Any good videographer or camera operator knows the perfect shot starts with selecting the right lens. A photographer looking to capture the winning goal of a soccer game is going to need a different lens than someone taking a portrait. The trick is learning which one for the occasion.
To fully understand lenses and how to choose them, you have to look back on what you learned in camera operating 101. There are two primary types of lenses: prime and zoom. Within these lenses there are also two measurements to look for: focal length and aperture. Every camera lens will show the zoom in millimeters and the aperture in f-stops.
If there is less light available, such as at a concert venue, switch to a lens with a wide aperture such as one with an f- stop that reaches 1.8. If you are photographing where there is an abundance of light, such as a sunny landscape, choose a lens with a lower aperture f-stop such as a 5.6. Wide apertures are ideal for taking portraits because the camera can focus more on the person than on the background.
Understanding what focal length to use or how much aperture can help you achieve the right details to your photographs and videos. You will be able to do more with your lenses simply by knowing what to adjust. There are still many kinds of lenses out there to capture any shot imaginable. Read below each type to determine which one you will best help you obtain your ideal shot.
As the name implies standard lenses are the most commonly used lenses because they create the most natural looking photograph. The most common focal lengths for these typically prime lenses are 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm. Look for lenses with a wider range of apertures so that you can get those pristine shots. The best uses for these lenses are close up shots especially of people. These lenses do not have many special features but it is the most basic lens any camera owner should possess.
If you have ever seen an image like the one you would see when looking through a peephole in real life, there is a specific lens needed to get this shot. It is called a fisheye lens and it is the widest lense available for purchase. Fish lenses will usually have a focal length of 12 millimeters or less. It creates an image of exaggerated depth and captures the most you can in a single frame. The most common use of this lens is to photograph small spaces or when trying to create an image of distorted reality.
Wide Angle Lens
If you are looking to capture a lot in a frame and create an exaggerated depth, look for a wide angle lense. Wide angle lenses are similar to fisheye lenses but with more minimal depth. The focal length ranges from 18-30 mm. This lens is used for capturing a lot in a single photo, such as a large item or a lot of people. The one thing to look out for is that inward angles will occur in the photos and the image will have some distortion. Typically those who use this lens are going for that type of a shot. If you are not there are ways to fix the unwanted curves easily in post-production.
If you are looking to get a shot of something in the distance but you can not physically get closer, use a telephoto lens. There are pros and cons to this type of lens to be aware of. It is great for capturing far away subjects that a zoom cannot but in doing so it flattens the depth and can result in unrealistic looking photos. It is great for isolating singular subjects for beautiful pictures but to do so it needs stabilization. When purchasing this lens look for one with optical stabilization because it will eliminate the blurry image. Small movements from the intense magnification of the 100-300 millimeter lens picks up will often create blurry images if not properly stabilized.
Super Telephoto Lens
This type of lens are for the subject so far away that the regular telephoto lens cannot pick it up. These lenses come with focal lengths of 300 millimeters or more. The same negatives and positives of the regular telephoto apply to this type of lens but to a more magnified stance. The best use for this type of lens apart from extreme distance is the ability to focus on a singular subject. Super Telephoto lenses with wide aperture and high focal length range are some of the most expensive lenses and even glassware that can be purchased.
Macro lenses are perfect for delivering the sharpest image for a subject that is extremely close. All lenses have a type of minimum focusing distance which hinders their ability to create a sharp image whereas this type of lens is designed for these type of shot. The best macro lenses will have life-size magnification commonly seen as 1:1 magnification. This basically means that the closest focusing distance of the subject is the same distance it is in actuality. The typical focal lengths for this type of lens is between 40 and 100 mm. More expensive versions of these lenses will also feature that optical stabilisation to reduce blurry images cause from camera movement.
The best way to get the best shot is to practice using the different lenses and exploring what they can do. You will become more aware of the type of image each lens will give you with every photograph you take. Lenses are not cheap, but to get that perfect shot it is an investment worth making.