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Photo by Lola Akinmade
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SURE, A SOLID point-and-shoot camera such as the Panasonic Lumix can more than cover your photography needs. However, if you’ve purchased a digital single-lens reflex camera (digital SLR or DSLR), be sure to pick up at least two of the three lenses listed below to get more mileage from your gear.

Telephoto Zoom Lens


Your new DSLR camera usually comes with a 18-55 mm kit lens.

While sufficient for most portrait photography situations, within a few months, you’ll notice a hankering for something that can zoom out much further – a zoom lens of sorts.

Lenses such as the 55-200mm pick up where the 18-55 mm lens stops, but a better option is the 18-200 mm telephoto zoom lens which combines both into a single body.

So instead of dragging along two telephoto lenses, you pack only one.

Wide Angle Lens


Most professional travel photographers use wide angle lenses and you’ll see why once you try it out.

Wide angle lenses capture everything within your peripheral vision and much more, pulling you right into the midst of the scenery – whether it’s a concert, market scene, or festival.

An affordable ultra wide angle lens is the Sigma 10-20mm, which is at least 60% cheaper equivalent than its Nikkor 14-24mm equivalent.

Can’t tout the benefits of an ultra wide angle lens enough.

Fixed Lens


A fixed lens means it doesn’t allow you to zoom in or out. What you see through the viewfinder is what you get.

At under $150, the Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 is the perfect lens for low light situations which do not require flash, such as night photography and dimly lit rooms.

So if you’re heading out at dusk or night, this is the only lens you’ll need to ensure great night photos without using a tripod.

*If your goal is to be a travel photographer, the MatadorU Travel Photography program has the resources you’re looking for.

About The Author

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is a MatadorU faculty member and Network contributor. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Vogue, BBC,, and many more. Follow her photoblog at

  • Kwaku

    Great article and I love the 18-200mm and the 50mm. I’d suggest the tokina 12-24mm or the new 11-16mm over the sigma though. It’s sharpness leaves a bit to be desired.

  • Carlo

    Thanks Lola! We’re getting a Canon EOS 450D soon (body only) and have been pondering over what lens(es) to get…this will help out in the decision! Cheers.

  • Digital Camera Lenses Buyer

    thanks for the recommendations.
    there are so many camera digital lenses to choose from these days. good for choice, but its good to get soem good reviews to help with the choice.

  • Baiskeli

    Great post! (and I love your photos at your other web site)

    I’d also vote for the Tokina 12-24 over the Sigma. I have the Tokina and I absolutely love it. I have the old 18-70 that came with my D70 (I have a D200 now) so I can’t justify buying the 18-200 because I also have the 70-300 ED

    So I travel with

    D200 or D70
    Tokina 12-24
    Nikon 18-70
    Nikon 70-300ED
    Nikon 50mm F1.8 (Love this for low light and indoor).

  • danmur

    For canon shooters, there is also a 50mm F1.8 for about $100. Great lens.

  • http:/// Stevo

    Many non-vendor lenses are great buys. Tokina, Sigma, etc. – Read reviews before you buy. The Canon 50 f/1.8 is a good little lens and a great buy.

  • Tom

    I’ve just picked up a Sony Alpha 200. Which non-vendor lenses are compatible?

  • Lola Akinmade

    @Tom – Both Tamron and Sigma support Sony Alpha 200

    Sigma AF 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Sony/Minolta

    Tamron AF 18-200/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II Macro SONY/MINOLTA

  • Tom

    Fantastic Lola, thanks.

  • Carlo

    Hey Lola…thanks again for this…just got our new baby, the Canon EOS 500D – we ended up buying the Canon 18-200mm and the Canon 50mm – also some UV filters and a circular polarizing filter.

    Next up is the Sigma 10-20mm! I read some reviews, and that Tokina 12-24 sounds good too, but at the wide angle end that 2mm difference is quite a bit. And I like it wide!

  • camera digital lenses

    Thanks a bunch, Lola, for this great eye-opening info on camera lenses…

  • Nancy

    Thanks for pointing me to this post! This is super helpful. I just bought the 50mm 1.8. Next on my list will be the 18-20mm as soon as I save up a little more. :)

    • Carlo

      you mean the 18-200? It’s a sweet lens for an all-rounder. I recently got the Canon 10-22 mm wideangle…this is a fun toy! Love it, it’s my favourite lens, can be very creative with it.

  • AdventureRob

    I’ve given the wide angle a miss due to financial restraints but have gone for a long zoom lens.

    In fact it’s the longest on the market, the Tamron 18-270mm. Will report shortly on how it is once it arrives!

    • Carlo

      I’ve read some good reviews on that lens and was pondering it before I decided on the Canon. Impressive range and it’s pretty compact.

  • Jonny

    Lola – I understand the wide-angle and zoom recommendations, but why the fixed lens? What is the advantage to having a lens you can’t zoom in or out with?

    • Lola Akinmade

      @Jonny – Fixed lenses are great to have. They are fantastic for portraits as well as low light situations (evening, dinners in dimly lit restaurants, and such) because they usually have larger apertures which allow a lot more light in through the lens.

      Plus they allow you to get closer to your subject, instead of zooming in from a distance. This is how the best portraits are shot.

      Here’s a blog post by professional travel photographer Terence Carter that talks about using a fixed lens (in this case, the 85mm) –

      Hope this helps.

  • Jeremiah Gilbert

    I started carrying the Sigma 10-20mm lens with me about a year-and-a-half ago and it’s now my primary lens. Can’t speak highly enough about it and can’t image leaving the country without it.

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