DSLR Camera Lenses

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FAQ About DSLR Camera Lenses

You've invested in a DSLR camera to achieve better quality photos and enjoy broader creative freedom. A big part of what enables both is the ability to use interchangeable lenses. Whether you're aiming for a precise composition or shooting in challenging conditions, the right lens is half the battle. Here are a few key questions to consider when deciding which DSLR camera lenses are best for your photography goals.

What types of DSLR lenses are there?

In terms of overall application and basic specifications, lenses for DSLR cameras fit into one of several categories:

Standard

With an angle of view similar to what the human eye sees, a standard lens has a focal length of around 35mm - 70mm, quite a natural perspective. These lenses are a great choice for shooting portraits.

Wide angle

Capturing more of the scene than a standard lens, a wide angle lens has a shorter focal length, generally anything up to 35mm. Ideal for landscapes or interior shots, they tend to exaggerate the relative size and distance between near and far objects.

Fisheye

Capable of capturing a diagonal 180-degree angle of view, recorded as a circle within a frame, these lenses exaggerate converging vertical lines, so objects like tall buildings can appear to grow closer farther from the center, creating an exaggerated stylistic perspective.

Macro

A flat field lens to eliminate edge distortion, a true macro lens will offer a magnification ratio of around 1:1 so that an object can be captured actual-size on your camera's image sensor. Perfect for photos of tiny animals, insects, flowers, and jewelry, they're also a popular choice for portraits. In terms of focal length, they overlap other lens types, ranging from 50mm up to 200mm or above.

Telephoto

When it's just not practical or safe to get physically close to your subject, a telephoto lens provides a closer look. With a focal length from 70mm - 300mm or higher, they enable you capture stunning shots of wildlife, sports action, or distant objects.

What numbers or specs should think about when choosing a DSLR lens?

In addition to the overall type of lens and general application, consider these important factors:

Focal length

Expressed in mm, this determines the angle of view and magnification -- the longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and higher the magnification.

Aperture

This is a physical opening that determines how much light is allowed to reach your camera's image sensor. Expressed as an f/number, a lower number indicates a larger aperture, which lets more light in. This makes larger apertures (such as f/1.4, f/1.8, or f/2.0) beneficial for low-light photography.

Zoom

A zoom lens is one that provides a range of focal lengths. By contrast, a prime (or fixed) lens offers -- you guessed it -- a fixed focal length. The advantage of a zoom lens is its obvious versatility. A prime lens, however, with fewer components and moving parts, is likely less bulky, and can produce an even sharper image to the eyes of a pro.

What other options or features should I consider before I buy?

You should always take into account compatibility and convenience.

Lens mount

Make sure the lens is compatible with your camera. If it's the same brand, that shouldn't be a problem. A third-party lens may require a brand-matched mount adapter.

Size and weight

Different materials, components, and functions (e.g. zoom capabilities) produce lenses that can vary in size and weight. Think about those numbers as you weigh the pros and cons of each lens to determine the best fit for your style of photography.

Image stabilization

Different brands may use different terminology, but most offer lenses with built-in technology to compensate for unintentional camera shake and reduce unwanted blur.

Want more info on DSLR camera lenses? Check out this helpful resource:

Camera Lens Buying Guide

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