Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
– Yousef Karesh
Before taking a class on Photography it might be a good idea to get your own Camera and your first Lense!
One can easily be overwhelmed when choosing their first Lense. What Type ? What Brand ? Focal Length? 200mm, 300mm, 90mm. Fixed? Zoom? Wide Angle? Telephoto? It’s easy to see how difficult this choice can be especially with so many different terms and things to choose from!
Don’t Worry! Superprof is here to help you, future Photographer, in navigating this dense jungle- objective: Your first Lense!
Deciding what lense to choose can be a difficult and lengthy process
When Choosing a Lense the first question one should ask is what is Focal Length?
Focal Length , usually represented in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a photographic lens. It is not a measurement of the actual length of a lens, but a calculation of an optical distance from the point where light rays converge to form a sharp image of an object at the focal plane in the camera.
The focal length tells us the angle of view—how much of the scene will be captured—and the magnification—how large individual elements will be. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.
In layman’s terms a Short Focal length will have more “Information” than a Longer Focal Length when you’ve just changed the lense and haven’t moved the camera.
Let’s Focus on the most used types of lenses :
The Choice of Lense is always determined by the need of the photographer, and with a little experience and practice reaching for the right lense will become second nature!
Still don’t know what Focal Length is right for you? Here are some tips :
You can also look at the blogs of some Famous Photographers in order to see their Lense of choice.
Macrophotography, or extreme close-up Photography, is a type of photography in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size. Very specialized lenses are needed to accomplish this job and the result is always astonishing!
If taking photographs of Insects interests you, a Macro Lense is a must! There is no other way once can capture such small detail without them!
The trap in which one should not fall is that most non-macro objectives include the word macro in their description. Oh Marketing!
To be sure to choose a macro lens, you have to look at its data sheet in the line “minimum distance of focus“. If it is 140cm, it is not a macro objective. Better to get closer to 30cm.
Remember that a a macro lens is classically a lens capable of reproduction ratios of at least 1:1, just be sure to always check the data sheet!
There is nothing small about Macro photography! Especially the budget for your Lense kit!
The main difference between a Zoom and a Fixed, or Prime Lense, is that one zoom’s (The Focal Length can be adjusted) and the other doesn’t. Before you rush to any conclusions there are pro’s and con’s to both, or better, one set is better suited for a particular situation. Once again knowledge and preparedness are the Photographers best ally. (And Light!)
|Advantages to Prime Lenses||Advantages to Zoom Lenses|
|The Quality of the Image. Prime Lenses are usually made out of better glass not to mention that they allow for larger Maximum aperture meaning that the image will be more stable and will require less light.||Versatility and ease of use. Not having to constantly change Lenses also makes for a cleaner camera!|
|Prime Lenses weigh less as they have less parts, however you will have to carry more of them!||Heavy! Zoom lenses can be heavy but then again one Zoom can hypothetically do the job of 3 or even 4 Primes!|
|They tend to be generally less expensive than Zoom Lenses||The Price fluctuates according to quality and of course Focal Lengths available.|
The Second most important piece of information to consider when buying a lense is the focal ratio.
These f–numbers that are known as “f-stops” are a way of describing the size of the aperture, or how open or closed the aperture is. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, while a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. Here are some examples:
The advantage of a large aperture is the ability to shoot in low light conditions as more light comes into contact with the sensor or Film, also important to remember is the artistic quality of large aperture which results in more varied Bokeh which is the term for out of focus objects.
Basically, the bigger the aperture the more expensive the lense…
The Maximum Aperture settings for a professional photographer depends on the situation or the effect of the photograph:
Always be sure to plan your shoot ahead so that you will be better prepared!
The most important thing when deciding what lense to use or bring is of course the subject of what you will be photographing. As we touched on before a Landscape shoot might need a wide angle lense in order to get a better sense of the size of the environment as opposed to a Wildlife photographer who will of course never leave his home without a Telephoto or Super Telephoto Lense (300mm-600mm)!
The eye and the lense often see differently!
Stabilization prevents “camera shake” when the camera is not stable or when a Zoom Lense is at maximum Focal Length . In the case where a tripod is used, it is not useful to have a stabilized Lense.
It is still a big advantage to not have to take out your tripod all the time!
This technology also reduces the shutter speed by about two stops, which can be useful in low light conditions.
Of course, this option has a significant cost when you start. Better to invest in a tripod than in a stabilized lens in this case!
In addition, some cameras are equipped with a Sensor-shift image-stabilisation system: thus making the stabilized lens an unnecessary investment.
On the other hand, the stabilizer of a lens will only prevent camera shake. Motion blur will not be prevented. This is when the photographer’s talents come into play! (And his sturdy hands!) In order to make that photograph into a work of art tweaking the shutter speed or altering the f/stop will go a long way!
When first starting out good advice can go a long way! Photography itself is hard enough, and that’s without factoring in the hours and hours one will spend using and talking about equipment!
Superprof has decided to give you a hand, and we have agreed that the ideal camera for a beginner to intermediate is a Nikon Reflex (or Canon equivalent) with a 18-55mm Zoom Lense.
It’s important that a beginner have fun with photography, this is the first step, learning about framing, depth of field and all the rest will come in due time!
It might also be useful to include a fixed lense in your first kit because it will go a long way towards helping you improve your photography skills!
As we touched on before, one of the advantages of Prime Lenses is the ability to work under lower lighted conditions.
Every Lense house has affordable fixed lenses in their catalogue, favorites include and are not limited to the Standard 50mm F/1.8 or a 35mm F/1.8. They should run anywhere between 250 and 400 Dollars.
A Fish-eye lense will give you a Wider than usual angle.
Choosing a Lense is also choosing a manufacturer. It might be a good idea to begin by having a Lense which is made by the same house that manufactures your Camera, this will avoid any possible need for an adapter which will inflate your budget unnecessarily!
Canon and Nikon are of course the most trusted and recognized popular brands, but this doesn’t mean that other companies such as Sigma or Tamron are lacking. As always the internet is a great source for choosing and comparing lenses with a plethora of forums and reviews dedicated to Lenses and monitored by professionals.
Samyang for example is a South- Korean brand which makes very good Lenses even though they are notorious for not having the ability to Autofocus which can be a pro or a con depending on your needs!
In order to give you a hand in this very exciting and loaded time here is a Table with Canon, Nikon, Tamron, and Sigma lenses arranged and organized according to their price and Focal Lengths:
Some more interesting advice :
Contrary to the fashion usually put forth by new advertising campaings and the likes, technology hasn’t drastically evolved, especially for the beginner, much over the last 3-4 years and an economic find might actually be the best lense for you! Knowing what you want will go a long way towards making sure you get a great deal!
There are also many websites that offer the possibility to rent equipment. www.borrowlenses.com/Lenses is a great site for trying out equipment before you buy it! Check it out!
Are you interested in discovering easy tips to improve your camera skills? Check out our article!
In closing :
Read about shooting photographs in black and white!