If you’re planning to buy an SLR, you will need to consider a lot of important factors, like choosing the right lenses. Buying just any type of lens will do you (and your camera) no good, especially if you are seriously considering photography as more than a hobby. Your SLR may come with its own kit lens, but serious photography usually involves the use of more than just one lens, so you might want to add more lenses to your arsenal at some point.
There are camera lenses that are meant for specific needs and there are those that won’t help you a bit. So, how do you know which one you should choose? What follows is a list of things that you have to be aware of before you run out to buy lenses.
Camera Lens Features
One of the best ways of determining if a camera lens is suited to your needs is by looking at and examining its features. Here are the most important ones that you should take note of:
This helps you determine how much light can get into your camera. The aperture is represented by the letter f and corresponding numbers. These are called f-stops. A small aperture number like f1.2 means more light comes in because it is wide open. Thus, it produces absolute brightness in a scene. Larger or higher f-stops have narrower aperture openings, so not a lot of light gets in. Higher f-stops should not be used for shooting dark scenes.
If you plan to buy telephoto lenses, remember that these have large f-stops. Be careful in using them for shooting scenes with very little light. Zoom lens, on the other hand, indicates an f-stop range that determines both the wide angle and the maximum telephoto effect you can achieve.
Indicated and measured in millimeters, the focal length is what defines the type that you have: whether it is a telephoto or a wide angle lens. The main advantage of using a telephoto lens is that you’ll be able to get to your subject as close as you want to. You won’t need to risk crossing a busy street with roaring cars just to get a close-up shot of a bird perched on top of the pole on the other side of the street. You can take the shot from where you are using your telephoto lens. The main disadvantage of using a telephoto lens, however, is that most ‘affordable’ models will start at f3.5 or even f4.5, thus not allowing a lot of light in. If you’re ready to spend more, you could get your hands on a f2.8 which is usually what pro photographers prefer.
Wide angle lenses offer not only good light, but also the right depth of field (how much of a scene is blurry and how much of it is sharp). This is especially true when you shoot nature-themed scenes. You don’t need to worry about the outcome of your photos even if you took them in a secluded area where there’s not so much light. These lenses, however, are not always great for portrait photography. The wide angle will make the facial features appear differently, i.e. the nose will become wider and the eyes may look too stretched or sunken. Physically, wide angle lenses are also more convenient to carry around because they are smaller and lighter.
Prime vs. Zoom Lenses
You will also need to decide whether you’ll want a zoom lens or a prime lens. As mentioned earlier, zoom lens gives you a variable f-stop range, as well as a wide range of focal length. This is one of the reasons why a lot of photographers choose to get the zoom lens.
Using a prime lens, on the other hand, will give you better brightness and quality. A prime lens is likewise easier to control and manage, and correct, when there are errors. Thus, you tend to get better quality photos as compared to the zoom lens.
There are other factors to consider when choosing your camera lens; like the image sensors, the camera’s focus shift, image stabilization or anti-shake factor and color refraction correction, among others. The three mentioned above, however, are the major ones and the first things that you need to take note of.
If you plan to take close-ups and extreme close-ups, you should get yourself a macro lens. The macro is intended for taking close-up shots of small subjects and creating crisp, sharp images. The small subjects transform and become life-sized. This camera lens is meant to help you come up with good quality photos even when taken at the closest distance possible.
Your macro lens should have a 1:1 magnification even if it allows you to use a varied range of focal length. This magnification means you can take close-ups or extreme close-ups even without getting too close to your subject.
There are other factors that you need to take note of, all of which are of equal importance in determining the right choice.
Choosing the right camera lens depends a lot on what type of subjects or scenes you intend to shoot. The way that you interpret a scene is also important, as well as how you perceive an image or subject. You can shoot a group of people with a wide angle lens, while another photographer may want to use a telephoto. It all depends on what you want to create.
Determining your choice of subjects or themes will also help you gauge whether you’ll be shooting more in open areas or in places with limited lighting.
The best thing to do when buying camera lens is to look around and compare before deciding on one type or brand. Sites like BorrowLenses are great places to rent lenses and try them out before you actually go ahead and buy. Choose a couple and then compare their features and prices. If you do this, you’re sure to find only the best lens that can give you the satisfaction you are looking for.