Camera lenses are typically classified into six main categories. These include:
- Standard Zoom Lens
- Telephoto Zoom Lens
- Wide Angle Lens
- Macro Lens
- Prime Lens
- Specialty Lens
Standard Zoom Lens
The focal length of a lens basically describes the angle of view that a particular lens covers. If you choose a fixed focal length lens, you should know that they don't zoom. A fixed focal lens will thus have a single number to describe the focal length for e.g. 50mm. Zoom lenses on the other hand typically use two numbers which describe their range for e.g. 18-15mm. If you select a kit lens that comes with a camera, it will most likely have a standard zoom within the range of 18-55mm or 28-70mm.
Telephoto Zoom Lens
Lenses with telephoto zoom have a longer focal length as compared to standard zoom lenses. You can typically find a lens with a telephoto zoom range of 70-300mm. This type of lens is extremely useful for those who are interested in close-up photography or when photographing special events.
The wide-angle lens offers a maximum field of view. Depending on the sensor of your camera, the lens can offer a magnification or crop factor from 1.2-1.6 times. Focal lengths for wide-angle lenses typically range between 10-24mm.
A prime lens has a fixed focal length so they cannot zoom. However, prime lenses are known to offer a very high image quality. The decision to choose prime lenses basically depends on the type of photographer you are and what kind of photography you typically engage in.
Macro photography is a fairly technical type of photography and requires the right type of lens. Macro lenses allow the photographer to get high-quality close-up images. These also come with fixed focal lengths and are really useful for close-up shots and/or portraits. The trick of effective macro photography lies in the magnification of the subject and not the subject's proximity to the lens. If you want to excel in this form of photography, you should definitely consider macro lenses as they can provide you the type of focus required for macro photography.
There are some types of lenses that are classified as specialty lenses. These could include fisheye lenses and tilt-shift lenses. Fisheye lenses allow the photographer to create distorted circular images with a wide-angle view while the tilt-shift lens offers selective focus which allows photographers to capture a specific part of a particular image.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Lens
When you talk about lenses, there are many different types available in the market. To make things simple for yourself, you should consider the following factors:
- Focal length - Focal length is the distance from the center of the lens to the sensor. The lower the number of the focal length, the wider the shot and vice versa. If your goal is to fit more into the frame of your image, you can use wide-angle focal lengths which could range from 14mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, and If your goal is to capture close-up shots, you could opt for a telephoto lens with focal lengths ranging from 50 to 100mm.
- Aperture - Aperture measures the amount of light that can enter the camera. It is usually represented by the letter f and numbers. An aperture number such as f1.2 means that it has a wide opening allowing more light to come into the lens. A lens with this aperture would be extremely useful when shooting images in low light.
- Sensor Compatibility - The sensor is the part of your digital camera that records the image. The same function is performed with film in analog cameras. Whenever you choose a lens, you have to make sure that it is compatible with the sensor in your camera. There are primarily two types of sensors: Charged-Couple Device (CCD) and Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS). CMOS sensors can capture more light and can produce higher quality images as compared to CCD.
- Price - Obviously, a major criterion for the type of lens you buy is the price. This is completely dependent on how much you can afford and how much investment you're willing to make. It is always a good idea to first establish the kind of photography you want to engage in and the type of images you want to capture as this will help you narrow down your choices.
Type of Photography and Camera Lenses
The type of lenses that will suit you best can also be determined by the type of photography you specialize in. Some general guidelines that you could follow include:
- If your specialty is portraits, a prime lens could best suit your needs. With a focal length of 85mm and an aperture of f/1.2 or f/1.4, you should be able to get excellent results. The Rokinon SP 85mm f/1.2 Lens for Canon EF may be a good choice.
- If you specialize in travel-related images, prime lenses can be quite useful when capturing different backgrounds with people. If you want to make your images unique or want to put a creative spin on them, you can also choose fish-eye lens to add more variety to your work. A prime lens with a focal length of 50mm and an aperture of f/1.5 should be a good choice. A 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens can help you add a more personal touch to your work.
- If you specialize in street photography, you can again choose a prime lens.
- If you specialize in landscape photography, a wide-angle lens may be a better choice. Anything within a 10mm-22mm range with an aperture of f/3.5-4.5 should be a good choice.
- If you specialize in wedding photography or sports images, prime lenses should be a perfect choice. For wedding pictures, a lens with a 50mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture should do well while for sports photography, you could choose a lens with a 400mm focal length and a f/2.8L aperture.
- If you are into capturing wildlife you could choose a telephoto lens. Something within the range of 70-300mm focal length and a f/4.5-5.6 aperture should be a good fit.
- If you want to photograph insects or flowers or even food items, macro lenses are your best choice.
If you are in the process of deciding which camera lens to purchase and want to get a clear idea of the various options that are available out there, you can visit us at Photosaving to see a wide variety of camera lenses and accessories. Contact us for any queries or clarification and browse through the different product items so that you can make the right choice.