoom on 2 separate camera bodies. Prime Nikon 600mm and Nikon 28-300mm are in my inventory. My prime is for events, locations, surroundings that it is imposible to get physically close to the subject like bodies of water, crowds, or rocky terrain. My zoom on the other hand will cover the close subjects, people, scenics, sunrises, animals and plants without being too intrusive and easy to control image content. Mounting any camera on a tripod will improve image quality hands down especially with telephoto equipment, but for those times like in a tree or on a boat a zoom carries all the ranges you need to get the shot. If I add a 1.4x converter to my zoom it becomes a 420mm with a few f-stops lost but not impossible to get the image I need. Practice is a wonderful thing, and now we can delete our mistakes in camera, how great is that! The zoom was a kit lens but I'm very satisfied with the results every time and feel it was a good chose. I had owned a Canon 600mm back in the 35mm day kept it for 10 years and sold it for 4x more money than I purchased for. Bought the Nikon 600mm, wow, what an improvement! Note, always take care of your equipment to the best of your ability. Take time for cleaning...

Hey Michael! Thanks for your comments!

I am sure there are a handful of purists that swear by primes and look down on zooms, but there is definitely a place in this world for both types of lenses. My workhorse is a 17-55 f/2.8 zoom that lives attached to my camera. I'll switch to a prime for different reasons, but I usually have two zooms in my bag for a given outing.

Definitely take care of your gear and it will take care of you. See my article on lens cleaning, if you have some spare time for more reading!

Thanks again!