A camera lens is an optical instrument that helps to capture images. There are different types of camera lenses available in the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
However, choosing the right lens would be one of the most challenging aspects of photography. Whether it is portrait photography, street photography, or wildlife photography, you cannot just point a lens at your subject and expect beautiful pictures to come out. You have to take time to learn about lenses, their uses, characteristics, and limitations, as you cannot always rely on kit lenses. The kit lens usually comes with a camera purchase and usually works great for a beginner, but you will have to buy these camera lenses separately.
This article highlights different lenses for your mirrorless camera or DSLR. It should help you to understand which lens will best suit your needs or aspirations in photography. Before going into the types, it is important to know that there are two major categories of lenses i.e. Zoom and Prime Lenses. Both categories consist of many lenses with different focal lengths.
Zoom lenses have variable focal lengths that allow you to increase or decrease the magnification of your subject. These lenses are used to crop and zoom in on subjects from a distance. They are ideal for subjects with various focal lengths and do not have any fixed focal length. Moreover, they have a zoom range of 0. 3x to 2. 0x, which means that they can zoom in or out two times their full frame equivalent. They are popular because they give you a lot of flexibility with your camera and make it much easier to get shots that are just right. Zoom lenses offer a good compromise between image quality and size and are perfect for a wide range of subjects. Apart from camera lens characteristics, the disadvantage of zoom lenses is that they are not as sharp as one lens with one focal length.
Prime lenses are fixed focal length lenses. They do not have a variable focal length and tend to offer better optical quality when compared to zoom lenses. Prime lenses offer better resolution, minimal lens distortion, less chromatic aberration, and better bokeh. If a prime lens’ maximum aperture is f/2. 8 or larger (which is not always the case), they are considered “fast”. Fast prime lenses are preferable for critical use as they will produce better images in low light.
5 Different Types Of Camera Lenses
In this article, five different types of lenses are discussed. Each type offers you options to choose either a prime or zoom lens category. The five types of lenses are:
- Wide-Angle Lenses
- Macro Lenses
- Telephoto Lenses
- Standard Lenses
- Specialty Lenses
1. Wide Angle Lens
Usually, the first accessory bought by most photographers is the Wide-Angle lens, which comes in varying degrees of “wideness.” Most probably, the focal length of these lenses lies between 14mm-35mm or 10mm-24mm. These lenses have a short focal length but a wide angle of view. Which means they cover a wide field of view (FOV). The most popular of these lenses start at 24mm and go up to around 35mm. If you want to take extremely wide shots or fit a lot more of your surroundings into the picture, you should buy a wide-angle lens. Wide angle lenses are perfect for shooting groups and large spaces like city streets and football stadiums. The image quality is amazing.
However, a 24mm ultra-wide-angle lens is good for taking realistic-looking photographs of nearby objects, such as people standing near skyscrapers or cars parked on the road. Digital cameras with 1/1.6″ sensor sizes and smaller can’t take advantage of a 24mm lens because it vignettes (dark corners). Cameras with 1/1.7″ and larger sensors, such as DSLRs or digital SLR cameras, work best with this type of lens.
A 28mm wide-angle lens is good for taking photographs of small rooms or objects at a medium distance, but you still want to capture the surroundings. It is also good for taking photographs of people standing in large outdoor areas. Besides, these lenses are also adored by landscape photographers.
A 35mm lens is perfect for photographing a normal size room in its entirety with a medium distance between you and the subject. These lenses are also great for group photographs, outdoor landscape photography, and photographing people from a distance in large spaces such as football stadiums or city streets. You can also use these lenses when you cannot back up any further such as photographing a large mountain range.
2. Macro Lens
Macro lenses allow you to get in close and take close-up pictures of small things like bugs, flowers, and coins. These lenses are available in a wide range of focal lengths such as 50mm, 100mm, and 200mm. Macro lenses let you fill the frame with your subject and take crisp, clear pictures. These lenses come in varying degrees of magnification such as 1:1, 2:1-3:1, and so on. The higher the magnification, the closer you can get to your subject without actually getting in its space.
The focal point of the macro lens is usually very close resulting in a short depth of field. This can be both a good and bad thing. The shallow depth of field can be used to isolate the subject from the background and give the photograph a more professional look. However, it can be difficult to get everything in focus, especially if your subject is moving.
If you are photographing larger objects, you may want to invest in a lens with a longer focal length. However, if you are photographing smaller objects, it is best to go with a lens with a shorter focal length. The price of the macro lens depends on focal length, lenses with longer focal lengths are expensive. Besides, macro lenses also work great for photographing patterns and textures.
3. Telephoto Lens
The telephoto lens usually has long focal lengths but a narrower angle. The approximate focal length range of the telephoto zoom lens is between 70mm-200mm. This is a specialized type of lens used to help you get closer to far-away objects without zooming in. This is accomplished by building a greater working distance between the lens and the film or sensor. These lenses also allow for images to be shot at greater magnification than regular lenses, especially in wide-angle and telephoto categories. They are great with almost any type of photography, especially sports and nature. You can also use these as wildlife lenses or portrait lenses. These lenses can let you get very close to your subject without actually getting in their space. Another long-focus lens, also known as the Super Telephoto lens has a 300mm-600mm focal length. These long focus lenses are significant for covering distant objects.
4. Standard Lens
The standard lens is the most versatile of the bunch because it lets you capture anything you want. Like your kit lens, this can be used as a normal lens, allowing you to collect some wonderful memories. Standard lenses tend to use a large aperture range (f/1.8 – f/1.4), giving you the best results in low light conditions. These lenses have focal lengths between 35mm-70mm, whereas most of the full-frame lenses lie between 50mm-60mm and the ASP-C format (Crop sensor) mostly comes with a focal length of 35mm. These lenses have the capability to capture the same as the human eye sees, with minimal distortion.
Most telephoto and wide-angle lenses are standard lenses, so these are the most common type of lenses. These normal lenses are designed to provide a good all-around experience and are perfect for everyday use. In short, it is a perfect camera lens for low-light photography and other stuff.
5. Specialty Lens
Specialty Lenses are ones that are used for special circumstances. Based on different camera lens specs, there are various types of specialty lenses. The most common type is the fisheye lens, ultra-wide-angle, and tilt-shift lens. Other camera lenses include an infrared lens and a special bokeh lens.
A fisheye lens is like a wide-angle lens that takes 180° or more of view. It is a new camera lens often used for photographing landscapes and architecture, as well as for creating panoramic images. Fisheye lenses are perfect for taking extremely wide shots that show just about everything in your surroundings.
However, ultra-wide-angle lenses are very popular because they let you take very realistic-looking photographs of nearby objects, such as people standing near skyscrapers or cars parked on the road.
On the other side, a tilt-shift lens allows you to change the angle of view and perspective of your images, unlike your camera sensor. tilt-shift lens manipulates the focal plane to give you a unique image. This can be used to create an optical illusion of depth, making photos look like miniature models.
What’s the right lens for your camera body?
It depends on your photography goals. A standard lens is every photographer’s best friend and is great for making memories and everyday use. If you want to capture landscapes and architecture, a wide-angle lens is probably the best option. If portrait photography is more of your thing, consider using a telephoto lens to bring your subjects closer. And if you are interested in the finer details of the smaller objects, consider using macro lenses. If you love Fine Art and want to be creative with your shots, you have specialty lenses to choose from. No matter what your interests are, there is a lens that can help you capture amazing photos.
|Focal length||Type of lens||Use|
|4mm – 14mm||Fisheye||Abstract, and creative photography|
|14mm – 35mm||Wide-angle||Architecture and Landscape photography|
|35mm – 200mm||Macro||Close-up photography|
|35mm – 85mm||Standard||Street and travel photography|
|85mm – 135mm||Short telephoto||Portraits and landscape photography|
|135mm+||Medium telephoto||Sports, action, and wildlife photography|
|300mm+||Super telephoto||Nature and astronomy photography|
Which brand has the most established line of lenses?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different camera lens brands offer different lens types. But it’s usually preferable and easier to buy a lens from the same brand you own the camera. For instance, Canon has a well-established line of Canon lenses in the market. So, is Nikon with Nikon lenses. Other brands like Fujifilm have their own compact and lightweight Fuji lenses and so is Sony with its growing number of Sony lens systems. There are also other renowned brands like Sigma and Tamron that make excellent third-party lenses. All these brands offer a wide range of lenses for all different types of photography. So, if you’re looking for quality camera lenses, be sure to check out these popular brands.
Different lens types are useful for different photography goals. It is always preferred to go with the lenses native to your camera brand because of better compatibility. However, there are lenses from third-party brands that do as well as the native ones, in fact at times better. And no matter what your interests are, there is a lens that can help you capture amazing photos. So, choose the right lens for your camera body and start capturing incredible images today!