You have finally decided to buy your first DSLR or mirrorless camera (or you already have one, but equipped with the kit lens only), and now you want to figure out which type of lens is the right for you.
To get an accurate answer, you should ask yourself two significant questions – what do you want to shoot and how big your budget is.
Prime lenses are the ones that have a fixed focal length, which means that if you choose a 50mm prime lens, you will not be able to zoom in or zoom out and will only be able to get 50mm photos with them. Practically, this means you will physically move around to capture full or close up photos.
The advantage of a prime lens is that they usually give sharper images compared to a zoom lens, and they are an excellent choice for low light scenes like closed spaces. They are also generally lighter compared to other lenses. Most of the time, you will only need a standard prime lens since they are great for interiors, landscapes, and portraits.
Unfortunately, if the scene conditions change or your object moves further away, you won’t be able to zoom in, so you’ll either have to change your lenses or tweak around and get closer to get a shot. On the plus side, the prime lenses come in various types, including 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, and 200mm.
Pro tip: Choose a reasonably fast lens (a fixed f/2.8) to control the field’s depth better. This way, a prime lens will serve you most of the time, especially if you’re not sure what exactly you will shoot that day, or if you’re still testing the waters to find out what works for you.
You can visit Lenses Pro to learn more about what lens is best for your camera.
Zoom lenses are the second most needed piece of equipment to squeeze in your bag, next to your prime lens. They allow you to stay in the place while zooming in (or out), using a single autofocus function.
One of the most popular lenses is Canon 70-200 mm, with its ability to zoom out as 70mm and up to 200mm, but you will often see a zoom lens in the 17-40mm or 24-105mm. If you are a little more advanced, you will appreciate that with a zoom lens, you can focus while changing focal lengths, resulting in quick snaps.
The zoom lens is an excellent choice since it provides multiple focal lengths while using one lens, which means more space in your bag. It makes an excellent choice for weddings, portraits and especially for wildlife photography. If you prefer to shoot sports games, a zoom lens such as 70-200mm with f/2.8 should be your choice.
Make sure your shutter speed is fast enough, and you’ll be good to go right close to the action. Zoom lenses do have their wrong sides. They are quite heavy and physically large, and they do not deliver photos as sharp as a prime lens. Higher maximum aperture also means many of these lenses (on the lower end of the price spectrum) will not deliver good compression or bokeh effect since they don’t go below f/2.8.
Next to portraits, nature photography is the most popular with beginning photo enthusiasts. Landscape photographers love a wide-angle lens solely for a reason they get the full scene on the screen.
The post production process is often more than necessary with the use of a wide-angle lens since they tend to distort photos. On the plus side, they are quite versatile and not quite pricey compared to zoom or telephoto lenses.
One of the best reasons to buy a wide-angle lens is their lightweight, which makes them great for hiking and taking them to mountains, lakes, and other challenging terrains. With them, you will be able to get more into the photo, meaning you won’t have to worry about not getting that summit into the frame.
Wide angles also provide a great depth of field, which creates focus on the image. They can level up your photo game if you decide to take shots in small confined spaces (like cars) since you will be able to get much into the frame without maneuvering a lot.
On the other hand, they are not so good for achieving bokeh effect, and you won’t get so blurred backgrounds behind your subjects, so be vary. They come in standards of 14mm, 20mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm.
The macro lens is the best choice for people who have a sharp eye for details and are not afraid of insects or the rain. The use of a macro lens allows you to see insects’ eyes, raindrops on the leaves, or detailed shots of jewelry.
A 50mm f/2.8 macro lens is quite light and can produce a life-size 1:1 image of the subject you’re shooting (a luxury other lenses can not get because their focus is limited). Macro lenses are quite precise, and you will capture impressive shots of letters in calligraphy classes, droplets on the plant, or even snowflakes.
They produce the highest quality images and have an excellent magnification power. Of course, they do get quite costly and suffer from their limitations. You won’t be able to use them that much for general photography, and some macro lenses have focus problems since they do take a lot of time to focus on the object.
If you disregard these issues, a macro lens can be a great asset in your way of becoming a great photographer.
The telephoto lens is for people who want to shoot objects from a great distance. The telephoto lens comes with the option of zoom, which means it doesn’t have to fall into the category of fixed focal lengths. These lenses are an excellent choice for photographing nature and wildlife.
If you’re out in the forest and see a deer or some other wild animal, you want to snap a shot, but you don’t want to disturb their routine. Open your bag, put a telephoto lens on, and you’re good to go. Astronomers are also among people who appreciate telephoto lenses since they allow them to take detailed photos of the night sky.
They are also the right choice if you want to take a picture of the racetrack. Telephoto lenses come in standards of 70-300mm, 100-400mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm. You will be able to use them for shooting in a stationary position (on your tripod using long exposure for night-sky photography).
Also, the shallow depth of field is a trademark of the telephoto lens, which in practice means you can get great blur in the background. The downside is the price of telephoto lenses since they’re the most expensive ones on the list.
Another negative thing that can affect the beginner’s decision to buy is its size. Telephoto lenses are quite heavy and often require to be mounted on the tripod if you don’t want to get not so comfortably numb arms.
There you have it, the most important types of lenses. The decision to be a photographer is a good one, but to be excellent, indeed – you will need the right quality lens.
The list that you’ve read through is there to help you. Make sure to use it as a way to expand knowledge and as a guide for choosing what suits your taste.
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