How to choose the best new or second hand digital camera lens for your photography

The digital camera world is a jungle. Too many choices often make it difficult for a beginner to make up their mind as to what gear they should invest in.

It’s not just the camera that one has to decide upon, there’s the question of the right lens, the right external flash, a tripod;  and things get more and more complicated as the list goes on.

Speaking of lenses, you need at least one to get started. Most entry and enthusiastic models come bundled with a kit lens. A kit lens is one that the camera manufacturer feels is the right option to make optimum use of the camera. It is usually a general purpose lens that meets most everyday photography requirements; something like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II. However, you may opt not to accept what’s being thrust upon you and instead choose a lens which you feel is better suited for the kind of photography that you do.

Kit Lens vs 50mm


What are the main factors that should influence your decision?

Focal length – if you mostly shoot group photos, family events, vacations or do everyday photography, a standard zoom lens something like an 18-55mm is right for you. If the camera that you are buying is an APS-C format (crop sensor) you’d get a standard zoom lens bundled. My suggestions is to go with it. If you are buying a full-frame camera, opt for something like the Nikon 24-70mm Lens for the same reasons.

If you love to shoot wildlife and that’s basically why you are buying a camera, opt for a telephoto lens. You should choose a 300mm at least or even a 400mm if your budget permits. Telephoto lenses can be very expensive though so if budget is tight, consider buying a used lens for the price saving.

Wildlife photography


Image stabilisation – image stabilisation is sometimes an overrated thing. It is, however, only required if you are shooting without a tripod. Additionally, if you shoot at a shutter speed of at least one over the focal length or faster you will not need it. Image stabilized lenses costs slightly more and they are heavier than the non-stabilized versions too. Having said all that, if the price between the stabilised and non-stabilised versions of a lens is not much you’d rather go with the stabilised version, because you will need it when shooting in low light conditions.

Auto-focusing – auto-focusing has definitely become better and better over the years. One of the reasons for choosing a DSLR is that you can shoot great stills as well as great videos with them. With the advent of 4K video shooting in DSLR cameras things have become pretty interesting. It is possible to shoot cinematic quality at less than half the price of studio cameras. Auto-focusing plays a big part in that. Canon’s dual-pixel AF system which debuted on the 70D is considered a trend setter in the market for its superior performance.

Though you may not find too many Used Canon lenses/cameras with that technology in the used camera lens market yet, you may find some other excellent choices. It is not hard to come across old manual focusing lenses which are tack sharp and comply with your camera mount.

SO Cameras Bonus buying tip – If you don’t have big budget check out our second hand camera shop. You can get the photography equipment you are looking for at a bargain price.