Do you know all the types of camera lenses that exist? When you first get a DSLR or Reflex camera, as they are better known, most photographers tend to use only the lens included in the kit .
But now that you probably already know what photography is and want to dedicate yourself to it, it is time to take advantage of the ability of these professional cameras to interchange lenses to obtain different results.
don’t know which lens to use to take the best pictures? Well, using these lenses correctly will help you take better photos and enhance your portfolio.
In this article, we will tell you more about the types of lenses that exist, when you can use them and which are the best brands. However, we recommend that you keep in mind what type of photography you are passionate about.
focus on your goal as a photographer and let’s get started!
Basic photography terms
Before we begin, we first need to go over some photographic terms that are very important when making a decision such as choosing which types of digital camera lenses to use.
what is a camera lens?
A camera without a lens cannot fully function, whether it is a digital or analog camera. It could be said that the lens is the “eye” of the camera and is probably the most important part of it.it is made up of several pieces of glass -or plastic- in a cylindrical shape, joined by what is known as the “barrel” of the lens.
so why is it so important to know all about the types of camera lenses? This tool is what collects and focuses the light from the scene or object to be photographed.this light then travels through the camera to the image sensor and also to the viewfinder on the back of your DSRL or digital camera. Without the lens, all you will be able to capture is white light .
The role of photographic lenses is very important: a lot depends on the quality of the lens to achieve great pictures. If you have a cheap camera, with a good lens you will still achieve great things. On the contrary, if you use a cheap lens it will not work well at all, even with a high priced body.
what is photographic focal length?
Focal length is the main measurement of a lens. Generally speaking, focal length determines how much zoom you can get in your photos. This measurement is expressed in millimeters (mm) and is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when focused at infinity. Nikon explains it this way:
“The focal length indicates the angle of view, i.e. how much of the scene will be captured, and the magnification, how large the individual elements will be. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification.”
Different types of camera lenses generally have a focal length of between 14 mm and 600 mm, although, there are certain slightly more expensive exceptions that have shorter or longer focal lengths. The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view. The longer the focal length, the narrower the field of view.
Let’s take a few examples to clarify the concept. If you want to take pictures of a landscape, it will probably be more useful to use a wide-angle lens, which usually has a focal length of 18 to 35mm, while if you want to take pictures of a soccer match, a telephoto lens (135mm to 200mm) will be more convenient to get closer to the point of action.
what is photographic aperture?
Aperture in photography refers to the ability of the lens to open to determine the amount of light that passes from the lens to the camera’s image sensor. this affects the exposure of your photograph, the more open this lens aperture is, the more light your images will have, and the more closed the sensor is, the less light it will capture.
Depending on the type of camera lenses, they may have a fixed or variable aperture. The size of the aperture is described in values known as “f-stops”. These values can be found engraved around your lens. It may be confusing at first, but the larger the number that accompanies the f-stop indicates a smaller aperture. So an f.16 lets in less light than an f.4 aperture.
Inaddition to having an effect on exposure, they also have a direct relationship with depth of field. Depth of field is the distance between the closest and farthest elements of the image, i.e. the part of the image that is sharpest. the smaller the aperture of the lens, the more depth of field you will have (photos without blur), on the other hand, if you want a blur effect in your image, you should use a larger aperture, such as f.4, for example.
what is the sensor of a digital camera?
The sensor is like the film in your digital camera. Unlike its predecessor, it can be used several times in front of different exposures. This sensor has different sizes, which will proportionally affect the quality of photos your DSRL camera can take .
The sensor is like a solar panel that gathers light to create an image. A larger camera sensor can gather more light creating a better overall image. Camera sensor sizes are standardized, making it easy to compare the sensor size on one camera to the sensor size on another.
Once you have these concepts on the table more clearly, you can better understand how each of the different types of camera lenses work, so you can choose the best one for your needs. let’s see what are the types of photographic lenses!
1. Fisheye lens
A fisheye lens is like a wide-angle lens, but much larger. Its field of view is extremely wide, almost 180°. Focal lengths can range from 8mm to 15mm. The shape of the lens causes the camera to produce images using extreme visual distortion to make them appear hemispherical or very wide panoramas .
The lens got its name in 1906 based on how physicist and inventor Robert Wood thought a fish would see the surface from underwater with a wide, hemispherical view. It is used extensively in both film and photography. In the final shot, it can be seen as if the edges are wrapped in the sphere. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most widely used types of camera lenses in use today.
when to use fisheye?
For the most part, fisheye lenses are used for extreme sports shots. For example, in skateboarding or parkour shots it helps to put the action into context by creating a “big air” around the subject. In this way, the movement is fully captured and the viewer is shown a different perspective.
It is also used to simulate elements such as door peepholes and security cameras. In addition, to convey feelings of disorientation or when a character is inside a chaotic scenario. They definitely add an artistic touch to your shots.
Best fisheye lenses
Altura Photo 8mm f/3.0
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM
Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED
Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS
Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye
2. Wide-angle lens
A wide-angle lens is any lens with a short focal length and a wide field of view. One of the main characteristics of the wide-angle lens is that it allows the camera to capture much more of the scene than a normal lens, they are widely used to capture landscapes, panoramic views or urban shots.
The focal lengths of this lens range from 17mm to 35mm and have a field of view from 60° and up. There can be variations for this lens such as wide-angle macro which is very useful for taking close-up detail shots.
Wide-angle camera lens types allow photographers to get as close as possible to the subject without excluding crucial elements in the background scene, giving viewers the feeling of seeing the scene with their own eyes in real time.
when to use a wide-angle lens?
Wide-angle lenses are used when you want to capture more detail in the space where you are shooting. Landscape shots, large group shots or architecture, for example, are types of photography that require this type of lens, allowing you to have a frame that shows the full splendor of a building or the countryside.
They are also used in interiors or very enclosed places where we can’t move back very far to get everything in our frame. Be very careful of the distortions that wide-angle lenses can cause. While they are one of the most useful types of camera lenses, it is important to know when to use them and to use them correctly.
Fernando O’Farrill, professor of the Fundamentals of Digital Photography course, says that wide-angle lenses “have a small disadvantage: they tend to distort a lot. That’s why you have to be very careful to know where to place the camera.
Best wide-angle lenses
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
Fujifilm XF8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR
3. Fixed Lens
Fixed lenses, as the name says, cannot physically zoom, as they only have a focal length that can be 50mm. The performance of this focal length is better than that of zoom positioned at the same focal length. Remember that a 24mm lens will give you wider views while a 135mm will make it closer and sideways.
Fixed camera lens types generate sharper images compared to zoom lenses. They are lighter and work better in dimly lit locations, as they have apertures between f-2.8 or f-5.6.
One of the main functions of the fixed photographic lens is to take portraits. Perhaps a disadvantage is the fact that they cannot zoom in and therefore have to carry several lenses for different types of framing.
when to use a fixed lens?
A fixed lens is ideal when you’re working in low light because, due to their wider apertures, they let more light into the camera – all this without having to compromise your ISO.
In addition, these photography lenses are perfect for portraits, as they provide a better depth of field for more artistic shots, and they also tend to provide higher quality images. Therefore, if you like fine art photography, fixed camera lenses will be of great help.
Just keep in mind that you will have to use your legs a lot if you don’t have a zoom, but this will strengthen your photographic eye, as the movement will force you to try out different frames.
Best fixed lenses for DSRL cameras
Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM
Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM
Nikon Nikkor Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct
Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art
Fuji XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR
4. Zoom Lens
The magic of a Zoom lens is that you can change focal lengths without having to change lenses. This type of lens helps you make quick changes in framing a scene while staying in the same position. The focal lengths of this lens are: 24-50mm; 18-70mm, 24-70mm and 25-105mm.
Zoom lenses are widely used these days, as they were massified by the factories of Nikon, Canon, Sony and others. These types of camera lenses can improve image quality both in bright environments (set at low aperture) and in low light environments (set at or near maximum aperture). Without a doubt, it can be called a close-up lens.
when to use a zoom lens?
It is one of the most adaptable types of camera lenses for many situations. It is ideal when you travel or do not want to carry a lot of weight with you, as zoom lenses are perfect for this type of occasions, as this can be the replacement of several lenses in one.
Best zoom lenses
Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S
Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4.0
Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2
5. Telephoto/ Super-telephoto Lenses
This isone of the lenses for photography that requires a wide depth of field. Basically, these are lenses for long distance photography, as they allow us to photograph a subject that is far away. The most common telephoto lenses have a focal length of 70 mm to 200 mm.
Any of the types of camera lenses with a focal length greater than about 300 mm can also be considered a super telephoto lens.
when to use a telephoto lens?
Telephoto lenses are ideal for getting close to the action or subject without the need to be physically close, which is why these types of camera lenses are widely used in sports such as soccer or basketball to capture the action without intervening in the game. It is also a lens that can be very useful in documentary photography.
However, be very careful as they are usually very large and heavy, so any movement can work against you. You will have to work with fast speeds in well-lit places.
Best telephoto lenses
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.
Tamron 100-400mm VC.
6. Macro lens
A macro lens is a camera lens designed for photographing small subjects at very close distances. The main characteristic of these lenses is that they will let you focus at very close distances to the subject and have high magnifications creating an incredible detail plane effect. The most common of these lenses is 60mm.
Many professionals also use them as portrait lenses because of their ability to capture a lot of detail in ultra-sharp focus. They usually project a 1:1 ratio, which means that the subject looks exactly the same size as in real life. Some macro lenses also allow the subject to appear larger than its actual size.
when to use a macro lens?
These types of camera lenses are perfect for product photography or for capturing small subjects, such as insects that might flee if we get too close. It is also widely used for taking pictures of flowers, plants and scenes that require a natural background perspective.
Remember that it has the ability to capture a lot of detail and can be used for portraits.
Best macro lenses
It will depend a lot on whether you are looking for short focal length, stander or tele macro lenses. Here are some of the best:
Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro
Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 Lumix G Macro Aspherical MEGA O.I.S Lens
Nikon 60mm f/2.8 D AF Micro-Nikkor
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
IRIX 150mm f/2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM
7. Tilt-shift Lens
This is a very peculiar type of lens that can shift while keeping the camera still in one place. Shift mode refers to the ability of the lens to move up or down in search of the perfect frame. Tilt mode, on the other hand, refers to the ability to move left or right.
The Shift & Tilt function was specifically designed to solve the optical problems encountered in architectural photography. Perspective distortion arises when the subject does not match the plane of focus, which can occur with traditional lenses.
However, this does not happen with the tilt-shift lens, which can capture, for example, a building with parallel framing. And this is achieved without the need to close the diaphragm – as a traditional lens would do – because, with this technology, the depth of field does not change, only the plane of focus.
can tilt-shift lenses be used as traditional lenses? The answer is yes, these types of camera lenses work like traditional lenses, you just have to keep the “Tilt & Shift” function deactivated. However, the disadvantage is that these photographic lenses do not have autofocus.
when to use a tilt-shift lens?
Or rather, what is a tilt-shift lens for? Tilt & shift technology allows you to bring the subject’s plane of focus in line with the camera’s plane of focus, resulting in a single, perfectly focused image, which is ideal for architectural or panoramic photography.
With the Tilt-shift lens you can also achieve photos with a model effect and perhaps many more effects. creativity knows no limits!
Best Tilt-shift lenses
Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II
Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L MACRO
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L MACRO
Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L MACRO
Nikon PC 19mm f/4E ED
Nikon PC-E 24mm f/3.5D ED
Nikon PC-E Micro 45mm f/2.8D ED
Nikon PC-E Micro 85mm f/2.8D
Samayang TILT/SHIFT LENS 24mm F3.5 ED AS UMC
8. Normal lenses
To the usual photographic lens classification, we add normal lenses as another of the most common lens types. Normal camera lenses usually have a focal length of around 50mm, i.e. mid-range, but they can also be of a lower or higher range, depending on the model. What a normal lens captures is quite similar to what the human eye sees .
Basically, what happens with these types of camera lenses is that when you take your eyes off the camera, the scene will not appear to be zoomed in or zoomed out, but will look quite natural.
Source: Javier Somoza
when to use a normal lens?
This type of camera lens is suitable for portraits, street photography, interior photography and landscape photography .
It’s just that with a normal camera lens you get a pretty realistic result of what we’re looking at, so you don’t have to worry about it being the wrong lens for that capture.
Best normal lenses
Sigma F1.4 DG HSM Art – 40 mm
Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G
Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM
Tips for buying camera lenses
Now that you know more about the types of digital camera lenses or DSRLs it’s time to choose which one is right for you. It all depends on what your goals are as a photographer, so do you want to know how your photos will look like with different types of camera lenses?
Here are some additional tips for choosing your next camera lens:
1. Check that the lens is compatible with your camera
Not all types of camera lenses work the same for all brands. In addition to that, you need to consider the size of the sensor. Lenses for Full Frame cameras can be used on APS-C cameras; however, lenses for APS-C cameras are not suitable for full-frame cameras.
2. Consider the type of photography you’ll be doing
Earlier we told you what each of the different types of camera lenses are used for. Keep this in mind when choosing your lens. A landscape lens is not the same as an extreme sports lens. If you are still not sure what activity you will be doing, you can buy different lenses until you perfect yourself in one type of photography.
3. Set a budget and limit your expenses
Be careful not to get carried away with the variety of types of camera lenses. There is no need to buy them all at once, or buy the most expensive camera lenses. Photography can be very expensive if you don’t have control over the numbers!
4. Keep in mind the issue of light
In the photographic market, you can get camera lenses that capture a lot of light and others that capture less. The former types of camera lenses are more expensive than the latter, and it has to do with the diaphragm or aperture of the lens. Reducing the amount of light in a photograph is simple to do, but increasing it can become impossible.
According to the Photographer’s Blog, “a bright lens is the best tool you can add to your photographic equipment. It will give you all the light you need and save you more than one headache when it comes to adjusting the camera and then shooting the photo”.
Resources for better photos
want to continue to increase your knowledge of camera lens types and photography in general? then check out this list of free resources!
If you’re just starting out in photography or have a camera and still don’t know how to get the most out of it, this ebook will be perfect to make your photos enviable. Find basic concepts, definitions and also learn how to light objects, techniques, resources and much more! Download it for free.
the Photography Ebook
have you ever wondered “how to make a self-portrait”? In this guide you will find all the tips and steps to put together a small homemade photo production and give an original and creative style to your selfies.
the Self-Portrait Guide
Guide to product photos at home
In this guide we will explain what is product photography at home and what elements you should consider to enrich the quality of your photos. For example: what to use as background? learn how to produce this type of home photos and put into practice all your knowledge about types of camera lenses.
the product photo guide
Guide to setting up your home photo studio
In this guide you will find 12 basic elements, which you probably have at home, that will help you create incredible photographs without the need for large equipment or materials .
You probably know every corner of your home, but after reading this guide you will find new corners that will be ideal for setting up a photo studio. don’t worry, the idea is not to destroy any space in your home so you can start taking your photos, but simply to set up one of them.
Once you find the ideal place to take your home photos, you can start setting up your very complete mini studio, where you can try out all types of camera lenses until you find the right one.
the guide to set up a photo studio
Photo Editing Quotation Guide
Now that you know what types of camera lenses to use and you have your photo studio set up, it’s time to move on to the next level: photo editing . But do you know how much you will charge the client for that extra?
If you have doubts about how much to charge for photo editing, download this free Photo Editing Quote template and put a value to your services.
In this file you will find the following elements that will help you get your freelance photography career off the ground:
Price list template with the most usual activities of a freelance photographer.
Photo editing quote template.
the photo editing guide
hopefully by now you are clearer about the difference between the types of camera lenses! Keep in mind that having all of them will not make your photos better, on the contrary, you will have to carry so much weight that your tiredness will be reflected in your photos .
Rather, think about the type of photography you will be doing and keep in mind the tips we gave you before buying the camera lenses you will be carrying in your bag.