Camera Lens Basics: How to Choose the Right Lens for Your DSLR Camera

Capturing moments in time is an excellent passion a person can have. Photography is an art, but to be able to perform it at a high level, you need to have equipment that will match your talent. When you want to develop as a photographer, there are really two things that you should be focusing on, increasing your skills by attending a Photography Course, and making yourself familiar with all of the technicalities.

A lens will be one of the most important choices that you will ever make when shopping for photography equipment. It is absolutely essential that you are aware of which type will work best for your camera. Without further ado, let’s dive into the topic of perfect lenses for a DSLR camera.

Everything You Need to Know About Zoom

When you buy a lens camera, you’re entering a relationship with the specific brand it has imprinted on it. For example, Canon and Nikon DSLRs use incompatible lens mounts, meaning you can’t just mix and match any lens to your camera. Sometimes even within brands, you still need to match the lens to the model of your camera.

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are typically sold in kits. They are supplied with a basic zoom lens, which should be something like an 18-55mm or 14-42mm depending on the format of your camera and the brand. Usually, the maximum zoom power you can find in an interchangeable lens is at around 10x.

Focal Length Explained

The focal length is an indirect indicator of the angle of the view of a lens. A wide-angle lens can have a focal length of 18mm or 24mm, while a telephoto lens is usually at 100mm, 200mm, 400mm, and so on. On a full-frame DSLR camera, the switch from wide-angle to telephoto takes place around the 50mm mark, with lenses near this particular mark typically being referred to as normal focal length.

Wide-angle lenses are most commonly used for landscapes, while telephotos are popular for sports and wildlife. Portrait lenses generally are for the short telephoto range, from around 50mm to 10mm, even though they can be longer. While taking portrait pictures with a wide-angle lens can be achieved, such lenses might cause distortion.

Why Fast Apertures Matter

As you start looking for lenses perfect for your DSLR camera, you may take several double-checks when you look at prices. You may see one 50mm lens for $120 and another for $1,600 from the same manufacturer and under the same brand. There are a couple of factors that can make one lens of identical focal length more expensive than another. The crucial difference here is the aperture, so how wide the lens can open itself.

When it comes to the aperture you have to remember about two basic rules, they are:

  • A fast aperture is used to separate the main subject from the background.
  • A slow aperture is used to keep both foreground and background in focus.

Image Stabilization 101

Even though you can find optical image stabilization in more and more DSLR cameras, most manufacturers still continue to swear by stabilization in the lens. This is executed by moving the elements inside the lens and as a result eliminating camera shake. Producers such as Olympus, or Sony both use image stabilization in the camera body, so you will not find lenses with stabilization from these manufacturers. As for the other producers, you can find lenses with image stabilization, for Nikon it would be one with the VR abbreviation and IS for Sony.

How Important Is the Crop Factor?

Different camera brands use different sizes of image sensors in their DSLR cameras. This can be unclear when figuring out the actual capacity of a wide-angle or a telephoto lens. The trick here is to convert the focal length to its full-frame equivalent.

To make the conversion, you need the crop factor. For example, for Canon’s DSLR cameras without the full-frame sensor, the crop factor is 1.6. This means that you should multiply the focal length by exactly 1.6 to determine what it would have been on the full-frame format, so 135. For other brands like Sony, Nikon, and Pentax, the crop factor equals 1.5.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of technical knowledge needed to be able to choose the perfect lens for your DSLR camera. However, the final product, an ideal photo, is worth taking the time for extra research and calculations so that your equipment can match up to the challenge of taking the most beautiful picture. Find a lens that will be most suitable for both the environment you like to take photos of, as well as the subjects on your pictures. Adjusting the lens to your needs is always the right thing to do.

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