Return to Buying Guides
Choosing the correct camera lens will ultimately come down to what the subject is that you are shooting. There is a long list of lens types which are obtainable online and in stores and each of these have individual properties which make them more accustomed to taking certain kinds of photographs.
Knowing which lens is the best for your project can be tricky due to the vast amount of options available, so we have drilled it down to the basics in order to help you, the buyer, get what you need.
Interchangeable lenses can be mounted on and swapped between various cameras, whereas fixed lenses cannot be changed. Because of this, fixed lenses do not allow the user to have as much input when it comes to optical quality and the control and preciseness of zoom and focus compared to when using interchangeable lenses.
Wide-angle lenses (above) are most commonly used for landscape and documentary photography as they can exaggerate a photo’s depth and relative size. They typically have a focal length of less than 35mm which makes the user’s angle of view larger than 55 ° across the image’s widest dimension.
Macro lenses are used for close up photography, usually of very small subjects such as insects or flowers which require the size of the image to be bigger than life size. These lenses usually have a closest focus setting of 1.0x or 1:1 although some top end lenses do range up to 5.0x or 5:1 which allow the user to get incredibly detailed images of tiny subjects.
A fish eye lens (above) is an extremely wide-angle lens which typically produces an image 70% wider than normal lenses. There are two types of fish eye lenses – circular and full-frame. Circular fish eyes have a 180° or more field of view and produce circular, distorted images and can be used effectively for sport and action shots. Full-frame fish eyes have a slightly narrower field of view and produce full-frame images with less distortion and are great for landscape photography.
Telephoto lenses (above) are narrow angle lenses with a longer focal length which give the user a narrow field of view and produce a magnified image. They are generally used in photographing sports, wildlife and events as they are effective in producing close up images when it is difficult to get physically close to subjects.
Some lenses will come labelled as USM. This means that the lens is fitted with an ultrasonic motor which is a small inbuilt motor that allows faster and quieter autofocus than standard lenses. There are two types of USM lenses – micro and ring. Ring USM lenses focus more quickly and also allow manual focus without turning autofocus off. Micro USM lenses were designed for cheaper models and are slower and slightly noisier.
Tilt and shift lenses allow photographers to surpass the usual restrictions of perspective and depth of field to create unique images which could not be produced on digital cameras. It is most common for tilt and shift to be used for architectural, landscape and product photography.
Return to Buying Guides