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Lenses Every Photographer Should Have

Lenses Every Photographer Should Have

Buying a new camera is exciting.  With the availability of high-end professional cameras for your average joe, you no longer need to seek out a paid professional to capture those stunning images that you long for.  You can be the photographer.  You can produce professional looking images yourself.  But you will need the right tools and owning the camera itself is just the beginning. 

Most professional cameras are sold with one or two generic lenses that work well and get the job done but may lack the power and features you only get with a quality compatible lens for your camera.  Therefore, you will find most professional cameras are also available to buy the camera body alone without the extra lenses.  This way you can go out and get the lenses that are right for you and offer you the best optical features to cater to your style of photography.  For most styles of photography, the lenses are just as important as the camera itself. 

Knowing the types of lenses and their purposes will provide clarity on determining what lenses will work best for you and your photographing intent.  Of course, there are the “must have” lenses which belong in every camera gear collection, so let’s have a look at which camera lenses are vital to everyday photographers and which ones you may want to add to your collection for a specific type of “shot”.

Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses are the go-to, safe lens, to use for almost any occasion.  It’s by far the most versatile type of lens since you can adjust the zoom and focal lengths with ease allowing you to get the shot you’re looking for.  This is sometimes referred to as a standard lens.  Most point and shoot cameras and smart phones have a built-in zoom lens because of their versatility.  When you purchase a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, they will typically offer a package which includes a compatible zoom lens, although the included lens may not be as powerful or with the features you want. 

Zoom lenses can be used for any type of photography.  The fact that you can quickly adjust the focal length using the lens’ zoom feature, means you don’t have to waste time swapping out for other lenses during a photography session, regardless of your style.  

Zoom lenses come in an assortment of ranges so you can be selective in what type of zoom lens you want to use.  The quality of the zoom lens is very important because the lens needs to calculate your adjustments and aperture quickly so you can get your perfect shot in the moment, and this requires speed and stabilization.  Sigma is known for their high-quality zoom lenses as they will use a stepping motor system and image stabilization operating system which makes it easy to get smooth and focused shots.

Zoom lenses are great for videography as well since most videographers will want to adjust zoom during a video.  Zoom lenses can also be wide angle lenses and telephoto zoom lenses.


Wide Angles Lens

Wide angle lenses can create amazing visual effects on a photo or video.  As a matter of fact, many of the films and popular directors use wide angle lenses while shooting their movies to create a more immersive scene for the viewer.  

Wide angle lenses are essentially a focal length that is shorter than the length of the sensor which causes a wide-angle effect in your image.  Generally, the smaller the millimeter of the lens, the wider the angle.  For a full frame camera, anything between 18mm to 35mm will be considered a wide-angle lens, with 18mm being considered as an ultra-wide-angle lens.  Anything smaller than 18mm is considered part of the fisheye lenses category. 

Uses for a wide lens are primarily for when you want to incorporate the environment or landscape into a frame to create a more immersive viewing experience.  Often used to set the scene before leading into a more focused shot when shooting video.  Wide angle lenses will accentuate camera movement, build a subjective point of view, and create a larger frame for your subject within their settings. 

Wide angle lenses can be zoom lenses when used at 35mm or less and can also be a wide angled prime lens which has a set focal length that cannot be altered. 

Telephoto Lens

Now that we have covered wide angle lenses, let’s talk about the other side of the gamut.  Telephoto lens’s function using a longer focal range vs a shorter focal range used by wide angle lenses.  This yields a magnified picture with a narrow field of view.  Most telephoto lenses will use between a 70mm and a 300mm range with anything over 200mm to be considered as an ultra or super telephoto lens.

Telephoto lenses use magnification to make far away objects look much closer.  This is ideal for many styles of photography from astrophotography to catching images of wildlife.  You can get very artistic when using a telephoto lens since they enhance your subject in the foreground of the image, you can adjust your aperture to blur the background which highlights the subject and creating a more attractive photo.  Since telephoto lenses uses a longer focal length, it will make your subject in the foreground look smaller in relation to the background, making telephoto lenses amazing to use when shooting portrait photography.  Many photographers will even refer to their telephoto lens as a portrait lens.

Telephoto lenses can be a telephoto zoom lens or a telephoto prime lens.

Prime Lenses

Prime lenses have a specific focal length that cannot be changed.  You may be curious why photographers use a prime lens when they can get more versatility from a zoom lens.  Although zoom lenses are easy and great for beginners, prime lenses do not rely on extra mechanics like a zoom lens would.  This makes prime lenses more reliable with less chances of something going wrong with the lens. 

Prime lenses are typically more compact than zoom lenses and usually offer better image quality and sharpness.  You will find wider apertures in prime lenses to help isolate the subject and enable greater exposure to the imaging sensors of your camera.  They are also generally a bit of a better value since they do not have the extra mechanics of other lenses. 

It may be much to have a prime lens in every focal length, but as a photographer, you should have at least one based on your style.  For most types of photography, a 35mm to a 50mm prime lens will cover any photoshoot, but sometimes a good prime telephoto lens is also a very good lens to have in your gear.

Other Types of Lenses

Now that we have covered the most important lenses every photographer should have, lets take a moment to talk about a couple other types of lenses.

  • Fisheye lens – Uses extremely wide angles which creates “looking through a peephole” type of effect. This is a great lens for panoramic views, landscapes, sky, sports, and action sequences.
  • Macro lens – Must be a 1:1 magnification to be a macro lens. This means that the image projected on the lens will be the same size or length as the subject you are shooting. 

Maintaining your lenses

It’s important for your photography to store your lenses properly.  You may be shooting in interesting weather conditions and a variety of temperatures so it’s good to be aware of humidity levels before storing your lens in its protective cover.  Always remove the lens from your camera before storing it.  Do not clean your lens with your hands.  Best practice is to make it a habit to properly maintain your lenses using a camera lens cleaning kit before and after each use.  This way, its in tip top shape when you’re ready to begin your shoot and doesn’t leave any grime or other substances within its protective pouch when not in use.

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