When shopping for a lens for your new DSLR or mirrorless, compact system camera, the natural inclination is to go for a long zoom lens to help you get close to the action from far away. Steinmetz, however, suggests buying a fixed focal-length lens (also called a prime lens). It'll not only help you learn the basics – you're forced to "zoom with your feet" and so have a closer relationship with your subject – but you'll save cash, too. "Using a fixed focal-length lens is really great training. It's as if you used a computer to write and then switched to writing in longhand," Steinmetiz say. "It forces you to think more about each sentence, so you write more clearly."

For instance, you can get a 50mm or 35mm prime lens with a "fast" aperture (one with a larger opening in the lens) for a fraction of the price of a zoom lens with a similar aperture. A fast or wide aperture lens lets you capture brighter, sharper images in dim light. They're also great for portraits, because they blur the background to bring attention to the subject's face.