So You’ve Bought A Digital SLR: What Next?

Extend Your Reach: Buy A Longer Zoom Lens

I soon found myself feeling a little cramped by the lens that came with my Canon 500D; the 18 – 55 just didn’t get in close enough! Sure, you can physically move closer to your subject, but there are times – plenty of times – where you just can’t do that. Shooting wildlife, for instance, is a nightmare with such a short lens, and it’s also much harder to take candid shots of people when you have to be virtually up their nose to take a shot…!

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You can spend literally thousands and thousands on lenses, but I’m not suggesting you do that – hey, we’re just starting out, aren’t we, we don’t have to break the bank to improve our shots! So, I did some research, and I found that you can get some really affordable telephoto zoom lenses that give great results – such as the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom, which is the lens I used to take the squirrel shot above.


Although a ‘budget’ zoom lens, it takes great, sharp photos (thanks in part to its image stabilisation feature), and at around $250 / £180, it means you can buy it and still pay the mortgage that month too! It’s available from Amazon US and UK, and I really recommend it – I use mine loads.

I’m not a Nikon user, but I’ve also heard great things about the Nikon AF-S 55 – 200mm f/4-5.6 VR Telephoto Zoom, available for a similiar price as the Canon lens, from Amazon US and UK.

Take Lowlight Photos Without Flash: Buy A 50mm ‘Prime’ Lens

One of the best things about our fancy DSLRs are their ability to take photos at higher ISOs and still produce quality results. If you couple this ability with a lens with a really wide maximum aperture – meaning loads of light is coming into your camera at once – it means we can take photos in lowlight situations without having to use that pesky flash. Fantastic for family catchups (which so often seem to be indoors), concert photography, and just anytime you want to take sharp photos in dim conditions.

This was taken inside without a flash. Sharp, nicely exposed - no flash needed!

I did a whole post on how to take photos in lowlight without flash, and one of the cheapest ways you can do this – and it’s how I’ve done it, too – is by investing in a 50mm prime lens, such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens, which is the one I used to take the shot above. There are two beautiful things about this lens: 1. It has that fantastically wide aperture of f/1.8, so I can take shots in lowlight without using my flash, and 2. It only costs about $99 / £80! How good is that?

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens is available at Amazon US and UK.

A Nikon equivalent is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8, also available at around the same price as the Canon from Amazon US and UK.

By the way, you can go for the f/1.4 versions of both the above lenses, but they’re literally hundreds more – if you’re not a pro, needing the very best that money can buy, I just don’t see the need on spending so much more on a slightly wider aperture.

Anyway, those are just some ideas on what to do next with your new DSLR – feel free to add some of your own suggestions in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions.

You may also be interested in following me on twitter, or giving us the old ‘thumbs up’ on our new facebook page. Then again, you may just fancy a walk in the park. Or a hotdog. Or a little nap. So many choices in life…

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  1. Wonderful post. I’m thinking of getting a new DSLR next week and I am thinking between Canon 500d and Nikon D5000. I’ll definitely follow your tips when I get my first DSLR camera.

  2. Dimitri /

    Thank you so much for your site and your great posts!
    I’ve had a film SLR before and it broke and now I’m going forth into the digital age. I’m very interested in learning all the basics and more with my new camera and this site has been and will continue to be invaluable to me. Thank you again!

  3. Hi Dimitri. Thanks very much for your kind words about the site, I’m really glad you’re finding it useful!


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