Small Budget Photography: Lenses

Small Budget Photography: Lenses


A Guest Post by Cameron Shulak

6-Guides-to-Choose-Best-DSLR-Lens.jpegAs much as we might hate to admit it, price is one of the most prominent factors when selecting photography equipment. Even to professionals, cost matters, because higher equipment costs mean less cash in pocket at the end of the day. Profit margins may not be an issue for amateurs, but instead it may be a function of what one can afford. We’d all like to have the best of everything, but in reality we have to pick and choose. In this article, we’ll look at some of the strategies to stretch your dollar and get the best gear for your needs.

New vs. Used

It’s always nice to break the seal on a box containing a brand new Canon L series lens, but is it really worth the cost? As photography has become more popular, especially at the amateur level, there is more movement of used equipment throughout the market. Not only does this mean there is more of it, but also that it’s less expensive. Simple supply/demand economics tell us that the more of something there is, the less it will cost. Lenses such as the Canon 70-200’s are extremely popular, to the point where there are hundreds on sites such as eBay at any given time, new and used. Canon lists the MSRP for the 70-200 f/4L USM at just over $800. However, on eBay, just by quickly scanning through completed auctions, the same lens – lightly used but in great condition – can be found for around $550. Obviously nothing compares to a brand new lens, but if you’re willing to settle for one gently used, but still void of any scratches on the body or glass, you can often save anywhere from 20-40% the cost of a new lens. eBay is not the only place to find used equipment; Craigslist is another valuable resource for finding great deals on used equipment. A notable benefit of Craigslist is that the transactions are more interactive and personal, and you are almost guaranteed to be able to see and try the lens before actually purchasing it, a feature not provided by eBay. NOTE: I have had many successful transactions using both of these sites, but always use caution when buying lenses from any online retailer or website. Ensure the quality of the lens is as described, and never purchase a lens with any notable defects. Don’t sacrifice quality just to save $50. In the end that extra $50 will probably mean a nice, clean, like-new lens.


If most your photography is sports related, there isn’t a lot of sense in spending much money on wide-angle lenses. Instead the large majority of your lens budget should go towards telephoto lenses. Landscape photographers should probably invest mostly in wide-angles, but somebody such as a wedding photographer might have a need for a wide variety of lenses. Even then, it would still be a good idea to invest in a couple really good lenses, and work with those, instead of having five mediocre lenses. It is okay to have different types of lenses, providing you actually use them. Though if the lens would be used for less than 10 to 20 out of 100 shots, it isn’t worth spending the money on. Spend the money on lenses that will be used for 20, 30, or 40 shots out of 100. Your photographic opportunities may be slightly more limited, but the pictures you do take will be of unequaled quality.

“The Other Guys”

Commonly referred to as off-brands, Sigma and Tamron have recently made a resurgence into the digital photography world. Taking advantage of the fact that Canon continues to raise prices, these two companies offer lenses that often rival the quality of the Canon lenses, and are almost always less expensive by a decent margin. Until recently, my city’s local camera store only carried Canon and Nikon equipment, but recently they have started carrying both Sigma and Tamron. Every time I ask the associate about a certain type of lens, they not only suggest the typical Canon model, but also always point out the Sigma or Tamron counterpart. The store maintains a very high level of quality for the equipment they carry (even the point and shoots begin around $200), so this is even more proof that these two brands offer a high quality alternative to the expensive Canon and Nikon lenses. The off-brand lenses are made in the various mounts for the respective brands, and work just like any brand-name lens. It’s almost hard to call Sigma and Tamron off-brands anymore because of how prominent they have become in the digital industry.


Primes are fixed focal length lenses, which often feature a high maximum aperture. Zoom lenses other than those typically selling for over $1000 are hard to find much faster than f/4. There are few under $1000, but the current models as fast as f/2.8 are in the $1500 range. Primes, however, are usually extremely fast and don’t demand the price tag of the upper-level lenses. The MSRP for Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 is only $130. Almost the entire lens, including the mount, is plastic, but that little money for that fast of lens is hard to beat. Canon offers other faster and better built versions of the 50mm, but the price tag reflects this. Having a couple prime lenses in the bag is never a bad idea. They are great for those low light situations when even an f/2.8 isn’t fast enough, or when a short depth-of-field is crucial.

What’s the Point?

You may be in a position where money isn’t a factor when considering lenses, but I believe I can speak for most of us when I say it is. The decision between better price and quality is often a tough one, but the best thing to do is research all the available options, and make a decision based on what is best for you. Any of these strategies can be used individually or in conjunction to get the best value for your money.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • Frank April 2, 2012 12:49 pm

    Great idea with buying used equipment. Although they are fragile, lenses are something that people usually take good care of.

  • Prophoto Photographer August 19, 2011 01:09 pm

    I always believe in the best quality lenses with no exception, if your budget does not allow then you are better either waiting or get a good second hand unit it will serve you for years, two years ago I sold on eBay some Carl Zeiss lenses a planar 85mm 1.4 & a distagon 18mm wide I was using 20 years ago on film cameras and still got my money back on them. I then bought some good quality Nikon lenses and resold them for more 12 months later and purchased new models. Don't compromise and you will be much happier and I think also better off financially. Whenever I was tempted to buy cheap I always lost money.

  • edo June 3, 2011 01:01 am

    @ jason: what ebay shop was that? Im not on buying stuff from there but ill give it a looksee

  • Jason June 2, 2011 05:58 pm

    Something that hasnt been mentioned in the article is WHERE you buy your lenses, I recently purchased a new 18-270 Tamron lens from ebay shipped from hong kong $540 including postage. Same lens in the local camera shop in Australia $1080. At half the price i was pretty happy to wait the 3 weeks to recieve it.

  • edo June 1, 2011 03:07 am

    Believe me i was itching to try out the 85 and thew 30 1.4 ill maybe rent one of them this weekend. But the issues of focus a re pretty consistent, with many having to send them out right after purchase to get calibrated proper. I only have one of my main lenses so if something doesn't work then im out of luck.

    I love the canon 85 1.8 but its i find that its color is very flat. however its such a sharp, essential lens, and the autofocus is so doggone fast, i tend to always carry it as a second lens (aside my 24-105 or 55-250) because it just comes through in the clutch.

  • Brian Harte May 28, 2011 05:16 am

    Sigma EX lenses are superb and you can always check out the reviews on fredmiranda website. I use Canon L however my backup lenses are Sigma EX's

  • edo May 28, 2011 02:41 am

    @ hugh

    Canon bodies seem to be particularly affected by sigma focus issues. Apparently its easier for tamron/sigma to work with canons- or anyone else' AF system.

    I beleive the owner of issued a "warning" to renters about the sigma 85 1.4's ultra flaky focus a few months ago.

  • Hugh Staunton May 24, 2011 09:11 pm

    New or second hand? I've never failed yet with second hand and my beloved sigma 10-20 is a personal favourite, even though it had a previous owner. Also, being a Pentax user, I have loved the older lens bearing the Adaptal name that I have previously purchased second hand of course. But the next question is - Online or from the camera store on your street which should provide good debate! You can add to the debate at my blog re this question - you can contribute if you like to

  • EDO May 23, 2011 08:53 am

    First its best to simply learn about the limitations of any given lens you want to purchase, as well as the areas it excels in. I wouldn't recommend any sigma lenses to a canon shooter if they didn't have deep pockets, patience, and substitute lenses. They are so well know for crap focusing i dont see how anyone can buy those things. Sigmas are very well know for not playing well with canons focus system.

    Ive been watching with a keen eye for their 50 1.4, 85 1.4, and the 30 1.4. But with EVERY review, it is always noted that chances are you will have to ship it off just to be able to use it like it should. That's unacceptable for anyone who doesn't already have a stash of lenses.

    I recently bought a used 24-105 from fredmiranda. the lens was a dog, and im glad the guy game me (most) of my money back. i then headed to adorama to try one of their demo units. that was better, but was soft wide open, and this lens just should not be. took that back and purchased a new one. SPECTACULAR. and a full 12 month warranty to boot.

    So with that said im actually looking forward to my first (usuable) sigma and a tamron as well. But ill be damned if they can ever be as sweet as a fresh smelling 24-105. what a beaute. However, canon are just bastards when it comes to pricing- and yep, they keep going up and up and up- and ive only been shooting 2 years..

  • LK May 19, 2011 12:16 pm

    but... you will never regret spending money on quality lenses, which may last you a lifetime, even as you replace or upgrade camera bodies. this was true with film, and perhaps more so with digital, where some feel compelled by marketing to upgrade frequently on the mistaken premise that yesterday's megapixels are suddenly obsolete. given a choice, buy a lesser camera body and better lenses, and you will always get the most out of the camera. but a top of the line camera with cheap glass can never help you create any better quality than the lens itself.

    and... better choices than ebay or craigslist are reputable dealers like, who sell very high quality used gear, and with a generous 14 day return policy. i have had very good success with them, and they are conservative in their ratings, so the gear is usually better than you might have expected.

    so yes, some of the 'other' brands may make good lenses, but choose carefully. indeed, while i prefer the name brand lenses to match my camera, i have also found the tokina atx pro lenses in particular to be every bit as good, and significantly less expensive, even brand new; and very well built, as well.

  • WET May 17, 2011 10:36 pm

    "Though if the lens would be used for less than 10 to 20 out of 100 shots, it isn’t worth spending the money on. Spend the money on lenses that will be used for 20, 30, or 40 shots out of 100."

    That's a great tip! Thank you :)

  • Gavin May 17, 2011 06:48 pm

    I got a conon 400d and use mainly sigma lenses. I got the sigma 10-20mm and the 70-200mm and love both of them. I would love to buy a macro lens but just cant aford one lol. If any one knows a great deal on a macro lens let me know.


  • Dewan Demmer May 12, 2011 02:33 am

    I am using a Sigma 70 - 300 and I am very happy with it. It was really a really good value buy and a fair number of my shots are done with this lense, since it is so versatile.
    The Sigma lense quality is fine, it does not feel cheap and I can see no lense issues on my end products.
    Would I look at a Sigma or Tamron before the camera brand lense, that depends, for every day and multi purpose most certainly, this lense will be used a lot and be put through the works, I would rather have a good quality 3rd party product, a brand lense will do the same work and with care last about the same time.
    However once you become more specailised and as the $$$ go up so I would tend towards the Brand lenses since this is where they will create the better product in my opinion, and where the products are of a similar quality so is the price at that higher price range.

    If I am wrong please prove me wrong, it can only be to my benefit.

  • St Louis Wedding Photographer May 11, 2011 01:52 pm

    I've had a lot of success recently with Craigslist. It's sometimes tough to know that a lens or camera is for sale until it's too late, so if I'm in the market for equipment, I'll check every morning to see if someone recently added it.

  • Heather May 11, 2011 09:29 am

    Loving these discussions as I am a newby currently on the lookout for a macro lens and a 50-300 mm. Am on a very tight budget! However I have a really basic question ... there are so many great lenses at good prices out there, but how do I know that they will fit my camera? I have a Sony alpha, and have read up on the compatible lenses, but am i restricted to them or are there adapters or something that will let me use say a cannon lens if I came across one at a good price?

  • Clay Riness May 11, 2011 05:52 am

    @ Phil: Thank you. Well rendered.

  • Phil May 11, 2011 04:01 am

    @michelle: While I have not had any experience with crop specific lenses from Sigma, I do have a couple of Tokina and Tamron lenses that are, as well as Canon's kit lens. I have tried them all on my Canon 1Ds (full frame). While the Tokina and Tamron lenses mount well, the Canon EF-S lenses will not mount properly. When I tried mounting the 18-55 EF-S, it knocked out the focusing screen of my camera.

    Your experiences with a crop lens on a full frame camera are to be expected due to the fact that the lens was designed to be used with a smaller sensor than what you are using. But at least you can use them. If you use Canon and you buy their crop lenses, you can't even use them when you move on to full frame sensors.

    FWIW some lenses like Tokina's 11-16/2.8 do work with full frame without the vignetting at certain focal lengths. Based on my experience, 15mm and 16mm are perfectly usable on a full frame. And your undue criticism of Tokina and Tamron lenses is a blanket statement that is completely unsupported by tests conducted by several review sites with respect to several models of their lenses, although it may be possible you got bad copies of their lenses. Then again, Sigma is one of the companies that receives a lot of complaints about bad copies also.

    I am not against Sigma. In fact, I have 3 Sigma lenses, all EX, including the Bigma. I also have Tokina's 50-135/2.8, and that lens is way sharper than the Bigma, or any other Sigma I own. In fact, the only lenses I have that are sharper than that lens are my Canon primes (135/2 L, 85/1.8, 50/1.8). Tokina and Tamron have several good lenses to their credit and come highly recommended from various reviewers. I have good experiences with the copies I have and would definitely rate them higher than my kit lens.

    For those interested in looking at full frame lenses v. crop lenses, note the following abbreviations: Canon (EF v. EF-S), Nikon/Tokina (FX v. DX), Tamron (Di v. Di II), Sigma (DG v. DC). I am not familiar with the designations of Olympus, Pentax, Leica or Sony although to my knowledge, Olympus and Pentax don't have full frame sensor DSLRs.

  • Michelle May 10, 2011 01:23 pm

    Be careful buying Sigma, make sure they are not designed for a small sensor as if you ever move up to a full frame they will not work properly. I made this mistake with a 10 to 20mm Sigma DX (heaps of distortion on periphery) and while it fits and will take an image you can see a heavy black shape of the lens around the outside of the image if used with a full frame. So just make sure you buy one designed for a full frame as it will work on a smaller sensor camera. I do not like Tokina or Tamron at all. They are no better than kit lenses so not worth the bother. I have 2 Sigma lenses I am happy with a 105mm Macro and a 'Bigma' 50 to 500mm (APO glass is nice and the extreme pull is useful at times). At $1500 it was quite a few $ 000 less than anything equivalent in Canon.

  • uncle-rhea May 10, 2011 05:01 am

    Good article. Really enjoyed it! I've been really enjoying my 50mm f/1.8 from Nikon's E Series circa 1979 and has been my preferred go to lens when I shoot street photography. when I'm shooting from inside a car at night i need a fast, sharp lens. this was a super bargain lens. i'm considering getting all of the E series lenses.

    when i was choosing a system, I opted for Nikon instead of Cannon because I had heard that their lenses from the 1960s onward were still compatible with the DSLRs.

  • Hans May 8, 2011 03:59 am

    I made the shift to Tokina and own a 11-16, a 50-135 (out of production) and a 100 (macro) for my D50 and D80. I also own a Nikon 35mmF/2 and the Nikon 18-55 kit-lens.

    I use all of them except the 35mm f/2. I'm very happy with the tokina's and the kitlens.
    When travelling very light to cities I take the kitlens, in other cicumstances I choes one or two of the others.

  • Gotcher May 6, 2011 05:20 am

    Correction.... "LESS CA and crisper color" instead of "lens CA and crisper color." Sorry for the error.

  • Gotcher May 6, 2011 03:41 am

    I am of the same mind set as Mark and Spence on this subject. You get what you pay for. The biggest criticism I hear and have experienced from using Sigma and Tamron is their slow AF. That is, compared to the USM of the canon lenses. I tried several lenses before purchasing my Canon 16-35 f/2.8 II L and 70-200 f/4 L w/ IS. The cheaper brands were not as crisp and clear and the CA was very high. The AF was much fast on the L series lenses. I also decided to purchase the Canon 50 f/1.4 and 100mm f/2.8 Macro because their customer ratings were so high. The lens quality and performance is much better compared to there sigma, Tamron and even the Canon L series counterparts. However, My next lens purchase will be another L series lens. They are worth every penny for sure.

    A friends of mine bought the Sigma 150-500mm DG HSM OS lens and he always regrets this purchase. The lens will take decent photos but with some loss of clarity. He was recently at Yosemite National park with other photographers. He said that all the photographers there that had L series lens shot much clearer pictures with lens CA and crisper colors. He is planning on switching to the Canon 100-400 f/4-5.6 IS L.

    On a side note, I have the Lensbaby Composer with the Sweet 35 and it is great. p0 the lens is not top notch optically speaking, but a fun lens to shoot with and cheap. This lens is also becoming more popular in fashion and portrait photography. Apparently, senior portraits sessions with these lenses are in high demand.

    Note: Lensbaby's are very basic tilt style lenses without AF. This lens takes practice.

  • SharpShooter May 6, 2011 03:41 am

    Sigma and Tamron lenses have nowhere near the build or optical quality of Tokina lenses. They are for the most part cheap and plasticky. One other thing to consider is that if you do buy Nikkor/Canon lenses, whether new or used, they will retain their value far better than the cheapos.

  • Chris May 6, 2011 02:50 am

    Great article. I agree with the second post from "mike". I didn't think much about Tokina until I bought the 35mm Macro 2.8 as a prime lens for my APS-C camera. WOW. I since purchased a 80-400mm at a nicely discounted price. Both lenses are great in my opinion.

    But as another poster put it make sure you do your research. I am trying to find a replacement for my kit lens and can't decide on the 17-70 Sigma or the 17-50 Tamron (Without the Vibration Control) as reviews are favourable for both of these.

  • Clay Riness May 6, 2011 02:46 am

    @ Mark: Interesting ... and what did are you asking for the used 200-400 f5.6?

  • Celesta May 6, 2011 02:12 am

    If you feel ready to entirely give up autofocus and try something a little bit off the beaten track, there are also endless opportunities to use older glass from other manufacturers - older Olympus, Zeiss etc. There are so many of them on eBay, and the cost sometimes runs as low as $20. You will need a converter to set third party lenses on your brand body, and you need to carefully research what each lens offers (e.g. some lenses have limited focus range when used with converters), but the results can be very interesting, and often they do not lack anything to a $$$ brand lens.

    This was taken with a refurbished Soviet Industar lens on Canon:

    Olympus 28mm f/3.5 on Canon:

  • Mark May 6, 2011 01:36 am

    I was looking for a zoom that would go out to 400mm and let a dealer talk me into an older Tamron 200-400mm f/5.6 and it was really inexpensive. The auto focus was slow and kind of noisy, but the images were razor sharp at the focus point. However after using it for a few months I realized the major negative feature was that the bokah was "edgy" rather than smooth in many of my images. I ended up ordering the Canon 100-400mm L series that I was originally looking at and have been much happier with my photos since then. Now I have several hundred dollars sitting in a closet that I only used for about three months and I learned a hard lesson. If you want pro quality photos, buy pro quality lenses! I guess I need to learn EBay since I have several lessons sitting in my closet. Even though I am an amateur and do not make any money from my photography it is worth the expense to have good equipment. I have two lenses that are used for 95% of my photography and they are both Canon L's but I expect to get years of use from them and I won't be shopping all of the time as I step through dozens of lenses to get to the same point, so over time it should be cheaper just to buy the best up front.

  • Jeetesh May 5, 2011 05:53 pm

    Thanks for the original article as well as the comments.
    The one point that really hit me is the 'specialise' section.

    Being a hobby photographer, I had been wondering what lens to buy next for my Canon EOS500D.
    I currently own a kit 18-55 and a 75-300. Will think over the 'specialise' section again before shellling out more dough.


  • david geer May 5, 2011 07:25 am

    Great article........I have kit Nikon lenses amongst others which are surprisingly good, especially the 55-200vr.

    Of my excellent 2 Tokina's, one grey import the other from ebay, the 100mm which like the previous owner I don't use much is superb, especially for the money I paid. The other is also magnificent, the 11-16mm f2.8 and worked very well on my D40 even though it was manual focus onlyl! I have been less happy with it on my D90 but thats more to do with the D90's exposure characteristics, you need to dial the ev down as it gathers too much light for the D90 in Australia!!!

    My favorite telephoto is the 70-300G Nikon, a cheap but very effective lens on my D90, got it for a snip second hand and only started using it when i got the D90 as it needs a motor to drive it (tried it on my D40 but too hard to manually focus). In our good daylight conditions, a shutter speed of 1/1000th at f11 is very practical! Cost effectiveness was about a 1/6th of the VR versions.

    I have just gone micro 4/3rds as Panasonic had a promotion for mothers day which brought the G2 into line with B&H USA pricing at which its a bargain. Just bought a Lensbaby tilt transformer and that will use Nikon mount lenses or Composer etc Lensbabies. I bought a second hand 45-200mm for the G2 on ebay and that is superb. I expect to try out some of my Nikon stock such as the 35mm f1.8 on the tilt mount as well as some of the others...maybe the 70-300mm.....Will probably spring for a cheap Nikon to 4/3rds adapter also when the Lensbaby effects get tiring...

    Film era telephoto lenses I have found interesting however the superb 70-210 push pull Nikon, heavy as glass and metal can be, produces purple fringing on DX in some light conditions however so beware! Otherwise its sharp and would make an excellent FX choice. The 20-70 plastic suits the super ligth plastic F65, when the electronic of DX get back to this weight level the camera world will have come of age though its rapidly looking as if mobile phones will re-invent the camera, anyone seen the 300mm telephoto attachment for the iphone4!?!

    Oh one thing guys the 11-16mm Tokina although technically DX only isn't too bad on FX, if you find vignetting image enhancing! I have tried it on the film F65 and you get a true 11 to 16 range and thats wide! At 16mm it does not vignette overly much and in b&w looks quite dramatic, try it if you can...............

  • maarten May 5, 2011 05:37 am

    If you want to get a DSLR really cheap, go Sony.
    Some may find it not professional enough, but the A700 (discontinued) and the A850 sure are!
    The lenses are really cheap and you possibly have even a wider range of lenses then pentax and such.
    It even comes near Canon and Nikon. The lenses are cheap, great quality (beercans!) and good build.
    You can get a razorsharp 70-210 F4 Minolta glas for around 125 euros! There is a world outside Canon and Nikon!

  • Peant May 4, 2011 11:48 pm

    Neither the brand nor the price is a guarantee for the better product!:

    I had the chance to use the sigma 18-200 and since I bought a new camera kit to use the CANON 18-200. I tested them for some years, and what do you guess: I am a lot more satisfied with the older sigma lense. It has less vignity, the distortion is comparable. In resume this means: Neither the brand nor the price is a guarantee for the better product!

    (I know those lenses are semiprofessional equipement, but they are the only chance to realize fast and high quality travel photography, in respect of not sufficient time for changing lenses in the rush of a city...)

  • Prateek May 4, 2011 08:52 pm

    As a novice and learner, I did not want to invest too heavily in just one lens or so... So, I got myself a Tamron 17-50 non-vc, nifty fifty and tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro. Recently added a 2x extender from Jessops and a battery pack.
    So, now I have range from 17-50 f2.8, 34-100 f5.6, 100 f2.8 and 200 f5.6 Although I need to go through the hassle or changing lenses on the fly, it is for me a very economical and flexible solution. A bit of cropping etc does the rest in post-processing.

  • Richard May 4, 2011 09:32 am

    You really need to shop around. I have recently purchased a 70-200 2.8 Sigma for under $800 US. Purchased stateside and saved over $300 canadian including shipping. The bonus price in Canada is generally at least 20-30% above the US price. The same applies to accesories like tripods straps bags etc. The internet and the price of the canadian dollar are great bonuses for us north of th 49th.

  • Sean May 4, 2011 09:04 am

    As an amateur I made a decision that Canon L lens' are just not worth it to me. I currently have two tamrons (10-24 & 17-50 non vc), the nifty fifty and a 28-105 (which I almost never use). I have a large number of accessories and a really nice manfrotto tripod. I've been thinking about getting a long range telephoto lens and am debating going for the 50-250 but in this case think it might be better to save some money and get a faster lens.

  • Lindsay May 4, 2011 07:57 am

    We've gotten some awesome deals on Craigslist! Thanks to that, we've been able to get the Canon 17-40L and the 10-22. We've been really pleased with them. You can always take your camera and laptop along to test out a lens just to be sure.

  • Clay Riness May 4, 2011 07:50 am

    I'm sorry, I should have made it clear that the Tamron I just ordered was NEW and the rebate offered by the manufacturer. At f/4.0-5.6 ... it's not a fast lens, but at $110, especially with (kind of) macro abilities, I am certain it will be a great kick-about lens. One thing is sure: I have no qualms about the quality of Tamron based on the first one I purchased. Good shooting all!

  • Martin May 4, 2011 06:24 am

    I bought a used canon L-series lens a few years ago, only slightly discounted and after some time realized that it was completely warn out and wouldn't hold focus tightly. It's definitely "buyer be ware" when it comes to used stuff. I've yet to try out the generic names. But I'm not opposed either...

  • Robert L May 4, 2011 06:20 am

    Oh yeah - if you want to see some sample basketball shots with the Sigma 30 and Nikon 85.....

  • Robert L May 4, 2011 06:04 am

    I am all about the Primes! I shoot primarily High School sports and a lot of them. The gyms are very tough especially the smaller schools - With my 80-200 2.8 AF-S Nikon I still could only get 1250 or 1600 ISO (D200 and will upgrade next week!) with a 1/250 shutter speed

    Before this past season I purchased a Sigma 30 1.4 HSM and the Nikon 85 1.8 for a just under $700 on ebay - now I can get my ISO at 1000 using a 1/400 shutter speed - at around 1.8 or 2.0 - yeah the depth of field is a bit tougher but I can get great shots right under the basket now.

  • go15 May 4, 2011 03:42 am

    I also got my lens, 55-250mm and 50 f/1:8 canon, and nissin speedlight. I do not have that much money to spend on accessories. I have friends whom I also adviced to just buy 2nd hand lens if they have tight budget. Just be careful to whom you are buying and the condition of the lens, especially to the newbies. I was lucky that I bought my lens via a photographers forum with a very strict rules about selling lens and accessories. :-)

  • Clay Riness May 4, 2011 03:02 am

    I bought an ultra-wide angle Tamron last year for my Nikon and it absolutely rocks, including the quality. As of twelve hours ago, I ordered a Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens which, after rebate, will cost a total of $110 USD.

    Holy crap! How can one resist?

  • Scott E. Detweiler May 4, 2011 03:01 am

    When I started out I had some cheaper lenses and as I learned more and had more cash I sold them and moved on. I consider the difference between the initial purchase price and the amount I was able to sell them for later as more of a "rental fee". Buy what you can now and upgrade later.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck May 4, 2011 02:36 am


    I am a Nikon shooter - I just liked the quality and feel of the camera. This started many years ago from my 35mm days. I do like Nikkor lenses but brand new, they are somewhat more expensive than others like Sigma etc. I have a 100mm Nikkor Prime Macro which I use for portrait and of course Macro work.

    I recently used this to get this shot of Carlsbad Flower Fields. The lens is hefty but gathers lots of light allowing maximum flexibility.

    I also wanted a wide angle zoom, but was unwilling to pay the price for a Nikkor, so instead I purchased a Sigma at significant cost savings. It is now my Go-To Lens for landscape. Here a close shot of the same Flower Fields:

    I suggest doing research - the quality of Sigma, Tamron and others has improved immensely over the years and now are great alternatives.

  • Akame May 4, 2011 02:01 am

    im looking for a telephoto lens right now and was considering a used one, this article makes me feel more confident about buying used.

  • Bjorn May 4, 2011 01:49 am

    I'm glad you point out he 'other' options.

    I shoot both a Sigma 10-20 mm and a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 as the Nikon options were either
    1) not available in the same focal range
    2) so much more expensive that it became a deal breaker.

    Investigate carefully and be aware what you may be giving up (if anything) and then don't hesitate.

  • mike May 4, 2011 01:41 am

    No love for Tokina? They make some exceptional (and well-priced) lenses. Their 11-16mm f/2.8 is one of the best (if not the best) DX ultrawides you can get for under $1,000.

  • spence May 4, 2011 01:07 am

    while there are a lot of inexpensive primes (the 50 1.8 being a prime example) There are huge differences when stepping up to the 1.4, and 1.2L. and the L primes are not budget friendly (though worth every penny)