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Camera Lenses Explained

Understanding Camera Lenses

Camera Lenses Explained

A variety of camera lenses explained for beginner photographers.

A beginner photographer needs to have camera lenses explained to them thoroughly before they can take full advantage of the possibilities they offer. The capacity to adjust the angle of view of the lens opens up a whole range of photographic options. For the SLR user, a huge variety of focal lengths is available by fitting either interchangeable zooms or fixed focal length camera lenses onto the camera body. Most modern day compacts also come fitted with at the very least a moderate zoom lens.

All focal lengths are traditionally split into three broad categories: wide-angle, standard and telephoto.

Camera lenses explained As the size of imaging chips vary, the actual focal lengths of digital camera lenses can be difficult to compare. To deal with this problem, the focal lengths for most camera lenses are standardized by performance on a 35mm SLR.

The focal length range covered by your camera’s built-in zoom, or by the interchangeable camera lenses you may own, will define the kinds of images which you take. The shorter the focal length, the more ‘zoomed out’ it will appear. This allows more to be fit into the frame.

Longer focal length camera lenses will be able to photograph subjects at longer distances, but will subsequently be able to fit less into the frame.

Standard camera lenses

For the 35mm format, baseline lenses are often regarded to be a 50mm. This focal length produces the angle of view that corresponds roughly to how the same scene would have looked if viewed by the human eye.

Normal focal lengths are used inside quite a few zooms, and are fantastic for shooting landscapes and half-length portraits. Do not use standard lenses for full-face close-ups, since you will need to get so close that the camera is going to be intrusive. This usually tends to cause your subject to make unnatural facial expressions.

As a prime (non-zoom) camera lens, these lenses commonly have a considerably wider maximum aperture than others. This produces an extremely bright image on the SLR focusing screen, invaluable for low-light photography.

Wide-angle camera lenses

These take in a wider-angled view of a scene than normal camera lenses. Consequently, almost everything appears to be shrunk down in the image. Wide-angle lenses start out at about 35mm and go down to about 17mm. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view will be. Shorter focal lengths are readily available as prime lenses, but create extreme distortion in the edges of the image.

Wide-angles lenses are perfect for landscapes, broad panoramas, impressive overhead sky effects and crowd scenes. They’re also helpful when operating in cramped conditions indoors. Do not use wide-angle lenses for close-up portraits, as it will produce unflattering distortions.

Focal Lengths Explained

The focal lengths of camera lenses explained through a visual example.

Telephoto camera lenses

These camera lenses begin at about 70mm and can go as much as about 2000mm. Quite a few zooms give a range of telephoto settings as much as 300mm – this makes it possible for you to cover a number of distant and close-up subjects, without the lens becoming too unwieldy.

Telephoto lenses are exceptional for pulling in distant subjects in wildlife and nature photography. They also create fascinating perspective effects simply because they enlarge the middle distance and background in relation towards the foreground. For the 35mm format camera, several photographers consider a focal length of about 100mm perfect for full-face portraits.

The telephoto range of zooms can frequently be extended using the use of converters. Teleconverters for built-in zooms screw into the front of the lens, increasing the maximum focal length by about 150-200%. Teleconverters for SLRs commonly fit in between the camera lens and body.

Prime camera lenses

These days, zoom lenses are the norm. Fixed-focal-length, or prime, lenses are commonly only made use of for much more extreme focal lengths or for specialist applications. Macro lenses are a common example of prime camera lenses that are used for extreme close-ups.

Lens speed

Lens speed refers towards the maximum aperture of camera lenses. This really is vital on SLRs, as the brightness of the viewfinder image depends upon the quantity of light coming in via the lens. A wide maximum aperture enables you to take photographs in dim light without having a tripod. Typically, the longer the focal length, the slower the camera lens. Zooms are also typically slower than primes.

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