May 2014
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Selecting the right lens to use – 5 tips (contd ..)

In the previous post, we were talking about different types of lenses. In this post, we will explore in more detail.
If you have a compact camera, then you have a given lens that is part of the camera. However, if you have a SLR or the new series of mirror-less cameras, then you have the option of selecting the desired lens, and this is where there are a lot of options. People can get pretty confused about which lens to have, which can be confusing in multiple ways. You may want to select 1-2 lens which meet all your needs, or you may have multiple lens, and want to select 1-2 lens to carry with you while you are on a trip. How do you select the right lens to carry ? This post might be simple for those who have some experience, but I have come across many people who don’t have this much information.

Tip 1301 (Fast lenses, more aperture, but heavier): In a previous tip, I had mentioned that fast lenses have large apertures (f/1.8, f/1.2, etc), but these tend to more expensive. The other problem with these lenses is that they tend to be heavier (for example, I was using a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens that was pretty heavy). Such lenses are not so easy to use, since as the lens gets heavier, when combined with the weight of the camera, it can get difficult to hand hold the lens without a tripod.

Tip 1302 (Fast lens and depth of field): So you are thinking of buying a lens that is considered a fast lens. You are attracted by being able to shoot in low light with a high aperture level, but there are issues regarding Depth of Field. As the aperture increases (the lens opening increases in size), the Depth of Field of the image becomes such that the sharp part of the image decreases. What this means is that as you move towards an aperture value of f/1.8 or even f/1.2, you need to be more careful of the focus, since a much smaller section of the image will be in Focus. So, if you are trying to shoot a landscape in low light, with a fast lens, you might still get light to be proper, but large sections of the image will be out of focus.

Tip 1303 (What does focal length on the lens mean): When you see a lens, you see that there is something called the focal number, usually expressed in mm. A very rough parameter is that as the number increases, it denotes a zoom, while a small number indicates a much wider view. For easier understanding, consider that the human eye seems somewhere in the range of 50mm (give or take a few mm). So, the focal length of the lens indicates whether the lens allows the user to see more than the eye can see (a wide lens), or a higher focal length indicates that the lens will allow the user to zoom onto a specific object, meaning that the user can see more detail of some object, but overall see less of the frame than the normal eye would.

Tip 1304 (The maximum aperture changes depending on zoom): On many lenses, you would see a range of aperture values (say, f/3.5 to f/5.6). This may be a bit confusing, since you would assume that the maximum aperture on a lens should be constant, but for many lens, this maximum aperture value depends on the zoom. So, when the lens is at its widest (lowest mm), the maximum aperture would be f/3.5, but as you start zooming, the maximum aperture changes and finally reaches the value of f/5.6

Tip 1305 (Using the kit lens): A lot of focus in these articles is about getting a better lens for your camera rather than using the kit lens that comes with the camera. However, when you are unsure about your style of shooting (which determines the type of lens you would need), or feel the need to do a lot of practice, then it would make sense to stay on the kit lens till then.

The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer How to Choose a Camera, Lens How to Choose Yor Camera Lenses

Videos on selecting the proper lens for the DSLR:

How to Choose a Lens for a DSLR

Choosing Your First Lens for a DSLR Camera

Photography Techniques : Selecting a Camera Lens

An overview of digital SLR lenses

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