The ONE Essential DSLR Lens You Need for YouTube Vlogging

zoom lens vs prime lens size difference

“It’s not the camera, it’s the lens”.

This statement is so true. If you get an 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.

I won’t waste more of your time, the best lens you can get is a prime lens. These are non-zoomable lenses that have a wide lens aperture. They are fast, luminous, and will improve your image quality by at least 120% (I made up this number).

But really, if you want to learn what they are and what type of prime lens to get according to your needs, keep reading.

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Why Fixed Prime Lenses Are Good Camera Lenses for YouTube Vlogging

The faster the lens is, the better. When I say fast lens, I mean a lens that has a large aperture—or a low f-number. These lenses simply 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…

The One Issue With Prime Lenses

The problem is that they can’t be zoomed out. This can turn into a real issue if you need to record close to the camera. They are the best to work with poor lighting, but sometimes these won’t do for vlogging.

In this case, the same principle applies: get a prime/fixed lens but with around 18mm focal length.

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 recording from home), you can get a prime 18mm 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 to record from home and close to the camera.
  • Get an 18mm-ish lens to show more of your surroundings while holding the camera in selfie mode.

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 it since you’ll get 10 times better quality.

Things can get a lot more expensive when buying an 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.

Finally… 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.