BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Evan R.H. O'Malley

What Lens Should I Get

Hello everyone,

I am interested in a lot of landscape and night photgraphy. I was wondering what the best lens for these types of photography would be. Right now I just use the AF-S Nikkor
18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G lens. My camera is a Nikon D3100. Thank you and have a great day!!! :)

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8/12/2012 4:29:58 PM

Lynn R. Powers   Evan,

I have used everything from 24mm to 200mm for landscape photos. It is a fallacy to believe that you need a wide angle lens to take good landscape photos. For that matter most of mine were taken at 70mm. There were times that I wish I had a Zeis 21mm but it cost $1700. :=( So I made four photos taken in the vertical position at 50mm to make a panorama and received more detail than I would have would if I owned the 21mm lens. All lenses can be used for landscape photography and zoom lenses give you more choices for what is appropiate.

Unless you use flash during the night you will need a STURDY tripod and a remote release for time exposures. I am going to the county fair this week and will take my 24-105 f4 lens to take time exposures of the action there. Being that there are areas that will be well lit there will be times that I can photograph people by hand holding the camera as long as I increase the ISO to 800. I have a FF camera but your current lens will give you the equivelant of approx 26mm to 82mm.

I used the "kit" lens which is about the same lens as you have in Venice, Italy and took over 50% of my photos with that lens. The remainder were taken with a 24mm to 85mm lens. The camera was a Canon 20D which has a 1.6x crop factor, yours has a 1.5x crop factor.

Before you purchase a new lens use the kit lens for a year and then decide what type of additional lens you need.
Read the manual and pick up some books on photography as well as taking some courses here at BP. You will be surprised at the versatility that you have in your present camera and lens.

Best of Luck,


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8/13/2012 11:28:24 AM

Evan R.H. O'Malley   Lynn,

I've tried to take multiple photos and line them up before, but when I do they've never really matched up to my liking. Do you have any tips on how I can make them match up better?

Yes, I learned I needed a tripod the first time I went night shooting. Let's just say my photos looked like they came from the inside of a baby rattle that was being played with lol. So when I was in San Diego last month I invested in a Quantary by Sunpark QSX 9002TM tri-monopod. I'm very happy I bought it, especially because it was 50% off at the time.

I've had my camera for a year and take my camera with me everywhere to take pictures. But because I'm still a teenager with no real income I really want to make sure I buy the right lens for me, that way I'm not wasting money. But I don't know how to decide which lens I need.

I actually just took a camera workshop yesterday and I really learned a lot about my camera. I'm going to try to take more classes in the near future. Are there any on here you would recommend for me?

Thank you for all your help,


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8/13/2012 12:05:25 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  Hi Evan;
I would echo Lynn's last comments... first of all, learn your camera and its functions (sounds like the workshop was a great first step.) If you're new to the basic concepts of photography (understanding the relationship of Shutter Speed, ISO, Aperture & Exposure Compensation), focus on that, too. Then learn your current lens before investing in new lenses you'll have to learn - get to know its strong points & weaknesses.

There isn't a specific "landscape" lens you can buy today that will automatically make all your images gorgeous, perfect landscapes. You can shoot compelling images on an iPhone 4S, and on a $6,000 SLR with $2,000 lenses; but you can far more easily shoot crap on both of those, too ;) You only have to look through BP's contest winners, watching for point-and-shoot cameras, to see your current gear will see you quite a long ways in your photography, before you make bigger lens investments.

For the basics of digital photography, if you're a reader/book-learner, I really found Jim Miotke's "BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography" to be a brilliant tool, when I bought my first-ever camera.

For your camera & functions, there are a number of authors/publishers who publish camera-model-specific books (such as Charlotte Lowrie's line for many of the Canon models) if you find the owner's manual too dry/brief (they often are!)

Given your restricted budget, I would focus on those two areas of self-study first, well before considering a new lens. Once you're comfortable with your camera & its features, and have a good solid understanding of the fundamentals of exposing an image, *and* know your current lens limitations (specific to your own developing shooting style/interests), will you be able to make a more educated purchase on a new lens that will deliver aspects you've learned you want.

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8/13/2012 12:39:26 PM

Evan R.H. O'Malley   Hi Chris,

In the workshop I went to which was put on by Chris Keating, he taught us a lot about getting the right exposure, and how to change and manipulate our shots without using photoshop, and by just using your camera. He was really big on putting your camera on "manual" mode and leaving it there, so we were the ones making the shots, not our cameras doing the work for us.

Ok I'll be sure to look into that book!

And I've been trying to find out more about my camera and all that I can do with it. But now I'll try to figure out what I like and dislike about my lens.

Thanks for all your help,


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8/13/2012 5:40:18 PM

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