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Learning to take great photos doesn’t require fancy cameras or equipment. But lenses are the eyes of the camera, and sometimes you have to accessorize to get what you want.

If you’re new to camera lenses, go here to learn about them. This post is about the ones I personally own and still use, which also include some third-party lenses that work better than their “name brand” equivalents. NOTE: I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate; however, I stand by my choices.

Zoom Lenses

Convenient and flexible, zoom lenses let you seamlessly adjust from wide shots to close-ups. They are best for general photography, as they are the most versatile.

Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6

This is a great multi-purpose lens that regularly stays on my Canon camera body. It’s basically the step up from the kit lens (which itself is still pretty good) in terms of quality and photo results.

I use it for event and street photography, and it was used for all of my pre-2020 vlogs.

Sony 18-105mm f/4

It works great for event shoots and general photography. I needed a decent zoom for my Sony cameras, and this one was the best choice at its price point.

It’s a bit slower than my Canon (which could also be based on D-SLR vs Mirrorless), but the glass is pristine and the photo quality is there.

Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6

This is a very good kit lens, great for candids and travel. Quick focus and pretty good glass.

I wouldn’t buy it by itself, but it’s a no-brainer with a camera bundle.

Prime Lenses

These are best for portraits, as they tend to produce sharper images with fewer distortions, and have wider aperture openings to allow more light and shallower depth of field. They also tend to be more affordable than zoom lenses.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Lens for Sony E Mount

My favorite lens by far. It rarely leaves my camera. I’m not joking.

I’m a sucker for a shallow depth of field, and this ultra-wide lens takes group photos that look like a  portrait photographer took it. Combined with a camera that does well in low light, it’s great for night shoots, concerts, etc.

Canon 50mm f/1.8

The “Nifty 50” is inexpensive, yet powerful. The legacy one had a slightly quicker focus, but the newer one is quieter so it’s works for video. It is brilliant for portraits; for example, I took this photo in less than 1 second. There’s very little color correction or retouching.

Sony 50mm f/1.8

If you haven’t been tainted by Canon lenses, it’s great. If you have, it’s decent.

I’ve used it a bunch, and it really is the best option for my camera at a price point I’m willing to pay.

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Large Aperture Manual

Surprisingly good for a manual focus lens at this price point. Get this if you want to train your eye, as you can’t lean on your camera with this one.

Canon 24mm f/2.8

Love this pancake lens. It’s super lightweight, wide viewpoint, and lets in a lot of light. Great for walking around.


Orondé Jenkins is a multidisciplinary artist and media consultant based in Nashville. No Average Journey was born out of his desire to help artists grow in their lives and careers.