If you start with photography one thing that can be overwhelming are lenses. What lens is best and what lens should I use in what situation? We will try to give some guiding tips.
A lens is a very advanced part of the camera. Actually it consists of several lenses precisely placed. To keep it short. The light comes through the lens and lands on the sensor in your camera. And your picture is processed. So you can imagine a lens is an incredibly important part for the quality of your photos. Most camera brands have a wide range of lenses.
There is one aspect of a lens that is very important: Focal length. Focal length defines the angle of view. So simply put: What you see through the lens from the point you are standing. Focal Length is measured in mm.
There are three kind of lenses:
The standard lens
In photography a standard lens is 50mm. The human sight is considered about 50mm. So that’s the ‘basic view’.
The zoom lens
Anything above 50mm is a zoom lens. It brings subjects closer than you would see with your eye.
The wide angle lens
Anything below 50mm is a wide angle lens. You will see a wider range of subjects than you would normally see.
You can have a lens that has a fixed focal length or a lens that has a range of focal lengths. For example a 18 – 55 mm lens. That means you have part wide angle and a small range of zoom in one lens.
Here you can see a scene taken with three different lenses at the same viewpoint.
What lens should I use?
Now that is a good question. And not answered quickly (as you might guessed…). And while there is not just one answer we can give some guidelines.
Standard lenses can be used in a wide range of subjects. Usually where you can get close to your subject and you have the space to move and take different angles.
Zoom lenses are great for situations when you can not get close to your subject. For example at sport games photographers have long lenses. Sometimes up to 600mm. That way they can capture the emotion of the players in great detail. But also wildlife photographers use zoom lenses to capture animals. And take a zoom lens for making great portraits.
Wide angle lenses are often used for landscapes, architecture and interiors.
Zoom lenses are great for subjects you can’t get close too.
You can make great portraits with lenses from 56mm to 90mm.
In this picture a wide 12 mm lens was used to capture the room.
Less wide lenses, like 35mm for example, are often used for subjects like street photography.
A matter of perspective
One aspect of lenses is an important one. And that is perspective. For example a wide angle lens can change the perspective dramatically. Vertical lines in you tend to lean to each other.
With a wide angle lens the perspective changes. For example buildings tend to lean towards each other.
Zoom lenses tend to make the foreground and background look closer to each other.
You have the best lens
All right, we talked about lenses and of course there is a lot more to tell and to dive in. We will save that for later.
At the end of this newsletter I want to tell you just this. Don’t invest in new lenses because you think you can make better photos in an instant. Only invest in new lenses if you are searching for new creative ways to make new pictures. The lenses you have are the best you have. Use the lenses you have to further train your photography and seeing! That’s where it starts!
We will talk about seeing (and I mean ‘next level seeing’) in the next newsletter.
I wish you a great weekend!
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