The world of camera lenses can seem an absolute minefield to the uninitiated. The minute you buy a DSLR camera, you'll need at least one interchangeable lens to accompany it. And it can be hard to know which lenses are worth the money. Let me say this straight away -- buying extremely cheap lenses is a false economy. Really cheap lenses equal low quality glass, which can distort the RGB spectrum and produce incorrect colors in your images.
In this article, we'll look at the top 5 DSLR lenses for Canon users. (Of course, there are many other DSLR manufacturers, but they all deserve separate articles!)
The Canon EF 50mm f1.8 lens proves that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get good quality glass. It's not the top-of-the-line 50mm lens that the manufacturer produces, but the picture quality is outstanding.
The 50mm is a really versatile lens, and it would be the first lens that I'd buy. A fixed focal length lens tends to be of higher quality, too, as it doesn't have a range to cover like a zoom lens. 50mm is considered a standard lens, but remember that on a "crop frame" DSLR, this will become an 80mm lens. It's still a lens worth having, whichever format of camera you have ... even if it means you'll have to move about with your legs a bit more!
This isn't the cheapest of wide angle lenses, but it's worth the money. And Canon also offers a 16-35mm lens, which costs well over $1,000, so this could be considered more of a bargain!
The Canon 17-40mm lens is prone to a very slight vignetting on the outer edges, but, if you're using a crop frame camera, you'll lose that problem. (Of course, you'll also lose some of the wide angle facilities.)
Overall, this is a fantastic lens for shooting landscapes, and the quality of the glass is outstanding.
If you have a crop frame camera, and you want a truly wide angle lens, you might want to consider a lens that's designed for these cameras. Canon has designed the EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 lens (pictured here) to work with crop frame cameras, meaning minimal distortion occurs on the edges.
If you're on a budget, the Tokina lens can be found for around $50 less, and users report that it compares very favorably to the Canon lens. Be warned though: 10mm is very wide, and you'll need to practice so as not to get your toes in the shot!
I can't stress how much I love my macro lens. The detail and sharpness that my Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro USM lens achieves is remarkable, considering that it isn't even one of Canon's "L" range of lenses. (The "L" lenses are Canon's professional standard lenses, and the Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro lens costs a few hundred dollars more than the lens pictured here.) Macro lenses are ideal for shooting flowers, insects and any other small objects in finite detail.
The Canon 70-300mm f4.0/5.6 lens is a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens, and, if you have a cropped frame camera, you'll receive a maximum focal length of 480mm. A zoom lens can be really useful if you physically can't move close to your subject, and telephoto lenses are great for photographing wildlife and sports, for instance.
Obviously you don't need to have all five of these lenses, and there are many more that you could consider if you had an unlimited budget. But, if you want to eventually build up a solid collection of lenses that will see you through most photographic eventualities, these are the ones that should give you the most versatility and value for your dollar.