You do not have to own every lens focal length–But you should own the right lenses that fit into your shooting style

You do not have to own every lens focal length–But you should own the right lenses that fit into your shooting style

Owning lots of lenses is terrific if you have the budget to own lots of lenses. Most people do not own lots of lenses and the question is, do they really know what focal lengths they should own.

Having that one piece of knowledge about the subjects that are important to you should help make the right decisions what optics are going to work best for you.

Believing you need and knowing you need are two completely different things. If you know you need a wide angle or telephoto or something in between to get the types of shots you like to get on a consistent basis then the solution for you is simple. Go buy it. If you cannot afford to buy it then rent it.3

Yes I said rent it.3 Years ago when we were making a decision as to what lens you had the hot’s you had to take a trip to your local camera store and that is still very much my recommendation especially when it comes time to buy.

Rentals3 today are very available through the web. Because of that I am always recommending that if I always, now, recommend RENT BEFORE YOU BUY.3 By renting you have a very minimal investment and can learn if a particular lens focal length is for your style of shooting. It also will help you make a decision if you are considering expanding your horizons and learning other styles of shooting so you are more diverse in your material. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Take stock of what you already own. Put all your lenses out in front of you. Even you have just one, put it out there.

If you are thinking about a new camera body put that thought aside. It is more important than a new body ARE EXCELLENT OPTICS.

You can own the most expensive highest res body in the world. It means nothing without very high-end glass in front of that camera.

I am constantly telling students to challenge themselves. Do not get locked into one type of photography. No matter how comfortable you are with that one type of photography, expanding your knowledge base and trying different types of photography will ultimately benefit in all of your photography.

I know a wonderful person for several years now and that person shoots nothing but flowers. There must be 5000 images of flowers and most begin to look the same after a while. But by learning other techniques from different kinds of subjects will get you to apply these techniques and provide a different look to your favorite subject. Do not ever stop experimenting, learning, shooting, and taking field trips or One On One Field Trips

I have also had students that are more than happy with an all in one zoom lens like a 18mm to 200mm zoom lens. It makes life a little bit easier by only having to worry about one body; one lens and I have personally seen some beautiful work coming from this combination.

It boils down to what is going to work for you for the kind of shooting you want to do. I still recommend having a couple of HIGH SPEED primes in your collection is not a bad idea for depth of field control as well what I consider to better optical capability.


14 to 35mm or equivalent prime lens 4

50mm or equivalent prime lens 4

70-200mm or equivalent zoom lens 4

14-24mm or equivalent zoom lens. 1


14 to 35mm or equivalent prime. 1 4

7-14 or equivalent zoom lens. 1 4

Nature “general” photography

28mm or equivalent prime lens4

50mm or equivalent prime lens4

28-85 or equivalent zoom lens 1

70-200 4.0 or equivalent zoom lens4

Wild Life

70-200 2.8 or equivalent 4

300mm 4.0 or equivalent 4

400mm 5.6 or equivalent 4

500mm 4.0 or equivalent 4

600mm 4.0 or equivalent 4

Tele extender


35 to 200mm or equivalent macro prime lenses. 4

Street Photography 2

28mm to 85mm or equivalent 2.8 or faster prime lenses 4


1 wide-angle zoom lenses at the wide-angle setting can have distortions even when the lens is mounted on a tripod and level. While most can be corrected in software like Adobe Lightroom 5.0 it is better to have a lens that is optically corrected.


2 most people think the term “street photography” refers to taking pictures of people on the streets who are not aware you are doing so. Capturing life. But it also refers to everything else on the street and does not have to include human beings at all.


3 I use BORROW LENS on the web when I need to rent a lens. It may be to evaluate that lens, or it may be something I do not want to own but need for a specific purpose i.e. 600mm 4.0 telephotos for bird photography.


4 EQUIVALENT = the focal lengths referred to above would be for a full frame digital camera. If you have a micro four-thirds camera the multiplying factor is 2x (i.e. 35mm = 70mm)

If you have an APS sized sensor, which can vary slightly from camera to camera, it is about a 1.5 multiplying factor (i.e. 35mm = 52.5mm).



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