How to Buy A Lens (or How Best to Shoot Up Marilyn Monroe’s Skirt)

by Melinda Eliza Sabo
( November 10th, 2011 )

This year I’ve added two new lenses to my repertoire.  One I had been pining after for a long time – a super fast, super crisp 50mm lens from Canon.  The other was more difficult to decide on.  Did I want a macro lens?  A telephoto?  What about an ultra-wide angle lens?  After a ton of research, I decided on an ultra-wide angle lens – a 10-24mm zoom lens from Tamaron.  Ultra wide angle lenses are AWESOME for travel photography as they allow you to capture more of the story.  The following is a sampling of images I made with the 10-24mm lens of the Marilyn Monroe statue in Chicago Illinois:

Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn in Chicago, Marilyn Statue[Marilyn Monroe Statue – Shooting at 24mm]

Marilyn Monroe Statue, Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Statue in Chicago[Marilyn Monroe Statue – Shooting at apx. 17mm]

Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Statue, Marilyn in Chicago[Marilyn Monroe Statue – 10 mm]

Melinda’s Checklist on How To Decide on Which Lens To Purchase:

  1. Invest in lenses (camera bodies come and go but lenses are forever).

  2. Buy the best you can afford.  That said…

  3. Decide on a budget and stick to it.

  4. Buy the fastest lens possible.  This will give you more low-light options and may eliminate the need for a flash.

  5. Consider that prime lenses (lenses with only one focal length) give you astounding clarity but zoom lenses give you variety.

    • Don’t close your mind to possibilities.  Consider all types of lenses and give yourself time to make a decision.  I would never had considered an ultra-wide angle lens until I used a friend’s lens in Italy last year and fell in love.

  6. Lean towards purchasing lenses made by your camera manufacturer but read the reviews for off brands too. [I love my Tamaron lens!]

  7. Talk to your locally-owned photo shop people.  They’ve been to all the conferences, regularly speak to the manufacturers, and read all the reviews -  they will have some great advice for you.

  8. Talk to pro photographers and advanced amateurs who you admire.  The next time you have the kids in for a sitting, be sure to talk a shop with the photographer as she too may have some great advice on which lenses she prefers.

  9. See if you can rent the lens you want to purchase.  Lens rentals are growing more and more common place and offer you the opportunity to test-drive a lens before investing in it.

    • Even if you can’t rent a lens – see if your local camera shop people will let you shoot in and around the store with it.

  10. Always purchase a UV filter for your lens as it is cheap protection for your investment.

In Joy,


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