This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money or products from companies mentioned in this post. Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography! Please see full Disclosure.
One of the many questions I receive is “What lens should I buy first?” and I think this is an excellent question! In my opinion, the best lens to buy is the Nikon 50mm 1.8 (I also recommend the Canon 50mm 1.8 for those of you who are Canon!). I really love everything about this lens. I think it’s perfect for the first lens you buy.
Many camera’s come as a kit. Meaning you buy the camera and then some ‘kit lenses’. Now this might sound like an excellent deal, a camera and some lenses all for one price?! But, I would highly recommend buying just the camera and then spending it on a more advanced and high quality lens, like the 50mm. I will explain more about it below.
check out my 3 Tips to Get Started in Photography post
So if you’re curious about what lens would be best to pair with the 50mm 1.8, then you have come to the right place! I really recommend going with a crop frame camera, first. And then upgrading when your skills improve to a full frame camera.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in learning more about full frame vs crop frame cameras, this is an excellent article from ClickinMoms.
The Nikon D5300 crop frame camera – I had the Nikon D5100 when I first started, and this is just a newer version of that same camera. You won’t break the bank by buying this. I recommend buying the body frame only. DO not get any kit lenses. Instead, save your money for the lens recommended below!
the best lens to buy first
Let’s get into some reasons why the 50mm 1.8 is the best first lens to buy. There are so many lenses out there to choose from and it can be a little daunting looking through all the lenses you could buy. Lenses always come with different numbers and letters on their titles, which can get very confusing.
Just to explain what some of the numbers on the lenses mean, let’s start with the first number. If, for example, you are looking at the Nikon 50mm 1.8G lens, the 50 is the focal length. This refers to how zoomed in your lens is. The higher the number here, the more zoomed in it is. Wide angle lenses start at 35mm and can go all the way down to 15mm, even 10mm! The lower the number, the more of the scene you’ll get in the frame. 50mm is a pretty good focal length. It’s a little tighter than your eyes focal length. On a crop frame camera, the lens will be even tighter due to the crop.
Going on to the second number on the lens: 1.8. This refers to the lowest aperture your lens can go. Some lenses can go down to a 1.4 or even a 1.2! Now, the lower the number here, the more you can introduce light into your photographs and with that, the more expensive the lenses will be. 1.8 will be a great first lens because, in reality, you very rarely should shoot wide open at 1.8. I find that 2.0 is a good starting point for most lenses, but you’ll have to find what works for you and your style.
The 50mm 1.8G is a prime lens, meaning it is just one focal length! You can’t zoom in and out unless you move your feet. And what’s better than a lens that makes you exercise? I really don’t know. Prime lenses are usually sharper than zoom lenses.
Now, here are my reasons why the Nikon 50mm 1.8G is the best lens to buy first. Keep in mind, buying other lenses is always a Yes! But this lens is great for beginners as well as intermediate photographers looking to up their game from the kit lenses (and remember, I recommend not getting the kit lenses at all and saving your money to buy the 50!).
1. the cost
The cost of the 50mm can’t be beat! It’s one of the cheapest lenses out there. Now, if price isn’t an option, and you are looking for an amazing lens, I’d recommend the 50mm 1.4G – it’s just like the 1.8 option, but it will be a little sharper and is an all around great lens.
But you really can’t beat the cost of the 50mm 1.8 lens. If you’re looking to get some better glass for less, this is the lens to go to. This lens packs a punch at a low cost. Seriously one of the best purchases I have ever made! I can’t recommend it enough.
2. blurry backgrounds
Because this lens can get down to the 1.8 aperture, it will allow for you to take images with blurry backgrounds. I know when I first started out, I craved to get a blurry background. I couldn’t figure out how some photographers did that because I only had a kit lens. It is extremely hard to get blurry backgrounds with kit lenses. Another reason you’re able to get blurry backgrounds is because of the focal length. This allows you to have a greater depth of field. Especially if you isolate your subject from the background.
3. fixed aperture
Fixed aperture means that you can set your aperture (let’s say we set it to f/2.0) and then if you have to change your focus point or zoom in or out, the aperture could change. This makes it very frustrating when learning manual mode. But since this lens has a fixed aperture, if you change it to f/2.0 it will stay at f/2.0 until you change it to something else. I am never getting another lens that doesn’t have fixed aperture! It’s even frustrating if you know manual, just saying!
4. easy to learn manual
Because of the fixed aperture that makes this lens a great lens to learn manual with. It will let you keep the aperture you keep, which is very essential in learning manual. You don’t want your settings to change at all when trying to learn manual. It will become very frustrated and you will probably give up quickly. But with this lens, it makes it really easy to learn manual!
5. small size
The 50mm 1.8G is a very small size and perfect for taking anywhere. I love how small it is and that it’s really easy to fit in any purse or bag. Along with being small, it is also light weight. Which, again, is perfect to haul around anywhere. This would be perfect for taking into amusement parks, travelling, and even just your everyday errands. It won’t weigh you down!
The 50mm is a little tight when shooting inside, so keep in mind that if you are looking for a wider lens to shoot indoor photography, the 50mm might not be the best choice. My go to lens for indoor photography is my Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens – I actually use this lens 95% of the time. It’s my favorite lens! But it is expensive! I had to save up months to buy it. So, keep that in mind.
The following images were all taken with the 50mm 1.8.
This lens is awesome for beginner photographers learning manual mode or just photographers in general wanting to up their lens game from the kit lens. It’s one of the cheapest lenses, it’s sharp, it’s versatile, and it requires you to exercise a little bit.
I personally don’t use this lens as often as I wish I did! I really love the bokeh and the beautiful compression it has.
What is one of your favorite lenses? What lens do you recommend to buy first? I’d love to know below!
Alyssa (sometimes going by Aly) is a hobbyist photographer who loves to teach. Her love of photography started before she ever had any kids. Now a mom of two, she loves to photograph her kids, flowers, and landscape. She specializes in capturing her everyday life. She loves to teach fellow beginner photographers how to take control of their cameras and get the images they dream about getting.