Your Guide to Buying Affordable Lenses for Your Camera

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Your Guide to Buying Affordable Lenses for Your Camera

Buying camera equipment can be expensive, and if a DSLR or perhaps a compact mirror-less system camera have been purchased, then adding a range of different lenses to use with the camera can add up to a high cost. Affordable camera lenses are available to buy, but it is necessary to consider a variety of options when choosing which lens to buy. Many DSLR cameras come with kit lenses, usually a zoom lens such as an 18-55mm focal range. The quality of this lens is mostly fine for beginners and amateur photographers, but more advanced photographers or professionals will not usually be happy with that type of lens. While third party lenses are available, it is important to choose carefully and read reviews of specific third party lenses. Manufacturers of third party lenses often produce lenses that are cheaper and more affordable than well-known camera brand lenses, for example. Both types of manufacturer make lenses that are made to fit specific camera brands, e.g. Nikon or Canon. Looking at third party lens ranges can be an option if the type of lens required is out of budget when buying from the camera manufacturer.

There is an argument to say that good-quality lenses are more important in photography than the camera itself. Lenses are vital to picture quality, more so than the camera. Therefore, rather than buying affordable third party lenses which may be of a lesser quality than some other lenses, another option is buying camera manufacturer lenses second hand. There are a range of places to buy second hand camera lenses; for example, specialist camera shops, second hand shops, car boot sales, and eBay. The required type of lens, whether it be macro, zoom, or a prime lens, can usually be found with a bit of research and time taken to look at various options.

Which Type of Affordable Lens to Purchase

Many different lenses are available for DSLR cameras and mirror-less compact system cameras; for example, macro lenses which are perfect for close up photographs and telephoto lenses that are great for distance shots of wildlife. Whether buying a new affordable lens, such as from a third party manufacturer or a second hand top-quality lens, there are lots of factors that can be considered when deciding which lens to purchase.



Focal length

The viewing angle is dictated by the focal length of the lens. If a wide angle lens is desired, there will be a choice of lenses, such as 18mm or 25mm. The smaller number indicates a wider angle. Zoom lenses are also available, such as a 55-200mm zoom lens. This, along with a kit lens of 18-55mm, can be a useful addition to a photographers lens collection. Fixed focal lenses are good, affordable second hand purchases. As there are no zoom components, they are more likely to stand the test of time than a zoom lens. Therefore, high-quality prime lenses (fixed focal length lenses) can be purchased on the second hand market from places such as second hand shops or eBay.
Buying a zoom lens, however, is also a way to keep lens purchases affordable. Rather than needing to purchase, for example, an 18mm wide angle lens and a 50mm prime lens, a zoom lens covering 18-55mm could be bought for a cheaper price than two lenses for those distances. Be aware, though, that the picture quality from a 50mm zoom lens will likely be a little better than using a zoom lens at 50mm focal range. It can be a trade-off sometimes, in terms of getting the balance right, for affordability as well as quality.


Aperture is also a factor in a lens specification alongside focal length. The aperture number shows the amount of light the lens is able to let into the sensor of the camera. The number of the aperture will always follow the letter F; for example, F5.6 or F1.8. When looking for an affordable lens, a good idea is to buy a lens with the largest aperture (smallest number) that is within budget. Lenses that go down to F1.4, for example, will usually be much more expensive than lenses that only go down to F2.5. Therefore, if a lens with an aperture of F1.4 is required by the photographer, it is likely that a third party manufacturer or buying a high-quality lens second hand will be the best option.

Image Stabilisation

Most new DSLR camera lenses have image-stabilisation systems included in the lens. It is available on many lenses and helps to reduce any camera shake or motion blur that may otherwise take place.

Where to Buy Affordable Lenses

Buying a camera lens second hand from a private seller on eBay is one option open to photographers. Sometimes the photographer can come across a real bargain as people do not always know the value of what they are selling. For photographers with a certain level of knowledge about what lens they are looking for and what will fit their camera, it is possible to search listings and find an affordable camera lens. Lenses bought from private eBay sellers are often second-hand. This makes them more affordable, but it is also important to look out for any damage on the lens. Sometimes old lenses, especially those that have been stored away and not used, can suffer from mould between the glass, which would obviously effect the picture quality. Try and get as much information as possible about the lens from the photographs and description. Email the seller and ask about the condition of the lens, any scratches that may be apparent, or any damage. The downside to buying from a private seller and buying second hand is the lens will not come with any guarantee.

Many specialist camera shops sell both new goods and second hand goods via eBay. They will often have a large range of lenses for sale from budget lenses to professional, highly expensive lenses. They will usually sell everything from quality lenses from camera manufacturers, to cheaper, third party lenses and also a range of second hand lenses. When buying older lenses, be aware that auto-focus will not be standard, and will not work with lenses designed for older cameras or film SLR's, but they can still be bought to use with DSLR's if the photographer is prepared to manually focus. If the photographer is prepared to do this, then a larger range of affordable options are available.


There are plenty of things to consider thinking of purchasing a camera lens, and affordability is one of them. The photographer should consider trying to buy the best lens for their budget as the quality of photographs can be affected by the type of lens purchased. However, there are options to keep the cost of a new lens down, such as buying a third part lens which will work with a manufacturer branded camera, or buying a good-quality lens second hand. The cost of lenses can vary hugely, and lenses such as a macro lens are likely to cost more than lenses such as an 18-55mm kit lens, for example. If buying a second hand or third party lens, it is important to see whether the lens looking to be purchased will correctly fit the camera the photographer has. It is sometimes possible to buy an adapter to allow different lenses to be used with different cameras. Whichever lens is bought, there are many places to try and look for affordable options, and eBay is one place that offers a large selection from a number of different sellers.

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