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A couple of weeks ago, I became a very happy girl. We had stopped by my in-laws on a Saturday afternoon. It was my husband’s birthday a week earlier, and we hadn’t had a chance to pick up his birthday present yet. So there we were, just chatting and catching up, and my mother in law brings out a card for my husband, and sets a wrapped gift on the table. They said the gift was for both of us, but mostly for me. I was confused – we had stopped by to pick up my husband’s birthday gift, after all. I know they are super excited for their new grandchild, so I figured that it was something for the baby. As I tore off the wrapping paper, I was honestly stunned. Inside was this beautiful camera.

My father-in-law had decided to upgrade his camera, and instead of selling his Canon 20D, he generously gave it to me. I can’t even explain how happy and excited I was. I broke into tears because I couldn’t believe it.

They didn’t even know this, but I had been saving up for a new camera. I really wanted a DSLR, and I had been putting away a little money every month, hoping to have enough for a new camera by the time the baby comes. So I can’t think of a better gift anyone could have ever given me. I have been having a ball playing with the new camera and figuring it all out. I usually shot in manual modes on my old point and shoot, so this new camera is not totally foreign to me, but I do have a lot to learn.

And what’s even better is now I have this money that I have saved up, and I can buy a new lens!! And I’ll hopefully have enough saved in the next few months to buy a second lens. But now I’m clueless, and I need your help. I have no idea what lenses to get, or even which ones to look at. I’ve been looking online a bit, and it’s a foreign language to me at this point because every digital camera I’ve had in the past has been a point and shoot.

I know for sure that I want a lens that is better in low light situations. The lens on the camera now is fine if I am taking a picture of something still – like food. But even in the light of day, I can’t take an inside picture of my dog or my husband. So I want a lens that is good in lower light situations. And I’d like a good macro lens, but I’m not sure that is really necessary now.

So, if you have a DSLR, what lenses do you use and what situations are they good in??
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41 Responses to My New Camera

  1. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    That is such an awesome gift! πŸ™‚ How sweet of them.

  2. Renee says:

    I also have a new Canon and after extensive research across many blogs with great pictures, the consensus seems to be that the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is ideal for food photography and for many other uses. This lens does not have zoom, however. The 50mm f/1.8 seems to be a great alternative if you are on a budget (can cost around $80), but the quality and clarity is not as good as the f/1.4. I hope that helps!

  3. Paula says:

    I love the story behind your camera! What a thoughtful, wonderful gift! I’ll be paying close attention to the advice you receive because I, too, am looking at lenses!

  4. Dianne says:

    How wonderful! I had a D20 for about 2 years and I miss it! Hope you have fun with yours! πŸ™‚

  5. Courtney says:

    You will really love having this. I have a Nikon and with and toddler I dont know how we would have such great pictures. Having in SLR is a lifesaver!

  6. Mama Goose says:

    How awesome!! (I’m so jealous!)
    Have fun learning. Can’t wait to see some of the new pictures.

  7. Sarah says:

    I wish I had advice for you, but I just entered into the DSLR world (Nikon D40) and am trying to figure it out myself. Enjoy it and what a great gift to get before the baby! πŸ™‚

  8. cjw333 says:

    I would agree with the suggestion of the 50mm lenses as I have both for my Canon DSLR and love them for low light shots.

    I started with the 1.8 (aka the nifty fifty) since it’s extremely affordable at about $80 USD. If you’re apprehensive about the perceived limitations of a prime lens (basically no zoom) this would be a great place to start since the cost is low. If you’re like me and get the prime bug you’ll quickly want to move up in price which will give you better build quality, better glass and a wider aperture which will translate into being able to take shots with less light. My next purchase was the 50mm 1.4.

    If the 50mm isn’t wide enough you’ll have some other options with similar apertures at 28mm and 30mm from Canon and other brands.

    Also keep in mind that if your subject isn’t moving (rule out your dog and maybe your husband) a tripod will give you a lot more options with low light even with your existing lens.

    If you’re interested in checking out my shots taken with my 50mm lenses you can find them here:

    50mm 1.4


    50mm 1.8 (aka the nifty fifty)

    In addition, Flickr has a ton of threads on this subject in the variety of Canon groups. You’ll even find groups dedicated to specific lenses and the prime lens category. There are also some good photo blogs which will help you in your search.

    This can be an overwhelming research project so I wish you luck. I look forward to seeing some shots with your new setup.

  9. Mary says:

    What a nice gift! I just have a dinky point and shoot so I can’t be of any help, but I’m seriously jealous!

  10. eatme_delicious says:

    Ooo wow I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun with your new camera!

  11. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That’s so kind of them! Such a great gift!



  12. Lisa says:

    Have fun with your new toy! What a thoughtful thing to do.

  13. Alissa says:

    ditto the others… 50mm 1.8 will get you the most bang for your buck.

    i also have a 35mm f/2 and I love it!

    tho, if you’re doing a lot of food photography, you might think of getting a macro lens.

  14. noble pig says:

    I don’t have a DSLR so I’m clueless.

  15. Kevin says:

    Congrats on the new camera! I was saving for and recently picked up a Canon XSI. I have been enjoying it so far and I am still using the lens that it came with. I have been itching to get a new lens but so far I have not been able to figure out what to get. I look forward to reading the comments on this post.

    One thing that I did find that has helped a lot is a tripod. It makes it more tedious getting shots from all the angles that I want but the photos come out much better without my hands shaking the camera.

  16. breadchick says:

    Congrats on your new camera!

  17. Ben says:

    I am jealous now! Hehe. I have never had a DSLR, but I had a SLR that I loved. I got three lenses for that one a 100-300mm zoom a 18-35mm wide angle and the 35-80mm standard lens. It all depends on what kind of photographs you want to take, really. I am saving for my camera, too. I really need an upgrade πŸ˜€

  18. Dragon says:

    I’m so jealous!

  19. glamah16 says:

    How lucky. A new camera to record the great food and most important the new baby!

  20. kimberleyblue says:

    Oh wow – congrats! You’ll have loads of fun with it, and perfect for new baby pics. πŸ˜‰

    We’re buying a dslr this weekend, so I understand your excitement. We’re getting a Nikon D80, and getting a 18-220 lens. Can’t wait to start taking better pics of my food.

    Have fun!

  21. Poonam says:

    What an amazing gift! Have fun!!

  22. Elle says:

    Congrats! What a fantastic gift! I don’t know a thing about lenses, but I’m jumping up and down with happiness for you…you’ll have gorgeous photos of food and then of a beautiful baby. Wonderful.

  23. Jenny says:

    That is so cool Deborah! Wish I could help with the lenses. I’m interesting in getting one for my camera too! Good luck, at least it’ll be fun shopping around for them!

  24. jb says:

    Dang, I’m jealous too! What an awesome gift.
    I have a regular SLR right now, with a 28-80 mm lens, but I’ll be picking up a Canon 40D later this year- but not with the standard 28-135 lens that it comes with. I like wide angle stuff, so I’m getting one with a 17-85 mm lens.
    With my current lens, however, I find the 35 and 50 mm setting very useful for food photos, but I also have a macro setting which comes in very handy too- I use that one quite a bit.

  25. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    What a thoughtful and generous gift, Deborah! I’m so happy for you! You will have so much fun with that camera.

    I’m no expert, but for food photography there are 3 things that I have found to be indispensable. First, get the best tripod you can. Many of the lenses you’ll use make the camera pretty heavy. With a tripod, you can get really crisp and sharp photos.

    Second, I couldn’t live without my Canon 100mm macro lens. I probably take 80% of my food shots using it. I’ll bet it would also be wonderful for taking close ups of your baby’s beautiful face!

    Third, if you don’t have good natural light at home, you might think about getting some external lighting. I picked up a few Lowell Ego lights at Amazon for about $80. They’re very lightweight and really make a difference. I have absolutely no natural light in my house and my pictures always look bright with these.

    Anyway, good luck and have fun!

  26. HoneyB says:

    What an awesome gift! I have been camera shopping myself but haven’t yet decided what to get yet. I’m not super camera savy.

  27. Rosie says:

    Whoo-hoo this really is a lovely gift!! Have lots of fun with your new camera πŸ™‚

    Rosie x

  28. Cynthia says:

    You have gotten a great gift and it seems that you already have fantastic advice on lens. I use the lens kit that came with my Canon Digital Rebel 350D and it works great. Next year I will probably look into other lens.

    Again, congrats and I’m looking forward to more of your food porn pics πŸ™‚

  29. Maria says:

    Wow that is a lovely camera. I’m hoping to have one of these one day ;o)


  30. Peabody says:

    What fun. I am a Nikon girl but the two lenses I use the most are my 50mm and my 105mm(i believe it is 100 in cannon)macro lens.

  31. Mrs. L says:

    I’m going to join in and concur that the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is what to get if you can afford it but don’t be upset if as a starter you go with the f/1.8, it really is a great alternative (says the woman who unfortunately usually just uses her Canon powershot and the big Canon Rebel sits in the box).

  32. Psychgrad says:

    Awesome gift! Your husband should have birthdays more often :).

    I’ll have to mark this post for research when I am able to buy my own DSLR.

  33. Emiline says:

    Ahhh! I’m so jealous! Wish I could help, but I don’t know anything about cameras.

  34. Ingrid says:

    Congratulations on your new camera! That was incredibly thoughtful and sweet gift from your in-laws. Enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  35. Salt N Turmeric says:

    That is just so sweet of them! I dont own one so I cant help with the lenses but congrats on the dslr!

  36. hot garlic says:

    Oh! How sweet! That camera looks almost identical to my Canon D60. We bought 2 lenses, one is a telephoto that we rarely use. The other one I really like and use all of the time. How do I know what kind it is so I can tell you? Does it say somewhere on it?

  37. Patsyk says:

    I’m still behind on my google reader and just saw this post! Congratulations on this fantastic gift! I don’t have a DSLR yet, so I’ll be reading to learn from you for when I do get one!

  38. Deirdre says:

    Great gift! I have a 400D, hubby has a 40D (so not fair πŸ™‚ ), I highly recommend the 50mm 1.8 as a cheap starter. For shooting my toddler, I mainly use my 28-135mm IS. I also find my flashgun, a 580ex mkII, indispensable.

  39. My Crazy Family says:

    I am so happy for you!! I have a Nikon D80 and LOVE IT!! The lens I want I cannot afford it is about $800.00 but you can get the short shots and the longer shots with it.
    I use my 18/55 and 70/300 the most. I can even see the whales at Point Lobos with the 70/300 lens.
    Have fun you are really going to enjoy it.


  40. My Crazy Family says:

    Oh I also have the 55/200 that I might use once or twice a year. I take pictures almost everyday. I think I should dust it off and put it to more use.

    I also have one other lens and it is about 10″ long I jsut have not learned how to use it because I can see what I want to take a picture of but when I take the shot it is a black screen. It is a great lens I can see the house at the end of the block with it. The windows (no not in them, I tried. LOL j/k) and the door as if I was right there and it is at the end of the block from me, about 25 houses down.
    OK, I will stop now. LOL

  41. carley says:

    I know this is old and you've probably already purchased a lens..but I just started reading your blog and I thought I'd chime in.

    I have a Rebel XT and like many mentioned, own the 50m 1.8 which I love for indoor shots. When I'm doing any outdoor stuff though, I like my 28-105 (not sure it still made, I think it's now the 24-105) which has a higher aperture, but bc I use it mostly outdoors it's not a big deal on the aperture.

    Next on my wish list is a gripe (my friend has one and LOVES it) and for a lens the 70-300mm.

    A great place to buy lenses online is B&H Photo. Love them!

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