More about Lenses

Just as there is no one camera that is perfect for every shooting situation, the same goes for lenses. Some lenses in certain situations have distinct advantages over others. An extra element of challenge is added through experimenting with different lenses, like using a certain lens in a situation where it’s not normally used.


Lens mounts

All SLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, attached to the camera by means of a mount, the most popular mount is thr bayonet mount. This is operated by depressing or sliding a small button on the camera body positioned near the lens. The lens can then be turned 45 degrees in a clockwise direction and pulled gently forward from the camera body, and another lens inserted using the reverse procedure.  {note} To avoid collecting dust on the sensor, always insure that the camera is turned off, before changing lenses.

Choice of lenses

Interchangeability of lenses opens up a whole new world of choices and is probably the biggest single factor in improving photographic creativity. Lenses come as either prime lenses or zoom lenses. The prime lens has a fixed focal length such as 28mm, or 50mm, or 135mm; and a zoom lens has a variable focal length in one lens such as a 17-40mm lens or a 55-200mm lens. The benefits of a prime lens are the highest possible image quality; often a larger maximum aperture (known as a faster lens) which equates to better low light shooting and a shallower depth of field (DOF). This type of lens can be very useful in portraiture especially; and they are fairly small and discreet. Usually though you will want to carry at least three prime lenses with you to cover the range of focal lengths. Most prime lenses are autofocus, but offer the option of manual focus, there are some high quality manual focus being made and many older lenses will also produce very good results.  A zoom is very practical in that one lens will often cover the focal length of three prime lenses. They are, however, generally larger in size and in many cases the pure image quality isn’t as high as a prime, and the distortion could be greater. On the other hand some zoom lenses offer an image quality just as good as a prime lens at certain focal lengths. Just about all zoom lenses are autofocus, but offer a manual focus option.

Wide-angle lenses

A wide-angle lens (14mm to 35mm) gives a wider angle of view, so more area in front of the camera will appear in the shot. Like any piece of equipment there are disadvantages as well as benefits; the most common in wide-angle lenses is with landscape photography where the foreground may lack interest so the eye is not naturally led to the central point of the picture. On the other hand, using a wide-angle lens allows subjects to be photographed closer to the lens than usual, while keeping the background in focus. In some cases this effect can greatly enhance composition.


Standard lens (50mm)

This focal length will give an angle of view similar to what we see with our own eyes. Standard lenses are usually small in size with a large maximum aperture of 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4.


Telephoto lenses (70mm to 800mm)

A medium telephoto lens has many advantages. As well as bringing distant objects closer, it is a wonderful lens for portraits. It has definite advantages over a wide-angle lens in this situation as, when used straight on to someone’s face, a wide-angle lens will add an unflattering, albeit at times amusing quality. A telephoto lens in the region of 100 mm enables the photographer to stand some distance away making the subject more relaxed and allowing an unrestricted light source. The lens will very slightly compress the image, making for a much more pleasing portrait. The DOF will be less, so the background can be put out of focus and a part of the subject’s face, such as the eyes can be highlighted. Very long telephoto lenses from 200mm and above will get you in even closer to the action and are invaluable in sports and wildlife photography.


Fisheye lenses

These lenses can be fun and used to dramatic effect, but as an everyday piece of equipment fisheye lenses have limited use and the novelty wears off after a few uses.


A macro  lens

The macro lens allows you to get very close to the subject without the need for special closeup attachements on the camera. Depending on the lens used, small objects can be magnified to produce a final print that shows them life-size. Many of the lenses in the 28-300mm range have this built-in and it’s worth considering paying a little extra at the outset if you are interested in macro photography. Certainly if you are thinking nature or abstract photography, you will be interested in macro effects.


Shift/tilt lens

The shift or perspective control lens permits the photographer to shoot very tall subjects without the problem of converging verticals; this occurs when the sides of the subject taper toward the top of the picture.


Related terms: Eyeglass Lens, Camera Lenses, Tamron Lenses, Contact Lenses, Eye Lenses, Canon Camera Lenses, Progressive Lenses, Concave and Convex Lenses