Camera Lens Buying Guide
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Camera Lens Buying Guide
Camera Lens Guide
Welcome to the Intro part
Now the critical point is, why should you read this blog on camera lens buying guide?
To start with, a nice pair of camera lens can cost you like ten months of your rent or price of a low-class sedan car.
Yeah, so if I were you, I would read this blog with full attention!
Let us first start with the elementary information. We are going through to go through some of the lens types in the market.
There are various types of camera lenses.
That’s why it’s good to follow a camera lens guide to help you buy, and this blog on camera lens buying guide intends to do just that.
You would be surprised that many lenses can be used, at the same time, in two different ways.
You can have a prime lens that is also a standard lens.
You can also have a zoom lens that is also parfocal.
You can have a long-focus lens that is also a telephoto lens.
Different lenses can be used for different situations, and this isn’t limited to photo lenses or video lenses because the image properties are based on the quality of the lens and the focal length.
Now I know, whatever I said might sound you like “Klingon language” therefore, we have designed this camera lens buying guide in a lucid and detailed manner.
To add to it, the types of DSLR or mirrorless lenses available are based around the lens mount, and not the focal length or lens capabilities.
You can have a prime lens as a DSLR, or a fish-eye lens for a mirrorless camera only if the mount of both the cameras and the lens are same.
Types Of Lens
1. Prime Lens
A prime lens is any lens with a set focal length. Therefore it cannot be “zoomed” in to transform the field of view of the lens.
These are often considered to be the film industry standard, though some cinematographers prefer zoom lenses over primes, and even more, bounce back and forth depending on the circumstances.
In our camera lens buying guide, we have found that It often depends on tone and subject matter, but there is no hard and fast rule.
You’re unable to change the focal length of a prime lens; however, you are still able to adjust the focal distance of the lens via the focus ring.
2. Zoom Lens
A zoom lens is any lens with a variable focal length. It can be “zoomed” in to transform the focal length, and therefore the field of view of the lens.
Let us take an example; let us talk about a zoom lens above 50-100mm with a T2 rating.
This means that the widest focal length of the lens is 50mm, while the longest focal length is 100mm.
The ‘T2’ refers to the aperture rating, and this means no matter which focal length you’ve set this zoom lens at, you can have a wide-open T-Stop of ‘2’ (pretty high for this type of lens).
Sometimes people prefer zoom lenses, but generally prime lenses are thought to be better because the set focal length allows often translates into a high level of control and quality of an image.
You also will often gain a broader aperture rating in prime lenses, which allows for more light and a shallower depth of field.
3. Parfocal Lens
4. Standard Lens
During many of our interaction with many experts, we learnt that a standard lens has a set (prime) focal length that is around the same period as the sensor or film but only when measured diagonally (don’t ask the reason behind it!!)
We were also told, during the making of this blog on Camera lens buying guide that for a full-frame sensor, your focal length would come in right around 42mm.
Often a lens with a focal length that falls between 35mm to 55mm can be categorized as “standard” focal length.
5. Fish-eye Lens
A fish-eye lens is any lens with a set focal length that is significantly shorter than the length of the sensor of the film (measured diagonally).
For a full-frame sensor, your fish-eye focal length would be anything below 23mm, as confirmed by many sources!!
5. Telephoto Lens
A telephoto lens is a lens with a particular lens group built inside, known as a telephoto group. This is because some lenses have a focal length that is greater than the physical length of the lens.
An example of this could be a 500mm lens, but it depends on the physical length of the lens.
It is like a Hubble telescope; well just that you can carry it anywhere!!
Camera Lens Terminology
In- depth Explanation
Before we proceed forward, we would like to touch a vital subject. This relates to the title that you read when you buy the lens of your dreams. Most lenses today are named in a relatively standard way:
- Brand name, lens type, focal length (in mm), maximum aperture, other lens features/abbreviations.
For example, the official name for one of Nikon’s professional zooms is the “Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 E ED VR” lens. Canon’s equivalent is the “Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM” lens.
The most important terms are the focal length and maximum aperture. In other words, the “mm” and the “f/number” terms.
These numbers are the most directly related to the types of photos you will be able to capture with the lens. (I’ve got a full section on each one and why it is so essential.)
What about the abbreviations at the end of the lens name? They still matter, denoting the extra features offered by each lens. For example, the “VR” term in the Nikon lens stands for “vibration reduction,” which stabilizes the lens for handheld shooting.
However, these other terms are usually secondary in importance. Some don’t even refer to a specific feature, but instead are solely for advertising value (such as “L” on the Canon lens, which simply means it is one of Canon’s high-end lenses).
The main exception to the “mm and f-number matter most” rule is when you’re dealing with speciality lenses. With fish-eyes, macro lenses, tilt-shifts, and so on, your main reason for buying the lens has more to do with its unique feature than anything else.
So, what do all the abbreviations at the end of a lens name stand for? Each company labels its lenses differently, with potentially dozens of abbreviations per manufacturer – too many to fit in this article of camera lens buying guide.
But do not worry, we have made blogs regarding the best lenses for Nikon, Best lenses for Canon and have explained these abbreviations in a very detailed manner.
Understanding Focal Length
One must know the meaning of focal length, especially in relation to one’s camera, and that is what this camera lens buying guide intends to do too.
We will highlight what different lenses (discussed just above) are used for; you’ll see which ones are right for you and all the technicalities involved.
Lenses are divided into two categories based on whether they can zoom.
There are those that have fixed focal length as in prime lenses and there are those that have variable focal length just as zoom lenses.
In general, prime lenses are sharper and often have a wider aperture. These are great for low light conditions.
Zoom lenses allow you to use one lens to cover a range of different photography fields. One lens means less time spent searching for and changing lenses.
There are advantages and drawbacks to both types of lenses. So, having a mixture of them gives you versatility and power.
Say, for example, a human eye, its focal length varies between 17mm and 25mm, depending on who you ask and who you examine.
We have an approximate field of view of over 180°. This is different from the 90° angle of view from a lens, which is down to the fact that we have two eyes.
The area that we actively perceive is smaller, similar to a 40-50mm lens. That’s why the 50mm is called the ‘standard’ focal length.
What Focal Length Do
The focal length of the lens determines how ‘zoomed in’ your photos are. The higher the number, the more zoomed your lens will be.
It is widely mistaken that the focal length is measured from the front or rear of the lens. Although even our concept got revised during the making of this camera lens buying guide.
In reality, it’s the distance between the point of convergence in your lens and the camera sensor.
The key takeaway is that the focal length of a lens is identical to the focal length of a single lens that would provide the same field of view.
Take a look at the diagram below that explains this.
So what are different kinds of focal ranges?
Scroll Below to know more
1. Ultra Wide Angle and Fisheye 14-24 mm
These lenses are often considered speciality items. Therefore, they are not included as part of a starter kit.
That is why; professionals widely use it. In our, camera lens buying guide, we found that ultra-wide-angle lenses are often used in event and architectural photography. They help to get a lot into a photo when shooting in a confined space.
But, as told by many experts, these lenses are not suitable for portraits. Although, in the hands of absolute professional, it might not be the case.
Rectilinear wide angles project an image in which the straight lines remain straight. Fish-eye lenses distort the scene into a spherical shape.
2. Wide Angle 24-35 mm
Now, this is what, you’ll find most kit lenses for full-frame cameras start.
In fact, during our making up of camera lens buying guide, we found that 24 mm is the point at which the distortion that appears to stretch the side of an image stops appearing unnatural.
Photojournalists use these for documenting situations. This is because they are wide enough to include a lot of the context.
3. Standard 35mm-70 mm
We found that it’s in this range (at about 45-50 mm) that the lens will best reproduce what our eyes see (excluding peripheral vision
A standard lens such as a 50 mm f/1.8 is an excellent, inexpensive addition for a camera. It will provide excellent results.
A prime lens will always give better results than your kit lens, as it is built with a single purpose. It does one job well.
4. Mild Telephoto 70-105mm
This range is often where kit lenses stop, or you would not find it as a typical lens with your DSLR camera.
Here, you’ll start to get into the range of telephoto lenses and portrait primes (around 85mm). This is a good range for portraits as the natural perspective of the lens will separate the face from the background.
It does this without isolating it.
5. Telephoto 105-300mm, and Above
Ever wondered how the folks at National Geographic channel click such incredible wildlife photography.
We always wondered this, and we are glad it was answered while we compiled this camera lens buying guide.
Well, it is these kinds of lenses that come to their rescue. These are often used for distant scenes such as buildings or mountains. They’re not suitable for landscape photography because of the way they flatten the perspective of a view. But they can provide exciting opinions in that field, too.
Lenses in this range are often used for sports and animal photography!
Some Of The Other Features In A Camera
Highly critical information
1. Maximum Aperture
It simply means how much light the lens can gather. It is quite common for a zoom lens to have two maximum aperture values, one for either extremity of the focal length. Aperture size usually follows the lens’ focal length in its title (18-55mm F3.5-5.6).
- A lens’ maximum aperture (sometimes referred to as lens speed) is measured in F-stops or F-numbers. It can be written in several ways. For example, f/2.8, F:2.8 and 1:2.8 all mean the same thing. A lens with a low F-number is often referred to as a fast lens.
- In the most basic terms, the smaller the F-number, the larger the aperture, the higher the amount of light it can gather. To contextualize, a lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8 gathers twice as much light as a lens with a maximum aperture of F4.
- Larger apertures allow you to capture better photography in low light, often without the need for a flash. Larger apertures also decrease the depth of field (the amount of the image in front and behind the focal point that appears sharp) enabling photographers to create more bokeh (image blur).
During the compilation of camera lens buying guide, we came across different aperture ourselves, though we could not
1.2 Depth Of Field
The other reason why maximum aperture is so important is that it impacts your depth of field.
During the making of this camera lens buying guide, we did talk to many professionals, who suggested that large apertures like f/1.4 and f/2.8 will give you more of a “shallow focus” effect, where the background is blurred, and your subject is sharp.
The lens’s focal length also influences it. Telephoto lenses have a shallower depth of field than wide angles. So, if you want to blur the background of your photo as much as possible, you’ll want at least a 50mm f/1.8, but of course, these are pretty damn expensive.
1.3 Variable Aperture Zooms
Some zoom lenses have a different maximum aperture at their wide-angle and telephoto ends. These are called “variable aperture” lenses. F
or example, the 18-55mm zoom usually is f/3.5-5.6 variable aperture. If you shoot at 18mm, you can use an aperture as wide as f/3.5. If you shoot at 55mm, you can use an aperture as wide as f/5.6. (At focal lengths in between, your maximum aperture gradually changes from f/3.5 to f/5.6.)
Thanks to various material that we went through during the making of this camera lens buying guide, we had great insights about this feature, even we were surprised to see how much it affects an image.
Variable aperture lenses don’t have the best reputation. In part, this is because it is annoying to have different aperture limitations throughout the zoom range.
But all lens designs have trade-offs, and variable aperture is hardly the worst compromise out there.
So, don’t avoid variable aperture zooms by default. Instead, look to other features of the lens, too, to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Important Lens Features
You Should Know About Them
When we buy a lens, we usually look at image quality first. Instead, there are other factors which matter more.
And during the making of this camera lens buying guide, we came across many exciting features, once should look into before purchasing a camera lens.
First: size and weight. I’m willing to give up some image quality – as well as things like zoom range and maximum aperture – to get a lighter weight lens. Of course, finding a lightweight lens can be a bit deceptive.
On top of that is autofocus. Not all lenses have autofocus, and not all autofocus lenses are equally fast and accurate.
It doesn’t matter as much to some genres as others, but if you’re a professional sports photographer, chances you’re willing to pay a lot for top-notch autofocus performance. And believe me, during the making of camera lens buying guide we found it to be pretty handy.
Another essential feature is durability/weatherproofness. If you can use your lens for several years in tricky conditions, it’s worth much more than a lens that can’t handle being bumped around.
The overall ergonomics of the lens also matter quite a bit. This includes everything from the position of the zoom ring to the smoothness of the focus ring, and how seamless it is to use the lens. You might not notice lenses with good ergonomics, but you’ll certainly see bad ones.
And, naturally, all of these factors tie into the price. As lovely as the Zeiss Otus lenses might look to you, it’s probably more reasonable to go with a Nikon or Canon lens that fits the same focal length.
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