Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own

Starting photography is exciting but confusing hobby. Many times, it is hard to find information on camera and lenses to buy as the different camera store representatives would tell you different things. As such, we here at TechGarage prefer to educate you with a list of three lenses every photographer should own.

While there are many lenses you can and perhaps could get, I find myself carrying mainly three lenses on trips and photo shoots.

While some might prefer a macro lens to pair up with a telephoto and a walkabout lens, I find that for my type of photography, I rely more on an ultra wide lens, a walkabout zoom lens (or a prime lens) and a telephoto. With these three lenses, I find I have enough versatility to take all sorts of photos, including portraits if needed. Also, these three lenses are usually available for most camera systems out there.

The Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own : The Walkabout Lens

Generally defined as the 17-55mm  f/2.8 or in full frame cameras, the 24-70mm f/2.8, it gives you a combination of speed, reach and width. Unlike the normal kit lens, having a constant f2.8 ensures you have a fast lens and better depth of field. For myself, I find it useful for almost 80% of all the shots I take on a trip or while shooting on the streets as it gives me the versatility to shoot different type of shots without being restricted by the length of the lens.

Also, if you prefer a faster walkabout lens for your crop frame camera, you might want to consider Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8. Though it comes with a bit lesser length than the 17-55mm, it is definitely much faster (1.33 stops faster) and would be a worthy competitor to carrying a few prime lenses with you instead. In fact, it is so sharp wide open that you can consider it a worthy competitor to Sigma’s very own 30mm f/1.4 or Nikon’s 35mm f/1.4.

Sigma's 18-35mm Wide Open at 18mm, Official Sigma pic
Sigma’s 18-35mm Wide Open at 18mm, Official Sigma pic


The Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own : The Ultra Wide Angle

While some might prefer a macro lens, we still think you could do with an Ultra Wide. Having a Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens or Nikon 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens will give you the ability to compress scenes and take a dramatic shot, or perhaps capture details of a landscape that the walkabout lens could not. Also, it is really good in tight places or if you would like to capture shots in rooms or buildings.

An Ultra Wide Angle Portrait Shot by Joel Grimes
An Ultra Wide Angle Portrait Shot by Joel Grimes
Ultra Wide Angle Portrait by Pip Strickland
Ultra Wide Angle Portrait by Pip Strickland

For fun or dramatic shots, try bringing your ultra wide angle lens near your subjects. Though it loses it’s novelty if used often, I personally use it for street photography. If you are considering taking street photography, having an ultra wide angle lens would force you to get in close and perhaps uncomfortable with your subjects. But once you master the art of doing so, taking an amazing and memorable shot is now a reality.


Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own : The Telephoto

Rather than a specialised portrait lens, the 70-200mm f/2.8 brings reach and speed for perhaps difficult to get shots, or perhaps events where you can’t get there up front for a shot with your walkabout lens. The f/2.8 brings a shallow depth of field, useful for isolating subjects from the background as you will be able to take great sports, weddings and even portrait shots with this lens. At maximum length (200mm), you need to be careful of camera shake, and thus having image stabilisation helps, together with a higher ISO and perhaps a monopod.

If you are on a budget, perhaps getting Canon’s 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens or Nikon’s version, the 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Lens would help. Alternatively, you could carry primes as in Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM (or Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G if you are on Nikon) or a 135mm, which is a portrait lens, but doubles up for telephoto use. These primes are generally lighter and faster, but comes without the convenience of zoom. As such, it might be better for shots that you can plan out in advance, rather than event shots like wedding photography or photojournalism.

D800 with 70-200VRII, by Cliff Mautner
D800 with 70-200VRII, by Cliff Mautner
70-200 shot by
70-200 shot by


What other lenses should I have?

If you were wondering the above, we here at TechGarage would advice you to shoot first with these lenses. As you realise that your photography aligns towards a certain type of photograph, then perhaps it is time to invest in getting the type of lenses and gears needed to take that shot. We have seen so many photographers joining the gear race and spending precious amounts of money, just to find that photography just isn’t their thing in the long run.

Or that they prefer portraits over landscape shots, but have spent on tilt shift lenses and all the necessary filters. Do spend wisely, especially in our current economic climate.

What three lenses do you personally use or recommend others to have instead? Do drop us your thoughts below.


  1. Great advice! I’ve bought the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 USM and I’m all impressed. On other thought, since I have two cameras, I bought another lens for the Nikon, 55-200mm f4-5.6 to compensate the focal range. The Nikkor lens is a lot cheaper but yea, I couldn’t expect a solid performance like the Canon lens I bought.

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