Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to pick out the right lens for your dslr

When choosing a lens for your dslr camera, things can get out of hand quickly. There is so much to choose from, and so much to do with different type of lenses, that it can be really daunting to make the right decision. Good lenses aren't cheep, so you'll want to invest in a lens that you will actually use. The main distinction are prime lenses and zoom lenses. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, while zoom lenses do what the title promises, they zoom in and out out of various focal lengths. 

As a photographer it's important to know what you will be using your lens for, so in that sense it's good to take a look at the various types of lenses so that you can make an informed decision.

Fisheye (12mm or less)

Fisheye lenses are the widest lenses you can buy. As pictured to the right, sometimes they're so wide that your image looks like a circle and your camera actually captures part of the inside of the lens barrel, too. Fisheye lenses are used when you need to photograph absolutely everything possible in the frame or you want the look of extremely exaggerated depth. When you look at fisheye photos you'll often find lots of pets and people staring directly into the camera because it makes their faces look funny. Of course, more practical uses include photographing small spaces or distorting reality to create a specific meaning in your image.

Wide Angle (18-30mm)

Wide angle lenses create exaggerated depth just like fisheyes do, but to a lesser extent. When you want to capture a lot in your photo, you need to go wide. A wide angle cause some distortion, however. For example, if you were photographing a ladder laid horizontally across the frame it would appear to curve. Although some very expensive wide angle lenses attempt to correct this distortion somewhat, and you can use post-production tools like Photoshop to make those corrections as well, the effect isn't necessarily bad. When you use a wide angle lens, simply know the image will distort and the depth will be exaggerated so you can use it to your advantage.

Standard (35-85 mm)

Standard lenses mirror what the human eye sees most closely. If you want your photos to look natural, standard is the way to go. A 50mm lens is generally considered to be the closest to what the human eye sees, although some will argue a 35mm is closer. Regardless, both produce beautiful, natural-looking photographs. Additionally, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm are common focal lengths for inexpensive prime lenses (especially 50mm). This is great because it's a way to find lenses with wide maximum apertures (e.g f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, and f/2.8) without spending a lot of money. If you're looking to take portraits or close-ups of nature, a 50mm offers the most options. Many prefer 85mm for portraits, however, as it flattens the depth of the image even more (and depth isn't particularly flattering to the human face, just look what a fish eye lens does and you can see). Regardless of what you choose, everyone should have a lens in the standard range. While they may not offer special features, they're rarely a bad choice for most types of photos.

Telephoto (100-300mm)

When you need to get closer but can't, you pick up a telephoto lens. While you have the great advantage of getting closer to your subject without physically moving, telephoto lenses flatten depth to the point where it may look a little unrealistic. Consider this example: if you photographed two people walking towards you and one was many meters behind the other, a telephoto lens could make it look like both people were almost next to each other. Flattened space isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's important to know a telephoto lens causes it so you can take that into account before using one. If you choose a telephoto lens, make sure to spend the extra money and get one with optical stabilization. Everything is magnified by a telephoto lens, including the small movements of your hands and body when holding the camera. You'll end up with a lot of motion blur if the camera isn't stabilized, and since you won't have a tripod with you at all times you can save yourself some ruined images if the lens can help stabilize itself.

Super Telephoto (300mm or more)

Super telephoto lenses can shoot the moon. When you want to photograph something that's really far off, this is the type of lens you need. Super telephoto lenses have the same pros and cons of regular telephoto, but to more of an extreme. Because telephoto lenses flatten space more than any other type, you can achieve beautiful selective focus in your images.


  1. Thank you for this post although I have a bridge camera but found it interesting none the else.

  2. Nicely explained, Mersad!

  3. sehr tolle Erklärungen. Gut gemacht!
    LG susa

  4. Nice photos (as always), Mersad.
    Thanks for sharing at

  5. Very interesting Mersad. Even though I have a long lens, a wide angle and a prime I mostly use the 18 to 55mm as you say it's just so convenient for many reasons.

  6. Very interesting Mersad. Even though I have a long lens, a wide angle and a prime I mostly use the 18 to 55mm as you say it's just so convenient for many reasons.

  7. Mein Problem ist, daß ein Übergang fehlt (18-55, dann 55-300mm habe ich). Das erste ist meistens zu wenig, das zweite ist zu viel. Ich muß ständig wechslen, bei einem Stadtbesuch sogar 10-20-mal und es kommt dabei immer viel Dreck in die kamera rein.
    Ich überlege mir ein Objektiv von 18 bis 200 mm zu kaufen, allerdings nicht mehr heuer, da ich mit dem Makroobjektiv und Teleobjetiv bis 600 mm schon meine Möglichkeiten ausgeschöpft habe.
    Liebe Grüße

  8. i always wanted a super telephoto, the telephoto lens was my favorite. but my camera died and now i just have a fixed lens

  9. Good reading for every beginner! Good job.

  10. What a wonderful choise for this weeks letter and very informative too.
    i had a good adviser when i started... so i am very content with the lenses i have.... bought second hand because i can't affort the new ones.... had help from a prof. photographer...

    Have a nice abcwednes-day / – week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)
    ( )

  11. Nice photographic illustrations.

  12. Thanks for the basic explanation of typical camera lensing.

  13. I am sharing this on FB, thanks Mersad.

  14. I really like your informative posts!


  15. My 18 to 55 lens is hidden away in a drawer. I shoot mostly with the nifty fifty on my new full frame Canon 6D, but I am currently trying to find a new zoom lens. Either a 100 to 400 lens, or something a little longer. It's tricky to find the right lens. Choosing between Canon, Tamron and Sigma.

  16. A very well explained and informative post, Mersad!

  17. Thank you, Mersad, this is of great help! :-)

  18. Thanks for this post Mersad. As a relative beginner in photography such articles are great to build up my basic knowledge

  19. Interesting post. Very good examples of the use of lenses

  20. You need to see how this kid is able to make
    over $2000 a month selling pictures he took
    with his camera!

    He lays out exactly how you can do it too!
    This page might not be up for much longer
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