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This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Photography For Beginners

In a previous entry I promised I’d give you a quick note about lenses. It wasn’t a subject I’d originally planned for this series, but I was persuaded to sway a little from the schedule yesterday when I remembered that Holger Mette – a guest speaker we invited to our Nashville photo workshop – told me that he thinks a good lens is just as important as (if not more than) a good camera body.

Holger recommends a beginner start out with a simple entry-level SLR, like the Canon XSi or the Nikon D3000, and put the money they save into a better lens, rather than a more sophisticated body.

Professional photographer Rich Wagner agrees. Most pros buy a lens and use it for decades, he told me. Camera bodies, on the other hand, are exchanged and upgraded as often as yearly.

I agree, too. My first camera was a cheap point-and-shoot. I don’t even think they make models of that poor quality anymore. My second was a more sophisticated point-and-shoot that looked like an SLR and came with an adapter that allowed me to add filters and lenses, but it was still a point-and-shoot (though, today, you can get the Canon XSi, Nikon D3000, or Panasonic Lumix G1, all for less than what I paid back then, so maybe you want to skip this step). And my third camera was the Canon Rebel XT.

Today, I shoot with the Nikon D200. But my point in telling you all that is simply to show my progression (after all, that’s what I said I would do in this Photography for Beginners e-letter series). And also to note that my favorite upgrade was not the jump from point-and-shoot to SLR. Nor my jump from entry-level SLR to something more sophisticated.

No. My favorite upgrade was when I put the lens that came with my Canon Rebel XT back in the box and purchased a used 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens like this one here.

Because I bought the lens used, I think it cost me about $250 to $300 which is still pretty steep. But I’ve never looked back. I love this lens. And I shot with it exclusively for two or three years. Now that I have the Nikon D200, I gave this camera (and the lens) to my husband and he shoots with it exclusively.

In our archives, we ran a piece on lenses that might help you understand a little bit more about what you’re buying…

  • [intlink id=”185″ type=”post”]Fast Lenses: What it Means When You Have a Fast Lens[/intlink]
  • And we’ve also recommended lenses in the [intlink id=”343″ type=”post”]photo gift guides[/intlink] we publish every year before the Christmas holiday
  • Here also is an article on using [intlink id=”218″ type=”post”]telephoto lenses[/intlink] (also called zoom lenses) to blur objects in the foreground or background.
  • And here’s the full camera buying guide which also includes details on lenses.

If you want to buy a used lens, I recommend BHPhotovideo.com, Adorama.com or KEH Camera (www.keh.com). Or check out your local Pro Camera store.

I also recommend going with a used quality lenses over a cheap knock-off of a no-name brand.

And, in case you are not already aware – Canon lenses will not fit on Nikon bodies and vice versa. If your camera body is made by one brand, your lens must match.I chose the 28-135mm lens because it was the best-value lens offered at the time I was looking.

When you buy used equipment, you can’t always find everything that’s on the market. But I found this and it’s worked well for me in Paris, London, Ecuador, San Francisco, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Milan, and more. It’s certainly earned its miles.

Next, we’ll switch gears and talk about your computer. I’m working on another article about Macs vs PCs for our Right Way to Travel newsletter so keep your eyes peeled for that. And later, I’ll send you a collection of archived issues on post-processing your photos and preparing them for sale to magazines, newspapers, stock photo agencies, and as fine art.

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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

Series Navigation<< Photography for Beginners: CamerasPhotography for Beginners: Getting Great Photos >>

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