How Many Lenses Do You Need?


Over on our Facebook page Gall Wall asked the following question which we thought might make an interesting discussion starter:

“As someone growing beyond point and shoot (mostly for nature, wildlife and people/family) – how many lenses do I really need? And how to know what makes a good lens?”

How many lenses do you have and how many do you think would be your bare minimum?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • PJ

    Proud owner of:

    EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
    EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
    EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
    EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
    EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM

  • I have an addiction to Canon L series lens. I have the following purchased in this order.

    24-70 f2.8 L – too heavy
    70-200 F4 L – nice but not good in low light
    50 F1.4 – nice bokeh but hard to use
    70-200 F2.8 II L = fast, sharp, love it
    16-35 F2.8 L = just got

  • idb

    To Kim Ortiz: What about the 50/1.4 is “hard to use”? Thanks. Ian

  • idb

    This is my second post but the first one was last February so I guess almost a year isn’t too soon. Besides I just recently upgraded my lens bag with a 90mm/2.8 macro. This is a beautiful lens. In addition to being a long focal length macro it’s a great medium telephoto since 90mm on my APS-C sensor is equivalent to 135 on a full frame. Next I would really like to get fast primes equivalent to 35mm and 50 mm so I am dreaming about Sigma’s 30/1.4 and 24/1.8 I am old school and prefer fixed focal length to zoom lenses most of the time. I’ve gotten used to moving my feet and at my age it’s always a good idea. 😉

  • Wong

    Canon 24-70mm F2.8
    Canon 70-200mm F4 IS
    Canon 50mm F1.8 II
    Tokina 11-16mm F2.8

  • Ian

    This is my third post here but I just re-read the original question and realized I never answered the second part: “what is your bare minimum?”
    Also I now have six lenses for my Pentax K200D: 18-55/3.5-5.6, 30/1.4, 35/2.8 macro, 50/1.4, 50-200/4-5.6 and 90/2.8 macro. So my original comment that “All I need to add is a 2x teleconverter” has been blown out of the water. Oh well.

    My bare minimum would be either the Sigma 30/1.4 for indoors or the 18-55 for out and about town or one of the macro lenses for out in the woods or fields.


  • Adrienne Kinsella

    hi there. i am a new dlsr user, nikon d3200. i’m thinking of macro on budget. can nikkor 55-200mm lens with extension tube will give me a best result for macro ? it is okay if it is can’t give me the best of the best result as a macro lens can give me. thanks.

  • Nano second artist

    I’ve been shooting since October 2012, (first non phone camera) and I now own 4 lenses, that’s my minimum so far! I need each one depending on circumstance. I think I’ve finally reached the point where the kit lens could do with being better, the range is good (18-55VR) but it is getting to be restrictive in some situations,
    (only sometimes but more than rarely) I think it is a good lens but could be faster both in AF and aperture.

    I also use the 70-300 IF-ED, Sigma 150mm Macro and the 10-24mm ED, that’s the order of purchase, the macro is my go to lens I think, or just simply my favourite, but they all get fairly used. Body is a D3100.

    The lens I need is the one I don’t have! Something similar to the kit item with IF and the other improvements I require.

  • I’m shooting on a Canon Rebel T3i (600D). My kit currently includes the following lenses:

    Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

    Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM

    Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro

    Canon 200mm f/2.8 L USM

    I’m loving my current equipment set of prime lenses and feel that they each are unique enough from each other in focal length to provide a lot of versatility, particularly when you figure in the 1.6 crop factor. I have yet to get a better quality prime lens for the normal/wide field of view, but the kit lens at least covers the wider focal lengths for now until I can get something faster and more optically impressive in that range.

    My minimum lens set would include two lenses. (Which two would depend on the situation.) When I’m on the move I sometimes like to keep one lens on my camera body and just one other in my pocket or bag.

    -If I’m on a walk, it’s daylight, and I know I can get some decent landscape shots with my kit lens, I typically take that and my 100mm macro as they offer very different compositions from one another and cover a lot of focal lengths.

    -If I’m in a large indoor space with people, I’d bring my 50mm and my 100mm since they’re better for low light.

    -In a small indoor space with people, I’d go for my 50mm and my kit lens w/an external flash as my back up in case I can’t… well… back up.

    -At a zoo, I’d want my 200mm for animal portraits and my 50mm for people shots.

    The 200mm lens is my most recent addition, so it will be fun to play around with it and find my favorite situations for bringing that one along.

  • Michael E

    I started out with the T2i with it’s 18-55mm which is fine until you can honestly say you need another lens. I got the 10-22mm EF-S and loved that lens. Then I got the 50mm 1.8, but it was too cheap feeling so I upgraded to the 50mm f/1.4 and I love that lens.

    The first L class lens that I got was the 24-105mm f/4. I would not recommend that lens if you are:

    A. planning on getting more lens to fill different needs

    B. looking to get the best image quality from your lens.

    C. enjoy fast light-grabbing lens (i.e. f/2.8 and faster)

    But if you just want a nice middle of the road lens for all of the type of things you do, the 24-105mm is a great lens, and the image quality isn’t that bad. I just kinda snobby.

    The next lens I got was the 70-200mm f/2.8 not the IS or type II just the first type due to cost. This lens rocks. Great for portrait work, or times when you need to zoom in closer. On the T2i it is zoom lens to be sure.

    I then upgraded my camera to the 6D, a full frame cost effective camera imo. I could have saved up for another year for the 5DIII, but I was done with the low ISO of the T2i, and wanted a full frame asap.

    I sold the 10-22mm EF-S as it would not fit the 6D and got the type I 16-32mm f/2.8 for my wide angle needs. Great lens – I tested out the 17-40mm and decided I wanted the brighter look of the 16-32mm.

    I used the 50mm 1.4 a lot, but wanted to have more light grab for candle-light shots and better bokeh. So, I took a second mortgage out and got the 85mm f/1.2.

    The 85mm f/1.2 is by far the best glass I own. It is sharp and grabs light so well that you can shoot at ISO 400 in candle light (with a tripod) with little to no noise.

    I shoot landscapes, art shots and people for fun and architecture, food, restaurants and headshots for money. So, my lens needs are varied. I like having the glass on hand to shot the same scene at different focal lengths.

    But I will answer the question now:

    You need 3 lenses for a complete kit:

    1) Wide angle –
    17-40mm $700
    16-32mm f/2.8 $1200
    28mm f/2.8 $300
    35mm f/2 $400

    2) 50mm Prime –
    50mm f/1.8 $80
    50mm f/1.4 $300
    50mm f/1.2 $1500

    3) Mid Range Telephoto –
    18-135mm $400
    24-70mm f/2.8 or f/4 $1500
    24-105mm f/4 $700
    70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 $900-$1500

    Bargain Starter Kit
    50mm f/1.8 $80
    18-55mm f/3.5 -f/5.6 $60 (EF-S cropped sensor only, i.e. Rebel, 7D)
    55-250mm f/4-f/5.6 $200 (EF-S cropped sensor only)

    The prices are for craigslist and ebay mostly. I have bought all my equipment used and at significant lower than retail prices. You just have to be patient and search daily and be prepared to buy when you see what you want.

    Hope this help!

  • Rolf Strickland

    Canon EF 100mm f/2.8
    Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8

  • Lokesh

    Which one is good nikon 70-300 or canon 55-250

  • jdizzl

    I shoot on DX frame with FX lenses, 24mm 2.8g (street) , 50mm 1.8g (portrait), 28-80mm (walk around), and 70-300mm (long range walk around). (I had my zooms from the film days and still use them) I’d like to upgrade my zoom’s at some point to the new VR’s… (16-85mm vr and the 70-300mm vr). If you are just starting, that prime combination is great, but would get something better than I have on the zooms, the 18-55mm vr2 or the 16-85mm vr or the 18-200mm vr2 …depending on what kind of shots you take. I shoot prime way more than zoom, and if I’m doing a long zoom I bring a light tripod… so hard for me to want to spend that. I’ll upgrade my walkaround first. Also invest in a speedlight… sb-700 would be my recommendation. I Try to shoot for best bargain in the midrange lens. Pro lens are just that, pro..and usually 5x more expensive… i.e. 2000 for a lens vs 300, definitely not for 5x more quality. but if it is your money maker, I can see why you’d want them. but then you’d also need the best FX on the market to warrant it.

  • bob mc murray

    just bought a Nikon7100 without the kit cant make up my mind on lenses love doing landscapes waterfalls and potraits plus other natures

Some Older Comments

  • Ian October 19, 2012 03:16 pm

    This is my third post here but I just re-read the original question and realized I never answered the second part: "what is your bare minimum?"
    Also I now have six lenses for my Pentax K200D: 18-55/3.5-5.6, 30/1.4, 35/2.8 macro, 50/1.4, 50-200/4-5.6 and 90/2.8 macro. So my original comment that "All I need to add is a 2x teleconverter" has been blown out of the water. Oh well.

    My bare minimum would be either the Sigma 30/1.4 for indoors or the 18-55 for out and about town or one of the macro lenses for out in the woods or fields.


  • Wong October 18, 2012 11:56 pm

    Canon 24-70mm F2.8
    Canon 70-200mm F4 IS
    Canon 50mm F1.8 II
    Tokina 11-16mm F2.8

  • idb February 3, 2012 04:22 pm

    This is my second post but the first one was last February so I guess almost a year isn't too soon. Besides I just recently upgraded my lens bag with a 90mm/2.8 macro. This is a beautiful lens. In addition to being a long focal length macro it's a great medium telephoto since 90mm on my APS-C sensor is equivalent to 135 on a full frame. Next I would really like to get fast primes equivalent to 35mm and 50 mm so I am dreaming about Sigma's 30/1.4 and 24/1.8 I am old school and prefer fixed focal length to zoom lenses most of the time. I've gotten used to moving my feet and at my age it's always a good idea. ;-)

  • idb February 3, 2012 04:08 pm

    To Kim Ortiz: What about the 50/1.4 is "hard to use"? Thanks. Ian

  • Kim Ortiz January 7, 2012 03:29 pm

    I have an addiction to Canon L series lens. I have the following purchased in this order.

    24-70 f2.8 L - too heavy
    70-200 F4 L - nice but not good in low light
    50 F1.4 - nice bokeh but hard to use
    70-200 F2.8 II L = fast, sharp, love it
    16-35 F2.8 L = just got

  • PJ December 2, 2011 05:31 pm

    Proud owner of:

    EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
    EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
    EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
    EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
    EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM

  • zombie71 December 1, 2011 07:37 pm

    My lenses so far

    * Samyang 8mm fisheye - - (I have had nothing else quite like this one, very sharp) - - for anything I can get close to
    * Sigma 20mm f/1.8 - - for landscapes, butterflies and flowers, people photos w/o flash (this is my 2nd most used lens)
    * Nikkor AI 24 f/2.0 - - for fireworks and night landscapes (manual focus, all metal body but lightweight, small, good for travel, makes symmetrical sunstars & bokeh is smooth for a wideangle)
    * Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G - - cheap, lightweight travel lens (rarely used though)
    * Sigma 85mm/1.4 HSM - - for pets/portraits/wildlife/flowers (this is my general use lens number one)
    * Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4D IFED & 1.4X TC - - Birds and wildlife mostly, people sometimes
    Planning to get a 100mm macro (possibly even the mighty 200mm f/4 micro-Nikkor) for next summer.
    Also Planning to trade the 300mm & TC for a 500mm f/4 prime as soon as I get the money.

    I could probably manage 90% of my shooting with only the 85mm & 20mm Sigmas and the 8mm fisheye.
    A good macro is a necessity and I feel lacking without a decent bird glass. So, five is the answer to the original question.

  • eyek May 24, 2011 02:33 pm

    Tokina 11-16MM f/2.8 ATX
    Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
    Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
    Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

  • Rene May 10, 2011 06:47 am

    If I had to do it over my choices would be: 12-24, 24-70, 70-200, 150-500,100 macro and a 50. My stable now is all over the place from 17 through 560.

  • ScottC March 24, 2011 04:49 am

    I've got 10 - 200mm covered, but would like to get out to 300mm. My most extreme zoom lens is a 70-200mm Macro, otherwise it's 10-24, 60, and smaller (non-macro) 70-200.

    "Old trusty" is a 17-50mm that never lets me down.

  • Ed March 23, 2011 04:07 am

    @Carole Jeffs I am surprised that you use a 50 for portraits rather than the typical portrait lens range. What motivated you to use the 50 for portraits?

    @Peter, great choices on lenses. I am always playing tourista so to speak since I always carry a camera with me. I usually have the 50 or a 80-200 2.8 in a sized lens bag. Since I am a bit of the old schooler and love the film era lenses weight is not much of a consideration. Even if I were to lug around a 17-35, 24-70, 80-200 and a fifty I am fine with it. After a while you are used to carrying the weight and I feel like I have left something behind that I might need. I think the other choice is to carry a non gripped body like the D700 or even a D90 or one of the newer consumer bodies.

  • GradyPhilpott March 22, 2011 04:20 pm

    D7000 Body


    Nikkor 18-55mm VR kit
    Nikkor 18-200mmVRII
    Nikkor 35mm 1.8G
    Nikkor 50mm 1.8D

    Wish list:

    Wide angle zoom 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
    Micro Lens probably 105mm f2.8

  • Peter March 22, 2011 03:11 pm

    For my full frame D3, all the following Nikon lenses.
    14-24 f2.8 AFS
    24-70 f2.8 AFS
    80-400 f4.5-5.6 VR
    105 f2.8 Micro AFS VR
    85 f1.4 AFS prime
    28-300 f3.5-5.6 AFS VR for playing tourist without having to lug around all the others (Take the 14-24 sometimes as well)
    These cover every situation I need but weighs a s...load to cart them all with a decent tripod, speedlight etc.
    Maybe a tilt-shift could be added. The top 5 are all awesome to use.

  • David March 22, 2011 09:47 am

    In order of focal length
    11-16mm f2.8 Tokina
    18 - 200mm VR Nikon
    50mm f1.4 Nikon
    105mm Macro Sigma
    150 -500mm Sigma
    I think that I have most options covered here, but maybe the latest super duper VR watchamacallit lens due to be released is just what I need to finally complete my collection - just maybe!

  • Irene E. Hollimon March 22, 2011 05:50 am

    My camera came bundled with an 18-55 lens. For most of us, I think that's all you need. It's a very good, versatile lens. Of course that's not all I want. I love scenery and post-processing. I like to take a big picture and crop it down to what I want. So, I'm saving for and looking around for a nice wide-angle lens. I'm not much for portraits but of course I want a nifty fifty. What lens collection is complete without one? And then although 18-55 is sufficient, I'd like a lens with a wider range- like an 18-250 or something. There are needs and there are wants. I'm a hobbyist, a weekend photographer. My camera came bundled with all I need.
    If you are a professional photographer, all bets are off. Then, you probably want to look at your target customer and tailor your lenses accordingly.

  • Carole Jeffs March 20, 2011 04:16 pm

    I need 4 lenses.. in order of importance ( I shoot on a full frame)
    my 24-70 2.8
    70-200 2.8 vr
    50 mm 1.4 for portraits
    and a macro ... mine is a 60mm 2.8
    the last tow are pretty small so they really arent that heavy or inconvenient to bring along.

  • Jeff Jaycock March 18, 2011 09:44 pm

    This is what I want from my lens collection:

    A very good range, i.e. from wide angle to medium telephoto.
    The ability to readily frame an image, i.e. zoom.
    Good low light capability and differential focusing capability, i.e. f2.8.
    High quality optics.

    This is what I've got:

    14-24mm f2.8
    24-70mm f2.8
    70-200mm f2.8
    x1.7 teleconverter

    This is the amount I use each lenses:

    24-70mm - 80%
    14-24mm - 15%
    70-200mm - 5%
    x1.7 teleconverter (not yet used!)

    When combined with the camera body and perhaps a flashgun the above equipment is HEAVY. I have learned there is no such thing as a single ideal system. Different carrying systems are needed for different occasions.

    I use a:

    ThinktankUrban Disguise 60 bag to routinely house all my main equipment.
    Thinktank belt and modular system when I want to spread the weight and want fast access.

    Tip: When stored in the Disguise 60 I always keep my lenses in their modular system cases . It is extra protection and they are always ready to clip on the belt. Excellent.

    I also use a Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW when I want to go out with the body and one lens.

    And finally I use a Ricoh GR Digital (with external optical finder) for when I don't want to carry around any of the above!

    Hope that helps.

  • Tim March 17, 2011 03:47 pm

    right now I got 2 lens for my Canon XS. I have the kit lens and a 75-300 lens. I eventually plan on getting a wide angle lens as well (within the next couple months) so i think 3 lens, depending on what you're doing with it is more than enough

  • GaryG March 12, 2011 05:40 am

    i love having a variety of lenses. I use the following:
    Zuiko 40-150mm
    Zuiko 14-42mm
    Zuiko 11-22mm
    Zuiko 50mm
    Zuiko 25mm pancake

    a daily snapshot. a moment's token. a blog.

  • charles u. March 11, 2011 01:33 am

    Jasmeet Singh,..... being a minimalist yet cover a wide range. like it

  • ScottC March 10, 2011 05:49 am

    I don't know yet! I've got 10-200mm covered pretty well but no prime lenses, and there a lot of great responses here regarding prime lenses.

    I can't help but think this photo would've been better with a prime. Just can't decide on the focal lenght.

  • fasto March 8, 2011 02:49 am

    i love ariel winter

  • bmkrepel March 7, 2011 09:49 am

    If starting on a budget, ebay some old Pentax lenses and some adapters.

    The adapter would depend on the mount of the lens you're using. I have both a "K Mount" or Bayonet mount to Canon EF adapter like this one and an M42 (screw mount) to EF like this one You'll likely be able to find an ebay store selling them. I recommend going the m42 route with a 20D. It is a bit safer because it does not protrude into your mirror area as much.
    Here are some lenses worth looking for on ebay:

    Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 50mm F1.4 lens
    Takumar 135mm f3.5 M42 Excellent Condition
    Maybe google it and read a blog for recommendations first. Look for multi-coated or super multi coated. They're really good glass for real cheap.

    Happy shooting!

  • Jasmeet Singh March 7, 2011 04:40 am

    I have 18-55mm nikon and 55-200mm, for me both are useful because both have different use. when i need wide angle shot then i have 18-55 mm lens, when i want to zoom then i use 55-200mm lens.

    And these lenses complete my kit with macro lenses +1 to +4.

    so i can say that for normal use 2 lenses with the range of between 18-300 is more than enough.

  • Risto March 6, 2011 06:03 am

    I'm using three lenses with full frame:
    1. 24-105mm/F4 - as a general lens
    2. 70-200mm/F2.8 - wildlife and portraits
    3. 100mm/F2.8 macro - macro and portraits

    Thinking of getting fast 50mm prime as well but not a must.
    That new Canon 100mm is nice one, my favorite.

    Earlier had just crop frame with 50mm/F1.8 (cheap) prime and picture quality was Fantastic!

  • chew March 4, 2011 05:19 pm

    I have 4 lenses:

    15-85mm f3.5-5.6
    70-200mm f4
    50mm f1.4
    waiting for my 24mm 1.4 to arrive.

    Basically this set is enough for me at the moment.

  • Roque Fabular March 3, 2011 01:34 pm

    I did try quite a bit of different lenses and I end up keeping 3 lenses I think cover up all my needs using a 5d mark ll body.
    24-70mm f/2.8
    100mm f/2.8 macro
    135mm f/2
    if I will add one more lens that would be the 70-200mm f/2.8 is
    I do shoot portrait indoor and outdoor, some macro shoots for flowers insects for fun, and a basic home studio for my kids and friends.

  • Tomasz Worek March 3, 2011 02:10 am

    I am using 4 lenses:

    Pentax 17-70 and Sigma 10-20 - for landscapes - during hiking, climbing:

    Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 for portraits:

    Sigma 100-300 f/4 for airshows:

    Only thing I am missing is Sigma 1.4 TC for airshows to get more reach.

  • Bibble March 2, 2011 03:03 am

    We have 4 lenses, but use the 18-55 kit and 50mm lenses almost every day. Having the macro lens is a real treat, and the zoom lens has been handy for those daytime events with the kids.

    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
    Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM
    Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM
    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto

  • Steve March 1, 2011 09:17 am

    I have 4 lenses.

    Nikon 50mm f/1.8
    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
    Tamron 90mm f/2.8
    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8

    I've shot nature/wildlife, landscape/cityscape, weddings, portraits, macro work, and high action sports. I initially had 7 lenses, but brought it down to a more manageble level with just these 4. The sharpeness and performance of each of these lenses is amazing.

  • Ed Hamlin March 1, 2011 08:54 am

    It seems there is a consenus on covering the 18mm to 300 mm focal length. I think most nonprofessional photographers aspire to have lense coverage for the ranges, I know I did when I first started back in the early 70's. When deciding to turn professional it was to obatain the fasted glass I could afford. I think that if you cover the full frame range of 24mm to 200mm with apetures of f1.8 and f2.8 you can cover a lot of ground from shooting landscapes to low light portraits. I think the 300mm to 400mm range with an f4 apeture is typically adequate. I think if we had our wish list we could stock up an inventory of lenses well over the $20 thousand dollar mark.

    I do have one quest though, how many insure their camera equipment? It is a good idea to have insurance to cover those times when you are traveling and just doing a local photo walk.

  • Will McA March 1, 2011 05:09 am

    For 'need', I say read 'want'. I have three... you want as many lenses as will cover what you want to do with your camera.

    Some techniques require a specialist lens, such as macro or a tilt-shift... many benefit from having a lens of particular focal length or a particular speed.

    If you mean how many should cover the basic things a beginner might want to do with their camera when starting off then you can get one or two zoom lenses that cover a good range of focal lengths and just go with that... another good lens to have would be a standard length with a wide maximum aperture... this is the set up I go with.

    I don't think you should worry of having too many or too few lenses, there is such a thing as being excessive, if you are buying lenses you will never use, or buying two lenses for two specific tasks when there exists a single lens which can comfortably do both.

  • dave March 1, 2011 12:14 am

    aduh !
    well this is the question !

    the problem for most of us I think is that we work our way up the lens addiction

    You know how it goes...
    You get your first DSLR and it comes with this amazing 18-200mm zoom lens !
    it does everything and weighs nothing , just so cool

    Then after a while, that one are that really interests you, call you name....
    be it Macro, a zoom for wildlife, a wide angle for architectural interiors, or that beautiful portrait lens
    and so you buy your fist dedicated lens, maybe that 60mm EFS Macros that you read about, great for Macro and stands in as a nice prime portrait lens. Sure its only a standard lens not an L series but damn it makes a difference !
    Your so impressed you lash out and buy something else to push what you can or cant do.. maybe the EFS 10-22 for those wide angle shots your main lens cant quite do. Damn it feels good and everyone says WOW at the cool new shots your taking.
    Your obsession changes, you become more interested in portraiture, but are frustrated by the limitations in low light of your Macro lens, so you finally make the leap and buy a L series Portrait lens, maybe the 50mm F1.2 or the 35mm F1.4... Now this changes your life.

    Suddenly your addicted...
    The old 18-200mmm feels and looks like crap, suddenly there is only one lens you own worth using, that one piece of L series glass, that has more wow factor then all other lenses together....
    So then starts the upgrade..
    That 100mm L series macro calls your name
    The 70-200mm f2.8 zoom for those sporting matches on the weekend, and why not pick up the 1.4 times extender while your at it. Now-a-days you can see the distortion in the old 10-22mm efs and f 3.5-4.5... what were they thinking....

    Slowly but surely you upgrade, at some point upgrading to the 5D or 7D body depending on your need for speed or quality, you end up with what you probably should ahve ought in teh first place, but nobbody could have have convinced you of it at the time.
    A nice macro lens, maybe the 100mm L series
    A nice portrait lens maybe the 35mm L series
    A nice zoom lens maybe the 70-200 f2.8 L series with stabilization
    A nice Wide angle lens, maybe the 16-33mm L series
    and a high quality general lens, maybe the 24mm to 70mm L series

    So you finally made it...
    you have almost enough lenses to START to take some decent photos...
    ah but then what about lights, reflectors, tripods
    and what do you do with the old lens
    not worth selling so you just accumulate

    how many do you need?
    how long is a piece of string over time?

  • maarten March 1, 2011 12:07 am

    3 minimum, my 28-80 as usefull zoom and walk about lens.
    The 50mm F1.7 or F1.8 for indoors (don't have one yet)
    and a good zoom.

  • Kheeran February 28, 2011 11:23 pm

    If you are trying to graduate from point and shoot to something more, it is less about the lenses and more about learning to see the image. Keeping the number of options limited is a great way to force one to learn the art of composition. It helps avoid getting bogged down in the technical decision making and focusing more on composing an image.

  • Ahmed February 28, 2011 09:06 pm

    Currently I use sigma 70-200 f2.8 and canon 50mm f1.8 most of the time .. I have 18-55 kit lens that I use for wide angle photos but I'm thinking of getting canon 10-22 (I think ?) or sigma 10-20mm .. And a 17-55 f2.8 for walk arounds

  • Point and Shoot Cameras February 28, 2011 08:48 pm

    I am using canon 10-14 mm for shotting wildlife. But i want some thing better. Could anyone pls suggest me which one is the best for me?

  • Photon-physicist February 28, 2011 01:16 am

    I used to think "more is better" but I've settled in on this list:
    EF-S 17-55 f/2.8
    EF 70-200 f/2.8 USM IS II
    EF 400 f/2.8 with doubler
    EF 50 f1.8

  • Mustafa Al-Sayrafi February 27, 2011 10:14 pm

    I use my canon 50D and i got the below lenses:

    - EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS (Came with the camera)
    - EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS - Great fast lens, small and efficient
    - EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 - amazing wide angle lens for shooing indoors and landscapes.
    - EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro - didn't use it that much but its a great macro.
    - EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 - i regret buying it .. i'd replace it for a (F-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS)
    - EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS - great lens for nature pics and taking close details of far things.

    i'm also planning to get a fish eye lens soon =)

  • Yeelen February 27, 2011 10:31 am

    I'm saving up for my first DSLR (Canon 550D) right now, and I'm thinking about getting a couple of lenses; as a first: the basic kit 18-55, just to start out with until I save some more money to but a 50mm f1.8, which is very cheap and will be fun to play with. After that probably a 55-200/250mm, maybe from Tamron/Sigma, but I'd prefer an IS. After that, who knows...

  • Greg Williams February 27, 2011 09:13 am

    For my needs and the way I shoot, I have two fast zooms for weddings and one 50mm f/1.4 prime for shallow DOF detail shots. At a bare minimum, I can't be without my 50mm. Its great in any light situation, normal perspective (most like my eyes sees), great for portraits, light wight and allows for creativity! Can't leave home without it.

  • Jim Krivitz February 27, 2011 08:43 am

    For me, the ideal is 3 lenses: 2 fast zooms, 24-70, 70-200 f/2.8 and 1 fast prime, a 35 or 50mm, f/1.4 or 1.8.

  • MarishiTen February 27, 2011 03:15 am

    I have varies photo subject from human, landscapes, sports etc. that need different lenses so I prefer 3 zoom lenses: ultra wide angle (for wide subjects from close distance or narrow space), medium tele lens (for portrait, landscape, jornalism), and makro lens (for small insects).

  • cortlander February 27, 2011 02:57 am

    It would be hard for me to pick a favorite.

    Canon 10-22 mm has been great for wide angle shots for my EOS 7D
    Sigma 50mm 1.4 is my pick for home videos
    Canon 70-200 mm f/4 IS L - telezoom
    Canon 300 mm f/4 IS L, and when needed a Canon 1.4x extender gives a 672mm reach

    A B&W 77mm Kaesemann Slim Circular Polarizer is shared by 3 of the lenses, and a Hoya HD CPL for the zoom round out my optics.

  • Almond Butterscotch February 27, 2011 02:54 am

    All I ever need is my 35mm f/1.8 (on a crop body), but eventually it'll be:

    -a wide angle (14mm or 14-24mm)
    -a standard (the 35mm on crop, a 50 if I move to FF)
    -a longer prime (50mm on crop, 85 on FF)
    -105mm macro

  • Eileen February 27, 2011 01:40 am

    Hi everybody,
    I am a newbie and would like to know what lense is good when taking picture of kids.
    Children move alot so is pretty difficult to get nice shots, any advice will be very much appreciated.

    Thank you very much!

  • Geren February 27, 2011 01:23 am

    Way back in "the day" when I shot 35mm film, I had three lenses -- a 24mm, a 50mm and a 135mm -- and I was almost perfectly happy, as they were fine for about 90% of what I was shooting back then.

    Now that I shoot digital (APS-C), I still have three "go to" lenses -- an 18-270mm, a 50mm and a 12-24mm. When I do finally go back to full-frame, I'll probably go back to a set of three primes. The only one I may change would be the wide angle. I think I'd get a 20mm this time around.

  • PJ February 26, 2011 03:24 pm

    1) Canon 24-105 F4 IS L USM
    2) Canon 70-200 F/2.8 IS L USM
    3) Canon 100-400 F4.5-5.6 IS L USM
    4) Canon 100mm F/2.8 IS L USM macro

  • TOM February 26, 2011 01:31 pm

    For me(D700):
    sigma 12-24
    nikkor 24-70
    nikkor 70-200
    Nikon TC-20E III
    nikkor 50mm 1.8

  • Michael Stonebreaker February 26, 2011 08:02 am

    How Many can you Afford! l.o.l
    I use my Canon 500mm f/4.0Lfor birds and wildlife, I also use my Canon 400mm f/4.0 D0 when I travel as it's easier to carry.
    For Portrait work, I use my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and sometimes my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L
    For Landscapes it's my Canon 16-35 f/2.8L or the Canon 24-1-5 F/4.0L and sometimes I used my Sigma 10mm f/2.8 fisheye.
    For Macro work, I use the Canon 100mm f/2.8l Macro, the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 or really close up the MP-E 65mm f/2.8.
    For Street Photography, I like the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 or the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 both for their low light capabilities. I also sometimes use my Canon 135mm f/2.0L and Canon 200mm f/2.8L as well.
    For General walk around, it's the Canon 24-105 f/4.0L hands down. I'm thinking of trading the 200mm f/2.8 in for a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L though for it's faster speed to compliment the Canon 70-200 f/4.0L I use when I travel as well.

  • charles u. February 26, 2011 07:29 am

    one. one Lense is enough.
    when getting a Lense, know what you prefer to shoot. (identify your preference)
    i'm a minimalist who like to shoot Landscape.

    a mind to visualised, an eye to see and A Lense to shot complete you.
    when i got my D60 a couple of years ago, i would like to grab few Lenses that my wallet would allow me.
    i sold the 18-55 n bought a tammy 18-200 coz 18-270 was out of stock.
    i've realised that 18-55 would have done many great things n reggretted selling it.

    now i only own 18-105 which has enable me to shoot thousands of photos n i'm more than happy having it.

    remember: its the hand who shoot that create awesome picture; the camera and the Lense only play a small parts of it.

  • bryan February 26, 2011 07:27 am

    depends on what you do but for weddings i have
    16-35 L
    24-105 L
    70-200 L
    15 fish

  • Ashish February 26, 2011 06:41 am

    - Canon 10-22mm - wide angle/landscape
    - Canon 50mm f/1.8 II - potraits
    - Canon 24-105mm f/4.0 L - walk around lens / outdoor potraits
    - Canon 70-200mm f/4.0 L

  • Marco February 26, 2011 06:11 am

    I have my two kit lens....
    18-55 VR
    55-200 VR
    And i´ll be ordering today the Sigma 18-200 as an all arround or travel lens.

  • Andre Garant February 26, 2011 04:26 am

    I have Nikon lenses and the four I have are sufficient for all type of photography.
    They are: 18-105 mm, 105 macro 2.8, 50 mm1.8, and a 70-300 mm . With this I can do everything , and one I need a special lens I just rent it . For now I am putting more money on light like cobra flash , soft box , ring light etc etc .
    My body a good D90 .

  • Maks February 26, 2011 03:52 am

    Over the years in chronological order I got these (all canon L f/2.8):

    16-35 - Like it on full sensor. Architecture, landscape, action, weddings, all around (on 7D it serves as equivalent of 24-70).
    24-70 All around lens. 24mm - architecture, landscaping (when 16-35 is not there); 70mm - good for portraits. (including on a crop sensor where it becomes 112mm
    70-200 - A mast for portraits, wedding work (heavy though)
    I'd recommend use this lenses and then try some tubes/reverse rings and adapters before buying any specialty lenses. Then rent the one you like from fast and affordable with excellent service. Even can buy a used lens from them too.
    Doing commercial work and weddings I later added Specialty lenses:
    15 mm fisheye
    100 mm macro
    P.S. It makes sense to have a nifty - fifty 50mm f/1.8 lens (Amazon $112) as a all around, starter prime lens on a budget.
    I'd agree with those who says use what you have until you outgrew it and only then go and get a new piece. Seeing a lot of Pros this days, I see the doing more with less.

  • Rohit Acharya February 26, 2011 03:13 am

    It depends on what I am going to photograph. However, when I am on the street it is 35 1.8, cheap and awesome. The chained skateboarder was shot on a 35 mm :

  • John Mc. February 26, 2011 02:06 am

    For me, I need a minimum of 4 lenses. I have a daughter who is the high school marching band in the fall, and concert band for the rest of the school year. In the spring, she plays lacrosse. The marching band competitions are all outdoors at night and under stadium lighting. The concert band plays in the school auditorium, and no flash photography is allowed. For marching band, I use a Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 lens exclusively. For indoor concerts I go back and forth between the 70-200mm and a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens. I use a Nikon D300 and a Nikon D7000 bodies. For lacrosse season, I use a Nikon 70-300mm lens. I started with a Tamron 18-200mm lens, but it just wasn't getting me close enough to the action. I recently traded it in for a Tamron 18-270mm lens, so I'm still undecided if I will need to use the Nikon or Tamron this upcoming lacrosse season. I don't know that 30mm of lens reach will be that critical. I'll know better by mid-season (end of April.)

  • Amir February 26, 2011 01:27 am

    I think it depends on your nessessities during photography.Sometimes all of various lenses we have are needed and sometimes you should try just one kind! The ratio is expanded frienda.

  • Marcelo Antunez February 25, 2011 11:58 pm

    Of course that depends on what kind of photographer you are, but keeping simple, a very good small set should be (IMHO):

    10-22 Sigma
    17-55 f2.8 IS Canon
    70-200 f2.8 IS (I or II) Canon

    That's the set I use most of the time in my 7D.

    If you are more a portrait photographer, of course you'll need prime lenses instead of zoom, but for general purposes, the set above should work fine.

  • Chris February 25, 2011 09:51 pm

    Well I don't really "need" any lenses at all, but I'm currently looking for a 18-200mm because I'm not sure what sort of photography I'm going to get into. Most likely a mix of wildlife/informal portraits/landscape. I just bought my first DSLR body (D90 for cheap since the D7000 was released) and it seems like the best choice in terms of keeping my options open. My second lens will probably be a fast 50mm prime, once I can afford it.

  • C. Kemal Eksen February 25, 2011 08:52 pm

    As a minimum you don't need any lens, just a thin sheet with a hole, if you are into pinhole photography :)
    Seriously most of the beginners have the kit lens only and happy with it and some old masters used to have 50mm only.
    I have Canon 5D mark 2 with 50mm F1.4 for portraits and 17-40mm F4 for my interior and architecture photo assignments, I love to shoot old architecture as hobby anyway. I also have 3 close-up lenses that I attach on my 50mm F1.4 to achive half macro shots. Sometimes I need a standard fast zoom not to switch between my lenses all the time or a tele zoom to get closer but I will probably not buy before I need one for my future assignments.

  • Ryan Lue-Clarke February 25, 2011 08:16 pm

    Thats a good question, it all depends on your style really. If your a more wide angle shooter or you wanna go faster and wide open. I used to rely on my Canon 24-70 f/2.8L and the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS but I sold the 24-70 and now I'm shooting mostly primes.

    Right now I have the 14mm f/2.8LII, 35mm f/1.4L, 60mm f/2.8macro and the 85mm f/1.2LII along with the telephoto.
    I would say 3 lens, a wide angle, a good zoom lens and a telephoto would compliment your camera bag just perfect.


  • Rohit Acharya February 25, 2011 06:17 pm

    When I am on the street it is a 35 1.8. Cheap and awesome :)[eimg link='' title='Knee Boarding : Chained from hand to toe' url='']

  • krishna kumar February 25, 2011 05:07 pm

    it depends on the kind of photography you do,because today you have a specific lens for a specific use.
    however, you must have a minimum of two - an all purpose zoom ( 18-55 or 18-200 ) and a prime 50mm
    f/1.4 or f/1.7. with these two lenses you can do a lot of good and meaningful photography.[eimg url='desktop' title='desktop'][eimg url='DSC08500 JPG , DSC 03096 JPG' title='DSC08500 JPG , DSC 03096 JPG'][eimg url='JPG images' title='JPG images'][eimg url='DSC JPG images' title='DSC JPG images']

  • Nujum H February 25, 2011 04:46 pm

    Requirement of lenses depends on the type of photography you are pursuing. I feel, besides the lenses for specilising fields, one should own a lens for landscape, one for telephoto and other for macro.

    18 -55 mm
    70-200 mm f/2.8 L
    100mm f/2.8 macro

    ( i would love to have a 24 - 70 mm f/2.8 to above list)

  • Khurram February 25, 2011 03:58 pm


    I think the need for lenses is entirely based upon the user needs. My core interests are Landscape, Portrait & Macros. For that i have following lenses,
    1) Tamron 17-50 F2.8
    2) Canon 70-200 F4L USM
    3) Canon 50mm F1.8 II
    4) Tamron 90mm F2.8 (Macro)
    I usually carry only one lens at a time which helps me focus more on my subjects instead of the choice of lenses to use for different purposes. For portraits i use Canon 70-200 & Tamron 90mm. Both are just great for portraits. For night shots its always 50mm 1.8. Tamron is general purpose.

  • russss February 25, 2011 03:48 pm

    i believe i have a sensible lens lineup for my canon cropped sensor

    10-22mm, landscape, and for fun, creative perspective shots
    15-85mm, I looove this lens this is one of the best all around gen purpose lens...great range and optics..any lens review will confirm except unsurprisingly popular photography...does anyone believe in this ad-driven mag?
    55-250 for zoom shots i maybe use this on only about 5% of my shot...still cant afford a 70-200mm :(
    50mm 1.8 a just-in-case lens for lowlight

  • Charlie February 25, 2011 03:39 pm

    Any two or three lens combo that will take you from wide angle to moderate telephoto.

  • Randy Baradi February 25, 2011 02:09 pm

    all my lenses are canon
    10-22mm (landscape)
    24-105mm f/4L (all around)
    70-200mm f/2.8L IS
    50mm f/1.8 II
    100mm f/2.8 IS (portraiture & Macro)

  • Paul February 25, 2011 01:19 pm

    i cant live without my 18-200 sigma lens but i also have a few more

  • abeku February 25, 2011 12:30 pm

    I have a prime lens Nikkor 50mm f1.8, kit lens 18-105mm and comming soon i plan to buy Tokina 11-16mm and Nikkor 70-200mm VR2. But the main point is not how many you need, but what do you need to shot. Now most of the time i carry 50mm. see my sample here Nikon D90

  • Tyler Welch February 25, 2011 11:38 am

    Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro MF
    Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 micro MF
    Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 MF
    Nikkor 24mm f/2.0 MF
    Nikkor 16mm f/3.5 MF Fisheye (full frame)
    Camera body - Nikon D60 DSLR

    I'm planning on eventually getting the 15mm f/3.5 MF ultrawide, and either the 18mm f/3.5 MF or the 20mm f/2.8 MF

  • sirlensalot February 25, 2011 11:26 am

    Alas, I am afraid I need them all.

  • Srini Sadasivam February 25, 2011 10:10 am

    Canon 16-35 F2.8 L for landscapes
    Canon 24-105 F4 L for everything else. This is my walkaround lens
    Canon 70-200 F4 IS L for zooming
    Canon 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L for extra zooming :-)

    And of course, finally a Sigma 50 F1.4 for those beautiful portrait shots with dreamy creamy bokeh.

  • Norm February 25, 2011 09:45 am

    I believe the only one necessary and important is 50mm fast lens (in case we're dealing with full sensor).
    on my 5Dmk2 (I bought by always body only), first lens I bought was ** 50mm f/1.8 mk2 **, it's really cheap and really sharp. The only problem it is always back-focusing, but I prefer Manual focus this is not a big deal for me then.
    Also if I didn't make my preset prime only, I'd buy some 24-70mm f/2.8L kind of universal travel lens, sharp and fast enough.
    The rest depends on photographer, and what he/she wants.

    As I do more nature(not birds)/landscape and urban photography and prefer prime lenses, so my preset is:

    1) Canon 5D mk 2 - because it's full frame (good for wide), very high ISO etc.
    2) Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 - cheap, fast, wonderful wide angle, very little distraction - landscape & tiny indoors
    3) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 mk 2 - cheap, fast, extra sharp - always on my camera - shooting anything (even when reverse use it's a nice macro =)
    4) Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 - Extra fast, Extra sharp, the only not bulky and relatively inexpensive canon L series tele - nature, portrait, sports, festivals, events (just whenever I need but cant get closer)

    If going zooms then the best choice is 24-70 L (quality) or 18-250(inexpensive) I guess Tamron have it multipurpose lens. Also a good thing, never miss a moment and no extra dust while lens change. Good for travel and on the go shooting.

    If going primes then 3 lens:
    - Wide
    - 50mm
    - Tele

    After can add some fisheye, tilt-shift, macro etc. special lens for special case. Or some 35 and 85 portrait lens.

    After all I believe before making decision on buying new lens, have to follow this steps:
    1. Search online (flickr) for photos as example 35mm
    2. Own a 50mm, because this is the middle. So you know do you need to get close or far to the object you're shooting.

    And also almost every lens could be used with a extenders like 1.4X or 2X, so I advise think of buying fast prime with extender. So the 50mm will become slower 100mm also.

  • Joshua Horn February 25, 2011 09:30 am

    My bag:
    Nikon D300s
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
    Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM
    Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM

    My wifes bag:
    Nikon D90
    AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED

    For daylight "walking around" shots, the Sigma 18-250 is usually on my D300s. When the light starts to get low, I switch to the 35 or the 50. A lot of times I will just take the 35:1.8 on my wifes D90 for a nice compact body-lens combo. I LOVE my Bigma for daylight wildlife and sporting events.

    For someone starting out I would recommend a 35:1.8. To go along with that I would get a 1 size fits all zoom like the Nikkor 18-200, Tamron 18-270 or the Sigma 18-250. This gives you a wide range of focal lengths to experiment with (in good light) and figure out what kind of photography you want to explore. And you always have the 35:1.8 for indoors.

  • John W. Johnson February 25, 2011 09:26 am

    I use Canon Lens

    17-40 L, f4
    60 mm ef-s
    70-200 L, f4

  • Linda February 25, 2011 08:42 am

    Depends what you shoot.
    What I shoot? Variety of subjects: nature, landscapes, scenic, floral, portraiture, events.
    If I was forced to choose just one of my lenses for all around shooting, it would be my
    Nikon 18x200 f3.5-5.6 VR
    I've owned a Tamron and a Sigma. Sold them both not long after I got them.
    Nothing works better on a Nikon DSLR than a NIKON lens.
    Nikon lenses always hold their resale values well if properly taken care of.
    I find in many cases I like the older glass better and I especially like the "D" lenses for tonality.
    When you buy a lens, what other cameras can you use it on.. keep that in mind.
    What do I use the most? (on two DSLRs and a film cam)
    Depends on what.. and the time of year to include light factors and temperatures.
    I sometimes shoot in sub-zero temperatures so prefer using a prime lens... not many moving parts.

    Nikon 70x300 f/3.5-5.6 VR (good bokeh)
    Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G (good bokeh)
    Nikon 18x200 f3.5-5.6 VR (my dedicated autumn foliage lens.. great all around lightweight w/a telephoto)
    Nikon 85mm f/1,8 D (sharp, great tones) Great portrait lens.
    Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D (sharp, great tones) GREAT lens.
    Nikon 70x210 f/4-5.6 D AF Very fast focus.
    Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G (Lucious bokeh)
    Nikon Nikkor ED AF 80-200mm f/1.28 D I use for florals and soft focus on the far end.
    .....and there are others but I don't own a dedicated macro lens... I use a short range prime lens instead.

    The 18-55 VR kit lens is a very decent lightweight all purpose lens. Still use it now and then.
    I sold an older DSLR last year with my 55-200. Wish I would have kept that lens in hindsight.
    That lens is in the same ranking with the 18-55VR,
    Both are decent lenses for the price and both are good work horses.

  • waltx4 February 25, 2011 08:18 am

    Always "one more" than I have already.

  • willie J. February 25, 2011 08:08 am

    I have two out of three of what I need, a 17 - 55 mm and a 55 - 250. I do really want a prime 50 mm 1.8 lens at some point. I guess that I would love a 2x multiplier to extend what I have as well.


  • peterk February 25, 2011 08:00 am

    You know, I've tried a lot of lenses: 16-105, 70-200 f2,8, 16-80, 50 f1,7, 80-200 f2.8HS from Minolta (arguably one of the finest lenses ever made), but I like best the 17-50 f2.8, so I've sold all the others except the 16-105 f3.5-5.6 (to have it just in case !). I'm curious to try something around 10mm, maybe the 8-16 or 10-20, and the 35 f1.4. Anyway, I think that two - three lenses are more than enough for every nonprofessional photographer.

  • Daniel Maran February 25, 2011 07:46 am

    Hi there,

    I always carry my standard Canon L series 24-105mm F4 for most travel photography and outdoor work.
    I carry a Canon L series 70-200mm IS F2.8 for sports photography, mainly downhill biking or motor sport.
    And last of all I have a Canon 50mm F1.8 for portraiture work.
    I would love to extend my lens buy purchasing a wide angle 16-35mm or a 17-40mm but i haven't decided yet as it is a toss with money and the big question of whether or not it is worth spendinh that extra for the sack of a few extra F stop's of light.

  • Jason February 25, 2011 07:04 am

    Starting out can be very difficult. The cost of acquiring all the lenses you will need in your tool box is very expensive. But not as expensive as you might think. Assuming you are in business and not just doing this as a hobby, you will see a very noticeable tax refund due to your investment in equipment!

    As for the bare minimum - 1 lens should get you started. I am a Canon guy, and for me the 24-70mm 2.8L is one of the best lenses I have ever owned. If I only have room for one lens, this is the lens I take with me. I had the 24-105 f4L, and it is a great lens, but not nearly as good as the 24-70.

    Some of my friends have too much overlap, be sure when you buy even your first lens that you think about what your entire lens collection will ultimately look like. Looking in my case right now I have:

    1. 16-35mm 2.8L
    2. 24-70mm 2.8L
    3. 70-200mm 2.8L
    4. 50mm 1.2L prime
    5. 100mm Macro
    6. 2xII teleconverter
    7. (100-400mm) - Just ordered
    8. (8-16mm) - waiting for its release

    My suggestion is to buy one extremely good lens rather than a bunch of just "good" lenses. It may take you a while to build up your lens collection but will be much better for you.. trust me!


  • Moti Gross February 25, 2011 06:57 am

    Always had that queston. just recently was able to upgrade my lenses and I think I have a good kit. so here goes, I've reached Nirvana.

    1. everyday lens - I use a Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6. good shots, good zoom
    2. Long zoom and sports - Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 - I didn't get the IS but nevertheless a great sharp and fast lens. for extra long zoom, I have a Canon x2 extender.
    3. protraits: 50mm prime f/1.8 - fantastic lens for only $125/
    4. recently added a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 for those wide shots.
    5. for the special effects a Canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye. doesn't get too much effect on the Canon Rebel 450D, but it's a great lens.
    6. I've also picked up a 135mm f/2.8 prime lens with soft focus - very very cheap.. but it's a good lens. gives those portraits that special glow.
    7. For macro shots, I use my 50 mm f/1.8 coupled with Kenko extension tubes. makes great, great, macro shots.

    I think that's about it... a good kit, makes it worthwhile to go out their and shoot...



    P.S. you can see some samples at

  • William February 25, 2011 06:48 am

    Well... I am an old timer who just discovered using primes about three years ago They make a terrific difference compared to zooms.. If I had to buy lenses again as a youngster I would start out by buying a couple primes first and then a medium range zoom. The primes should have good quality and wide apertures. Spend on your lenses as you will have them a lot longer than your camera. When you buy a zoom get quality and a good wide aperture .Zooms with small apertures have never been very useful to me,

  • Chal February 25, 2011 06:45 am

    Sorry I've read wrong.
    50mm and 70-200mm are my real important

  • Chal February 25, 2011 06:42 am

    * Sigma 24-70 f2.8
    * Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR
    * Nikon 50 f1.4
    * Nikon 20 f2.0
    * Lensbaby 2.0
    * Nikon 28-105 f3.5-4.5
    * Dreamagon 90 f4.0
    * Loreo Lens In A Cap
    * Pinhole 48 f190

  • Mark February 25, 2011 06:33 am

    Wow, lots of advice here. I think the key question is "wildlife" and "people". I personally don't do people, but my choice for landscape is also a good choice for that. I have the 24-70mm Canon L series for landscape, and the Canon 100-400mm L series for wildlife. I also carry a Sigma 70-300mm macro for the occasional wildflower or insect shot. And finally I have the 50mm f/1.8 prime for fast glass shots. All of these I am shooting on an APS-C sensor so multiply by 1.6 to get 35mm equivalent.

    One thing to say is that many people advise the 50mm as a classic in SLR photography and while that is true for film and full frame sensors, the APS-C folks among us need the 35mm to get about the same framing!!! Those using small sensors with the 50mm are not getting the same experience as the film masters!!! The 50mm I have is similar in framing as an 80mm or 85mm that the film masters used.

  • DaveT February 25, 2011 06:33 am

    So many variables!

    I have lots of lenses but rarely have more than 3 on me at a time depending on what I'm shooting. My favorite combo right now is:

    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
    Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 non-VC
    Canon 135 f/2L

    Then I substitute as needed with these 3

    Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro ... for macro
    50mm f/1.8
    100-300 f/4.5-5.6

  • Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead February 25, 2011 06:30 am

    My prime lenses, Nikkor 50mm/1.8 and 35mm/1.8, are the apple of my eye. I find the 18-105mm VR which came with my Nikon D7000 good; no doubt about that. I have a few other lenses too! How many lenses do I need? I celebrate my one year D-SLR beginner anniversary next month. Presently, I shoot landscapes, historical monuments and bridges and am working on shots in the cemetery where my ancestors were buried.
    Compositions planned BEFOREHAND require only one lens. I have an unsolicited advice to my beginner brothers and sisters: The pitfall to learning is having a motley of lenses!

  • UA February 25, 2011 06:17 am

    I typically carry four lenses:

    11-16mm f/2.8 Tokina (DX)
    35mm f/1.8 Nikkor (DX)
    50mm f/1.8 Nikkor (FX, so ~75mm with DX)
    85mm f/1.8 Nikkor (FX, so ~125mm with DX)

    I really like ultrasharp primes and their foot-zoom feature, which forces you to "interesting" compositions. I mean that with zooms you typically zoom "the perfect" composition, but in my experience this quickly yields yet-another-boring-photos. Primes force you to be more creative, especially when shooting events with humans involved. Also, light power and sharpness are never really a bad thing.

    I'm planning to upgrade to a FX body and get 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 for it, altough I definetly would use the 50mm and 85mm most of the time. It's just that when someone calls you to "document" some event, you should favor clean classic compositions and forget your artistic side a bit. Then those typical zooms are very handy. 24-120 F/4 might also be enough with primes (although overlapping ranges) or 12-24mm, 50mm and 70-200mm.

    I mainly photograhp events (with people) and people.

  • Teresa February 25, 2011 06:14 am

    At LEAST one more than I have!

  • Ric February 25, 2011 06:11 am

    I have the following lenses with my D90 but have not tried them out to full potential yet. They are:
    1. Nikkor - 18-200 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 VR ( 1st lens - a great and versatile walking around and travelling lens to have )
    2. Nikkor - 17-55 mm f/2.8 ( just purchased recently for weddings and portraiture photograpgy )
    3. Nikkor - 50 mm f/1.4G
    4. Sigma - 10-20 mm f/3.5 ( for landscape photography )

    Can someone please advise me on an additional camera body as I find it rather too troublesome to change the lens when the opportunity arises? I am looking forward to some good suggestions!!!!

  • Al Merrill February 25, 2011 05:43 am

    I have 4 fast primes from 24mm up to 85mm. Works for me.

  • Al Merrill February 25, 2011 05:43 am

    I have 4 fast primes from 24mm up to 85mm. Works for me

  • Kevin February 25, 2011 05:15 am

    For me, I find searching for and dreaming about the "next great lens" is just an excuse for not having enough skill to compose a great shot with what I already have. I've seen many awesome creative photostreams from people with a high end pocket point and shoot and lots of really bad ones from people with a bag of kit costing $10,000 or more. I get caught up in the techno geeky details of the lens (like many posters here) thinking, wow, imagine the shots I could get with this X-Ymm, (L), Macro, F-XX, Zmm Fisheye... blah blah blah. I've spent some money on some of those great lenses, now it's time to focus on what's in the photo itself.

  • Abe Ortiz February 25, 2011 04:41 am

    I have to agree with Kurt, if you are serious about photography, especially if you are doing it as your business, I would at least have three lenses. A good wide angle lens for landscapes/scenic, a telephoto lens (at least 250mm) and a good portrait lens, like a 50mm which is always a good default.

  • Norm February 25, 2011 04:21 am

    I currently own
    Nikkor 50mm 1.8
    Nikkor 105mm macro
    Nikkor 18-200mm
    Recently borrowed a Sigma 85mm 1.4 and would love to be able to justify one.

  • Rich Maher February 25, 2011 04:20 am

    I guess I would have to say my Canon 24-105. It's a perfect "walk around " lens. 100mm Macro, 100-400mm, and the great 70-200.

  • J February 25, 2011 04:15 am

    As others have noted, you only need one lens. But that is an unsatisfying answer. In reality, "need" is based on what you are shooting. If you're doing carpentry, what kind of saw do you need? A rip saw, a miter saw, a band saw, something else? A telephoto lens (zoom or prime) is helpful if you're shooting wildlife. My preference is the 100-400mm L, but the 70-300 IS USM (non-L) works well. If it wouldn' result in a divorce, and a lot of debt, I could easily "need" an 8000mm prime lens. I've also used the 50mm f1.8 for wildlife when I've been able to get closer to the subjects. It's also great for low light. I find that my the 28-135 mm kit lens is a great walking around lens.

    There are a lot of things written on what makes a good lens. Some preferences are subjective, and some is objective. I think the market is such, right now, that most the major manufacturers are putting out a good product. While differences do exist, the question really becomes where you want to put your money, and how much you are willing to spend. Some Canon shooters will only use L glass. Others take fine pictures with third party lenses that cost less money. Look at what other people are using, read reviews of the lenses, and ask questions,

  • Ed February 25, 2011 03:57 am

    I have been doing this since the late sixties and have found two factors apply to choosing a lens. First is what and where are you shooting? if you are out doors and are using natural light sources you can get aways with slower lenses and longer exposures on a tripod. But if people are involved the the long exposure doesn't work well with out a bit of softness entering the picture. Second what is your budget? If you have a sizable budget you can go for the fast lenses. My recommendation is to cover the 24-200 range with a couple of lenses. My choices really break down to these ranges;

    17-35 mm f2.8
    24-70 mm f2.8
    80-200 mm f2.8

    Now I have a couple other lenses like a 24 mm f2.8, and a 50mm f1.8. Older lenses are great glass so don't be afraid to buy preowned, especially Nikon lenses like the 80-200 f2.8 D ED with the tripod foot. the push pull is good but the lens gets heavy after a while. actually any of the D lenses are spectacular tools to use.

    As for off brand lenses the have improved significantly and so has the pricing. thus why I recommend preowned. Important point though, take you time and don't rush.

  • Joan Trask February 25, 2011 03:36 am

    I am a beginner photographer and over the past couple of years have taken some great shots but still trying to get better. I have the following lenses.

    Nikkor 18 -135 mm f/3.5 - 5.6 that came with my D80 Nikon camera. I have taken thousands of pictures with this starter kit lens.

    Nikkor 70 -300 f/1.4 - 5.6 - that was was a gift. It is great for birds but of course needs a tripod.

    Sigma 10 -20 mm f/1.4 -5.6 - haven't had this one that long and still trying it out. I love the effect you can get with this lense.

    Nikkor 18 - 200 f3.5 - 5.6 is my newest lens which has replaced my starter kit lens and is on my camera 90% of the time. I really like this lens but of course is not good for when it starts to get dark.

    Not sure what one I would give up if I had to. I would now like a 50mm f/1.4 lens and maybe a macro someday. It is all for pleasure and as a beginner photographer you are never sure what lense is the best buy or the one you will use the most until you have it.

  • Fceltia February 25, 2011 03:35 am

    The difference between a camera lense and a spouse.
    The camera lens doesn't complain every time you bring a new one home.

    Wide angle zoom or prime
    Standard fast prime (30mm-50mm depending on sensor) f 2.8 or better
    Medium telephoto zoom or prime

  • Tom Kelly February 25, 2011 03:29 am

    I have the lenses I consider that I need (or want?) coupled to my canon 5d and 5d mkii.
    They are:

    1. 100mm f/2.8L is macro
    2. 16-35mm f/2.8 L ii
    3. 24-70mm f/2.8 L
    4. 70-200mm f/2.8L ii is
    5. 50mm f/1.4

  • Drew Shannon February 25, 2011 03:22 am

    I currently have 2 lenses (Canon 50mm f/1.8 II and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L), and definitely feel as though I'm adequately covered. That said, I could just as easily use either of those lenses exclusively, and I can think of plenty of photographers who are way better than I, who use 1 lens.

  • MarxPix February 25, 2011 03:02 am

    I have 15-30mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms. The latter 2 are f2.8's. There's a bit of overlap, but each has its purpose. The 15-30 provides good wide-angle capabilities (interiors and nature photography), the 24-70 is a good general purpose lens and the 70-200 (along with its 1.4x extender) is my primary lens for "performances" (on-stage musicians). The only other lens I own is a 105mm macro. I don't use it often, but when I need it, it's a very helpful lens.

  • John Marc Green February 25, 2011 03:01 am

    You can shoot memorable images with any lens depending on skill; however, to answer this specific question I would point back to the days of black and white medium format photojournalism: 1 standard lens is the bare minimum. After that, I would suggest that a great telephoto portrait lens should be next, followed on the trailing end by a wide angle. I am more often after the element compression that telephoto lenses offer, along with more flattering people shots, than the drama or all-inclusiveness of a wide angle. Don't think in terms of millimeters, think in terms of relative focal length: wide, standard, telephoto, based on your camera's sensor. Have one of each, and experiment to find out what you like to shoot. That will tell you what you really need. Primes are better lenses, and make you a better photographer, than zooms; however, if you HAVE to get the shot, pack a zoom or be sorry.

  • Mark K February 25, 2011 03:00 am

    If your just moving from point and shoot into this world I really don't think they need all that many; in fact too many students see the "big" lens and think its a must have - far from it. I would have suggested get one standard lens 18-55mm for day to day shooting and get good at it. if you want, add a 70-200mm zoom lens....the question is not how many lens its a question of quality, what they will be shooting, and to a lesser extent their experience.

  • Jeff February 25, 2011 02:48 am

    For 90% of your shooting a 17-50/18-55 should cover most photographers needs. Then a good telezoom 70-200 f2.8 (if you can afford this) should cover the long reach or the a 55-200/300. Then one should have at least 1 good prime lens 35/50/85mm 1.8 or 1.4 (again if you can afford the 1.4).

    So my short answer would be 3.

  • Alexander Sharpe February 25, 2011 02:44 am

    For at least 85% of what I do, I would be happy With a 35/1.4 and a 85/1.8 (On FF.135). Add a 135 or 70-200/300 for longer shots, and I"d be set (though maybe throw in a 50)
    For a more versatile combo a 17-40 and 70-200.
    I don't own any of these except the 50)

  • Rich Copley February 25, 2011 02:44 am

    I used to think the essentials were three zooms: the tele, mid and wide variety, all f 2.8, because I do a lot of low light work. But last fall, I had both my mid and wide out for repair, and needed to rent a lens to cover an event. I tried to get a 24-70, but it was already spoken for. So, I went with a 17-55, f 2.8, and paired with the 70-200 on another body, it was perfect coverage and I didn't have to change a lens all night. Now, a 17-55 is pretty high on my gear triage list. Of course, there are the other desires like fast primes and ultra wides and longs. But those two - the 17-55 and 70-200 - could probably take me about 90 percent of where I need to go.

  • idb February 25, 2011 02:41 am

    With my first 35mm SLR almost 40 years ago I had a 35/2.8 wide angle, 50/1.7 normal and 135/2.8 telephoto and that covered everything I needed for several years. I think the first thing I added was a 2x teleconverter.
    With my current DSLR I have 18-55, 50-200, 50/1.7 and 35/2.8 macro. The camera has an APS-C sensor so I now have the 35mm equivalent of 27-300 mm covered and there is not much I cannot shoot. Probably another 2x teleconverter will take care of everything.

  • Robert Boner February 25, 2011 02:36 am

    Rather than trying to assemble a collection of lenses based on what other folks have, I suggest that you use whatever you have. After you have thought (or said) I wish I had "such and such a lens," then you know what you need and can acquire that one. This way you don't have a lot of unused (expensive) lenses sitting on your shelves because someone else found them useful for their photography.

  • jsantos February 25, 2011 02:30 am

    I have a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8 USM, 70-200 f/4.0 USM (even though it's great and lightweight I'd like to get the f/2.8) and the 100mm f/2.8 macro. Planning on getting either the 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8. I like a little bit of everything so I have a lens for each scenario.

  • Glenn72 February 25, 2011 02:28 am

    I find myself using only 2 lenses about 90% of my recent shots.

    1. Canon EF-S 10-22
    2. Tokina 400mm F5.6 RMC

    I also have and use less often

    3. Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II
    4. Canon EF-S 55-250 IS
    5. Canon EF-S 18-55 IS II (kit lens)

    Since I like to shoot landscapes and wildlife shooting ultra wide and long are my primary interests.

  • Steve M February 25, 2011 01:51 am

    My recent purchase of a Sony a33 put in in the position of collecting lenses once again. Before I got into digital early in that game, I had a string of Nikon bodies. Although I had several lenses, the one I kept on the camera was the 500mm reflex which I used for wildlife pictures. My second favorite was a 52mm macro. With my new camera I have managed to collect several lenses already.

    1. 18-55mm kit lens.
    2. 75-300mm Sony lens.
    3. 500mm Minolta reflex lens.
    4. 30mm Sony macro lens.
    5. 35-70mm Minolta macro lens.

    If I HAD to give up all but one, I guess I'd hang onto the 75-300mm. If my one keeper could be a lens I don't already own, I would choose the Sony 70-400mm G.

  • Mei Teng February 25, 2011 01:42 am

    At the moment only two - 24-70mm f2.8 and a 50mm f1.8

  • ArianaMurphy February 25, 2011 01:38 am

    My 70-300 zoom is almost always mounted. I only take it off to replace it with my 18-70 mm for landscapes and closeups. These are the only ones I have right now (that I use, anyway), but I would love to get a macro lens.

    Did somebody say the Nikon 50 mm/1,4 is in the $100 range? I'm in!

  • md_eric February 25, 2011 01:31 am

    If it just boils down to one lens I would choose a 50mm f1.8 or 35mm 1.8 prime lens. I get to do portrait, low light, sports (if permited to get close to the play area), landscape, travel photography and others. its cheap, versatile and quality is at par with expensive lenses.

    Now all i need is another good pair of legs to help me move around.

  • Geoff February 25, 2011 01:24 am

    I have a 10-22mm, 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. I use them all with equal enthusiasm and they cover almost everything that I do. 10-22mm for landscapes, interiors and group shots of horses in fields and people at weddings and parties. 24-70mm for portraits of people and animals, isolation shots in landscape work, individual trees, sculptures and the like plus its a fantastic close-up lens. The 70-200mm I use when covering equine sporting events, wild animals and those candid shots at parties and weddings.
    So each lens fits nicely into an activity whilst crossing over on occassion when necessary.

  • February 25, 2011 12:32 am


    Well, with me I always have:

    18-270 VC Tamron, It can be used always in any condition ( maybe a bit slow sometimes)
    50 mm 1.8 (best lens I have, fast, portable, great portraits)
    8 mm fisheye samyang ( the best to have fun in any condition)


  • Steve February 24, 2011 11:47 pm

    I routinely carry a Sigma 8-16, Canon 15-85 IS and Canon 70-300 IS which covers pretty much every eventuality (body is a 50D).

    I also own a Sigma 8mm fisheye (which is seeing a lot less use since I bought the 8-16) and a x1.4 TC

  • esquimo February 24, 2011 11:32 pm

    for my part i do currently own a 17-40 f/4, for landscape and parties or indoor, a 50 f1.4 for portrait, a 100 f2.8 macro is and a bad tamron 70-300 which i don't use anymore waiting to replace it by a 70-200, and then after maybe a TC 1.4 or 2x which mean i'll have 4 and a TC

    the bad side of that it's that it's heavy to carry around, and it's hard to "just take one" when you leave home

  • Mark Cody February 24, 2011 11:20 pm

    On ny Canon 40D, i have just one lens at present - a gorgeous 24-105 f4 L. I am considering a 70-200 f4 IS and a 50mm 1.8 too - thats all i think i need to be honest. Personally, I prefer to save and get the best i can afford instead of possibly compromising on a cheaper lens.

  • Frédéric RUAUDEL February 24, 2011 11:12 pm

    When someone who wants to switch to DSLRs, asks me this question, I always advice them these two lenses to start :

    1) 18-200mm (for general purpose)
    2) 50mm f/1.8 or faster (for artistic purpose or low-light situations)

    It's complete and relatively affordable.

    For my part, here is my ideal lenses pack (all Nikkor) :

    1) 14-24mm f/2.8
    2) 24-70mm f/2.8
    3) 70-200mm f/2.8 (my favorite)
    4) 50mm f/1.4
    5) 85mm f/1.8
    6) 105mm f/2.8 macro
    7) 18-200mm (for vacations and hicking)

    and still missing in my bag :

    8) 10.5mm fisheye
    9) 45mm f/2.8 PC-E (Tilt-Shift lens)

  • Louis Courtney February 24, 2011 10:31 pm

    I currently only use 4 lenses.
    The canon 17-40mm F4.0L which is great for landscapes
    The canon 70-300mm F4.0-5.6
    The canon 18-55mm kit lens
    The canon 50mm 1.8 prime

    But I also use a kenko extension tube for macro, but I am probably going to invest in a canon EF 100mm F2.8 USM macro or a Carl Zeiss 50mm 1.4 as my next lens.

  • Pete February 24, 2011 10:21 pm

    I think you could get away with 3 for what I do (Concerts) . A 50mm 1.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and an 85mm 1.4

  • Matt Dowd February 24, 2011 10:02 pm

    I've had plenty of lenses in the past, most of which were good but i've never been totally satisfied with them. I currently own 5 lenses. They are:

    Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 - very nice lens.
    Sigma 50-150mm f2.8 lens - my personal favourite, a really stunning lens.
    Nikon 35-70 f2.8D lens - another corker.
    Nikon 55mm f2.8 AIS - brilliant for product photography and everything else (but MF)
    Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF

    All used on a D300. If i had to pick my bare minimum then it would be the two sigma lenses and the nikon 1.8 just for low light and portraits.

  • EF specialist February 24, 2011 09:34 pm

    You need the lens you have mounted on your camera, otherwise what would be the reason to have it there?

    But I always desire some nice lens to have. Currently, I am quite curious about Samyang 35/1.4 one, and in my bag, you can find:

    EFS 18-55 IS (due for replacement a long time ago)
    EF 50/1.8 (cheap, fast, sharp and plastic, what more to say)
    EF 100/2.8 Macro (I LOVE this one!)
    EF 70-200/4L (affordable and high performing telezoom)

    I'd love to move to FF and get 16-35/24-70/70-200 IS holy 2.8 triade one day :)

  • Neal Eiserman February 24, 2011 09:34 pm

    I have quite a few lenses, but the bare minimum you "need" is one. Personally I would spend extra money on a good quality zoom, as it will outlive the body it is on.

    The Canon 24-105 f/4L IS is a good choice.

  • Jayson Cramer February 24, 2011 08:41 pm

    For weddings I have 7 lenses. 16-35, 24-70, 70-200, 35, 50, 85. 100 macro, 15 fisheye. Bag weighs near 30 pounds, though I hardly take the 24-70 as I find less use for the mid range. Agreed with others that it will ultimately depend on what you want to shoot. Which is why most new photogs want two zooms; a mid and a telephoto, thinking they are covering all the focal lengths. While this is true in theory, it's probably not the best practice.

    Most consumer grade dslr packages will come with a mid zoom (18-50 on a crop is 28-80). But you are essentially having the same zoom range as a point and shoot. To get a different look and feel for your photos you could branch away from the mid range, and work with something wider and longer. (and I don't mean buy a 24-300 zoom.)

    My first two lenses on dslr were the 35 and 85 on a 1.6 crop. Worked those for two years before purchasing zooms. I would recommend for budding photog's a good wide prime (20, 24, or 35 depending if crop or ff) and a good tele zoom, 70-200 or 70-300. Shooting with the prime will help with creative style and get you away from point and shoot framing (standing and zooming, rather than positioning yourself). Primes make you think about the shot and find it...rather than doing it mechanically. Plus you have a very close focusing distance with a wide prime and can get really interesting shots up close.

    The tele zoom will be a great portrait lens, some macro, sports, documentary, etc. You will probably find yourself using the tele zoom the most at first, since it will feel the most normal. Break away!

  • Anil Tanwar February 24, 2011 08:34 pm

    I use the 18-55 Kit lens, 55-250mm mid zoom and a 50mm 1.8 II ( All Canon) on a EOS 60D body. Makes it for me.

  • Shotslot February 24, 2011 08:17 pm

    There's a maximum? I love playing with different lenses, I'd happily have 10, I currently have four, (a kit lens, an L lens, a 50 and a loaner moderate-wide Sigma) but I want at least a couple more - a super-wide and a decent macro...oh and another L zoom...

  • Jeet February 24, 2011 07:34 pm

    I think that to cover all the possibilities, the following lenses are a must:
    (I am listing them in the priority I assign to them)
    1. 18-55 (or others in this range)
    2. 70-300 (or others in this range)
    3. 8mm or 12mm Ultra wide angle
    4. 60mm macro (or 50 or 100, as per your choice/availabilty)

    Although this might be a wish-list of sorts, as I had the first one, now got the 2nd one, and might target the macro next before the ultra wide angle / fish eye. Thats my intention as of now. But I say the first 2 should be good enuf to cover most of the situations.

  • Aeb February 24, 2011 07:02 pm

    To start out with just pick one lens and make it a good one.
    I always found its better to invest in one good lens than 2 - 3 cheaper ones just to cover say 18 - 400mm.

    I'd go for a good prime, with great low-light capabilities, and one thats really sharp, say 30 or 35mm at around 1.4. Canons 35L is a superbly fantastic lens.

    Then move around instead, with a 35mm on a fullframe u could take nature pics, but if u want closeups, just move closer.

    It's easier in the start not to have to worry about zoom anyway. and a good prime can take u really far. then when u really feel like this 35mm isn't enough, consider what it is that u feel u are missing and invest from there.

    I only use one lens, true, i own a couple but i always use the one prime, and for me it helps to have to move around, forces me to see things from different angles and has upped the quality of my pics alot!

  • John O'Brien February 24, 2011 07:02 pm

    3 Canon lenses: 28 - 135 f3.5 - 5.6; 100 - 400 f4.5 - 5.6; 100mm macro f2.8. I shoot botanicals; sea and shore; critters, including insects and occasionally people.

  • Ken B February 24, 2011 07:00 pm

    And one more food for thought. A friend once told me, " If a wildlife or sports photographer has to ask how much the lens is, he/she isnt a wildlife/sports photog." What he meant by that was simple. If you plan to shoot either of those two specialties you better have deep pockets cause the gear a'int cheap.

  • Simon lau February 24, 2011 06:57 pm

    I am using 35mm for night shots and 18-200mm for the all-purpose use. Will be getting 24-70mm for wide-angle. So together with my kit lens, 4 lens for me.

  • Ken B February 24, 2011 06:53 pm

    I might also add that owning a couple lenses and renting when you need longer or wider is a good all around option.

  • Ken B February 24, 2011 06:52 pm

    How many lenses, bare minimum? There is no single easy answer to that question. For wildlife, are you shooting birds, small mamials, large mamials or all of them? What do you mean by nature? Are you shooting landscapes or macros of insects and flowers? Moose Peterson @ has some good recommendations about the gear he uses and why. I also agree with his philosophy of each peice of equipment has to have a purpose and not just because I want it. For me, I currently have a 600 f/4, a 300 f/2.8, a 300 f/4 , a 24-120 f/3.5-5.6, a 50 f/1.4 and a 105 f/2.8. Now you might ask why both 300's? The answer is weight. Certain situations I shoot in require handheld and mobility, for that the 300 f/4 fits the bill. when I can take my tripod (which I try to do as often as possible) the 300 f/2.8.

  • madhur mangal February 24, 2011 06:44 pm

    what simon above suggests 14 to 300mm 1.4 super sharp lets hope for this one
    it really depends what do you want to shoot. right now i have 18-200mm 3..5 - 5.6 VR II nikkor telezoom lens and it covers it all for my Nikon D90 because i don't like to change the lense in between the shoots though i am looking forward to
    50mm or 85 mm 1.4 for portraits nikkor
    200-400mm or above for wildlife (sigma or tamron 4 - 5.6)
    100mm 2.8 macro

  • DavidCHR February 24, 2011 06:38 pm

    An important consideration in answering this question is: personal use or professional use?

    If it's personal use -as is likely in the case of someone just graduating from P&S to DSLR-, the kit lens is likely to be all she or he really *needs*. Nikon and Canon kit glass (18-55, 55-200, 18-200 ...), for example, covers a lot of ground will give more than acceptable results for quite some time. People are quick to shun these "paper weights" as a way to set themselves apart from amateurs, but the truth is that they are great for people starting out, if for no other reason than to keep the number of "necessary" lenses down to just one.

    I've still got some prints (30 x 40 mm) of my kids taken with the Nikon D60 and the 18-55 kit lens hanging in the same room as others taken with the Nikon D300s and the 50 mm 1.4. I can see places where the newer ones are better than the older ones, because I know what to look for... but friends and family can't.

    After that, logical progression tends to lead to a macro lens or a 50 mm, but that will depend more on the user's habits.

    Professional use is a different matter and will, of course, depend on specialization (and budget)...

    As to what makes a good lens, there are many technical answers that can be given, but to keep it short: own brands (Nikon, Canon, etc.) will normally out-perform simlar lenses by secondary manufacturers (Sigma, Tamron, etc.), though the latter shouldn't be discarded automatically, especially for personal use. The best thing is if you can try before you buy. If not, read reviews on the lens and look for sample photos taken with the lens on your particular camera body.

  • Bijz February 24, 2011 06:25 pm


    24 1.4, 35 1.4, 85 1.4 or simple 16-35 f4 vr, 85 1.4 afs

  • John Richardson February 24, 2011 06:14 pm

    Good question and I have asked myself this many times, and the funny thing is I stopped buying glass because I knew I needed nothing else. It all depends on what I am going to do for the day or what I have in mind.

    Here are my five DX;

    Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5+ (great travel lens)
    Nikkor 35mm f1.8 (ALWAYS in my pocket unless it is on camera)
    Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 (my wide angle landscape buddy)
    Tokina 50-135mm f2.8 (heavy but I am beginning to love this more and more)
    Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8 (human tested bug approved)

    I can shoot all day with any ONE lens and be happy as a clam. But the 35mm (52mm) is always a back-up for the evening or just when I feel I need to "come home" so to speak. Yes there is some redundancy here, but I also opted for faster since I have many low light situations.

  • Unger Photography February 24, 2011 06:11 pm

    For me, there is a thin line between need and want. My passion lies in landscape and wildlife photography, but I also love to shoot sports, concerts, and fine art. This covers a lot of different ground as far as gear needs.

    Right now, currently have the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L, 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, and 100 f/2.8 macro. This covers a vast majority of my needs, except for some wildlife.

    For wildlife, I need to get at least the Canon 500 f/4L IS II and the 1.4x along with it.. Though with this, I'd also like to get a good crop sensor body. If I can wait to afford it, the latest 1D at the time would be great, but it'll most likely be the 7D, or whatever crop body below the 1D that Canon has out at the time.

    For landscape, I'd also like to get a great wide prime lens. Perhaps the Canon 14 f/2.8L or 24 f/2.8L.

    I would also like to get the Canon 50 f/1.2L. This would be great for portraiture and many other situations.

    So I would love 6 lenses, but for what I do, I could probably get by with 3.

  • Greg Larsen February 24, 2011 06:02 pm

    You always need just one more lense :-)

  • Brandon February 24, 2011 06:01 pm

    20mm wide angle- if by nature you mean landscapes this will work well
    100mm macro- could get you some good macro nature shots plus has a decent reach
    50mm f/1.x great for indoors and getting pics of family/dogs/walking around

    I'm not really into nature photography, i do some macros but mostly its people, i own the 20mm and the 50mm, and have used a friends ?100mm macro lens several times.

    You could always get a Bigma 50-500mm lol

  • Vijay February 24, 2011 05:55 pm

    i would say three at least, myself got the 10-22mm, 17-50mm 2.8, 70-300mm L and the 50mm 1.8. Of all my lenses i like the 10-22mm the most.

  • philman February 24, 2011 05:37 pm

    No brainer (for me)....four lenses

    A Super show-it-all wide angle........................12mm - 20mm
    The Nifty Fifty................................... f1.4 or f1.7 50mm
    Perfect Portrait.....................................................75mm - 135mm
    The Big Gun.........................................................55mm - 250mm (or 300mm)

  • steve February 24, 2011 05:24 pm

    It seems i always need one more than i currently own...

  • Brandt February 24, 2011 04:59 pm

    Simple! A canon 8-400mm 2.8L IS. hehe

  • Doug Sundseth February 24, 2011 04:34 pm

    What do you need? A lens with the right mount for your camera.

    What do I have?

    18-55, for landscape work.

    55-200, for landscape work.

    35 f1.8, for ... landscapish work.


    Seriously, you can do many things with most lenses. Limiting yourself to only using your 105mm macro lens for macro work or your telephoto for wildlife work or whatever does you no favors.

  • Wayne February 24, 2011 04:04 pm

    I have the following:
    Sigma 10-20
    Canon 17-40 f/4
    Canon 70-200 f/4
    Sigma 105mm f/2.8
    Had a Canon 50 f1.8 but it fell and broke, but hope to replace with the f/1.4.
    However, 80% of my photos are taken with Tamron's 18-250 as nothing beats the convenience of not having to switch lenses. Yes, I see a difference in image quality, but not enough to have me lug the extra weight of the 17-40 & 70-200.

  • Antony Pratap February 24, 2011 03:56 pm

    Like most of them have said, the bare minimum lenses one should or could have is the -

    Canon 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 (for portraits)
    Canon 17-40 (for landscapes and group shots)

  • Shailesh Uppina February 24, 2011 03:49 pm

    I have a counter question, sort of! How many camera bodies do you need? I ask this because, I am new to dslr and got two lenses with my D90. I find it hard to change lenses frequently. So, all of you there, who have multiple lenses, how do you manage this. Of course, I am talking about a situation where you have to use multiple lenses, may be like a trip to Hawaii.

  • Paul February 24, 2011 03:43 pm

    Here's what I have:
    --Canon crop sensor body
    --EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
    --EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS
    --EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
    --EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
    --EF 75-300 III

    I've been using the 2 primes more than anything else recently followed by the 10-22. I haven't used the 18-55 in about 6 months so I can say that if I had to give one up, it would be that. I have to upgrade my tele as it's an entry level and I use it for motorsport events and the season is right around the corner. Maybe the new 70-300L will find it's way to me as a gift!

  • Devon February 24, 2011 03:25 pm

    10-22 3.5-5.6
    24-70 2.8
    70-200 2.8 II

  • Abhishek Singh February 24, 2011 02:50 pm

    I have two lenses 18-55mm f/3.5 and 70-30mm f/4.5. Planning to buy a 50mm f/1.8 fixed lens for portrait.

  • Jeremy February 24, 2011 02:39 pm

    I am still adding to my collection of lenses, but right now I have:

    EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM

    I shoot a 7D. My newest lens is my 70-200 & it is by far my favorite! I shoot nature & portraits mostly. I have only been into photography for just over a year & there are many more lenses that I want, not need. One other lens that I think that I need is a 50 or 85 prime, since I do portraits. What it really boils down to is how many can you justify?!?

    Just my two cents.

  • Fiona February 24, 2011 01:54 pm

    The answer is generally more than you already have and dependent on what you can afford! I've been lucky recently and afforded a few, so I have:

    17-40mm f4
    70-200mm f4
    50mm f1.4 (second hand - this one was a present when my family clubbed together for birthday and Christmas)
    100m f.2.8 macro

    My go to lens is the wide angle, closely followed by the 50mm ... but whilst I'm tempted by others, I don't really need any more and I sure as hell can't justify more!!

  • Chris February 24, 2011 01:45 pm

    I have two. The 18-50mm that came with my Sony, and a Tamron 70-300mm I bought afterwards. About the only one I think I may want is possible either a 500mm or fisheye.

  • Barry P February 24, 2011 01:37 pm

    It really depends on your individual requirements but I'm very happy with just one, which is a Nikon 18-200mm VR. A great all rounder.

  • patcam February 24, 2011 01:27 pm

    What a dumb question and legions of meaningless answers. Obviously every photographer has different needs and wants, based on his skils, financial capabilities and style of photograhy. Why don't you offer your readers some educational material they can actually make use of or links to online sites where that information might be found.

  • M4n0M0r4s February 24, 2011 01:20 pm

    The fastes lens you can get IMO, current lenses:
    35 1.8, 300 2.8, so I'm missing a 70-200 2.8, or an 85 1.8.
    3 lenses for me, at my current photography style.

  • Peter Crosta February 24, 2011 12:50 pm

    For my Canon 5D I have 4 Canon lenses (in order used): EF24-70/f2.8L, EF100/f2.0 USM, EF70-200/f2.8L IS USM, EF50/f1.4 USM
    Am I wrong to rarely pic up the fast-glass 50? Thoughts on something wider than 24? How degrading are extenders?

  • Robert February 24, 2011 12:47 pm

    On a full frame body, I find a 12-24 f; 24-70 f/2.8; 70-200 f/2.8; 50 f/1.2; 85 f/1.2; 300 f/4.0 and a 100 f/2.8 macro pretty much covers the whole gambit of needs. Of course by the time you save up to buy all these lenses you end up wanting something sharper in the corners, something faster or something more specialized. I'm itching for a tilt shift now. Go figure???

  • Robert February 24, 2011 12:36 pm

    Bare minimum is one. A camera isn't very useful without at least one lens. What I want? All of them!

  • Amryl Malek February 24, 2011 12:24 pm

    Myself I got , 10-24mm, 35mmf/1.4, 55-200mm. My fav is the 35mm

  • Focx Photography February 24, 2011 12:24 pm

    Bare minimum?

    One phantastic Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm - 24-120mm 35mm equivalent :)

  • esq3585 February 24, 2011 12:17 pm

    For the prime on a 60d body I would go with the 35mm F2, much more suited the 60d crop factor.
    If your are planning a 50mm I would stick with the 1.8 .

    Victor Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I have just started on this new world: Photography… So far I have been reading a lot of articles and books.

    Based on the documentation and my short experience with my DSLR : Canon 60D this is the list of “must-have” lenses:

    Wide Angle: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
    Telephoto Zoom : EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
    Prime : EF 50mm f/1.4

    I already own the first 2 and I am planning to buy the last one pretty soon.

    Read more:

  • Fabian February 24, 2011 11:39 am

    Need? One.

    But really depends on what you want to do with it. My main three are an 85mm for headshots, a 35mm for full body portraits/general purpose, a superwide for landscape and extreme looking portraits. Just depends on how specialized you want your gear to be. It's going to differ from photographer to photographer. I.e., if I was a wedding/event photographer, I'd probably stock some zoom lenses but portraits don't really require the same speed/flexibility and instead rely more on the "look" and perspective of a lens.

    If I could have one lens, it would be a 35mm f/2, but that might feel limiting to most people. For most not planning to go pro (or whatever), there are plenty of consumer friendly 18-200mm glass. Not the fastest, but it's flexible. And you don't have to always carry a bag around with a million lenses. Unless you're doing portraits for your family, if you're shooting at family events/trips/etc. it's a pain in the butt to carry around a bunch of gear. It just gets in the way of having a good time. Not a lens for those in the pursuit of perfection, but a perfectly fine lens for most I'm sure.

    Alternatively, if you want faster glass I'd stick with a mid-zoom (~17-50mm ish) for family events and a a 70-200m-ish for wildlife. Go with a slower (cheaper) 70-200mm if you don't photographer wildlife often. Wildlife will often be in daylight anyway.

    Just me 2 cents

  • GradyPhilpott February 24, 2011 11:39 am

    Perhaps the question would have been more properly phrased as what kinds of lenses does one need, rather than how many.

    Some have done their best the frame the question that way in their answers. Some have been more concrete.

    I'm not speaking as an expert, because most of the shots I shoot are crap, but if I shoot enough I get some pretty darn good ones for my purposes.

    I've found that my Nikkor 18-200mmVRII is just a fantabulous lens, because it's so versatile in the setting that I shoot most, an aircraft hangar with skylights.

    I still have my D3000 kit lens, the Nikkor 18-55mmVR, which everyone said I could ditch when I got the 18-200mm, but I've learned the hard way that in really cramped spaces like cockpits, it has all the reach I need at low altitudes and I don't have to worry about banging it into anything, like the pilot's head. With an open cockpit, extending the lens too far is a good way to lose one's upper torso.

    I got a fast prime, which I think is good for my purposes, but I haven't used it enough yet to really know. That lens is the Nikkor 35mm/1.8.

    I'd like to add a macro lens, probably the NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G-VR, so I can do some really close-up work.

    Many here make a good case for a wide-angle zoom and I probably will give that some serious thought, but before then, I'd like to consider my options for a longer zoom for shooting at airshows.

    So, in my humble opinion, how many lenses you "need" depends on what kind of shooting you do.

    Everyone talks like more gear won't make anyone a better photographer and I believe it, but one thing I've noticed is that as photographers get better, you don't see them getting rid of their gear and making do with inexpensive equipment.

    The human component may be the most important, but the right tools for the right job are pretty important, too.

    I'll have my D7000 in a week and we'll see how that effects my lenses performance. I'm hoping for the best.

    Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

  • Zoli February 24, 2011 11:34 am

    This is only my dream, but I would like to have the following lenses in the future, I will mention types rather exact lenses:

    - wide lens, like 11-16mm or 10-20mm, good for landscape, indoor, building, group photos
    - normal lens, like 24-70mm, you can shoot many things, I think the 18-50 is not enough
    - 50mm F1.4, good for portrait photos and shooting in bad light conditions
    - macro lens, maybe 70mm for macros :)
    - tele lens, since I dont go to soccer games and I dont take photos from birds from far distance a 70-200mm is enough. Or maybe 50-150 from Sigma.

  • Eje G February 24, 2011 11:27 am

    Well as said already but figured for the sake of things would add my voice in as well.

    I would say 4 or 5, but 2 to 3 would do. A primary lens, a telephoto lens and preferably a low light lens also desired probably is a fisheye lens and microlens for the wide open areas or the stunning real close ups.

    Primary lens personally I use a 18-125mm f4.5 Sigma lens
    Telephoto lens I have a 70-300mm f4.5 VR ED IF Nikon lens
    Low light lens I use a 55m f/1.8 Nikon (very budget friendly low light lens can be had for about $120-$130

    Fisheye and microlenses are quiet expensive so at this point personally I do not have either, consider the Euro vacation this summer it will probably go with the fisheye first (probably would end up being a Nikon 10-17mm f/3.45).

    But for most part the 3 I have are good enough for family, casual outdoor and indoor vacation as well museum (where flash are not allow). Would like my primary to have a better low light capability but I can't justify this since a good lower light lens with wide range of zoom is VERY expensive.
    One option is to rent this for the occasions you might need/use one until one have the monies to put out for one.

    I used to only have the 18-125mm lens but there where so many times I needed extra zoom so after some time I got the 70-300mm lens. But was still lacking low light lens for the times when your doing museum or indoor shoots (so many buildings and churches with such beautiful architecture in Europe) that this was the next must have. Fisheye and microlens are something I find myself wishing for at rare occasions. The 18-125mm does a decent job on wide shoots as well micro shoots but it's not entirely there.

  • Laryl February 24, 2011 11:22 am

    Unless it's your job, you don't NEED any. Photography is a hobby and optional. That being said, how many lenses you have is a matter of how many you WANT.

    You need ONE to attach to an slr. Once you have that, you are shooting and say to yourself wow here I am again "needing" a different focal length. I need an xyz lens. Once you say that several times you'll find a way to get that lens.

    I have lenses that cover from 24mm to 300mm (plus a 1.4x for the 300). I have some zoom, a couple primes. I "need" a really wide angle or fisheye LOL someday.

  • Didit Mehta Pariadi February 24, 2011 11:13 am

    how many lenses do I need? tough question. There will be no single right answer, since it depends on what kind of photography you like and do most, and what type of camera you are shooting with. I love travelling and certainly I need less gears to avoid heavy bag. I am shooting with Canon 5D mkII and my favourite lens will be: canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and canon EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS USM since they covers all range required. If I have to bring down to just one lens, that would be my canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM. Of course if you shooting with APS-C (cropped frame) camera, the lens choice will be different.

  • johnp February 24, 2011 11:11 am

    I have 2 lenses a 50 prime fitted to one camera and an 18-270 Tamron fitted to another camera. They never come of the cameras. I also have a standard lens that came with one camera 3 years ago but it has never been out of its box.

  • Gale Wall February 24, 2011 11:02 am

    I love coming to DPS and reading the new posts each day. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw it was my question from facebook.

    There is much to digest here and I look forward to spending time taking it all in. Thank you for taking time to share your comments.

    If anyone could point me to a resource to learn what makes a good lens I would be grateful.

    Thanks, everyone!

  • George Dewey Powell February 24, 2011 10:50 am

    I shoot with Nikon D90 and D7000 - 50mm 1.8, 105mm (macro), 18-270mm, 70-300mm (telephoto and macro for skittish critters), and most recently, in an attempt to shot eagles in two locations this spring, a 150-500mm (for this one, I'm looking for two friends to help carry it)

  • Bryan Hansel February 24, 2011 10:44 am

    How many is the minimum? As many as it takes to get the job done.

    How many do I have? 11 that cover a wide range of situations. I mainly use three: 12-24DX, 70-200VR and a Lensbaby Composer.

  • Terri Ann February 24, 2011 10:41 am

    3 for me as well....for the most part

    1. Wide - kit lens
    2. Zoom - telephoto with some macro functionality
    3. Prime with the most open aperture I could afford (f/1.8)

    I have also spent $$ on a play lens - Lensbaby which was worth it's weight in fun and I have a vintage prime lens that I also play with from time to time.

    I'd love more lenses but have rarely NEEDED more.

    Obviously it depends on your needs based on typical subjects, conditions etc. I like starting with less, learning the limitations and capabilities and then considering a new purchase. Push your equipment to it's edges before assuming you need a new or another of something.

  • Ed Q February 24, 2011 10:36 am

    Need has to be just one. After all you can only use one at a time, so for a beginner like myself one would suffice, and might even force you to be more imaginative to get shots not ideally suited to the lens.
    That being said, I currently have three and my must have one out of them is my Canon 50mm 1.8 which I use almost all of the time!

  • tumitira365 February 24, 2011 10:35 am

    It usually depends on what you shoot. I don't have the budget to buy more lenses so I settled for one which is my 35mm 1.8

    all of this were shot suing it.

    also this one

    but if i had the budget i would probably buy a wide angle lens like a 10-24mm

  • Victor February 24, 2011 10:33 am

    I have just started on this new world: Photography... So far I have been reading a lot of articles and books.

    Based on the documentation and my short experience with my DSLR : Canon 60D this is the list of "must-have" lenses:

    Wide Angle: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
    Telephoto Zoom : EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
    Prime : EF 50mm f/1.4

    I already own the first 2 and I am planning to buy the last one pretty soon.

  • D.H. February 24, 2011 10:32 am

    I have five (all Sony):

    Kit 18 - 70mm
    55 - 200 mm
    30mm f/2.8 (macro)
    35mm f/1.8
    50mm f/1.8

    I could live with one lens, though. Quite easily. If so, I'd probably pick the 35mm fast prime. That one, and the 50mm are on my camera more than 95% of the time anyhow.

  • Ed Q February 24, 2011 10:31 am

    Strictly speaking anyone only 'needs' one lens to shoot with, and depending on your lens and style of photography you might just get away with it!
    I am fairly new to dslr and am in love with my Canon 50mm 1.8 because it is inexpensive, crisp and has a really nice shallow doc when wide open. I am shooting on a 550d so the crop means the lens is more like an 80mm, but it would be my choice.

  • Mike B. February 24, 2011 10:21 am


  • michael February 24, 2011 10:14 am

    Need, need, need. Whatever lens I have is what I need. There's always a photo there for whatever lens I have - if I can only see it. Like most here, I have a wide zoom on my camera, and a long zoom and a fast prime in my working bag. For specifics I'll carry others.

  • Joe February 24, 2011 10:06 am

    How many lens do you need minimum? one!, you can try taking picture w/ a dslr with non lens but its not going to work too well How many do you want? now thats just a personal issue.

  • karl February 24, 2011 09:59 am

    Yep. 3 for me (though I have more but 3 is my usual).

    1. Wide - 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
    2. Zoom - 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
    3. Prime - 50mm f/1.8 II

  • Dan Milham February 24, 2011 09:58 am

    I'll throw my vote behind the 3 lens solution. Wide, Normal, Telephoto. In my case all are zooms offering overlapping ranges from 17mm to 400mm. I do, however, have 3 primes that I use when I need faster lenses f/1.8); 28mm, 50mm and 85mm. My 70-200mm f/2.8 is great and used in certain situations.

  • Mandeno Moments February 24, 2011 09:58 am

    If you want to take photos three lenses are the absolute minimum: one in your mind for visualisation, one in your eye and one on the camera.

    (Visualisation is the very important process of "seeing" and examining your photo before you lift the camera to your eye.)

  • Sanjay February 24, 2011 09:49 am

    18-200 VR = Travel, people and all round
    35 mm 1/8 = low light and portrait

    I don't need telephoto lens, but if you are into wild life, then get one that can expand till 400 mm or higher (converter).

  • Okinn February 24, 2011 09:35 am

    How many eyes do you need to see the world ? ... 1 !?
    In my opinion a single day to day lens could be a fast 35mm (between 1.8 and 2.8).
    Good compromise between portrait/nature/nice DOP/budget/quality/familly/size/weight/creativity.
    Of course no macro, no wild life and no wide shot with this one.
    I have the classic 18-55mm, a 30 years old 50mm 1.7(love it) and a 30 years old zoom 85-210mm f/4.5 (too dark).
    I will receive my 35mm 2.4 soon.

  • Kelly Carmichael February 24, 2011 09:35 am

    I should have answered the question like this!
    How many lenses do I "Need"?
    It all depends on what I am shooting for but most days I would "Need" 2 lenses. Mine I use most are the 18-55 and the 55-300 (Pentax of course) :-)

  • Kelly Carmichael February 24, 2011 09:32 am

    My walk around lens is my 18-55 which I wish was a little longer with wider aperture, then comes my 55-300 which I love. I also use the 50 - f1.7 for very specific shots where I need light and clarity, but also use it for some portraiture and in the end, I like to have fun with my 100mm Macro so I can get those bug and ice crystal shots like this one.

  • Simon February 24, 2011 09:12 am

    Just one, the 14-300mm f1.4 VRIII Super Sharp! Lol! I hope one day...
    Until then 24-70 2.8 and 50mm 1.4. Looking for 70-300 or 70-200 and after that 14-24 2.8, so 4 in total. (I'm on DX). Mostly I plan to carry 2 or 3 max with me, depending on my needs of the shoot.
    Maybe one day a fisheye or macro, but wiser to rent these than buy them...

  • Daniel Fisher February 24, 2011 09:12 am

    I have 4 lenses at the moment.

    - 50/1.4
    - 24-70/2.8
    - 70-200/2.8
    - 11-16/2.8

    .... probably could do with a 20/2.8 and maybe a 100/2.8 macro

  • Kevin Horkan February 24, 2011 09:08 am

    BTW, I'd like to recommend for used gear. I've bought four lenses from them and all have been as advertised. And you can talk to a real human being that knows what they're talking about! I know, but it's true!

  • Kevin Horkan February 24, 2011 09:06 am

    I have recently been "churning" my glass collection and this question comes in at a handy time. I have switched over to a lot of prime use and carry a Nikon 50mm 1.4 on one D90 and an 85mm 1.8 on the other. I also own a Nikon 28-70 2.8 which I am thinking of selling (big, fat heavy metal lens, but great quality!), a Nikon 70-200 VR, which has never been recommended as a "walkaround" lens, with a 1.4 TC giving me something like a 280mm 4.0, and a Sigma 10-20 (which I do love dearly). My theory is that my primes somewhat cover the range of the 28-70, and my foots can do the rest. Love the 85 1.8 for portraits, but thinking about buying an 85 1.4 after I sell the 28-70.

  • Xavier February 24, 2011 09:06 am

    How many do I own? 4: a 18-50 f2.8, a 70-200 f2.8, a 50 f1.8 and a 10-20 f4-5.6.
    How many do I really need? the bare minimum would be the 18-50, I take maybe 80% of my pictures with it. But then I would miss the other ones for that 20 other percents... You cannot fake the effect of a 10mm or a 200mm, and the 50mm is a killer when I need to be fast and light (street photography, or kids).

    For the question of what makes a good lens, I'd say there's no really bad lens. Most of the time, it's a tradeoff between functionality (a wide aperture, a large zoom, a good image quality) and practicality (good lenses are usually bigger and heavier). It's great to have a 300mm f2.8 to catch wildlife in a trek, but the size (if not the price beforehand) may prevent you from taking it...

    To start your lens collection, I'd recommend starting with what's provided with your camera (usually something like a 18-55 or a 18-200), then after a few months analyzing what kind of pictures are you taking. Are you always on the lower end of the zoom? Then you might need a wide angle lens. Always on the upper end? Go for a tele. Always around the same focal length? Then do not hesitate: a prime lens will give you amazing picture quality in a usually less bulky package.

  • Seth Hancock February 24, 2011 08:59 am

    For me, all I need are my 5 lenses. They are as follows:

    1) 70-200mm f2.8
    2) 24-70mm f2.8
    3) 14-24mm f2.8
    4) 60mm (Macro)
    5) 50mm f1.4

    I can do everything I need with these lenses and my D3 with great ISO settings. But, if you are just starting out then get a couple of lenses. A good zoom and a good wide angle.

  • Jake February 24, 2011 08:52 am

    I have 3 lenses, the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS, the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L, and the Canon 50 f/1.2L and it would be tough to narrow it down. If I had to choose just one it would probably the 50 because it forces me to be creative and to zoom with my feet and to really stop and think about how to get the best results. It's also compact compared to the zooms and tack sharp in low-light situations so I think it's all around a great lens.

    If I could only pick two it would be the 70-200 and the 16-35 because those tend to be my "go to" travel lenses and cover a wide range of situations. With both being f/2.8 I can interchange them without having to change the shutter speed and ISO and they both do well even in low-light settings.

  • Caetano February 24, 2011 08:43 am

    I have three lenses and they work really well for me:
    1)Canon 50mm 1.8: must have
    2)Canon 75-300mm: not the best telephoto but for the price is decent and I actually don't make too many thing far away
    3)Canon 17-40mm: Amazing quality and good for small places (I use with a 1.6x crop sensor and it still performs good)

  • Paul February 24, 2011 08:39 am

    As a wedding photographer, this is the bare minimum I need for each shoot:

    14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm.

  • Inguan February 24, 2011 08:35 am

    1. wide
    2. potret
    3. zoom

  • Barry February 24, 2011 08:34 am

    I like to do a lot of different types of photography and I have found that I can get along with 3 zoom lenses most of the time.
    For my Canon 5D Mark II I have 17-40 (for wide), 24-70 (everyday lens), and 100-400 (tele and I carry 1.4x)
    For the GF1 14-45 (everyday), 100-300 (tele) and would love to have the 7-14 for wide.

    I like the primes for fun, but I find this combo lets me get the shots I want even when I can't walk off the boat to get it with a prime.

  • Fred D February 24, 2011 08:33 am

    Need or WANT? The later list is much larger than the first.

    As others have stated, examine what type of photography you want to do. A 100 mm 2.8 is a great portrait lens but if you want to do macro the 100 macro is the better choice, allowing you to do both.

    I've recently gotten the Canon 16-35mm 2.8 and I love this lens. It's my new walk-around lens since most of my photos are landscape and architectural. Along with this I have the 50 1.8 and 70-200.

    And always buy the most you can afford. You'll keep the glass as you churn through bodies.

  • spencer February 24, 2011 08:25 am

    im happy with my len's but there are two that i cannot live with out
    85 1.2L
    and TSE - 90 2.8
    I shoot portraits and although I use the others sometimes I find 80% is shot with my 85, or TSE on a 5dmkii

    other lenses
    16-35 2.8L
    24-105 4L (looking to sell)
    24-70 2.8L (looking to sell)
    70-200 2.8 IS L (looking to sell)
    50 1.2L

  • April February 24, 2011 08:20 am

    I agree with everyone else. My 50 mm 1.8 prime (awesome for inside photography too since it has such a low f-stop), 18-270 Tamron for zooming, and someday I would like a wide angle lens. I am using the kit lens that came with my camera as my macro lens since I stuck my Hoya Close Up kit filters on it.

  • Mainer82 February 24, 2011 08:18 am

    For myself:

    28-135 for most landscape/sunset shots
    70-300 (non-L) for wild life shots
    10-22 for certain landscape/interior shots
    50 1.8 II for portraits

  • Chromatic Dramatic February 24, 2011 08:15 am

    Cyclists often refer to the ideal number of bikes as 'n + 1'. The same applies for lenses. If you must have a limit it is 'j - 1' where 'j' is the number at which point your better half would divorce you.

  • Stephen February 24, 2011 08:04 am

    I would think that at least 2 lenses would be needed, but it would really depend on the lenses and the photographer

  • Matt February 24, 2011 07:57 am

    I have a 50mm 1.8, 18-70mm "all purpose", 12-24mm wide, and 70-300 crappy lens. The only thing I feel that I'm truly missing is a good macro or portrait lens... in the 80 mm range or so. Otherwise I think my lens collection can cover most situations.

  • swedeitis February 24, 2011 07:57 am

    I need two. Canon 35L & 135L. It covers everything I need.

  • Steve February 24, 2011 07:57 am

    One lens is all that is needed to take photos, but having more than one lens can give you more creative possibilities depending on what you are after.
    I have a 50mm f/1.8, 10-22mm, 100mm f/2.8 macro, 24-105mm, 70-200mm lenses which give me coverage for anything that I am after so far, but I would like a lens with some extra reach for birding lol

  • John Olinda February 24, 2011 07:56 am

    Well, if I was forced to choose my "must have" digital lenses, I would take my 18-55mm VR, and my 55-200mm VR since they're so flexible and need less light than their non-stabilized brethren.

    If I was shooting film on the other hand, I could probably live with only my 28-85mm since it covers almost everything I need on a regular basis and my 50mm for low light.

    That's a grand total of four lenses which cost me only $370 all together.

  • Rick February 24, 2011 07:55 am

    Cover as much of your zoom needs as you can without overlapping unnecessarily. For example, I go 17-40, 50, and 70-200. I rarely need to go wider or zoom in closer than that. I also hang on to the kit lens (17-55) just because it has IS for the rare times I need it. Your mileage may vary.

    Oh, and it might be a good time to have a discussion about the difference between a 'need' and a 'want'. :-)

  • Eric Baluya February 24, 2011 07:52 am

    It really depends on your style and your needs. A good lens is always a good investment. I am not claiming to be an expert but an old photographer friend told me once never indulge if you cant afford.

  • Tom Gaitley February 24, 2011 07:44 am

    I shoot DX format, so I need my 10.5-16mm for wide landscape shots and my next is the 24-70 f2.8 for most of my others (I used my 70-200mm f2.8 for sports, but don't usually carry with me. My all around, just carry on the camera is my 18-200mm by Nikon. Love its versatility.

  • Kelvin Wat February 24, 2011 07:44 am

    The one that I have and use the most is Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS. It is really a all purpose lens. Its not the best when it comes to f-stop, but it serves its purpose when i'm on a trip. If i have the money i'll get its bigger brother Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM, not only it zoom further. It is also equipped with the HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor) which makes auto-focus much much faster.

  • Stan February 24, 2011 07:38 am

    Bare minimum-- two. One wide and one tele.
    How many do we need? Just one.

    How many do I feel fits my style and work? 4 to 6.

  • Holly February 24, 2011 07:38 am

    I'm pretty happy with the selection/collection of lenses I currently have. I have two camera bodies, so I can have different options ready to go on a shoot, I have the following, and there is only one that I don't use much at all:

    —Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS (necessary for dog photography, also great for portraits)
    —Canon 85 f1.2L (great portrait lens, fabulous for low light situations)
    —Canon 24-70 f2.8L (for those wider angle shots and flexibility of a zoom, usually on my full frame 5D)
    —Canon 100 f2.8 macro lens (great for children/babies)
    —lensbaby composer (for fun shots, don't always use it at client shoots)
    —Canon 50 f1.4 (least used lens, not sharp enough, not enough contrast, but good if you need a fast lens in closer quarters, if the 85 is too long)

    At this point there is nothing that I really feel I am lacking in with my collection.

  • Avi February 24, 2011 07:38 am

    I'm only just getting started and I have a 50mm f/1.4 and a 24-70 f/2.8. All I need now is the 24 f/1.4, 85 f/1.4 and the 70-200 f/2.8 :)

    I shoot portraits and small concerts and honestly, I know I could do pretty much everything I wanted to with the 50 1.4. Love that piece of glass.

  • Steve February 24, 2011 07:37 am

    I have the following non-VR Nikon lenses: 28-70/f3.5-4.5, 70-300/f4.5-5.6, 50/f1.8 and a Tamron VC 18-270/f3.5-6.3 on my Nikon D70 & D80 dSLR cameras.

    Bare minimum number of lenses? That's easy - just one lens! Without a lens - there's no way to shoot. I'd pick a wide angle-zoom that offers the broadest range at a price I could afford. Tailor it the whether you shoot more on the wide end or the telephoto end in an f4 - f6 speed lens. A couple to a few hundred bucks and on up. Make sure you get multi-coated lenses and filters to help reject unwanted light blooms.

    You can save some cash by purchasing used lenses. Who cares about the outside of the lens? As long as there's no dust, dirt, oil or fungus inside - and the optics are not chipped, cracked, fogged or otherwise broken - pocket the difference. See if you can try the lens out before buy - as in borrowing it. Take some shoots and carefully review the results. If you like what you see, buy it.

    Next, I'd choose a fast prime. Something faster than f2 for low light photo opportunities. About $100 for the classic "nifty 50" Nikon's 50mm/f1.8 is about $120 brand new vs. over $400 for the f1.4 version. Sure, the f1.8 has a bit of a plasticy feel compared to the better built f1.4 version, but you save $300 (or more)! Same advice for coatings apply here, too. Lastly, I always buy UV filters for my lenses to add a layer of protection to the optics of the lens. Some are purists reject that notion - but they must have more money in their discretionary spending account than I.

  • Brad February 24, 2011 07:35 am

    ^ Ok someone already said that but all the comments didn't show up the first time I loaded the page. :P

  • Stephan February 24, 2011 07:35 am

    I would say that very soon you will probably want 3 lenses (these I use on a non-full-frame camera):

    1) 18-125 (or something similar) as multipurpose walk-around lens. Some may have a 18-55, 18-70, 18-105 or 18-135 for this. This will probably replace your kit lens.
    2) 70-300 for wildlife, airshows etc. More expensive alternatives include a 70-200 f4 for instance, but you won't buy that if you don't want to focus your work on telezoom shots.
    3) 50mm f1.4 for fast shooting, portraits and shallow DoF. On this one you will want to spend the money, it's worth every penny (I have the Sigma 50mm f1.4 HSM). You can get cheaper built 50mm f1.8, which will get you the speed, but not the quality.

    These will cover wide angle to telezoom and a very fast lens. If you really want, you could buy a kit with an 18-200 lens, but I would not recommend any lens with a zoom factor that high, because you will compromise on image quality.

    After those three, you may want to go towards a fisheye for extreme wide angle shots. Maybe at this point you will also have developed a preferred style or subject, and you may choose to sell one of the others. But you will very soon end up with at least 3 lenses.

  • Brad February 24, 2011 07:34 am

    The answer is always, "One more!"

  • techmine February 24, 2011 07:33 am

    "(mostly for nature, wildlife and people/family) "
    Well list can be long based on the subjects above but bare minimum
    1. Macro (Nature)
    2. Telephoto (Wild Life)
    3. Prime 35/50mm f1.4/1.8 because people like to have them consider them fast.
    4. 24-70mm f2.8 for all round photography.

  • Matthew Dillon February 24, 2011 07:32 am

    Is there such thing as too many lenses? LOL

    In reality, I "need" 2 lenses... my 18-55 and my 70-300... I shoot 99% of my shots with these two. But I have several others, of course, and each one has it's use. And I have more on the shopping list. Because the issue isn't how many lenses do we need, it's how many do we want!

  • Dan February 24, 2011 07:31 am

    The short answer is: as few as you want.

    For me, I want to cover 16mm through 400mm and I did it this way:

    16-35mm 2.8 (awaiting purchase)
    24-70mm 2.8 (awaiting purchase)
    50mm 1.4
    70-200mm 2.8
    100-400mm 4.5-5.6

  • G February 24, 2011 07:31 am

    I've had more than a few but i can now settle with the Canon 35mm, 85mm, 70-200 2.8 or faster.
    Been contemplating a tilt shift or 400mm... but those 3 complete me

  • Jean-Pierre February 24, 2011 07:30 am

    I'm an amateur, so I have 3 primes for my film camera: 35 3.5, 50 1.4, 135 2.8. If I had a dslr, i would agree with a wide zoom, telephoto zoom, and a fast portrait lens.

  • Aaronth February 24, 2011 07:25 am

    I think it ultimately all depends on what you want to do/achieve with your photos and how creative you are with minimal gear. Great bokeh/subject isolation and tilt-shift photography are really the only things that come to mind that I'm not sure how to re-create or fudge in post-processing. This means that at the low-end you can probably just manage to get by with one lens - though the list of extras you'll then need to make or buy might be a bit bigger (macro filters, tube extension kits, teleconverters, post processing software, etc.).

    To half-answer the original question as well, I'd say a good wide-angle plus something that would produce magnificent bokeh should be all that's least for a while :D.

  • Regan February 24, 2011 07:20 am

    That's what my wife is always asking. Depends on what I'm shooting. I can have a fantastic day using an 18-200mm 3.5-6 Sigma until the clouds come, and then everything get dark. My 50mm 1.8 is a real bargain, and is good in many close shot situations. My 10-20mm starts is a great wide view and the price was reasonable, but it's slow. My best all-around lens is a Nikon 24-85mm f 2.8. These four lenses enable me to get many good shots, and I'm likely to expand to a70-200mm 2.8 so when I am shooting with two cameras I'll have total reach. Budget is a big issue, but where you are shooting and if you want to pack it comes neck and neck with can I afford this. Just remember, Nikon glass retains it's value when you get the professional grade.

  • meep February 24, 2011 07:17 am

    One, techincally... maybe some subjects can't be shot as well, but to take amazing pictures you need skill more than you need a variety of lenses. Others are nice to have, but since you do say minimum, to me it would obviously be one.

  • Samer Kamel February 24, 2011 07:16 am

    I am currently starting to delve more into DSLR photography, had my D90 for about 5 months now. I currently have 3 Lenses, 18-105 VR ( kit lens ) , a Nifty Fifty 50mm F/1.8 and a recently bought 70-200 F/2.8.

    I think my combination of lenses would be a 12-24mm ( or any extra wide lens ) + 24-70 ( or a 17-55 F/2.8 since i have a DX ) + 70-200mm + 85mm F/1.4 for portraits

    i wouldn't mind a fisheye lens and a tilt shift one either :D

    One day i will have all this !

  • bmkrepel February 24, 2011 07:14 am

    I get pretty decent results with my 4 primary lenses:

    1) canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS
    2) canon 50mm f/1.8
    3) canon 70-22 f/4 L
    4) canon 85mm f/1.8

    I purchased them in that order, about at the rate of one a year. Depending on what you do, you can get by with a good mid range zoom for a long time. I even bought an adapter and used old Pentax Lenses bought cheap on Ebay for a while till I could afford real lenses. Downside is they would be manual focus only.

  • Anders Bohlin February 24, 2011 07:11 am

    For me i need one, 35mm on a fullframe and my feet :)

    Enough for nature shoots, great for lowlight ( 1.4 )
    And for closeups I just move around.

  • Amanda February 24, 2011 07:08 am

    I shoot primarily weddings and engagements and I use only 3 lenses: the 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8 IS and the 50 1.4. I use the 24-70 for just about everything -- it's a workhorse and does a fantastic job in almost any situation. The 70-200 is for the ceremony and I also love to use it for engagement shoots and some of the portraits of the bride and groom -- the compression of that lens is just to die for. The 50 1.4 takes amazing details shots and give a really beautiful bokeh at 1.4. Hope that helps!

  • Rania February 24, 2011 07:07 am

    All depends on what you want to shoot of course, but I would say 3-4 lenses is enough. A good portraiture lens with a low aperture, like 50mm f/1.8. Maybe something more wideangle, I have a 24mm f/2.8. Also a "normalzoom", 24-70mm f/2.8 is really expensive but something along those lines..I'm currently in search of one, that's all I need right now. then I have a lensbaby - just for fun :D

  • TKIY February 24, 2011 07:06 am

    More than you already have :)

    Seriously, I have:
    EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
    EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    A pretty good kit by any measure, and I still lust over a dedicated wide-angle and a super telephoto. Once I have those two, then it will be a fish-eye, then a tilt-shift, and after that who knows!

  • Brian February 24, 2011 07:06 am

    A minimum of 3. A short zoom, a long zoom, and a fast prime. Other lenses for any specialty shooting you do (macro, fisheye, etc.).

  • Jim Pagan February 24, 2011 07:05 am

    ONE. The one on your camera.

  • Yash February 24, 2011 07:05 am

    Forgot to mention that 35mm is from Nikon. :)

  • Daniela Vladimirova February 24, 2011 07:04 am

    The bare minimum: a prime 50mm, a telephoto (I have a 70-300mm) and a wide-angle. I still keep my kit zoom lens as well, for all holidays pics and when I wish to carry just one lens.

  • Yash February 24, 2011 07:04 am

    I have a Tamron 18-270mm and a 35mm f1.8 for portraits. I guess these two lenses are more than enough for what I shoot.
    I may buy a macro in future.

  • IgalSc February 24, 2011 07:04 am

    on my 20D I have 17-50 f/2.8 which I use as a standard lens, 50/1.8 which is used for playing around with bokeh and stuff,85/1.8 for portraits.
    on my Minolta x-700 (film) I have just one lens - 50/1.7 and it's more than enough for me

  • JJ February 24, 2011 07:03 am

    Well, for me, I have three lenses and it works pretty well. I have a standard zoom, 28-135, then a telephoto, 70-200 2.8, and a 50mm prime, 1.4. But, I am looking to expand by getting a super wide angle, probably Tamrom 11-16 2.8... but, it all depends on your budget and you preferences.. some people like less stuff, others like more options.

  • Kurt February 24, 2011 07:03 am

    At a minimum, I'd say you need:
    1. A wide angle for landscapes (I use a Canon 17-55 f/2.8)
    2. A telephoto with a decent zoom for shooting things far away, like nature or children at play (Canon 70-200 f/4 w/ IS, but 2.8 would be better for action shots where the subject is moving)
    3. A good portrait lens with a low f stop for shallow DOF shots. (for the price of $100, a must-have: Canon 50mm 1.8 II)

    Optional, but strongly desired: A fisheye for stylish shots (I have the Rokinon 8mm), or a macro lens for flowers/insects/very selective DOF.

  • Marc February 24, 2011 07:02 am

    Always one more?

  • John Dynia February 24, 2011 06:59 am

    I think it depends on what you shoot. I shoot some birds and some baseball and a few portraits and lanscapes as well as Airshows. I have a 17-80mm, an 80-300 (lightweight telephoto zoom) and a beastly image stabilized 80-400.

  • Scott C February 24, 2011 06:59 am

    It depends on your photographic needs obviously. .... and your budget :)

  • Erik Kerstenbeck February 24, 2011 06:51 am


    This is a really good question and I would have to think about what I usually lug around with me. Currently I am hooked on my Sigma 10-20mm. This is great for landscapes, architecture, and unique angles. Here are a couple examples:

    Gas Lamp Quarter: (City scape)

    Glass Menagerie: (Unique perscpective)

    I also like my 100mm Nikkor prime for Studio work, nice and sharp!

    MadMen :

    For travel, I like to carry a 70-200mm f2.8 but it can get a bit bulky, but this is also great for environmental shots like this one:

    Condemned, Trash the Dress:

    Regards, Erik
    Kerstenbeck Photographic Art

  • Janvangent February 24, 2011 06:39 am

    I have two lenses: the ef 17-40L and the ef 50mm 1.8, both second hand, i'm not really a "zoomer".

    I think this is my minimum, if I really have to choose... maybe the 50mm, like the "good old pro's" :) (cartier-bresson,...)

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