Jani's Top 5 Camera Lenses for Beginners

Jani's Top 5 Camera Lenses for Beginners

'When a person decides to get started with photography, one of the first things they will often struggle with is choosing their first lens. This part isn't being made any easier by the lens manufacturers, who typically use different words to describe the same features. 

Canon, for example, uses the term "IS" when they refer to the image stabilisation feature, while Sigma uses "OS" instead. Are you confused yet? Don't worry. Jani from JP Harrow Portraits will tell us next what lenses are great for beginners in 2021 if you choose Canon DSLR as your first camera.'

Jani from JP Harrow Portraits has kindly written a comprehensive list of camera lenses for beginners. If you're wondering what you can do to enhance your photography through lenses, look no further. From Amazon and eBay, you can easily pick up 1, 2 or all 5 new lenses and get to work!

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Jani Ahonen
Photographer and Filmmaker
  • Canon
    EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens

    Jani Ahonen

    This lens from Canon is still one of their best non-L-series lenses with its impressive f 2.8 aperture across the whole focal length range. If you aren't familiar with Canon's way of naming their lenses, any lenses that have a letter 'L' mean they are the Canon's finest and most expensive professional lenses. 

    So when you see a photographer on the streets with a white lens attached to their camera, you know for sure that they are using a Canon's L-series lens.

    While no one will stop beginners from having an L-series lens as their first-ever lens, it is often better to start with non-L-series lenses to learn how price affects the image quality. If I had just jumped right into using L-series lenses, I would not today genuinely appreciate how stunning image quality these premium lenses can produce. 

    This 17-55mm lens is obviously not an L-series lens, but it isn't technically very far away from them. This 17-55mm lens has an image stabilisation feature alongside a stunning f 2.8 aperture across the whole focal length, which means you can easily take photos in very dark and dimly lit rooms.

    If you consider becoming a wedding photographer, this would be a solid lens to have as that 2.8 aperture will allow you to take photographs of even the darkest churches out there. This 17-55mm f 2.8 lens was my go-to lens for over five years, and it never let me down. 

    In 2021 it still seems to be the best non-L-series lens out there, and while it does come with a pretty hefty price tag, it can quickly become your most loved lens as it is so versatile. And if you don't even care about having the option to zoom very far away, then this lens could potentially even be the only lens you need.
  • Canon
    EF-S10-18 mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

    Jani Ahonen

    If you want to master taking pictures in tight spaces, you need a wide-angle lens such as Canon E-S10-18mm. This tiny wide-angle lens weighs only 240 grammes and can capture images you never thought were possible.

    It features an image stabilisation that further helps you ensure your dark indoor pictures will turn out sharp. While most people think that wide-angle lenses are most useful when taking pictures indoors, they can also create stunning landscape photos as well.

    The most significant benefit of a wide-angle lens is really its ability to capture more of what is around you no matter where you are. Sometimes including more information in an image can make it look more distinctive than always cropping parts of the image out.

    The only downside of this wide-angle lens is that it is not an ideal lens to use when photographing people as it can distort how people look in the final image. For this reason, this is not recommended for those wishing to do more portrait work.
  • Canon
    EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens

    Jani Ahonen

    My second zoom lens was this 70-300mm lens from Canon. While it seems to have received few cosmetic upgrades over the years, it still today ranks among the most loved zoom lenses out there. This lens has an impressive zoom range that will allow you to photograph wildlife animals from a very far distance without scaring them away. 

    This lens also has an image stabilisation (IS) which is a great feature to have when you are zooming as far as 300mm. It is good to keep in mind that the further you zoom in, the harder it becomes for you to keep your camera still. This is why most zoom lenses do have an image stabilisation built into them.

    An additional benefit of this 70-300mm lens is that you could even use it to do some portrait and macro photography as well. While it will not produce as sharp images as a proper macro lens, it will produce more than sufficient images if your goal is to take some occasional pictures of flora or tiny creatures.

    The only downside of this lens is its large physical size, but generally speaking, all zoom lenses are large and heavy, and you do get used to it.
  • Canon
    EF 24-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

    Jani Ahonen

    If you feel that buying multiple lenses is a bit too much for you, you could consider going with a zoom lens such as Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. This lens is regarded as a great 'all-rounder' lens from Canon, meaning if you just kept one lens locked into your DSLR all the time, perhaps make it this one.

    This lens will allow you to photograph in most tight spaces and do those occasional close-up shots of animals a bit further away. This lens also has an image stabilisation that further helps you ensure your images will turn out sharp no matter what you are photographing.

    The benefits of having this as your first lens are that if you one day wish to upgrade it to a more premium L-series version (such as Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM lens), then you are already familiar with this focal length range.
  • Sigma
    18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM

    Jani Ahonen

    If you are on a tight budget and want a single lens that does everything imaginable, then this Sigma 18-300mm would be a solid choice for you. Once you attach it to your camera, you don't really need to take it off unless you wish to upgrade your lens to a more expensive one.

    This lens from Sigma has an impressive 18-300mm focal length which means you can easily capture stunning images in tight indoor spaces and take those wildlife photos from a very far distance. This lens also features image Sigma's optical stabilisation system (OS), making it easier to capture sharper images when taking handheld images with a slow shutter speed.

    Even though I have primarily used lenses from Canon all my life, I have owned and tested several Sigma lenses as well. Based on my experience, Sigma does offer an excellent value for the money you pay for their lenses, and their lenses often have more superior build quality than Canon. So do not think for a second that Sigma would be a second class lens manufacturer since they aren't.

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