Everything You Need To Know About Lenses

Photography: Different Photography Lenses
If you have an advanced digital camera or film camera you probably have the ability to change your lenses. If you don't have this capability this is still an important section for you to read because lenses are critical to capturing stunning photographs.

Lenses are usually categorized by their focal length. Here are some examples of common focal lengths and some symbolic lines that represent their field of view:


Here is an amimateg gif that shows you what the same object will look like using various lenses. Notice the compression and expansion that occurs.
lens examples gif

Wide Angle Lenses:
Considered to be lenses from the 20mm-35mm lenses. These lenses are the natural choice of landscape, panoramic views and other outdoor scenes with lots of information. In many outdoor instances a wide angle lens may by the only option which allows the photographer to capture all of the desired photographic elements. Generally speaking, the average wide-angle lens has a deep depth of field making constant refocusing less critical.

Here are some tips for using wide angle lenses:

video by Adorama

Normal Lenses:
50mm is usually considered a 'normal' lens. They are usually good genera lenses and have an angle of view close to the human eye.

Telephoto Lenses:
Telephoto lenses come in two main categories: Medium telephoto lenses (85- 135mm) and long telephoto lenses (>135mm). Medium telephoto lenses are great for portrait shots because they help isolate the subject from the background and the increased focal length slightly flattens the image and give the picture a more natural and at the same time flattering perspective. Long telephoto lenses are often used for nature, sports and documentary style photography which requires the pictures look as if the viewer is close to the action but for whatever reason the photographer is limited in getting too close by certain physical elements. Like medium telephoto lenses, long telephoto lenses are also good at picking the subject out from the background.

To learn more about lenses take a look at our photography course.

Here are some great videos that will help you understand some of what we discussed above. These videos are aimed toward people who are making films and videos but the fundamentals of the lens are the same.

Here is a fantastic history of lenses and an explanation of how they work:

Here is a wonderful video that goes into the properties of camera lenses and explain the features of the modern camera lens for photography and cinematography. Topics include Focal Length, Aperture, Primes vs. Zooms as well as some specialty features.

Video by Filmaker IQ

Finally here is a handy video if you're asking yourself which lens should I buy?

Video by Peter Mckinnon

How To Tell A Story Using A Zoom Lens

Other photography pages of interest:
Setting camera exposure.
Advanced shutter speed technique.
Photography color theory.
Photography color wheel.