Inexpensive lens suggestions for documenting your daily life | Madison, AL Family Photographer

Last year, I set a few goals for myself. I wanted to apply and be accepted to Click Pro within a year (DONE!) and long-term, I wanted to use everything I've learned to help other parents better document their families and daily lives. 

I put some feelers out on Facebook to see how many of my friends had fancy cameras that they didn't know how to use. Turns out, there were a lot. So, I created a Facebook group called Mary's Momtogs to help these parents learn more about their cameras and photography so they can tell the stories of their lives in a beautiful way through photography. (disclaimer - it's not a group about how to run a photo business, nor do I claim to be an expert on all things photography and gear.) 

So, I'll be creating blog posts, documents, videos, etc to help parents that want to take better photographs of their kids. Going deeper than the portrait, really telling stories. 

Here's what I shared with the group today. 

Inexpensive lens suggestions for documenting your daily life

Most of you are using a crop sensor camera – so while a 50mm 1.8 (nifty fifty), is a great portrait lens and good for outdoors, it’s going to be tight inside. So I am going to suggest you use a 35mm focal length or wider (smaller number). I find a wider lens very handy for shooting our day to day.

The kit lens that came with your camera is okay for snapshots, but I recommended a lens with a fixed aperture (we’ll talk about why later!) of at least 2.8 or wider.

Canon suggestions:

Canon 24mm 2.8 pancake: around $130 new. This is a great inexpensive choice for crop sensor bodies. However, it will not work on a full frame camera if you plan to upgrade later.

Canon 28mm 1.8: Around $500 new, but you can find it used for closer to $300 (I bought mine used) I loveeee this lens. It works with crop sensor and full frame cameras. It’s fast, sharp and gets some fun sunflares that I like to play with.

Canon 35mm F/2 EF: The first version of this goes for about $300 used. The new version is a little more expensive

Nikon suggestions:

Nikkor AF-S 35mm 1.8G DX – About $180 new. Made for a crop sensor so if you did upgrade to a full frame, while it would be usable, it would have noticeable vignetting (black circle around frame of photo), Sharp and fast!

There are other wider inexpensive Nikon AF lenses (24mm 2.8 AF for example), however some older Nikon crop sensor cameras do not have an autofocus motor, so they would not be autofocus on your body. If you have a body without an autofocus motor, you need to buy a lens that is AF-S if you want it to autofocus on your camera. You can google to see if your Nikon camera has an autofocus motor (if it does than an AF lens would autofocus on your camera). Is that as clear as mud? Let me know if you have questions!

I currently shoot with a Nikkor 24mm 1.8G FX lens, which is about $700 new.

Other advice:

Also, do not be afraid to buy used from reputable sources like KEH, B&H, Adorama and others! You can save a good bit of money by buying used or refurbished. Sign up for the KEH newsletter and snag a lens when they have a coupon code.

I have also purchased lenses used in Canon & Nikon re-sale FB groups (that’s also where I sell my gear) but make sure you do your research on who you’re buying from! I prefer to wait for a good deal from KEH because I can return it and it comes with a 6 month warranty from them.

There are also third-party lenses out there that may be cheaper, but I have not personally used them.