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In this report

DSLR lenses: brands, compatibility and features

Cameras beyond the beginner and step-up categories are usually sold with just the camera body. Manufacturers assume that you already have at least one DSLR camera, own one or more lenses that you'll want to use, and have bought the same make of camera as before. If this isn't the case, or you want something different than the fairly basic kit lens that came with your beginner or step-up DSLR, you'll need to buy a new lens. We examine expert reviews of DSLR lenses, but there's no overall consensus as to which ones are best; it depends in part on the model of camera you use. Here are some things to consider before making your lens purchase.

Manufacturer versus third party

Lenses from one camera manufacturer typically won't fit on another manufacturer's cameras, so Canon lenses, for example, won't work on Nikon cameras. However, third-party lens manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron make lenses in a number of different mounts to fit multiple camera brands. Some are rated highly in expert reviews, but autofocus may be slowed when using such third-party lenses.

Backward compatibility

Unless you're changing camera companies, when you buy a new camera you'll want to be able to use your old lenses on it. Nikon is renowned as the company with the most backward-compatible lenses; their F-mount lenses from 1959 will still fit today's cameras. Other companies may require you to purchase adapters to use older lenses, so check this out when buying your camera.

Zoom versus Prime lens

Zoom lenses, with their convenient range of focal lengths, have become the standard type of lens on DSLR cameras. But some experts argue that Prime lenses with just one focal length have advantages. They're generally smaller and lighter than zoom lenses, have faster maximum apertures and produce sharper images. If you know you're going to be shooting a lot in a particular setting that calls for a specific focal length of lens, like low light, consider a Prime lens.

Durability

If you're a photographer who shoots in the rugged outdoors, you've probably chosen a weather-sealed camera. But the hardiness of the camera is only as good as the durability and weather-resistance of the lens you use. The more expensive lenses are generally more durable, and some have environmental seals so they're water- and dust-resistant. Pentax, in particular, makes a WR series of weather-resistant lenses for its top-of-the-line K5 series of DSLR cameras.

Autofocus noise

Depending on the camera manufacturer, the autofocus system is either in the camera itself or in the lens. In the reviews we examined for this report, many experts comment on the loud noise of the autofocus systems of the cameras they tested. If your camera has the autofocus in the lens and silent photography is important to you, test it out before buying.

Digital SLR Cameras Runners Up:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Est. $3,400 (body only)

6 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-50 Est. $610 (with kit lens)

5 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS 70D Est. $1050 (body only)

4 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-5 II Est. $925 (with kit lens)

4 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D5100 Est. $480 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Sony Alpha A77 Est. $1,050 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D600 Est. $1500 (body only)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Canon EOS Rebel T5i Est. $650 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D5300 Est. $1000 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D610 Est. $1700 (body only)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-3 Est. $1450 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Sony Alpha A58 Est. $450 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: DPReview.com, CNET…

Canon EOS 60D Est. $1,100 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D3100 Est. $400 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D7000 Est. $1,000 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS Rebel T3i Est. $695 (with kit lens)

1 pick including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS Rebel T3 Est. $495 (with kit lens)

1 pick including: Amazon.com, CNET…

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Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $3,999.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $779.95 $517.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,199.00 $1,099.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Pentax K-5 II 16.3 MP DSLR DA 18-135mm WR lens kit (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,449.95 $1,011.89   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (OLD MODEL)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $649.95 $598.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Translucent Mirror Digital SLR Camera with 18-135mm Lens
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,399.99   
Average Customer Review:  
image
Nikon D600 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,899.95 $1,516.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm EF-S IS STM Lens Kit
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $849.00 $749.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,299.95 $1,046.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Nikon D610 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,999.95 $1,896.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,649.95 $1,268.83   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Sony SLT-A58K Digital SLR Kit with 18-55mm Zoom Lens, 20.1MP SLR Camera with 2.7 -Inch LCD Screen (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $599.99 $448.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (OLD MODEL)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $429.95 $374.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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