When I bought my first DSLR camera, it was the most I had ever spent on a camera by far and that wasn’t even including the cost of the lens. And so when it came to deciding which lens I would buy with it, I immediately defaulted to the cheapest option – the kit lens.
But having known what I know now, here is why I recommend buying a 35mm prime lens instead:
- Prime lenses (such as Nikon’s 35mm f/1.8G DX and Canon’s EF 35mm f/2) have very wide apertures that allow you to shoot in darker situations, with a shallow depth-of-field – producing that dreamy, blurry background effect.
- The kit lens does NOT have a very wide aperture (usually f/3.5-5.6) and produces mediocre results that generally won’t look very different from your point and shoot camera.
- A 35mm prime lens has an “effective” focal length of a little more than 50mm (with the 1.5x or 1.6x crop factor on most digital cameras) – a very versatile field-of-view for street and portrait photography.
- The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX and Canon EF 35mm f/2 are about HK$1800 (US$230) and HK$2500 (US$325) respectively, which isn’t cheap but by no means expensive in the world of photography equipment – particularly for a lens that you may potentially use for a very long time. Plus, you are likely to save at least around HK$500 (US$65) if you buy the camera body only instead of the body + kit lens bundle.
- As you get better at photography and grow out of your kit lens, it will have very low resale value because not only is it generally viewed as a crap lens, but everyone will have one already anyway because they bought it with their first DSLR camera also!