If you’re ever confused by all the different types of camera lenses available this article is for you!
We recently asked the Agora’s global community what photography accessories they want to know more about, and the overwhelming response was lenses.
With this in mind we’ve put together this post that should make it a lot easier to understand which ones you need, and in which context (and Agora photo contests) to use each one!
1. Normal or Standard Lenses
Standard lenses have a mid-range focal length between 40mm and 60mm. The most common focal length is the one that falls right in the middle – the 50mm, giving you roughly the same field of view as the naked eye.
When to use a standard lens:
Standard lenses are great all rounders given they closely mimic what we see naturally. Some concrete examples genres these lenses are good for include:
- Portrait Photography
- Street Photography
- Indoor Photography / Still Life
- Landscape Photography
There are nor too big or too heavy, meaning they are perfect for just throwing in your bag and taking with you wherever you go.
2. Telephoto Lenses
Telephoto lenses have a longer focal length (anything above 60mm) and magnify the subject, allowing you to take photos of subjects that are further away. They also give great background blur, helping separate your subject from the background.
A “mid-range” telephoto lens is around 70 – 200mm, and then “super-telephoto” is anything over 200mm! As the focal length goes up, so does the weight and size of the lens, in which case you’ll need to use a tripod, or seriously increase your gym sessions!
When to use a telephoto lens:
Given they are usually pretty big it’s best to use a telephoto lens outside, especially when you have some distance between you and your subject.
Telephoto lenses are hence used for shooting:
- Wildlife photography
- Sports Photography
3. Wide Angle Lenses
Wide angle lenses are the exact opposite of telephoto lenses, as you can fit more into the frame in a much shorter distance. The focal length of these lenses is pretty much anything below 40mm. The smaller the focal length number, the more you will be able to fit into the frame.
When to use a wide angle lens:
Because of the distortion you can get, wide angles aren’t particularly great for individual portraits, but they can be great for shooting:
- In cramped interiors
- Large group shots
4. Macro Lenses
Macro lenses are for close up photography. They have a 1:1 ratio, which basically means they can capture your subject at life size magnification.
When to use a macro lens:
The above means that macro lenses are perfect for taking:
- Nature photography
- Insect photography
- Detail photography
Extremely beautiful portraits can also be taken with macro lenses making it a good all round purchase.
Once you have an idea of the focal ranges of the different types of lenses, you then need to decide whether you are going for a fixed prime lens, or a zoom lens.
5. Zoom Camera Lenses
Zooms allow you to change through the whole focal range of the lens, just by turning the barrel, so you can zoom in and out to fill more or less of the screen.
The benefits of a zoom is simply that you can get multiple focal lengths in one handy lens and so are great if you only want to invest in one lens!
However, they are heavier to carry and don’t have quite the same image quality as you get from fixed prime lenses.
6. Prime Fixed Camera Lenses
Primes lenses are those that have a fixed focal length such as 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm and so on. They do not zoom in or out, so you have to physically move yourself closer or farther away from your subject.
They generally can shoot a lower apertures (such as F1.8 or F2.0) and therefore are great lenses for letting in more light, and also for creating background blur, especially if you have a telephoto lens.
Finally, prime lenses tend to give you sharper images, and better overall image quality than zoom lenses!
There are many lens choices available, all which will give you a different image. The genre of photography you set out to do will depend on the lens right for the occasion.
Questions for the community:
Which camera lens is right for you? And why?
What other photography accessories are you interested in? Let us know in the comment section below and we’ll feature them on our next accessories post!