|Camera specs||What to look for|
You want a lens that can handle the broadest range of scenes. That means an optical zoom range that covers everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-in telephoto shots (we like the 35mm equivalent of at least 34mm-102mm, or 3X), with the ability to let in a little or a lot of light as needed (a maximum aperture of about f/2.0 to a minimum of at least f/5.6).
If you like shooting extra-close-up, make sure the camera has a macro focus mode and check that the minimum focus distance the camera supports meets your needs; we like to get as close as two inches. Hobbyists will want a manual-focus option--a focus ring on the lens is much better than preset distance settings--as well as the ability to add or change lenses and use filters.