Lens Types

Lens break down into two different categories “Fixed” lens sometimes called “Prime” lens and “Zoom” lens, all lenses break down into these two categories. most lenses are described by their “angle of view” ie 50 mm, 200mm,18mm etc, the simple way to describe this, that the higher the number of the angle the more magnification and closer things will appear when photographing. below you will fins some of the more common lenses explained.

Zoom lens

Overview: A zoom lens is any lens that can be zoomed in or out, simply put it is possible to have a lens that will cover wide angle and close up angle. when describing a zoom lens it will be called what ever its focal length is i.e 18mm-200mm this means its widest angle is 18mm when zoomed all the way out and its closest angle is 200mm when zoomed all the way in and includes any angle between those two numbers ie 80mm, 35mm etc.

Zoom Lens are flexible and allow a huge amount of different style shots, however they do have drawbacks they are not as “fast” which means there performance in low light will suffer and the longer the focal length18-200mm or 24-105mm etc the less will lose sharpness .

Pros: Flexible, no need to change lenses frequently, allows you to get closer shots when far from your subject, allows for many styles of photography

Cons: can be heavy, loss of sharpness at high angles, poor performance in lowlight

Price Range: €250-€2500

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Sigma, Tamron, Fuji

Tips: When buying a Zoom lens dont get to distracted by how far it zooms in as often the more it zoomz the more loss of speed and sharpness increases, instead of buying the biggest focal lenght ie 18-300mm you may get a better quality lens at a lower price with a smaller focal lenght ie 24-105mm 28-135mm.

Fixed Or Prime Lens

Overview: A Prime or fixed lens is any lens that cant be zoomed in or out, simply put it is “fixed” at one focal length i.e 35mm, 50mm, etc. if you want to get closer or zoom into something you will have to physically walk closer to your subject.

prime Lens are not as  flexible as zoom lens, however they do have many advantages, Prime lens are  “faster” which means there performance in low light will be much much better than a zoom lens, they are also lighter in weight and are sharper, they also produce much lower depth of field and are much sharper than zoom lens.

Pros :Light weight and smaller, sharper than zoom lens, better performance in low light, Low depth of field and Bokeh

Cons: less flexible, you have to walk closer to your subject,

Price Range: €80-€2500

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Sigma, Tamron, Fuji

Tips: When buying a Prime lens, as for a 50mm 1.8 fixed or “nifty fifty” these are high quality low budget primes that are a must for any budding photographer.

Common Lens

While these strictly speaking are not lenses categories, they are common types of lens that many photographers will have in there kit bag depending on the type of photography they like, some lens are suited to street and reportage, some are suited landscapes and some wild life,. while it is possible to use any type of lense for most genres of photography, it is easy when  you have the right tool for the job. most photographers will only own one or two lenses, so dont feel that you need to rush out and buy as many different types as most lenses can “crossover ” genres and can be used in a pinch.

Wide Angle Lens

Overview:  A wide angle lens is simply any lens with a wide angle often anywhere from about 10mm -30 mm are considered wide angle, these lens are fantastic for wide sweeping landscapes and taking shots that have have wide areas that you want to cover. these lenses are often sharp and fast, however the ultra wide angle produces a defect called “barrel distortion” this appears at the side of the frame and often makes that part of the picture look stretched and distorted.

Best For : Landscapes, Seascapes, Astrophotography

Not Suited For: Portraits, Detail Shots, Wildlife,

Price Range: €450 – €1300

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic

Tips: Wide angles are incredible for landscape photography, but be aware buying filters may be expensive as the extra angle adds more cost to producing filters.

All in one 18-200mm

Overview: These  all in ones or super zooms are perfect for travel photography and will allow you get a range of different shots and styles without having to take additional lenses with you. they do have their draw backs, they lose sharpness the more you zoom in, and lose “speed” on towards the end of their zoom range.

Best For: Very flexible and can be adapted to most styles of shots and genres

Not Suited For: low light handheld shooting, shoots that require a blurry background or low depth of field

Price Range: €450-€1100

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic

Tips: These lenses often come with a macro function, but not all though, this can come in very handy for taking close up details, while not as good as a dedicated macro lens it will often do in a pitch and the feature is worth the extra money.

Telephoto lens

Overview: These lenses are often described as any lens that has a focal lenght more than a 100mm, but by no means is this an exact definition. most telephotos that the consumer can afford often have a zoom range of 70mm-300mm or similar. because of the tight angle and magnification these lenses produce these lenses are best used for a particular shots and styles.

Best For: Portraits, Wildlife, Fashion, Details,

Not Suited For: Landscape, Day to Day Shooting

Price Range: €100-€3000

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic

 Tips: When buying a telephoto lens pay particular attention to two things, make sure that it has a fast aperture of at least f2.8/f4 and that it comes image stabilized as this will allow for much sharper shots in low light.

50mm Fixed 1.8 “Nifty Fifty”

Overview: This is one of the cheapest and most common prime or fixed lenses on the market, it is very cheap, small, light and flexible and is perfect for any photographer looking to build a kit. it can be adjusted and suited to most styles of photography and is very fast which makes it perfect for low light handheld shooting.

Best For: Very Flexible can be used for most genres, but it will suit some more than others

Price Range: €80-€130

Reliable Brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic, sigma, tamron