Another question I get asked a lot is, ‘what lenses should I buy.’
Let’s learn a little about lenses. Lenses have different focal lengths. Normal
focal length lenses mean we see the world through the lens the same way we
see the world with our normal vision. Long focal length lenses bring the subject
closer than we normally see and wide-angle lenses show the world wider that we
normally see the world. A fixed focal length lens is fixed to whatever focal length
it is. A variable focal length lens or zoom lens means it can go from one focal
length lens to another. For example, my favorite lens in the bag is a 70mm to
200mm zoom lens. Over the years I have found the fixed focal length lenses are
sharper than variable focal length lenses. I still believe this is true, however, I do
feel the high-end zoom lenses can be very good.
The second thing we need to understand about lenses is they each have f-
number or speed. This means how much light the lens lets into the camera.
Fast lenses let in more light than slow lenses. They also let you shoot at lower
apertures. We will talk much more about apertures later when we talk about
depth of field. For now we can learn that fast lenses are better and yes, more
expensive than slow lenses.
One of the great advantages of a fast lens is that because it lets in more
light you are able to take pictures in low light situations. This means that when
you are trying to take pictures of your children and babies in your house, where
there is not a lot of light, you can be more successful. It also helps when the sun
goes down and the light is soft and pretty. When I’m taking bridal photos with
window light in my studio I want the lens to be as fast as possible. Another huge
advantage is when you are trying to get a short depth of field in your photograph.
The lower the f-number of your lens the more depth you will be able to achieve in
your photographs. This will be discussed in detail later.
So, what lens should I buy? First, as I mentioned earlier I would recommend
that you spend as much or more on your lens/lenses than you do on your
camera. It will make the most difference.
Second, I love long lenses. Did I mention that I love long lenses? Long
lenses let you take pictures of those cute little children from a distance, many
times with out them even knowing you are taking their picture. You get those
fabulous spontaneous expressions and capture the decisive moment when your
son or daughter makes the winning basket. Also the longer the lens the greater
the depth of field, which I also love.
Third, I also like wide lenses and extreme wide lenses or fish eye lenses.
These are interesting because they give you a view of the world that the eye
does not normally see. Any time you can show the viewer something that he
does not normally see your photograph is more interesting.
Finally Macro lenses are also nice. Macro lenses allow you to photograph
small things very close up. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get a close
up shot of a newborn baby’s cute little feet and finding that your lens will not
focus that close. My 100mm to kina macro lens is a gem for getting those close
up baby photographs.
If I can only purchase one lens it would be a zoom lens, quite long and as fast
as I can afford, F2-8 to F4 speed and around 50mm to possible 200mm.
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