Lens Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

June 15, 2012

Lenses Buying Guide

Whether you’re looking to get up close and personal with your subject from just a few inches away to several hundred feet away, there’s a perfect lens for every photographer. With lenses from Nikon, Canon, Tamron and Sigma, Best Buy has the lens you need to snap frame-worthy pics.

Most DSLRs and compact system cameras come equipped with a standard kit lens when you first buy it, and while it’s perfectly fine for everyday shots, you might be interested in exploring other types of lenses to expand your photographic capabilities. Read on to learn more about the types of lenses that are available and how to care for them.

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Types of Lenses

Imagine for a moment you’re standing at the back of the crowd at your child’s soccer game; you want to get closer but can’t, there are just too many people. You’re stuck. No problem – there’s a lens for that. And when you want to fit everyone in the shot, but you can’t get them to squish any closer? No problem – there’s a lens for that too!

No matter what situation you find yourself in, there’s a lens that can help you capture the shot you want. With the right one, you can get up close without taking a step and snap awesome group shots without telling everyone, “Squeeze tighter. No – tighter”. Check out the most common types of lenses for every DSLR and compact system camera.

Standard Zoom

This general-purpose lens covers a range of focal lengths from wide-angle to near-telephoto. The standard zoom is usually the kit lens that comes with your camera, and will take decent shots. However, as you become more comfortable with your DSLR or interchangeable lens camera, you might want to think about upgrading to something more advanced that offers better picture-taking capabilities, and more specific functions.

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Great for: New users, as well as a wide range of subjects

Fixed Focal Length

Often referred to as prime, this type of lens has one focal length only. Despite this restriction, prime lenses tend to be smaller and lighter than other types covering the same angle of view. They also have faster maximum apertures, as well as the power to snap sharper images.

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Great for: Low light shooting

Telephoto Zoom

Get closer to every subject no matter how far away you are with a telephoto zoom lens. This type of lens offers a high zoom range (usually 55-200mm or 75-300mm), and lets you snap shots with great clarity, colour, and detail.

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Great for: Sports and wildlife

Wide-angle

A wide-angle lens gives you the power to fit more into the frame than your typical kit lens would allow. Its focal length is smaller than a normal lens, so you can get even more of the scene you’re looking at into your shot.

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Great for: Group, landscape, architecture, and interior shots

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Macro

For extreme close-ups of smaller objects, a macro lens will do the trick. These lenses are designed to zoom in as close as possible to capture the tiniest details of your subject. Choose a macro lens with a longer focal length, and you’ll be able to stand further away from your subject.

Great for: Up close shots of flowers and insects

Common Features to Look for

Internal Focusing

Most lenses will work in conjunction with the autofocus capability of your camera. Some will also do this silently thanks to a built-in focusing motor (such as Canon’s Ultrasonic Motor or Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor) that’s designed to quietly and quickly focus on your subjects. Lenses without a silent focusing motor tend to be louder during operation.

If you’re interested in manually adjusting the focus, choose a lens with a decent manual focusing ring for total control.

Image Stabilization

Also known as vibration reduction, this feature automatically corrects for any camera shake so every shot comes out blur-free when you’re holding the camera in your hands or snapping photos at slower shutter speeds.

Taking Care of your Lenses

Once you’ve chosen the type of lens that’s best suited for your photography, you’ll want to keep it as pristine as possible. The surface of your lens (or the filter that protects it) is susceptible to dust and fingerprints that can alter the quality of your photos.

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Air Blower and Camel Brush

A small air blower is a great way to remove dust particles that have settled on your lens. Just by squeezing it, a gentle burst of air quickly removes these particles without you ever having to touch – and possibly smudge – your lens.

A camel-hair brush is designed to remove dust particles using the fine and super-soft bristles of camel hair. By gently brushing the surface, you’ll be able to eliminate dust with a soft touch.

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Lens Tissue or Microfibre Cloth

A super soft microfibre cloth can remove smudges caused by fingerprints. Breathe onto the lens to create condensation (you never want to dry-clean a lens), and then gently wipe the surface until the smudge is gone. And if you don’t have that while you’re out on a shoot, a cotton t-shirt should do the job just as well.

Lens Cap

When you’re lenses aren’t in use, pop on the lens cap to help keep dust from settling on the surface. It’ll also help keep fingerprints off too, as you reach into your camera bag to take them out.

Must-Have Accessories

Lens Pen

When you’re on the go and want to be sure you’re able to safely clean your dusty or smudged lenses, a lens pen will be the perfect companion. Most models feature a dust removal brush and special cleaning element that will allow for safe cleaning.

Filter

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Attach a filter to your lens and it can help protect the surface from dust and scratches. There are also a variety of specialty features that do double-duty by offering even more photo-enhancing features – and all without the need for special software or your computer.

Common filter types include: polarizing, neutral density, diffusion, and UV filters.

Lens Hood

A lens hood can help reduce the glare and flare that’s caused when you’re shooting outdoors and the sunlight hits the front of your lens. It can help you snap photos with richer colours and deeper saturation.

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Lens Adapters and Converters

If you’re looking to add a bit of artistic flare to your photos or extend the range of your existing lens, a lens adapter is an easy and affordable solution. By attaching one to your lens you can easily turn your standard lens into a telephoto, wide-angle, or fisheye lens.

A lens converter is an additional lens that you can attach directly to your lens for even more creative possibilities. Also known as a “depth-of-field adapter”, it can enhance your lens’ overall focal length to increase your magnifying power so you get better images of faraway subjects at a narrower angle.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

Best Buy carries a wide selection of lenses and lens accessories for every budget. Hit your local Best Buy store and find the right lens gear for your camera kit!

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