Which lens should I buy for my DSLR camera?

One of the most common questions I get asked is “which lens should I buy for my DSLR camera?” 

I believe that this is mainly because people find that the lens that came with their camera doesn't allow them to take the type of photographs they want.  Most people buy a camera in order to take photographs of their family, usually their children.  We take photos of our child and then look at the image on our PC and it just doesn't like right.  It's flat and everything is in focus.  

This was take at f1.4.  The low f-stop allows for the subject to be in focus but the background to be blurry.

Now, I would argue that a lot of the issues lie with the user.  Most of us never bothered to read the camera manual and just started shooting.  We are therefore not making the most of the gear we have.  Having said that, there does come a point when that 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera just can't give us that images we want.  Most of us are shooting portraits and we want the subject to be sharp and the background to be blurry and out of focus.  This makes our subject pop.  To get this effect, you will need lenses that allow you to go to low f-stops.  Fortunately, a couple of these lenses are only around the £100 range.

If you are new to the DSLR world the one lens I would recommend you buy would be the 50mm 1.8 lens.  Both Nikon and Canon have them for around £100.  There are f1.4 versions and cannon makes an f1.2 version but you’ll soon realise that these lenses are much more expensive.  Here are the lenses I recommend:

Nikon 50mm f1.8D

Canon EF 50mm f1.8

Nikon users need to take note that some of the more entry level cameras (D3300/D51000) will be unable to autofocus on with the Nikkon 50mm 1.8D.  For these models, you’ll need to spend £40 more and get this:

Nikon 50mm 1.8G

I shoot Nikon and so not totally sure about the Canon models (I think it does autofocus on the Rebels but please check).  It’s a small, cheap lens and the low aperture allows you to shoot in really low light and also let you create images with the background nice and blurry.  

I think most people will be able to take the majority of their portrait shots with this one lens.  Every professional photographer will have a ‘nifty fifty’ lens in their bag because it is so versatile.

So, if you've just splashed out on a new DSLR, spend another £100 and get yourself a nifty fifty.