If you think that finding a good SLR camera is tough, try finding the best digital SLR lens to go with it.
While there are a handful of cameras to choose from, the number of lens options can be overwhelming.
Digital SLR lenses come in all shapes and sizes and there is substantial price variation between them.
Some are built for the demanding needs of professionals and others are just right for the everyday snapshot photographer.
Faced with all these alternatives, what's a newcomer to the world of SLR photography to do?
Just follow the 6 steps that I outline below and you'll find your way to the best digital SLR lens for your camera.
Before you even get started down the road of selecting a lens, you have to know the brand of digital SLR camera that you're going to get.
Modern day lenses have an electronic connection with the digital SLR camera. This connection relays information from lens to camera so that you can change setting on the lens (like aperture) from the camera body itself.
Digital SLR Lens connectors are manufacturer-specific. This means that you can only get lenses made by the SAME manufacturer that made your camera, or a third-party lens that is compatible with your camera.
The key to understanding which lens will work with your digital SLR can be summed up in two words: lens mount.
The lens mount is the point of connection between a lens and your digital SLR. A Pentax lens mount is different from a Nikon lens mount which is different from a Sony lens mount.
While you can get adapters to make - for example - a Nikon lens work on a Sony SLR body, this is not advised since you may lose some functionality in the lens (like the ability to autofocus).
I use the 6 steps that I'm about to introduce you to every time I go out looking for a new lens.
Each step is designed to reduce the number of lenses you have to compare by half, which is why it's good to follow the steps in order. By the time you get to the last step, you should only have to compare 2 or 3 lenses rather than 30.
So here we go - 6 steps to help you find the best digital SLR lens:
Here's the easiest way to find the best digital SLR lens: write down your decisions as you go through each step of this digital SLR lens guide.
What you are creating is something I call a digital SLR lens wishlist.
A wishlist is really just several questions (one for each step) and the answers that you provide help to identify your ideal lens.
Rather than writing down what you'd like on a piece of paper, I've put together a free PDF wishlist that you can download. You'll need Adobe Acrobat to read it, but you probably already have it installed.
Got your wishlist printed and ready to go? Fantastic! Now let's go find you the best digital SLR lens.