The ONE Essential DSLR Lens you Need for YouTube Vlogging

The Best Lens for Vlogging

Have you ever heard this?

“It’s not the camera, it’s the lens’ quality”.

This statement is so true. If you get a really expensive DSLR with the wrong lens you’d better use your laptop’s webcam.

This is why, before buying your DSLR, you need to know what lens to get. This is essential if you don’t want to end up wasting a lot of money.

That’s why I decided to show you guys the first lens you should buy for any vlogging channel.

I’ll explain which lens I believe is the best to begin with, but if you want to jump straight to a list of the best vlogging lenses, click here.

**Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Don’t Make this Newbie Mistake

If you’re getting a new DSLR to start vlogging, hold on.

There is a common mistake DSLR newcomers make: buying the starting lens kit.

Don’t do it.

Instead, pay less to get only the body and invest in a good lens.

If you’re a vlogger, there’s one particular lens you are going to LOVE, and it doesn’t come with any starting lens kit.

It doesn’t matter if you use Canon, Nikon, Sony or any other brand. You need to look for a prime lens.

This kind of lens is great no matter the camera you use. Be it DSLR or mirrorless, a fast, fixed lens will achieve outstanding results.

They stand out for the image quality they achieve. And this really makes a big difference when vlogging.

Here is exactly why:

Why Fixed Prime Lenses Are Good Camera Lenses for YouTube Vlogging

The fastest the lens is, the better. When I say fast lens, I mean a lens that has a large aperture—or a low number f. These lenses allow more light to enter your camera’s sensor.

Fast lenses are perfect for vloggers because this kind of job doesn’t allow you to control lighting. A good vlogging camera needs to perform well in low light because you won’t be able to set the lighting every time.

You need to work with what you have, and prime lenses allow your camera to capture more light at any time of the day; they let your camera record at the highest quality possible in any situation.

These are highly luminous lenses that also capture a much sharper image compared to the starting kit lenses. Some brands, like Canon, sell these lenses for a price a little bit above $100. It is a crazy value because you get:

  • Amazing performance in low light – You can use these lenses to lower your ISO and to stop noise from showing up in your videos. This improves your image recording quality. You can also forget about having to use a lighting kit at all times.
  • Sharper Image. By buying one of these lenses, you will get a higher quality lens compared to the starter kit. This is thanks to their higher quality build.
  • No face deformation. It’s better to get a normal-focal-length lens (50mm), or as close as you can get to it, so you don’t suffer from perspective distortion. This is exactly the reason why, for example, you shouldn’t record everything with a GoPro. Most vloggers need a wide-angle lens, but you still should try to get as close to 50mm as you can.
  • All of this for a surprisingly low price. Fixed lenses are cheaper and bring the best value for your money. You can get an f/1.8 Canon 50mm for a little bit more than $100. This price is really good for its quality. This is why it is the #1 lens recommendation when you get a Canon DSLR.

This is why your first choice should be a 50mm lens. HOWEVER, there’s something you need to know about them: you can’t zoom these lenses out. And if you use a 50mm lens on an APS-C DSLR, you will find that you will need to record far away from the camera.

That’s why there’s another lens you should use if you plan to take the camera with you to record yourself while walking around.

Another Lens you Need to Know

What if you need to record close to the camera?

The truth about prime 50mm lenses is that there’s no way of zooming them out. So it is basically impossible to use if you want to record yourself selfie mode. They are the best to work with poor lighting, but sometimes these won’t do for vlogging.

Basically, the same principle applies: get a prime/fixed lens, but with around 24mm focal length.

You can also aim for one around 18mm if you really need wide, but 24mm should be enough to record your surroundings while avoiding too much perspective distortion.

They are not as good in low light as a fixed 50mm, but they will give you the ability to record yourself standing really close to the camera.

If you want to get the best quality a DSLR can offer for both cases (for walking around outside and to record from home), you can get a prime 24mm and a prime 50mm.

Basically, you got the following options:

  • Get a 50mm prime lens to record from home and away from the camera.
  • Get a 24mm prime lens if you need to carry your camera around (but you will need a gorilla pod).
  • Get a 18mm lens to show more of your surroundings while holding the camera.

Considering that a Canon 70D costs an extra $100 with the kit lens, and that you would need to pay around $275 for both prime lenses (one 24mm and one 50mm), this extra $175 is well worth, since you’ll get 10 times better quality.

Things can get a lot more expensive when buying a 18mm lens. Not all brands offer prime 18mm lenses; a lot of them only offer 18mm lenses with a variety of focal lengths, normally 18-50mm. These glasses with multiple focal lengths are more expensive. You will need to spend a lot of money on a fast lens of this kind, but the good thing is that you can skip buying 24mm and 50mm primes.

So… Just Evade Starting Lens Kits

This is why any person with experience buying DSLRs will tell you to skip the kit lens. Sooner or later, you will want a prime lens because of its high quality and cheap price. So why not buy it now and save $100 by skipping the stock lens?

It doesn’t mean getting this lens will make you famous. Your content is much more important than your equipment. Your gear will only help you stand out, but if your content is bad, it won’t matter. What really matters is that you will save money.

If you’re not sure about what fixed 50mm or wide-angle lens to buy for your camera, check this resource I built for all brands.

Also, if you’re shopping for your starting vlogging kit, you might find this guide on microphones useful.

Will A.

Will is the founder of VloggerPro. He's a YouTube Certified partner and has been reviewing equipment and teaching others how to grow and generate real income on YouTube for the last 5 years.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Tony Harner - October 7, 2019 Reply

Hi Will, Great article.
I’m treating myself to the M50 on my birthday. What would you recommend as a very good vlogging lens to start with?
I’m already using the Kit lens which is not up to mark.

    Will A. - October 8, 2019 Reply

    Hi Tony. A prime lens around 24mm or maybe a bit less is what I’d choose for vlogs

indrojit barua - April 16, 2019 Reply

Hi, I really liked your article which is really super informative. I am planning to do video blogging ; to take video of natural beauties while drifting around in a sunny day. Should I go for a Camcorder like ( Sony FDR-AX 700 which has 1-inch sensor ) or a mirrorless camera like ( Sony a6400 which can film more than 29 mins in one go ) ? Which one will be the best to capture stunning video footage ? Thanks

    Will A. - April 19, 2019 Reply

    I’m a fan of mirrorless cameras, so I’d choose the Sony Alpha, and you can also use it for low-light situations.

Chris - January 23, 2019 Reply

Hi! I appreciate all the information you’ve posted. I had a quick question. I am looking to get the Canon EOS Rebel SL2. I wouldn’t mind getting the body alone, and then getting a separate lens later. But they normally come with a 18-55mm lens. I am not super informed about lenses, is there an advantage/disadvantage to the 18-55mm vs a 18mm or 24mm lens for vlogging?

Thanks

    Will A. - January 30, 2019 Reply

    Hey Chris. Yes, the prime lenses 18mm or 24mm are much higher quality. They will allow more light into the camera, which increases the quality of the image. The downside is that they are non-zoomable. You could start with the 18-55mm, and if you’re new that might be your best option because you might want to have more zoom in the end. Although I do recommend getting a prime lens around the focal length I recommend if you are going to walk around with your camera and record in selfie mode.

Monique Gardner - August 10, 2018 Reply

Hi Will, I’ve been reading lots of your blog posts which are super helpful. I’m a makeup artist looking to create my portfolio and potentially start a youtube/ record instagram mini tutorials soon. Therefore would you suggest the Nikon D3400 or Canon EOS 70D and what about a Sony a7000? Also I know you suggest a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 but I was wondering which lens beauty instagrammers/youtubers use when zooming very close in on one eye to show that makeup? Should I get a 50mm lens that isn’t fixed or two different fixed ones and what length?
Thanks for your help.

    Will A. - August 11, 2018 Reply

    Hello Monique. I’m not sure if you’re referring to a Sony a7 because the a7000 doesn’t exist yet. I’d suggest you the Canon EOS 80D if you want to start a YouTube channel and have the budget since it works nice for both photos and video. The 70D is also an option if you don’t have the budget.

    They could be using many zoom lenses, I’m really not sure which one. You can find up to 200mm lenses, so it could be any range, starting from 50mm probably. You could get the zoom kit lens for your DSLR, which isn’t expensive, for these particular photos and work with a 50mm for most of your makeup work, although I feel like a fixed 50mm lens can also take very close eye shots.

Polly - February 28, 2018 Reply

Hi I’ve been reading all your blogs, which are so useful. I need to get a camera for makeup photography (currently using just an iphone6), it’s all really new to me. From what I can see on your blogs the best camera would be a Nikon D3400 , can you confirm this? Then which is the best lens for still makeup photography, as I can only find what you recommend for vlogging. Thanks x

    Will A. - February 28, 2018 Reply

    Hello Polly.

    Yes, the Nikon D3400 is the one I like to recommend for starters. There are of course better cameras out there, but they are much more expensive and I don’t think you’d be taking advantage of all their potential with makeup photography. The best lenses are the 50mm prime lenses I talked about in this post. For Nikon, they are the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8 and the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4. The latter one is more luminous and achieves even blurrier background. But the most important thing for you is to have good lighting. Ring lights are great for makeup. Good luck!

      Polly - February 28, 2018 Reply

      Thank you very much.

luke - January 31, 2018 Reply

Hey, I’m a pretty new to photography/vlogging but pretty keen. Just looking for a bit of advice regarding a lense, I have a Nikon entry level dslr and like using it for both video and photography. However I am going on a trip to watch rugby 7s abroad and want to do a pov/selfie style vlog of what I get up to. I feel the Nikon 50mm 1.8g AF lens will be suitable on a pretty decent budget. I am a bit worried about it being very shaky as I will be holding the camera. Any advice or recommendations would be happily received!!

Luke

    Will A. - February 3, 2018 Reply

    Hey Luke,

    A 50mm is not the best to do selfie style vlogging. That’s a lot of zoom (even if you’re using a full-frame camera), so you should be looking for something around 24mm.

    Sadly Nikon is not the best for handheld vlogging because most of their cameras and lenses lack the stabilization. I haven’t been able to find a cheap lens for Nikon that can help you with selfie handheld recording. The closest I can recommend is the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5, but it’s around $400. You can instead get a nice compact camera that might not have a flip screen but has the stabilization and is able to record really nice selfie footage. I like to recommend the Canon ELPH 360hs for that. It’s a really good price and it gives you a nice small vlogging camera for these occasional vlogs.

    Hope that was helpful, and good luck!

      Luke - February 3, 2018 Reply

      awesome, thanks for the advice I was kind of thinking the shake factor would be an issue with the 50mm and nikon so thanks for the advice. I do have an old point and shoot camera which I could use or I buy an older model go pro for roughly the same price as a 50mm prime
      That might be my best option what do you think??
      Thanks

        Will A. - February 3, 2018 Reply

        You’re welcome. Using the point & Shoot you already have sounds fine to me. Get the GoPro if you want some PoV footage

Bri - December 6, 2017 Reply

If I’m being super cheap and only want to use my phone for vlogging, is there a lense that I should get to put on my phone? Or are those clip-on phone lenses, nonsense?
Thank you!

    Will A. - December 8, 2017 Reply

    Hey Bri,

    Yep they are all clip-on lenses. I don’t particularly like them and I don’t think they are worth the money. Also, most modern smartphones have a wide enough lens installed that allows easy selfies, and so they allow to vlog as long as you use a selfie stick.

Busayo - July 5, 2017 Reply

Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m a makup artist and i want to focus more on pictures than videos. So a nikon d3400 or canon T7i camera body with lens of f/1.8 and f/1.450mm is recommended right?

    Will A. - July 5, 2017 Reply

    Hello Busayo

    If you want it mainly for pictures, it’s probably better to go for the D3400 since you won’t have to pay more for video features you don’t need. And you’re absolutely right, a 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 are the best lenses for a natural look and lots of detail, which is great for makeup.

Deb Hanson - January 3, 2017 Reply

Good Morning,
My daughter wants to get into vlogging and we were told to by a local camera shop to purchase her the Olympus TG-Tracker with 1.5-Inch LCD. But we found out it only has two modes – fish eye and wide angle. Neither of these to my knowledge are used in vlogging. Am I wrong? If so, what does she really need? TIA.
Deb

    Will A. - January 4, 2017 Reply

    Hello Deb

    The fish eye lens is barely used for vlogging, but your daughter will probably need a wide-angel lens. Now, the Olympus TG-Tracker actually doesn’t have any zoom so what you have is what you get, meaning that you can only record fish-eye mode. That camera is really useful if you’re going to film a lot of extreme sports videos, but it’s not useful so good for most vlogging because of its extreme wide angle.

    If your daughter wants to vlog the typical way of just holding the camera and speaking to it (selfie mode) basically any compact camera will do. I list on this website the best ones, for each price range. You can check the models I like here.

    Have a nice day, both of you!

Aaron - November 15, 2016 Reply

Hello Will,

I’ve got a question about the 50mm lens, would it be suitable to shooting video in a ‘selfie’ style. I vlog about cars and there will be times where i will turn the camera around to face me but i want to make sure it’s not too zoomed in and that you’re able to see a little a bit of what’s behind me (like a car for example). I’ve been advised by a retailer that 50mm would not be suitble and that I’d be better of with a 24mm or even an 18mm – would you agree? I’d rather get the 50mm if possible as it seems to be the lens to have.

Thank you,

Aaron

    Will A. - November 19, 2016 Reply

    Hello Aaron,

    It’s true, I think I’d go for a 18mm for that kind of video. The 50mm is not suitable for selfie recording. It’s the one that gives the most natural look, but it’s not suitable for situations like that one.

    If you don’t need to use zoom, you can get any prime lens around 18mm or 24mm; if they lack zoom they give a lot more quality for your money.

Lauren Hd - September 28, 2016 Reply

Hello,
I’m on a tight budget, like everyone, right?
I’m doing app reviews on YTube in a small room.
On the screen it will be me with the phone screen on the display or a closeup of my hands using the app.
I’ve read your lens list. In this setting, what lens do you recommend? Thank you!

    Will A. - October 5, 2016 Reply

    Hello Lauren

    IF you want to record closeups and are on a budget I highly recommend you the Canon f1.8 50mm, or a similar lens for another brand. It is really cheap for the quality it offers and its focal length is zoomed in enough for you to do nice close ups.

Toby - July 24, 2016 Reply

Hey

I been vlogging with a Sony a99 dslr with a tamron 24-70 lens. I want to go over to the a7r and wonder what lens I should get. Obviously I want a good one since I be spending big bucks for the camera. What do you recommend for this one? I also been looking to get a gimbal for it I found on aliexpress for 630 bucks. What’s your thoughts?

    Will A. - July 25, 2016 Reply

    Hey, Toby

    If you want a good one, the best option is to go for a prime lens. For vlogging I prefer using any prime lens between 18mm and 24mm focal length. If you go to the list post about lenses, you will find some there that are of good quality and on different price ranges, and that will fit your Sony a7r.

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