Buying a Lens for a Camera

If you’re considering buying a lens for your camera, make sure you have a basic understanding of lenses, how and where to buy a lens for your camera, and then choose wisely.

Before Buying a Lens for a Camera, Know What a Lens Does

The lens of a camera does a few things. And understanding what a lens does, is essential for buying a lens for our camera. One of the things a lens does is provide exposure through the variable size of the aperture/f-stop. The second thing it does is provide us with an angle of view. Specifically, the angle of view describes the focal length. You’ll see a lens described as 28mm, 50mm, 8omm, etc. And the third thing it does is focus light on whatever light recording material, film, digital, paper (in the case of an enlarger), etc., we’re using.

How We Describe Lenses

Another thing we should know when buying a lens for our camera is that we generally describe lenses as wide-angle (a fish-eye lens is an extremely wide-angle lens), normal, or telephoto. This part of the description describes the focal length or angle of view that the lens provides.

  • A normal lens is 50mm.
  • A wide-angle lens is anything under 50mm
  • A telephoto lens is anything over 50mm

The other description for a lens is its aperture or f-stop. This part of the description lets us know the most exposure we can get through the lens. And, of course, most lenses have a range of apertures.

For example, my go-to lens is a 28mm f/2.8 lens. The range of the apertures is f/2.8-f/16. And I’ve also got a 35-70mm, f2.8 zoom lens. A zoom lens is simply a variable focal length lens. And on many zoom lenses, the effective aperture changes when changing the focal length (zooming in and out). And when the effective aperture changes, we need to adjust either the shutter speed or ISO, or maybe both, to make up for the difference in exposure if we want to hold our preferred tonality.

Before Buying a Lens for a Camera, Set a Budget

Buying a lens for our camera involves setting a budget for the purchase. Lenses can cost a lot of money. So it helps to set a budget. And don’t think that you need to buy a new lens. There are used lenses in a nearly-new condition that you can purchase for less than new prices. Additionally, some third-party manufacturers make excellent lenses compatible with our cameras. However, I would NEVER buy used lenses from an individual selling their equipment online.

Where To Buy a Lens

I’d recommend purchasing the lens from a reputable dealer, and only if the lens came with a warranty. Your local camera store probably has some used lenses in stock, and AdoramaB&H, and KEH are reputable dealers. And now that you have a better idea of what to consider when buying a lens for a camera, you’ll be sure that you’ll get the right lens for your needs. 


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