Even if you’ve been in the photography world for years, you may not be experienced with many different types of camera lenses. The truth is, lenses are expensive, so we often choose a type of photography and then pick a few lenses that work with our vision. It can be useful to try different types of camera lenses for different perspectives and composition. We are going to break down the different options you have when it comes to expanding your lens arsenal! Here’s a great cheat sheet for knowing what lens is good for what type of photography!
Standard Prime Lenses
Prime lenses are a fixed focal length. That means that if you choose a 35mm lens, it will ONLY give you a 35mm perspective (meaning you can’t zoom in and out). You can only shoot from one length, meaning you have to move your physical body to get wide shots vs close ups. Primes (“fixed lenses”) tend to work for ALL types of photography, specifically street photography, portraits, weddings, landscape, etc.
Zoom lenses are great due to their extreme versatility! These lenses allow you to stay in one place (no running around or twisted ankles) and zooms to multiple focal lengths with one auto focus function! A popular zoom lens is the Canon 70-200mm, which means it can zoom as far out as 70mm and up to 200mm (and every focal length in between)! What’s really cool is that zoom lenses (if on auto focus) can maintain that focus while you change your focal length, which means you can snap quickly!
Wide Angle Lenses
Wide angle lenses are pretty self explanatory, they allow you to gain a wider field of view. Landscape photographers tend to use these lenses to make sure they get the full scene of what they are photographing. Keep in mind that the lower the number focal length, the more that will fit in your frame. Wide angle lenses tend to distort photos (especially of faces), which can fixed moderately post-processing. They are very versatile lenses and tend to be really affordable.
Types of Wide Angle Lenses: 14mm, 20mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm
The speciality of telephoto camera lenses are that they are used to photography subjects/scenes from a very far away! Some telephoto lenses can also zoom, meaning they don’t necessarily fall into the fixed focal length “prime” category. Telephoto lenses are the best when it comes to photographing nature and wildlife (basically when you don’t want to irritate the majestic lion that seems on the hungry side). It’s perfect for planet/star photography and for photographing sports (like surfing or from the sidelines of a football game).
Fisheye lenses are basically ultra wide angle. These very specific lenses are most often used in abstract photography, and allows you to capture the most panoramic view given by any other type of photography lens. These lenses use a particular type of “mapping” that purposely distort lines given a more convex appearance. As the name implies, fisheye lenses look just like actual fish eyes, giving a panoramic view of anywhere from 100-180 degrees.