How to choose a camera lens

As in any profession, a photographer needs to understand the tools at his disposal in order to produce the best possible work. This article will explain to you the difference in the various camera len’s available and help you to choose the right camera lens for your photography needs.

It’s important to have a good Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, i.e., a camera that allows for the attachment of auxiliary lenses.

Lenses either have a fixed focal length, a prime lens; or an adjustable focal length, a zoom lens which ranges between 28mm to 105mm. The photographer using a prime lens has to move back and forth in order to include or exclude the objects in view, whereas a zoom can have its focal length adjusted by turning a zoom ring. Zoom lenses are good all-round lenses when storage and weight are considerations, but prime lenses produce a clearer image and are more suitable for low light conditions.

Some of the common lenses available are:

  • Regular lens: The effect of this lens is to portray an image much like the human eye would perceive it. It is most commonly a 50mm focal length. It is small, relatively cheap and regarded as a general lens that can be used in a wide variety of situations.
  • Telephoto Lens: This is a telescopic lens used to photograph objects at a great distance. They can range in focal length from 70mm to 300mm. It is very popular in sports photography.
  • Wide angle Lens: This lens has a very wide scope of view and is therefore the chosen lens for capturing landscapes and photographing large crowds of people or game.

Other lenses include:

Fisheye: A fish eye lens uses a very wide angle of view which bends the light around the periphery of the photograph making the image seem rounded as though looking out of a glass bubble.

Macro: This lens is capable of bringing near objects into focus, and is therefore used for close up photography.

Teleconverter: This lens is attached in front of another lens, thereby increasing the focal length of the other lens.

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Beyond the focal length there are factors such as lens speed and its focussing distance. The speed of the lens is dictated by the f-stop setting. Generally, the faster the lens the weightier and more expensive it will be. The distance of focus is the required distance from the camera to the object in order to achieve a focussed image.

When buying a lens first consider what type of photographs you will be taking. An amateur photographer should probably start with a regular zoom lens and purchase further lenses as the need arises.

About the Author: This guest post was written by Jason Ruger, a freelance writer and yachtsman based in Cape Town, South Africa. Jay writes on behalf of Now Learning, which promotes training and further education in Australia, just one of the many places to which Jay has sailed.

Images: Kathryn Rossiter (taken with my Canon 350D SLR camera using a 50mm Prime Lens and a 75 – 300mm Zoom Lens respectively)

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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