tracey medcalfe photography | You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lenses

You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lenses

September 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lenses...Help There are so Many to Choose from!!
Good morning and welcome to the second September blog, we have made it to 20 blogs!!! Hurrah!.  This week we will look at the variety of lenses that are available.  Rather than look at individual lenses, we will go through the various groups and names that define the lenses and then also what they are designed to work best with.

Most digital camera's you purchase today come with a standard kit lens which could be 18-55mm focal length or 24-70mm or another comparable range.  There is nothing wrong with these lenses, but if you really want to get a better grip on how your camera works, then it may be time to treat yourself to a new lens.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,

Basically Two Types of Lens

So before it gets complicated, lets start simple - basically there are two types of lenses - prime and zoom.   

The prime lenses do not change focal length at all.  Essentially they have one focal length and require you to move your feet in order to zoom in or out.  In addition, the fact that the lens has been manufactured to provide this single focal length, there are fewer moving parts and mechanisms.  This results in these lenses being tack sharp.  An example is 50mm prime lens.

Most consumer and kit lenses are zoom.  They have a focal length range and you can adjust them to zoom in or out.  You do not need to switch in and out of lenses and you don't need a huge camera bag to carry all the possibilities you might need.  Naturally, jack of all trades is master of none and the quality will not match those of prime lenses, but they are improving and image quality gets better with each generation of lenses.
Now What are my Options?

Easy right?  Well sort of.  Now it gets tricky.  The two key factors of lenses when considering which one you want, is the focal length and the aperture.  Then it just comes down to what you want the lens to capture.  Here are a few of the most popular - 

Normal lenses are those that result in an image that is closest to the view we see with our own eyes.  The focal lengths tend to be between 35mm and 50mm  One of the most popular variations is the 50mm prime lens, I have one and I absolutely love it!

Technically, telephone lenses are anything over 50mm, although commonly these lenses are over 100mm.  These lenses compress the depth of field and allow the photographer to isolate the subject from the background.  They can deliver very interesting landscape images, but are more often used for people, wildlife and sports action.

Wide Angle
Want to capture as much as possible in the image?  Wide angle lenses come in 3 different types, wide, ultra-wide and fish-eye.  Yep you've guessed it, the fish-eye is the widest and can view up to 180degrees because the front element bows outwards.  These are fantastic lenses, but do distort the image, so use them with caution.

Want to capture something tiny like an ant?  You will need a macro lens.  They use magnification to increase the size of the subject beyond their actual size.
Ok, So is there Anything Else?
In my descriptions of the various lenses above, I deliberately omitted one variable that is used when choosing lenses.  The aperture.  Remember from the old days in the blog, we looked at aperture and used it to increase or decrease the depth of field in an image.  Lenses are sold with specific aperture values and in general, wider apertures equates to 'faster lenses' and more expense.

The 50mm lens I have is sold with apertures of 1.8, 1.4 and 1.2.
Next Time
The final week in file format and lenses. We will start to look at HDR images and the format of choice for creating those images as well as more sophisticated lens choices and alternatives you can select if you  want to increase your lens capabilities, but don't want to spend the money on a brand new lens...and bag....and camera, one thing leads to another unfortunately!! 
Your Challenge
Take a look at your camera makes web site and just see how many lenses the manufacturer offers to go with your camera.  I use Nikon and their website has a great tool for selecting price and intended use and then you can select a number of lenses that particularly interest you and compare their features.  It will give you a great idea of the options and get you used to the terms and values to consider if you are thinking about expanding your lens collection. 
Thanks so much for reading and as always, I would love to hear any comments or questions you have.  What no images I hear you ask?  Sorry peeps....I normally hate to write blogs without my images, but it hasn't gone unnoticed...will get some in next weeks blog, I promise!
Have fun with your photography,
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