To Beginner Photographers: Invest in Lenses

Why you should spend more money on a lens than a camera

By: Matt Van Swol

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Most of you know that I do a very specific type of photography: landscape. So this article is dedicated to help those who want to get into landscape photography, do so, without completely breaking the bank. 

Photography can get expensive, but in starting off, you don't have to invest thousands of dollars right off the bat to take gorgeous, eye-popping photos. The mistake most young photographers make, is to invest all their money in a camera and next to none on a lens. I've seen amateur photographers spend upwards of $1000 on a camera, and use nothing but the kit lens that came with it! There's a saying, "the camera doesn't make the picture, it's the photographer." I would argue the same is true of the lens you use. I think almost all professional photographers would agree that if you had $1000 to spend, spend half (or less) on the camera itself, and the rest on quality lenses.

It can be hard to know what lenses to buy (or not to buy) when perusing or reading reviews on different websites. What I like to do is to RENT a lens before I purchase it. I like to use, but there are many others that are competitively priced. For around $50 a week, you can rent very nice lenses and test them out before you buy them! You can also do this is you are going on a trip and need a specific lens: 400mm f2 zoom lens for wildlife photography, a 10-20mm f2.8 wide-angle lens for a trip to the Grand Canyon. You don't have to drop a thousand dollars for a lens you are only going to use once, and that's the beauty of it. 

My suggestion is that you own 3 lenses:

  • Standard Kit Zoom Lens
  • Wide Angle Lens
  • Prime Lens

These three lenses cover all the bases for most  photographers. If you know you are shooting a landscape scene, pull out the wide angle lens to capture a larger field of view. If you are with someone else, bring along the 50mm or 35mm prime lens and shoot some portraits. If you are going out and can only bring along only one lens, bring the kit lens. To me, those are the three I've seen used most often, the rest are specialty lenses that you rent online and save yourself some cash.

If you have any questions about what lenses or cameras I would recommend, leave a comment below and I will get back to you!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.