The 7 Types of Camera Lenses Every Photographer Needs

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If you’ve just purchased your first camera, you’ll likely have received a standard kit lens as part of your purchase. These lenses are useful for your initial phases, but you’ll probably want to expand your toolkit as you become more proficient.

Whichever manufacturer you choose, you will find many different types of camera lenses. And if you don’t have much shopping experience, you might find all of these options overwhelming.

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So which camera lenses do you need? In this article, you will discover seven that you should consider buying.

1. A wide-angle lens

You won’t find a designated lens for any kind of photography. But, as you take photos, you’ll quickly notice that some are more useful in specific situations than others. You should consider buying a wide angle lens to get more shots.

Getting one can be expensive, but wide-angle lenses have several advantages. If you plan to visit a place where you don’t want to attract attention, putting one on your camera can help you take pictures more subtly. And, if you want to travel lighter, you can easily fit one in your pocket, not to mention your carry-on.


Many wide-angle lenses are known as “pancake lenses” due to their size. Generally, you can consider any focal length up to 35mm wide angle. You will find several versions, including 24 mm, 27 mm and 16 mm.

2. More of a versatile lens

During your first two years as a photographer, you will probably want to try many new things. Finding your style can take years, and you might find it unnecessary to invest in multiple lenses until you know what you want to do.

If you want to upgrade your kit lens, but don’t want to buy more than one, consider getting something more versatile. When you’re looking for something that can multitask, you can do a lot worse than get a 50mm lens.

Often known as the “nifty fifty”, you can use a 50mm lens in several scenarios, including landscape photography and shooting portraits. You don’t have to stand too close to your subject, which means you can capture everything in your frame. But, at the same time, you are not so far that everything has to be reframed massively.


3. A lens with a larger aperture

When you receive your kit lens, you will notice that the aperture is usually not very wide. Depending on how much you’ve zoomed in on your image, you’ll normally max out between f/3.5 and f/5.6.

While you probably won’t need anything wider during the day, it can become problematic if you want to shoot at night.

If you want to try photography in low light situations, you should consider a lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or less. Many wide-angle lenses allow you to go that far, but many telephoto lenses don’t. You’ll see the maximum aperture next to the lens name when shopping online or in person.

4. At least one zoom lens

When choosing new camera lenses, you can choose between zoom and prime versions; both have their pros and cons. While you can easily do without one or the other, having both is a smarter choice.

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, which means you can only zoom in or zoom out by physically moving. This may work in some situations, but you will find it quite difficult in others.

You’ll have a little more flexibility if you get a zoom. And, if you plan to travel frequently, you might find it refreshing not to have multiple lenses with you. Popular zooms include the 70-300mm and 55-200mm; focal lengths may vary by manufacturer.

5. A weatherproof lens

Mood photography is a popular genre, and using the weather to your advantage is a great way to capture spectacular photos. But, at the same time, you probably don’t need us to tell you that water and electronics don’t mix.

Many modern camera lenses can handle a lot, but you’ll always find a breaking point. You should consider getting a waterproof lens if you plan to shoot in any of the following weather conditions:


  • Rain, snow, sleet and hail
  • extreme cold
  • Extreme heat
  • In places with a lot of dust and/or sand
  • Humid regions

Weather-sealed lenses are more expensive than their non-sealed counterparts, but the investment is worth it. Although they still have a tipping point, you can count on them in more weather conditions than regular glasses.

6. A telescopic lens

If you’ve ever looked at a close-up of something like a mountain and wondered “how did they do that?” the answer is probably that they used a telephoto lens. You can use a lens with a longer focal length in several situations, including:

  • portrait photography
  • Take pictures of wildlife
  • landscape photography

Telephoto lenses are generally anything with a focal length greater than 70mm. The 85mm is one of the most common entry points for prime lenses, but zooms can also count.

You’ll usually have to pay a lot for telescopic lenses, but you can save money by buying a third-party version. Looking for used versions is also a good idea.

7. A lens that lets you add a filter

As you become better at photography, you’ll probably want to experiment with different styles. And, while you can use editing software to change the look of images, trying out lens filters is also a good idea.

You can find lens filters for multiple scenarios. For example, you can try ones that make your photos look more retro and others that make colors and lighting more neutral.

Some lenses allow front filters, but not all do. So you will need to do some research before making a purchase.

You will find several types of camera lenses as a photographer

Getting into photography is an exciting journey, whether you want an interesting hobby or a real career. Equipment is one of the most important things to consider, and you’ll find plenty of lenses to suit different needs.

When buying a camera lens, consider considering these factors before making a final decision. You can choose the focal length you think is necessary; over time you can add additional lenses.

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