I started out with my all manual Nikon FE2 and slowly added a number of prime lenses. A prime lens is a foreign idea for most people as they have no ability to zoom internally.
I think that using all prime lenses was a great advantage to me in helping me learn about composition. I slowly purchased one lens at a time, fully trying to understand it's best use and the differences in perspective and depth of field between each lens. If I had started with a zoom, I'm not sure I would understand that now.
The links on this page are to reviews for each of the Nikon lenses that I have owned and used, and are listed in the order that I added them. They are all fantastic optically, very fast with large apertures, and have low distortion. I would recommend that everyone wanting to increase their skill in composition purchase at least one prime lens to try out.