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Five tips to help you choose a new camera lens

Derrick Story | March 21, 2013
A new lens is energizing. Photographers tend to like their camera bodies, but love their lenses.

Even though it costs more, I recommend buying stabilized lenses for those models that give you the option, especially for telephotos and long zooms. The professional-caliber Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS zoom costs $600 more than the non-IS model. That's a lot of money! But having image stabilization gives you the opportunity to get sharp shots in a greater variety of lighting conditions.

Emotional appeal

This final consideration might sound a little touchy-feely, but hear me out. Spending your money on a lens you crave versus one you think you should buy is an important factor. A lens that you bond with--one that is attractive to you, something that you deem amazing--will inspire you to shoot.

Here's a personal example. I recently invested $499 in a Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 prime lens for my black Olympus OM-D E-M5. I selected that particular glass from a long list of desirable lenses for several reasons.

Maximum aperture: It has a superfast maximum aperture of f/1.4 for low-light shooting and soft backgrounds.

Size and weight: Even though it's relatively heavy for a Micro Four-Thirds lens at 200 grams, it weighs far less than the 505 grams of my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 for my Canon DSLR body.

Emotional appeal: The handsome black finish combined with a large front glass element with Leica inscription pushed my desire meter to the red zone. I simply wanted this lens more than anything else on my list.

Bringing it all together

A new lens is energizing. Photographers tend to like their camera bodies, but love their lenses. When considering your next optic, use these five criteria to narrow the list of possibilities to a handful of favorites. Think about the types of shots you want to capture, the lighting conditions where you might use the lens, and the bulk you're willing to carry.

Once you have your short list of candidates, then read reviews, study the specs, and consider your budget. After you make a final decision, go shoot and make beautiful images.


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