Choosing the right lens apart from the one that came with your SLR kit requires serious contemplation. And study. One of the first things to consider, even before you buy your camera, is what are the lens options available in that particular brand’s repertoire. The larger the collection, the more choices you’ll get. Also consider the fact that most camera manufacturers also manufacture their own lens mounts. You might have an interchangeable lens camera but be advised that you cannot use Nikon glass on a Canon body and vice versa.
The two most important questions that you should ask yourself before buying a camera are
- What is your preferred genre of photography?
In simple words, what do you like to shoot? Animals, People or Landscapes?
- What is your budget?
Also,you have to know your lenses a bit – in terms of focal length and aperture. The focal length of a lens is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when it is focused at infinity. Simply put, it is a measure of how zoomed in your lens is. Focal length is measured in millimeters.
The aperture determines how much light can pass through your lens. The rule is smaller the number,wider the aperture and consequently more light gets in. Aperture is measured on the f stop scale. The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
When you understand focal length and aperture you will know what your lens can do for you – how far it can zoom in or how wide it can go. This and your choice of subject will ultimately decide what kind of lens you should buy. Lenses are categorised according to their focal lengths. Altering the focal length allows you to achieve different effects in your images. Lets have a look at how lenses are categorised and how different lenses are suited for shooting different subjects.
Fisheye lens ( 12mm or less)
Fisheye lenses can shoot extremely wide angles. Sometimes the width is so large that the resulting image is in the form of a circle. The images are highly distorted giving them a very dynamic feel. Fisheye lenses are used to convey a sense of depth. They are used in Landscape and artistic photography.
Wide Angle lens (18 – 30mm)
A wide angle lens is a lens with a short focal length and a wide angle of view. Wide angle lenses create an exaggerated sense of depth. This allows you to fit more in a frame without chopping off parts. Wide angle lenses are great for shooting landscapes and architecture.
Standard Lens (35 – 85mm)
A standard lens or a ‘normal lens’ is a lens that roughly matches what we see through our naked eyes, in terms of perspective and angle of view. These lenses produce natural unaffected images. The standard lens is an all purpose lens and is mostly used for travel and portrait photography. You can also take great close ups with a standard lens.
Telephoto lens (100-300)
A telephoto lens (not to be confused with zoom lens) is a special type of long focus lens designed to shoot subjects at moderate to far distances. The advantage of a telephoto lens is that it allows you to get close to your subject without moving physically. This is great when you want to shoot wildlife or extreme sports action. Telephoto lenses are also used in portraits and macro photography.
Super Telephoto Lens (300mm and more)
Any lens with a focal length longer than 300mm is known as super telephoto lens. Super telephoto lenses can literally shoot the moon. They are popular with professional wildlife and sports photographers who cant get too close tot their subjects. The longest lenses have telescopic magnification which make them ideal for astrophotography.
Apart from these, there are other special types of lenses like tilt-shift lenses and macro lenses which are used for special effects. Special lenses can be exciting and fun to use but not really suited for beginners. Once you get the hang of basic lenses, then you can begin to experiment with specialised lenses. Choose your lens carefully and have fun exploring its possibilities.