How to Choose a Lens – Tips & Tricks
At some point during their photography journey, people behind the camera decide to experiment with lenses. If you ever wondered how to choose a lens that will cover your needs, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will share my tips and tricks on choosing the right lens to suit your style, covering the range from technicalities to materials.
Know Yourself and Your Taste
There is a big difference between shooting landscapes and portraits. Photographing landscapes requires you to frame more of the scene into the shot, usually from a distance. Taking pictures of people (portraits) requires you to get close to them, keep them in focus, and typically have a background blurred. To achieve these results, respectively, you need a different set of lenses.
Before you embark on your journey through Amazon or a local computer store shopping for a lens, make sure you know what kind of things you would like to photograph. Of course, your taste can change through time and probably will, but if you have decided to buy your first set of lenses, go for those you will use the most.
Know Your Gear
This tip can sometimes go without saying. However, if you’re starting out in photography, you can benefit from learning it early on. Not every spare part will work for every car. It is the same with lenses. Check out what kind of camera body you have and choose the lens accordingly. You can learn this quickly if you go on Amazon and check the lens you’re interested in. The search bar will ask you to type in your camera model and tell if it is compatible with the lens you’re browsing.
Learn Technicalities and Numbers as Soon as Possible
Photography operates on the light. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to shoot in the right light conditions. That is the way to get the perfect shot. And, preferably, you want to use the golden and blue hours. However, these descriptive tips are not enough to become truly good.
Aperture is the most critical information when it comes to the lens. It is a word used to describe how much light can enter the sensor through the lens. The more light comes in, the less you worry about the lens that is shaking or the image that gets blurred. Aperture mark is given by a number, usually in the format f/2.2 or F2.2. The smaller the number, the more light the lens will let through. This number is always written on the lens, and it is usually the first thing you will see in the specifications list.
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The next big information, which requires a little technical learning, is the focal length. It tells you the distance (measured in millimeters) between the center of the lens and the camera’s sensor. When you look at the lens’s barrel, you will always see a mark such as 18-55 or 35 mm. Every lens has a focal length included in its name. Why is this information vital? Because the focal length determines how much of a scene will fit into the frame and how big subjects in the image will be. Most of the time, photographers use a standard 50mm lens that will have the least distortion and will usually match what the human eye can see in the most humane way possible.
Types of Lenses – What Should I Choose?
If you are a beginner, you probably don’t have lots of photo gear, which means that switching between different lenses can be tedious. With this in mind, it is best to go with the zoom lens for starters. An alternative to this would be a lens with a fixed focal length, meaning that if it’s 50mm, you will be able to shoot at 50 mm. The advantage of a zoom lens is that you will have more choices on the go, depending on the situation, without switching between various lenses. For example, if you decide to buy a 55-200 mm zoom lens, you will be able to change between 55 mm and 200 mm without switching lens. This would be a rule-of-thumb for the first-time lens buyer since you are still experimenting.
I love shooting landscapes, so my number one choice is a wide-angle lens. It allows me to put more of the scene into my image. I usually like to climb mountains and photograph during the blue hour. In this way, I capture the mist in the valley while also getting a lot of skies. I also use a 55-300 mm zoom lens, which means I can photograph in the span from 55 to 300 mm, but I usually keep it around 200 mm.
On the other hand, if you love to shoot portraits of people, you should consider getting another lens. For example, Nikon’s 85 mm with an aperture of f/1.8 will provide you with fast autofocus and an outstanding bokeh effect for the background, while keeping your subject crystal clear. To learn more about lenses, visit the LensesPro blog.
In recent years, I’ve noticed lots of people photographing insects, flowers and small rocks. Due to increased phone camera possibilities, macro photography is starting to boom. However, phones are still unable to keep up with the DSLR and mirrorless cameras, especially if they are equipped with an excellent macro lens. I have used Nikon’s 105 mm lens with f/2.8 aperture, which has provided me with great shots and spared me the headaches of distortions for most of the time. In the macro photography game, the essential factor is magnification, which translates into a 1:1 ratio. To simplify it, this magnification ability means that when you take your camera close to your subject, it will reproduce the image the same size as the subject.
A more affordable option is the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G.
Materials and Prices
The technical details above are not the only details worth considering. Some lens bodies are made out of aluminum and metal, and some from plastic. The former are usually of better quality, but often much more expensive. If you are not traveling through rough terrains and extreme weather conditions, you can opt for a cheaper, more fragile option.
Size is also an option. A fast 300 mm lens is quite robust and big, and it requires some physical effort to carry it around for the length of the photo shooting session.
You will need gear to match your needs, so if you are a hobbyist, you can try to pick the all-around zoom lens, which is not too large, but which will also satisfy your desires.
Every photographer is different. Each of us has a unique style of shooting. With that also comes a different set of needs. I hope that the article gave you an idea of what to keep in mind when choosing the right lens. I didn’t have these tips and tricks when I started my photography journey, and I know I could have used them. Make sure to read through them carefully, and may they guide you through the hard, yet fulfilling, process of choosing the right lens.