• Daragh Casey

5 Lens Types Explained

Lenses are an important part of photography but they are often misunderstood. In this article, you'll learn about the different types of lenses, what you'd use each lens for and advantages and disadvantages between them.


Focal Length

Focal length is the number one thing you should know when buying a new lens regardless of what lens you're buying.

It is measured in millimetres (mm) and the higher the number is, the further it can zoom in.


Lens Types

There are two main types of lenses, Prime lenses and Zoom lenses.


A prime lens has a fixed focal length such as 50mm, 35mm and 100mm.


A zoom lens has a variable focal length such as 18-55mm and 70-200mm.


Lenses can be further divided into the type of it's angle of view.


Kit Lenses

The kit lens is the lens you get with your camera. The standard kit lens for Canon and Nikon is the 18-55mm lens.




They can be used for a lot of things like landscapes and close ups and they are great for when you're starting off. They're also cheap and decently made.


Don't expect too much from thins lens though. While it's great when you're starting off, they don't really produce high quality images.


Wide Angle Lenses

A wide angle lens have a has more peripheral vision and can capture more of the scene. Many people use wide angle lenses for landscape photography because of this quality. A wide angle lens has a focal point of less than 35mm.



There are a few things to be aware of with wide angle lenses.


The first is that you don't include any unwanted items around the edges. A 16-35mm lens gives you a viewing angle of 108 degrees. At this kind of an angle you might accidentally include something unwanted like a leaf that doesn't fit in with the rest of the image or even your own leg. It's always good practice to check the edges of the frame before you take the picture and adjust it if needs be.



The second is to be aware of distortion. This can be a good thing depending on what you're going for. One thing to keep in mind is that lines on your image will not be as straight as you think. If you're taking pictures of a building, it might appear like it's falling over, depending on the focal length you use. If you're low down on a road with double yellow lines, the will look like they're converging together. If done right, distortion can be used for really creative images.


Macro Lenses

On the other end of the scale you have macro lenses. The focal length for these lenses can range from 50 to over 100mm.



These lenses are used for close ups of insects and flowers. They open up an entirely different world of photography by allowing you to take photos of something that would be difficult to see with the naked eye. They can also be used for product shots as well.


The only disadvantage that comes to mind is that macro lenses are limited to macro photography only but that's only an issue if you plan on taking more than just macro shots.


Telephoto Lenses

There are two main types of telephoto lenses, mid and long.


A mid telephoto lens covers the focal length of 105-200mm. They are mostly used for wildlife, sport and event photography, where shooting from a distance makes more sense. The biggest advantage with this lens is that it allows you to stay away from the action while giving you a nice shot but it's a heavy lens and it's not comfortable to carry it around for a long time.


A long telephoto lens (sometimes called a bazooka lens)are ridiculously long lenses that allow you to capture images of subjects that are very far away. They are used for wildlife photography to the photographer can stay at a safe distance from the animals. The biggest disadvantages with this lens are its size and weight. To get a steady image you'll need to use a tripod.



Conclusion

There are so many types of lenses out there and they all have a different purpose. Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of the different types and what they're used for. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them.

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