We all know equipment doesn’t make the photographer but his eye and his execution. That’s partly true because as your thought process and your combined skills in editing, storytelling and execution gets you through the door. The equipment helps you open some more doors so you can tell those stories even better. An 18-55mm is a good lens but it can never get you the results of an 85mm lens. So use what you have but you are free to dream beyond the lens choice that you have.
One of the key perspectives we have is always push the limits of the equipment that you currently have so that you don’t use equipment as a crutch. Remember, you can have fantastic equipment but without learning the right skills, you will still end up with substandard images.
So, with these two lenses, we believe you can do so much you may not need another lens.
Prime lens – These are lenses that have a fixed focal length. They don’t zoom in or out.
5omm prime lens AKA The nifty 50
So many people have talked about the 50mm lens. From YouTube videos to blog articles, there is a lot of information about this so we will keep it short. This lens is so versatile and it’s great for many genres of photography, not only capturing food & product. The fact that most 50mm lenses are affordable only adds to the reasons why this lens is great whether you are a beginner or experienced photographer. The 50mm is wide enough to capture a variety of items like the background & props that add more to the story. It’s very handy when shooting flat lays! It also allows you to get close enough to the subject to showcase details of the hero that you want your audience to notice.
The best thing with a 50, is even when you don’t have a lot of space, you can utilize it pretty well. This means your minimum focusing distance doesn’t have to be that far. For the Nikon 50mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 0.45m 0r 18 inches. Great for shooting in your living room.
There are a variety of 50mm lenses for the most popular camera brands (in our region). For instance Nikon, Canon, Sony have their own prime lenses but Sigma, Leica, Zeiss also manufacture lenses that are compatible with some of these camera brands. You will of course need to check lens compatibility with your camera body.
Please note if you are using a cropped sensor camera, a 50mm lens, will work like an 80mm lens. (Multiply the camera length by 1.6)
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Macro lenses 90/100/105mm
We got the Sigma macro 105mm 2.8 EX DG lens (with stabilizer) a number of months ago that we pair with our Nikon D750 and it has been bliss! We totally love this lens and has almost totally replaced our Nikon 85mm prime lens. Basically, if you have a 100mm macro or the 105mm macro, you have the flexibility of the 85mm as well as the ability to get those really detailed macro shots. This lens is also good for portraits! Since we got the lens, it’s been a work horse next to the 50mm Nikon lens.
There’s nothing as sweet as getting so close to the subject to get those details that would otherwise not be visible. Even to the naked eye. With a ratio of 1:1 you are able to tell a more detailed story of your subject.
Please note if you are using a cropped sensor camera, a 105mm macro will work like a 60mm macro lens.
You can read here & here why product photographers absolutely love macro lenses.
Honorable mention: 18-55mm kit lens
Most Nikon DSLR cameras come with this kit lens. It’s a versatile lens as it allows you to zoom in and out of your subject. The main reason for bringing up this lens is so that the photographers who don’t have the above two lenses may know that they can still get good images. The lens is not as sharp as the 50mm or the 105mm macro but it works well. Zoom lenses are usually not as sharp as prime lenses. Just make sure to keep the shutter speed a bit high to reduce shake, at least 1/100.
Here are some shots we have captured with the 18-55mm kit lens. It came with our Nikon D5200.