Types of Lenses

These are the various focal length lenses. From left to right: 28mm, 35mm, 55mm(macro),85mm, 135mm, 200mm.


Wide Angle Lenses: (17mm to 35mm)

  • Use for shooting scenes when you want to include everything
  • Use when you want to have the greatest depth-of-field (everything in the scene in focus)
  • Use when you want to get an overall “feeling” for the place
  • Sometimes distorts the edges (rounded effect)

 

Normal Lenses: (40mm to 55mm)

  • Use for regular scenes when you want to limit the field of view somewhat
  • Use for regular group shots
  • Use when you want to render scenes and people without any distortion
  • Use when you don’t want to carry a heavier lens

 

Telephoto Lenses: (70mm to 400mm)

  • Use when you want to get close to the subject
  • Use when you want to narrow the field of view
  • Use when you want to have the least depth-of-field
  • Use when you want to focus on one subject only
  • Use when you want to compress distance visually

Zoom Lenses:

  • Use when you don’t want to carry many lenses
  • Use when you want to make composition easier
  • Usually are not as sharp as “fixed focal length” lenses, although some are quite sharp.
  • Sometimes are “slower” (don’t let in as much light) at the higher focal lengths. You could get a zoom lens that is a 28mm to 80mm lens, say, that would open up to f/2.8 at the 28mm value but then only open to f/4 at the 80mm length. Try to get a lens that is a constant aperture lens. They are usually more expensive as well. 
  • Use when you are in a shooting situation when it is difficult to keep changing lenses.

The overall caveat when buying lenses is to buy the fastest lens (f2.8 or larger) as you can afford. Some lenses are really fast (f1.2 or f/1.8). These tend to be the most expensive because there is more glass and it is of better quality.

William Lulow