In any kind of photography, using the right lens – which is the most important part of the camera – is crucial for taking a perfect photo. And maximizing the benefits of using your camera's interchangeable lenses can make all the difference and turn amateur photography into a professional one. So choose your goal wisely before the first shots.
With the many photo lens options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the right device for your needs, especially if you are just now getting started in photographic art. Here are the things to keep in mind when looking for a photo lens and some suggestions on what types to look for:
Expressed in millimeters, the focal length is the distance from the optical center of the lens to the focus point. This specification influences the magnification of the subject to be photographed, as well as the viewing angle. The smaller the number that expresses the focal length, the wider the viewing angle.
A lens with a focal length of 12 mm, for example, will provide a wider viewing angle than a lens with a focal length of 50 mm. Some lenses have a fixed focal length, others a variable one. Cameras sold as a "kit" (body + lens) are generally equipped with a variable focal length lens, also called a "zoom".
In general, fixed focal length lenses are cheaper, lighter, and often have larger apertures. However, they are less adaptable. For example, a fixed 50mm lens, ideal for portraiture, will not allow you to photograph a large group of people unless you are moving toward or physically moving away from the subject. An 18-55 mm lens can allow you to zoom without having to move.
Aperture or aperture is expressed using the value “f /”, which is defined as the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the aperture. If you want to take pictures indoors, but in natural light, for example, you will need a lens with a large aperture, which will allow more light to pass to the sensor. To quickly find the right solution, keep in mind that the larger the aperture, the lower the "f /" value. Lenses with large apertures (low f / value) are generally larger and more expensive than lenses with a higher f / value.
Several objectives include stabilization technologies. The sensors inside the lens detect and measure the vibrations caused by the photographer, then allow the system to compensate for these vibrations.
Each manufacturer uses its own acronym to indicate the presence of a stabilizer: VR (Vibration Reduction) at Nikon, IS (Image Stabilizer) at Canon, OSS (Optical SteadyShot) at Sony or IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) at Olympus.
You should know that the smaller the aperture (high f / high value), the longer you have to choose a longer exposure time to take good photos, and the more you will need a good stabilizer to compensate. involuntary movements.
The same manufacturer can offer several ranges of lenses, which will not all be compatible with your camera. A lens designed for a hybrid, for example, cannot be combined with a DSLR, and vice versa. At Canon, in particular, the Canon M lens range is designed for mirrorless and Canon EF for DSLRs. For Nikon, you will need to use a Nikon 1 lens on a hybrid or a Nikon F for a DSLR.
At Nikon, in the same range, for example Nikon F, you will find lenses for cameras with large sensors (FX) and others for cameras with small sensors (DX). Although the camera will accept both types of lenses, you may not get optimal quality images. At Canon, the situation is similar: EF lenses are made for cameras with large sensors, and EF-S, for cameras with small sensors. Before buying a lens, make sure it is compatible with your model by visiting the manufacturer's website.
Are the goals offered by your device manufacturer too expensive for your budget? Some independent companies, such as Sigma and Tamron, sell lenses that are compatible with cameras from other brands. These lenses often cost less than the "originals". The test results show, however, that they are less effective.
The type of photography practiced
After understanding the main functions and compatibility, you need to decide on the style of photos you want to take. For example, some landscape photographers choose a lens with a focal length of at least 24 mm (equivalent to 24 x 36, one with 12 mm for Olympus and Panasonic, one with 16 mm for Nikon in APS-C, Fuji, Sony and 15 mm). for Canon in APS-C). The plan is broad and covers much of the picture. You also need to know how to deal with the light of the moment.
For portraits, a fixed focal length is ideal. This forces the photographer to position himself at the correct distance, because there will be no zoom, but the renderings are magnificent. These lenses are bright, which allows you to bring the subject to the forefront and blur the background. For a mirrorless 4/3, the focal length of 45 mm makes very good portraits. For a device with an APS-C sensor, you can choose a 50 mm or an 85 mm to tighten the frame more, and for a 24 × 36 device, an 85 mm, a 105 mm or a 135 mm will be perfect.
For macros, there are special targets. Depending on the subject to be photographed, whether it is small, such as insects, or larger, for example a consumer product, the same lens is not chosen. To photograph insects, it is better to use a focal length of 100 mm; on the other hand, to photograph a consumer product, you can choose a shorter focal length, for example, 60 mm. Olympus offers a 60 mm macro (equivalent to 120 mm in 24 × 36) with which you can take photos with small subjects. Some zooms also have a macro function, and this allows you to find out if you like this style of photo before buying a new lens.
To photograph wildlife or sporting events, you will need to invest in long focal lengths of at least 300 mm or even more. You can't always get close to the subject, so you'll have to zoom in to frame the animal or athlete. For this type of photography, a bright lens is often much appreciated. To start this type of photography, Sigma has a 150-600mm f / 5.6-6.3, which already allows you to capture successful snapshots with a DSLR camera. For hybrids, Panasonic offers 100-300mm (equivalent to 200-600mm in 24 × 36). You can also invest in a Canon 100-400mm f / 4.5-5.6 or a Nikon 80-400mm f / 4.5-5.6 lens.
Some types of lenses to use with a professional camera
Things can be quite difficult when it comes to choosing a photo lens, because the market is full of a lot of models, which once installed on the camera have different characteristics. You have to choose them depending on the focal length, the type of aperture, the mount and the desired purpose / effects. As a professional photographer, it would be good to have as many types of such parts in your kit, in order to offer your clients everything they need.
The photo lens is a very important piece that has a special camera for pictures. Some models come with it included, others can be used with several types of devices of this kind, depending on what it accepts and of course what you need.
If you want to buy such a product for a professional device (and not only), you must first know what options you have available. We will present them to you in the following, classifying them according to some very important criteria:
By focal length
This indicator refers to the distance between the camera's sensor and the optical center of the lens. It can be fixed, having a certain number of millimeters and variable, adjustable with the help of the zoom function.
The first is simple to understand and use, because it simply represents the value with which the lens comes. It is especially suitable when you want to take portraits. The smaller the focal length, the greater the depth of field and the smaller the magnification.
The second is present in zoom cameras, where you can adjust the proximity. In this case, the devices can be of several types: ultra-wide-angle / ultra wide – they have a distance of less than 24 mm, wide-angle / wide – they come with a value between 24 and 35 mm, standard / normal – they measure between 35 and 70 mm, telephoto / telephoto lenses – can be adjusted between 70 and 300 mm and super telephoto lenses – with incredibly high values, more than 300 mm. The higher the performance, the higher the price, but also the physical weight of the lens.
The products in the first category presented by us have the great advantage of the fact that they offer clearer images, because the distortions are easier to control, and the others are more versatile and offer you more possibilities to shoot without changing the accessory.
Regarding this aspect, it would be worth mentioning some ideas about how the lens will capture the frames, compared to what the human eye can do. Specifically, if the focal length is greater than 50 mm, the viewing angle will be smaller than could be seen with the human eye, ie an object in the frame will appear larger in the picture than can be seen in reality. Then, if this value is less than 50 mm, the angle will be wider and you will be able to see more than you could see with your own eyes. A value of 50 mm means a view approximately the same, ie what you see in the frame you see with the naked eye.
By diaphragm type
The aperture is responsible for controlling the light that reaches the lens sensor. That being said, the models, in this case, fall into two categories: light and dark.
The variants considered to be brighter come with a wide open diaphragm, which will allow the light to penetrate in large quantities. They have values of f / 1, f / 1.4, f / 2, f / 2.8, up to f / 5.6.
If what you are looking for is a slightly darker lens, which does not allow too much light to penetrate, then look for something with indices such as f / 16, f / 32 or f / 64.
To better understand, the idea is that this value should be as low as possible if you want a bright lens and as high as possible if you need a darker version. Keep in mind that the best possible light shortens the exposure times required for a successful photo.
By mount type
Since you are looking to buy a lens, it means that you have a camera that uses such interchangeable variants. Therefore, it must fit perfectly on your room.
To make sure everything is fine, consider the mount. It is generally listed in the form of numbers or letters and depending on the code, you will know whether or not it is a good item for your camera: M / R – Leica, OM – Olympus, Md – Minolta, FX / DX – Nikon, EF / EF-S – Canon, X – Fuji, E – Sony, DC – Sigma, K – Pentax si Ricoh, T2 – Nikon, Canon, EOS, Sony / Minolta, Pentax / Samsung, Olympus ¾, if special adapters are used that can be purchased optionally.
By purpose / effects
More and more efficient lenses appear on the market, which can be used for clearly defined purposes or which bring with them a series of highly appreciated effects. The most popular are the following:
Fisheye – are characterized by a very short focal length, which is usually less than 15 mm. However, this will allow them to capture shots from very large angles, about 180 degrees. You will notice that the targets closer will be larger, and the farthest ones will be harder to notice. At the same time, things that are placed in different planes will have disproportionate sizes.
Tilshift – are options for which especially opt for photos that want to capture architectural frames. They offer the possibility to correct the perspective between the lens and the sensor, juggling the lenses until the final result is the one you want.
Macro – are appreciated for those who want to pose very small targets, from very long distances. They have a focal length that can often be adjusted even up to 200-300 mm. They are recommended when it comes to photographing small creatures in nature, but also when you want to capture very distant lenses in a clear way.
Keep in mind the quality and type of lenses when you buy professional cameras , if you really want to do a good job and have satisfied customers. And, if it's time to buy a new piece of this type, see in online stores, because you have a lot of offers.