Whether you want to film a tennis match or take a close-up of a butterfly, you will need the right lens. Several criteria need to be considered:
• Focal length
• Field of view
• Maximum aperture
In this article, we will focus on the different types of lenses and their uses.
A “fixed” lens, also known as a “prime lens” in English, has a fixed focal length. This means that you won’t be able to zoom with it. The 50mm lens is one of the most recognized examples, and every photographer should have one. Because their design is much simpler than that of a zoom lens, they often offer better image quality and a lower purchase cost. Taking our 50mm lens as an example, it will cost you around €112 for a Canon mount and €169 for a Nikon mount. A focal length of 35mm is considered “normal” because it mimics what the human eye sees. Fixed lenses are very useful for taking portraits because they often have a larger maximum aperture (e.g., f/1.8) and allow for better quality background blur.
Unlike the fixed focal length of fixed lenses, zoom lenses can be adjusted over a range of focal distances. For example, a 24-70mm zoom lens covers all focal distances between 24mm and 70mm. Many digital SLRs come with a “kit zoom” that covers a range from 18mm to 200mm. Zoom lenses are larger, heavier, and tend to be more expensive than fixed lenses. However, they are convenient for traveling. The main advantage is that they save you from carrying multiple fixed lenses with you. For example, you would need a 24mm, a 50mm, and a 70mm lens.
A telephoto lens can be defined as a super-powered zoom. Generally, these lenses are very large, heavy, and expensive! However, they are extremely useful in certain situations where getting close to your subject is simply not possible (sports photography, wildlife photography, etc.). With these lenses, you can capture your subjects as if they were right in front of you. They give the impression that you were in the heart of the action.
Macro lenses allow you to achieve sharp focus when you are extremely close to your subject. They magnify the smallest subjects, such as insects, blades of grass, intricate patterns, and textures. While you can achieve macro effects with other lenses, a dedicated macro lens allows you to capture the sharpest images of your tiny subjects.
Particularly useful for landscape or architectural photography, wide-angle lenses allow you to capture a very wide angle. The field of view is expanded, emphasizing the grandeur of your scene. However, be cautious as some distortion may occur if you play with straight lines or photograph people up close. Wide-angle lenses are extremely interesting to try, and once you get the hang of them, they allow you to create interesting artistic perspectives.