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Lenses, Lenses...Which To Use And What Do They Do?

So, you've decided to move from a simple point-and-shoot to an SLR. That means that you're probably going to be changing lenses depending on what you want to capture. However, there are a lot of different kinds of lenses -- which one is the best fit for what you want to do? Let's go over some of the different types and see what they do to find out! Are you looking to add a distorting effect to your photos? Or are you interested in getting a great image of the night sky? If so then a Fisheye Lens might be what you're looking for. The fisheye lens distorts the subject, giving it either a convex or concave effect. Fisheye lenses were originally developed for astrophotography which aims to capture as wide a range of sky as possible.
Are you interested in taking photos of things up close? For example, taking photos of insects on flowers or waves on the top of a lake? If so, then a Macro Lens might be what you need to add to your kit. Macro lenses have a very short focal length and are great for taking extremely close-up photos of various subjects. The photo captured through a macro lens will be many times larger than the subject of the photo itself. Maybe you'd rather take a broad photo of a mountain landscape or a forest or the ocean. If that's what you're after, then a Wide-Angle Lens should be part of your photography kit. Wide-angle lenses have a wider field-of-vision than the human eye, allowing them to capture broad panoramic vistas. A wide-angle lens can also focus on the background and the foreground, making it ideal for landscape photography. You might be interested in a lens that allows you to zoom in or out on your subject as required. If that's the case, then a Zoom Lens is up your alley. Zoom lenses allow you to shorten or widen the lens' focal length which increases or decreases the magnification on a subject. Bear in mind that zoom lenses are optical zooms -- not digital zooms! Optical zoom increases the magnification on the subject. Digital zoom merely enlarges the picture and cuts out the area outside of the subject. Digital zoom results in poorer image qualities than optical zoom. Do you want to bring your subject closer without the distortion of zooms? Then grab yourself a Telephoto Lens. The difference between a zoom and a telephoto lens is subtle. Zoom enlarges and magnifies the photo but telephoto lenses bring the subject "closer" to the photographer, reducing the distance between the subject and the lens. Telephoto lenses are great for capturing images of wildlife without disturbing them.
Are you not sure what exactly you want to do and just want a simple lens that will allow you to develop your photography techniques without relying overly much on the camera's on-board features or the lens itself? Then you might want to pick up what used to be a staple lens in photography: the Fixed-Focal Length Camera Lens. A fixed-focal length camera lens is non-adjustable and cannot zoom in on the subject or bring the subject closer to it. Using a fixed-focal length lens generally forces the photographer to be much more careful in composing and capturing the shot. They are less common now than they used to be since most cameras come with optical zoom built-in but these lenses were and are a way for budding amateur photographers to force themselves to learn the ropes of photography without being too reliant on post-production editing or camera features to "correct" their mistakes. Fixed-focal length lenses are also useful in portrait photography as they offer good mid-range focus and can be used in a variety of lighting conditions.
Are there other lenses you'd like to know more about? If so, leave a comment below and we'll see what we can dig up for you! -- da Bird
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