Hi im an amateur and im really interested in learning photography.im not trying to be a proffesional i just want high grade quality shots! Id like to take studio grade pics of my newborn, family events, birrhdays etc. I want to invest in my collection of equipment and i need your opinion. I currently have a nikon d3100, which i know isnt the best but im just beggining. Later on id like to invest in a better camera but for now im working on expanding my lenses. I dont need anything hard to use as im still learning. I currently have the following: 50mm f1.4 18-55 f 3.5-5.6 55-200 4.5-5.6

My question is what am i missing in my lens family in order to reach my photography goals? I dont know if my next lens should be a 35mm f1.8./28mm f2.8/40mm f2.8 or say 18-50mm f2.8...or maybe even 2 lenses? I also am on a budget i will not spend more than 275. Plz help!

I would consider also the generic lenses as tamron, sigma,tokina etc. As long as its a significant price difference and theyre are not hard to use.

closed as off-topic by dpollitt, Itai, mattdm, Philip Kendall, Michael C Feb 22 '16 at 8:02

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    Hi Judy and welcome to the site. This isn't a product recommendation website, rather we try to help answer practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. In particular products come and go so frequently that they have little value here beyond helping a single person. Try to phrase your question in a way that we can teach you what you need to know to make a decision on your own. – dpollitt Feb 22 '16 at 4:34
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    Possible duplicate of What type of lens should I buy? – mattdm Feb 22 '16 at 4:35
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    The question I marked as a possible duplicate is closed as too broad, but the comments on it and the (non-answer — really, an extended comment) basically explain the situation here too. – mattdm Feb 22 '16 at 4:37
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    No one, not even top professionals, will get "studio grade pics" in non-studio settings. No matter how good you can make photos look when you don't have total control over the lighting, you can make them look that much better when you do have total control over the lighting and know how to use it. – Michael C Feb 22 '16 at 7:47

I currently have a nikon d3100, which i know isnt the best but im just beggining.

Equipment is only one part of taking great photos, and your D3100 is fine for getting started. Learning to control the various parameters (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, composition, lighting) to create the image you want is far more important than having the most up-to-date camera.

My question is what am i missing in my lens family in order to reach my photography goals?

Nothing. I think you've got a fine collection already. In fact, for your stated goals ("newborn, family events, birthdays") you probably don't need the 55-200mm zoom.

I'd suggest saving your lens money for now and instead getting a better handle on what you already have. Sit down and pick out the photos that you've taken already and for each one ask yourself:

  • What do I love about this photo?

  • What could I do to make this photo better?

If you can do that honestly and objectively for a few dozen photos, you might start to notice a pattern in the things that you like, or the things that you'd like to improve, or both. That's valuable information that can help you improve your photography on your own. If you have friends who are good photographers, you might show them the same images and see what they like and/or would do differently.

Another thing you can do is to look for other people's photos that appeal to you. Pinterest is a great tool for collecting images from sources like Flickr, photo blogs, etc. Look critically at the photos you like and try to figure out how they were produced. Sites like Flickr often help here by providing info like shutter speed, aperture, and focal length, but make sure you also look at lighting, composition, color, and depth of field. Pick some favorites and try to take your own photos in the same style.

I dont know if my next lens should be a 35mm f1.8.or say 18-50mm f2.8...or even both?

If you don't know which of those lenses to choose, it might be because you don't need either right now. When the time comes that you need (or just want) a 35mm f/1.8 or an upgrade to your 18-55mm kit lens, you'll know it. Before that point, having those lenses in your bag might lead to some nice shots, but it'll be more accidental than intentional. Your goal should be to get to photos that are 100% intentional.

I also am on a budget i will not spend more than 275.

That's just another reason to wait. When it comes to lenses, more is not better, but better is more. A bag full of cheap lenses won't make you a better photographer. A bag full of expensive lenses won't make you a better photographer, either, but as you become a better photographer you'll be better able to take advantage of a really good lens.

  • I had a kit 18-55 with my first DSLR that was horrible. There was a spot left of center that was soft in every photo I took with it. Even when things both closer and further away were in focus, that one spot would be soft. My first "new" lens was a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. There is no comparison between the photos I was able to get, especially in challenging lighting situations, between the 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 that required me to work the composition around a permanent soft spot and the faster, sharper lens that allowed me to just shoot and trust the camera and lens. – Michael C Feb 22 '16 at 7:52
  • @MichaelClark I'm sorry to hear that, but the OP never mentioned dissatisfaction with the lenses she has. – Caleb Feb 22 '16 at 13:03
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    @MichaelClark I agree with you -- that a lens is better in some way (aperture, IQ, etc) than the one you have is a perfectly good reason to buy. But the OP is asking here because she doesn't know what to buy, and all saying here is that it's a good idea to step back and figure out what she most wants to improve before she starts spending money. Once she knows how she wants to improve her shots, she'll be in a much better position to buy the right thing, whether that's a lens, a speedlight, a book, or something else. – Caleb Feb 23 '16 at 6:52
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    @MichaelClark I can see the objection, so rephrased that section a bit -- maybe it's a better answer now. I assumed that unit was dollars, but I guess it could be 275 gold bars, in which case I'll need to completely rewrite this answer. – Caleb Feb 23 '16 at 7:58
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    It could also be 275 yen, in which case it'd need further rewriting. – a CVn Feb 23 '16 at 9:22

To be totally honest, I don't think you need any new lenses for what you're doing. Those lenses can be just fine. I have a similar set of lenses and I've just graduated into trying to make a little bit of money on my images (Facebook.com/RHardinPhotography if you're interested in seeing examples.)

What you really should look into to get studio quality photos is lighting. That's my next step as well. Getting a few flashes that you can mount off camera in the corners of the room with remote triggers will do absolute wonders! Any lens and any camera can take the most professional photos with proper lighting.

Perfect example, I just grabbed a few shots at a birthday party I was invited to. Her daughter just turned 1 and they didn't have very many pictures of her yet so I offered to bring my camera and see what I could get without any posing. The one thing I wish I had was a speed light flash in every corner of the living room. A majority of my pictures took quite a bit of Post Production in Lightroom just to get a halfway decent picture out of it and I was using my 50mm F/1.8 at 1.8 and the ISO higher than I'd like on my D7000.

Lighting and the photographer are the real keys to good photos, not the gear.


Quite honestly, I'd recommend using solely the 50mm f/1.4 for a good solid month to help your develop your composition skills. It's too tempting with zoom lenses to just change your focal length but twisting a barrel. The 50mm forces you to zoom with your feet and think more carefully about framing and composition.

If you're intent on adding to your lens quiver, renting lenses from a rental house before your buy is a good idea.

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    What you advise can be helpful as a learning exercise, but so can using a zoom and restricting yourself to a specific shooting distance. Zooming with your feet always changes perspective, which is determined solely by subject distance. So you can't always just back up or move in to get the framing you want if the spacial relationship between the elements in the shot changes from what you desire to capture. – Michael C Feb 22 '16 at 7:56

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