Live Life in Style Learns: CAMERAS Part III - Lenses

Saturday, December 03, 2011

source (
You may be thinking, "I've chosen the type of camera I want to buy, so now I'm good to go!" right? Wrong! More often than not, a professional photographer or even someone just into photography as a hobby will tell you that the lens is more important than the camera body.  Come again?  Yes! Once you've made the choice to upgrade from a point & shoot to a camera with the ability to change out lenses, you will need to do more than just research the specs on that will need to research lenses. The first team you will need to understand when it comes to lenses is Focal Length.
Focal length defines the distance from the first glass element of a lens to the point of focus. The distance is typically measured in millimeters (mm). Generally, the larger the mm rating on a lens, the more magnification the lens provides. Focal length determines how much you can fit into a photo. Wide-angle lenses fit more into your photo and work nicely for indoor pictures as well as landscapes. Telephoto lenses allow you to enlarge a subject when you cannot get physically close.

Fixed Focal Length (includes fixed or prime lenses and normal lenses) – good for low-light. Non-zoom lenses have only one focal length and are known as fixed or "prime" lenses. Fixed lenses generally offer good image quality, higher light sensitivity, and are smaller and lighter. Fixed lenses are ideal for portrait photography when you are taking a lot of pictures at the same focal length. 

Short-Range Zoom (includes zoom or compact zoom lenses)A short-range zoom lens is a standard, all-purpose lens, typically around 18-55mm (3x optical zoom equivalent). It lets you vary the focal length somewhat with a shorter range for zooming in and out. These are ideal for everyday photography, but do not allow for distant zoom capabilities. Some of the newer compact zoom lenses feature vibration reduction (VR) to compensate for camera shake, and provide incredibly crisp, clear images.

Long-Range Zoom(includes telephoto and zoom lenses) A zoom lens allows you to vary the focal length and makes the lens more versatile, dramatically expanding your shooting options. When you zoom in, the focal length increases; as you zoom out, it decreases. Generally 70-200mm or higher (up to 600mm), long-range zooms are great for dramatic shots of distant objects. They allow you to get close to your subject from a distance. Specific long-range zooms or telephoto lenses have a focal length higher than 70mm. However, the longer the focal length, the more likely it is to produce blurry photos, especially when there isn't enough light. Newer models are now being manufactured with image stabilization to correct this.

Image Stabilization: The latest, greatest lens feature
Many lenses now come with built-in optical image stabilization (sometimes referred to as vibration reduction), which moves the lens elements in an attempt to counteract sensed motion of the camera. This results in fewer blurred photos and is especially useful when you are zooming in low light or with slower shutter speeds.

Specialty Lenses (includes macro, fisheye and ultrawide angle lenses)
Macro lenses are used specifically for extreme close-up work as they can take clear photos of a subject that is very close. They enable amazingly detailed life-size shots of objects such as a flowers, insects and jewelry. Fisheye lenses purposely distort or curve your image, which provides a nice artsy touch to a special photo. Ultrawide angle lenses are ideal for expansive landscapes and group photos. They offer huge fields of views and versatile shooting options, and usually have a focal length of less than 18mm or 28mm. Wide angle lenses allow you to fit everyone in the photo — no more making them shift positions and squeeze in!

The downside of zoom lenses is that they usually have smaller apertures (lens openings), which means that less light reaches the camera sensor. This in turn means that they aren't very well suited to low-light situations. There are zoom lenses with larger apertures to make up for this, of course, but they can get very pricey.
When you're shopping for lenses, pay attention to maximum aperture (a larger aperture means a faster lens), in-lens stabilization (especially important for larger, heavier lenses), and the quality of the glass itself, which affects the way the light refracts through it.
As a refresher, aperture is the opening in your camera lens that determines the amount of light that passes through to the sensor. Aperture is noted by f-stop numbers such as f/1.4, f/2.8, f/8, f/22, and f/32, which are the measurements (or fractional) of how far the lens can open to let light in. Apertures work in much the same way as your eye's pupil. Too much light and the pupil will close in size to block the light out. Too little light and the pupil increases in size to let in more light. So when you change the f-stop, you are actually setting the size of the opening, or aperture, through which you capture photographs.

  • The smaller the f/stop number, the less of your photo will be in focus.
  • The bigger the f/stop number, the more of your photo will be in focus.

Photography Tips: Lenses 101 - Camera Lenses - Learn about lens aperture

Check out my first 2 posts in my Camera Series
Live Life in Style Learns: CAMERAS Part I - Photography Jargon
Live Life in Style Learns: CAMERAS Part II - Types


You Might Also Like


  1. this post is really fantastic.tks

  2. Aww, this is my favorite part! *-* I love staring at lenses!
    Yes, I think that you can also use that cream for everyday skin enrichment, I think it's perfect for that :)

  3. great info since I just got a new camera. Thanks!

  4. It's been such a learning experience going into the details of cameras. Now I don't feel so crazy!

  5. I bought the canon rebel T3 EOS :) Just arrived last Friday! #stoked

  6. Awesome! Did you buy it mostly for blogging? Do you think you will have any issues with it as far as transportability. That's the only reason I wasn't looking at DSLRs, but they are sooo nice! Congrats on your new purchase!

  7. FashionMakeUp LifeStyleDecember 12, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    I been looking to invest on a camera myself Shasie!! The one I'm using for my blog pics is my best friend's and he's not always available to take pics so I'm thinking on investing on one. Let me know what you decide to get as I am too doing some research.

    <3 Marina


I love reading your comments, however please do not leave comments asking for following swaps. I would prefer that you follow my blog because you love the content and not because you want me to follow your blog back.




Everywhere Society Member