Lesson 2: Lenses for Your Camera
In the previous lesson, we explored the different cameras that you can purchase and what they offer you as a photographer. In this lesson, we will dive deeper into the items you can purchase to help the image quality of your photos.
Camera lenses are the second half of your camera system. If you decided you will purchase a mirror-less camera or a DSLR, then this section is specifically for you. Lenses can range in price from a small fraction of your camera body to significantly more expensive than it. Each of these lenses are meant for a specific purpose. We will explore these purposes here.
- Wide Angle / Fish-eye
The focal length of these are up to 20 mm for a fish-eye or extremely wide angle lenses and up to 35 mm can be considered a wide angle lens. That means you can take a picture of your subject while being extremely close to it. Larger subjects that wont fit your frame on a larger focal length will be able to fit within the frame on these lenses. These are great for filming yourself (vlogs), landscapes, or large objects from close range.
Standard lenses are the in between lenses from wide angle to telephoto. These lenses have a focal length anywhere from 35 mm – 70 mm. They are also fairly versatile, able to capture portraits at the lower end of the focal length and objects in the distance at the further end of the focal length.
Telephoto lenses range anywhere from 70 mm and above. They are meant to be able to take photographs of subjects in the distance. These are great for sports, wildlife, or subjects that you want to capture that you are not able to reach by moving yourself.
These lenses are ideal for close-up photography. Macro lenses are for photographing insects or other small subjects that you want to take up the entire frame.
Kit lenses are the lenses that come attached to a package with the camera body. They are generally less expensive and lower quality lenses. However, these are great for beginners to experiment with their photography skills.
We have discussed the types of lenses to consider and what they are used to accomplish. However, before you make that purchase, there are some other things to consider when choosing a lens:
- Image Stabilization
Aperture is shown as a number as f/# (where # is replaced by a number corresponding with the aperture). The aperture is the amount of light that is let into the camera when taking a picture. It directly affects the depth of field, or creating a blurry background behind your subject, and the shutter speed. Photographers prefer an aperture number that is low on their lenses to provide them the option in low light situations or to lower the shutter speed when photographing fast moving subjects. Aperture will be covered in a later lesson, but for now you should understand that the lower the number the better when shopping for lenses. Unfortunately, this means a higher price point.
In this category, there are only two types of lenses: Prime and Zoom. Prime means that the lens does not have a zoom function. Zoom means that there is a function to zoom on the lens. When you are beginning, it will be beneficial to seek out lenses that have the zoom function.
Most often, lenses you purchase will have an auto focus function. These are nice to have, especially for beginner photographers. The auto focus modes can also be disabled to allow for manual focus settings. The more professional lenses will not include these features, so if you are interested in purchasing one of these lenses right away you should consider the steep learning curve that comes with a manual focus lens.
This is also an excellent feature to have available to you. The general rule is that whatever your focal length is, considering a well light subject, is also the amount your shutter speed should be (expressed as a fraction of 1/#, where # is your focal length). Therefore, if I am focused in on an animal at 200 mm, my shutter speed should be 1/200 of a second to avoid any blur in my shot. Well, image stabilization helps reduce that fraction to help if you do not have a tripod available. However, the feature should be disabled if it is not necessary (for example, when your camera is on your tripod and taking a shot).
Not every lens is built for every camera. You will want to make sure that the lens you will purchase is also the lens that will fit the body of your camera. APS-C and full frame cameras have different lenses (though some are interchangeable). The brand of your camera should also match the brand of your lens, unless it is a third-party lens brand that fits your camera body.
Lesson 1: Why Digital Photography?
Lesson 1: Choosing the Right Camera
Lesson 2: Lenses for Your Camera
Lesson 3: Accessories and Gear
Lesson 4: Knowing Your Equipment
Lesson 1: Exposure
Lesson 2: Rules of Composition
Lesson 3: Composition Continued
Lesson 1: Website and Blog
Lesson 2: Social Media
Lesson 3: Promote and Sell Your Work
Lesson 1: Continuing with Your Photography