The ONE Essential DSLR Lens you Need for YouTube Vlogging

f/1.8 Fixed Canon STM 50mm - One good Canon lens for youtube

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.

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.

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8 thoughts on “The ONE Essential DSLR Lens you Need for YouTube Vlogging

  • July 24, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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    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?

    Reply
    • July 25, 2016 at 7:00 pm
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      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.

      Reply
  • September 28, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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    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!

    Reply
    • October 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm
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      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.

      Reply
  • November 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm
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    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

    Reply
    • November 19, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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      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.

      Reply
  • January 3, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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    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

    Reply
    • January 4, 2017 at 11:40 am
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      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!

      Reply

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