Looking at Lenses

I'm often asked about lenses - so this weeks blog is about the different types of lenses available and what they are, most commonly, used for.

Standard Zooms

These include the lens that came with your camera (aka the kit lens - usually 18 - 55mm) They give the photographer the option to shoot from both wide angle and telephoto veiwpoints and everything in between. Usually they offer a focal length from 18mm up to 135mm. They are a good all round lens suitable for a wide range of photography, including portraits. Great if you only want to take one lens with you on a day out!


These are typically used for sports and wildlife photography as they enable you to shoot closer to your subject without having to be close. They will typically have a focal length of over 135mm. Visually they compress the distance and that can flatten perspective.

Wide Angle

These lenses capture a wider angle of view than our own field of vision (which is about 50mm). Typically their focal length is 20mm or less. They are great for large landscape views, interior shots (as loved by estate agents) and architecture. There is likely to be some distortion at the edges of the photo when using it for closer subjects.


A lens with a fixed focal length. 50mm is particularly loved by photographers. So, there is no zoom which will make you think more about composition and your viewpoint when taking photographs. They are often great in low light levels as they have better maximum apertures than a standard zoom. Because there are no moving parts the optics tend to be better in this type of lens offering sharper, crisper results.


Lenses for close up photography. They are usually a fixed focal length (therefore they are a type of prime lens) Great for nature and still life and especially for detailed shots or of really small things. Image stabilisation is really important for this type of lens.

Buying Tips:

Make sure you really know what type of lens you want next. That will stop you buying a lens that sits in your bag rather than on your camera. (This happened when I was bought my wide angle lens as a gift - it was years before I really started using it). When looking at lenses look at all the options available. There are very good third party manufacturers, Sigma and Tamron for example, who produce great lenses, as well as the options from your camera's manufacturer.

If you are looking for a second hand lens then buy from a reputable source such as a camera shop/website that has traded in/refurbished equipment. Usually they will give a good indication of the condition of the lens as well as guarantees.

Remember that when you put a different lens on the front of your camera it will feel different initially both in terms of the balance of the camera in your hand and also the weight. This might take a little getting used to. Longer focal lengths will need supporting as the camera becomes front heavy.

So, what's in my camera bag?

Currently I have the following types of lenses - standard zooms 18-200mm and 18-135; 50mm prime lens; 105mm macro lens and a 10-20mm wide angle lens. These have been collected over the years and no doubt will be replaced or added to in the future.

I have started a board on Pinterest that has pins on equipment and there's lots more information on lenses there. Click here to go to the board.

If you are looking to buy a new lens for your camera and want some independent advice then I am more than happy to help. Contact me via email or my Facebook page.

#blog #lenses #equipment #Tuesday39stopic #sarahstephensphotography #photography

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