Quality glass is crucial for capturing great images with your DSLR camera. The best DSLR lenses are hard to find in a sea of options, but in this article, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite picks for starting your lens collection. Since we are not keeping the list specific to unique brands, we have chosen lenses available in multiple mount options, or that can be found in similar iterations across the board.
Before you read: Here are some photography terms you should learn first
The best DSLR lenses:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best DSLR lenses regularly.
1. Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens
The Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 continues to be one of the most popular lenses due to its ability to keep an f/1.8 aperture regardless of the focal length you are using. Most lenses start closing aperture the further you zoom in. This is a rare and expensive feature in other lenses, but it has its limitations. The main one is that this lens is made for APS-C sensors, leaving full-frame camera users out of the game.
2. Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM
Everyone should have a good wide-angle lens. They are the best for landscape shots and can more easily capture large subjects in a single frame. Sigma’s 14-24 f/2.8 lens has a wide aperture and quality glass. It’s for demanding users, and its price is no joke, but Sigma still undercuts the competition. The price changes a bit depending on the mount you need.
3. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens
A 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is a must for professionals and photo enthusiasts. While each brand has its own version of this lens, going with Sigma’s option will save you a ton of cash. Similar lenses from other companies can cost twice as much, but will definitely not output twice the quality.
Also read: The best DSLR cameras you can buy
If I had to pick one lens to carry around with me at all times, a 24-70 f/2.8 would be among the best DSLR lenses to pick. The focal lengths available make it a great all-purpose lens to use for scenes, landscapes, portraits, and general shots.
4. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Need to zoom in further? A handy 70-200mm lens is another piece of equipment that should be in every photographer’s bag. This one has an f/2.8 aperture and amazing optics for the price.
5. Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S
Those who want some serious zooming reach should take a look at the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S. It’s made for sports photographers and can get up to 300mm with a constant f/2.8 aperture. It’s a beast of a lens, but it’s also costly. There’s no doubt it’s one of the best DSLR lenses for getting up close and personal with your subject from afar, though.
6. Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
A macro lens is another must for those times when you need to get really close to your subject. We are talking real close, as it can focus on objects as close as 12.3in, which is plenty close considering the 105mm focal length. This will be one of the best DSLR lenses for shooting insects, plants, and other small objects.
Also read: What is macro photography?
The reason I often recommend a good macro lens is that it is not exclusive to macro photography. You can use this lens for general purposes; it will make for a great portrait lens or fixed zoom alternative.
7. Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens
A super-fast lens with an f/1.4 aperture is totally a nice lens to have if you have the extra cash. It will give you the edge you need in low-light situations, as well as producing a shallower depth of field for your bokeh (blurry background). It’s available in Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Sigma versions.
8. Nikon/Canon/Sony 50mm f/1.8 DSLR lenses
My 50mm f/1.8 is by far my most valuable investment in photography — I shoot like 70% of my photos with it. These prime lenses have great image quality, the 50mm focal length is ideal for many purposes, and f/1.8 is plenty fast. Most importantly, these 50mm f/1.8 lenses tend to be insanely affordable, making them among the best DSLR lenses you can get. You could take things a step further with an f/1.4 or an f/1.2 aperture, but those cost significantly more.
9. Nikon/Canon/Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 DSLR lenses
Each major brand has a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, but these lenses are meant for professionals. They all cost between $1,500 and $2,000, and sometimes more. These are amazing lenses for general-purpose photography, though, and they are every photographer’s dream.
10. Nikon/Canon/Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 DSLR lenses
We listed a couple of great 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses above, but going with your camera manufacturer’s version tends to offer improved quality and support. Canon, Nikon, Sony, and other brands offer their versions of this lens, and they tend to cost over $2,000. Serious photographers won’t mind the investment, though.
Now you are ready to pack your bag with a worthy collection of the best DSLR lenses to take on your photographic adventures. Regardless of your shooting needs, this list should get you started in the right direction.
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