A good lens is more important than a camera. Yes, the camera, of course, affects the amount of noise, but it is the optics that is responsible for what kind of picture the viewer sees.
Why take a portrait? What is a “shirik”, and how does it differ from a telephoto? Are there universal lenses? We tell you what types of lenses are and which one is better for a beginner to choose.
Types of lenses
Camera lenses can be classified according to different characteristics: body and lens material, manufacturer, attitude to amateur or professional optics. For example, the key point is what is in front of you: a “fixed” lens or a zoom.
Fixed or zoom: which lens to choose
- A “fixed” lens, or fixed lens, is an optic with a fixed focal length. Simply put, you can’t zoom in or out with it, thereby changing the framing and viewing angle.
Often these lenses have a higher aperture ratio, which allows you to shoot in darker times and in poor lighting conditions. On the other hand, they won’t give you as much creative freedom as zooms.
For beginners, a fixed lens has both pros and cons:
+ you get better and faster optics and improve your photography skills: you will have to think about the composition right away and move around the location to line up the frame;
- a fixed focal length does not allow a beginner to “feel” different viewing angles. You will not be able to shoot wide (a wide-angle lens that captures a large number of objects), and then with a slight movement of your hand turn the lens into a telephoto lens (a television lens with super-zoom; allows you to photograph objects that are far away close-up).
5 adapters that expand the capabilities of a fixed lens
- Zoom lenses, or zoom lenses. These are “glasses” that can change their focal length — increase and decrease the viewing angle. So, for example, in a reportage, you can first capture the entire scene as a whole, and after a moment shoot large portraits.
But a zoom lens also has pros and cons:
+ this is an ideal option for beginners or amateurs who do not want to spend money on a set of expensive and heavy lenses;
- such lenses often have a low aperture, and sharpness (when compared with fixes) and a blur pattern on the background — bokeh may also suffer.
Now consider how lenses are divided by focal length or, more simply, the width of the viewing angle. The connection is as follows: the smaller the focal length, the wider the viewing angle, which means that more objects fit into the frame.
wide angle lens
Wide-angle lenses are lenses with a wide field of view that capture a lot of space in the frame. The focal length of such “glasses” is from 6 to 35 mm. Many zoom lenses shoot in the wide-angle range: 18–135mm, 18–55mm, 24–70mm.
Fisheye deserves special mention. This is an ultra wide-angle lens that intentionally distorts the proportions of the frame. For example, it creates the effect of a bulge that “bulges” the picture on the viewer, or turns a square frame into a round one — as if the image was placed inside a glass ball.
What to photograph with a wide-angle lens
- landscapes. Due to the wide viewing angle, the whole scene is captured, which allows you to convey the beauty of the landscape. But for objects that are far away, it is better to have a telephoto lens in the kit.
- architecture. The whole building will fit in the frame, and the photographer does not have to move far from it. But keep in mind that a small distance from the camera to the subject can greatly distort the perspective and proportions of the building. In this case, you need to move further or prepare to edit the perspective in post-processing.
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- Interiors. A wide-angle lens is indispensable when shooting indoors. It allows you to capture the entire room as a whole, even if the space is very small.
- Reporting. Without wide-angle optics, it is impossible to convey the scale of events. Only a width can accommodate a hundred people in a frame.
- Portraits. With a wide-angle lens, you can get unusual, deep portraits. They show what surrounds the hero of the picture, where he is. The main thing is not to distort the proportions of the body: watch the angle and distance from which you photograph the model.
Kit lens and stock lens
Regular, or normal lenses are “glasses” that show the picture as the human eye sees it. Their viewing angle varies from 40 to 55 degrees, which equates to 40–60 mm in terms of focal length. That is why the 50 mm lens (or “fifty kopecks”) is considered a classic. It is these lenses, all other things being equal, that will give minimal distortion — in the photographs you will not get rounded walls or a protruding nose, as with widths, but at the same time you will not have to go to the other end of the street, as is the case with telephoto optics.
It is universal. It can be used to photograph objects, people, reports, nature, architecture.
Kit lenses are the cheapest manufacturer’s lenses that come with the camera. They are not the best quality, but usually cover a wide range of focal lengths. The most famous of them are 18–55 mm and 18–135 mm. This allows a beginner to start photographing immediately after buying a camera, without breaking his head over the choice of optics.
Telephoto lenses, or telephoto lenses, are “glasses” with a large zoom that allow you to take a close-up photograph of an object, even if you are far away from it. The focal length varies from 70mm to 500mm, 800mm and even 2000mm.
A separate subcategory of telephoto lenses — portraiture. These are any lenses with a focal length in the range from 50 to 135 mm. It is believed that these are ideal values at which the proportions of the face are not distorted. In addition, such lenses create a beautiful background blur.
Bokeh effect: how to take a beautiful photo with blur
What to photograph on TV
- Details of landscape, architecture and interior. Would you like to take a close-up photo of a bizarre stucco molding on an old cathedral? The telephoto will allow you to “catch” distant details. But keep in mind that without a wide or stock lens in the kit, you can miss a lot of good shots.
- Animals. Animal photography is impossible without long-focus optics. It is with her that photographers and cameramen who shoot wildlife most often work.
- Of people. Long lenses capture the proportions of a person’s face well. But in order to shoot a portrait on a telephoto, you have to move far enough from the model.
- Reports, sports events, concerts. The telephoto lens will allow you to get portraits and close-ups, being far from the subject. This is convenient, for example, when shooting matches from the stands.
A macro lens is an optic that allows you to photograph an object very close without losing focus. For example, with it you can take a picture of an ant while standing close to it, while with a telephoto lens you have to move a few meters away. The range of focal macro lenses is wide — from 25 mm to 100 mm.
What to shoot with a macro lens
- Animal world and plants. Thanks to the design of the macro lens, insects and flowers will take up the entire frame without losing quality.
- Portraits and facial features are large. Especially in quiet studio environments where you can take the time to manually focus or wait for slow autofocus.
- Details and textures.
- subject photo. Macro lenses are used for shooting small objects. For example, bijouterie and jewelry.
Tilt-shift lenses (from the English tilt shift — shift and tilt) — a lens that allows you to shift and tilt its optical axis. This helps to eliminate perspective distortion, create panoramas and get sharpness on objects that are at different distances from each other.
What to photograph with a tilt-shift lens
- Landscapes, architecture and interiors. The lens will help you take a photo without perspective distortion, where the lines will be strictly vertical and horizontal.
- Items. By shifting the focus, the entire composition can be sharpened. Otherwise, you will have to shoot many identical frames with different sharpness from a tripod and combine them in a graphics editor.
Tilt-shift lens: what is it and why is it needed
Bad lighting on set: what to avoid, how to fix
High key: what is it, how to shoot, lighting schemes
Results. Which lens to choose for a beginner
- Consider a wide range zoom lens if you’re just getting started with photography or if it’s a hobby for you that you don’t plan to spend a lot of money on by buying expensive lens kits.
- A kit or standard lens is a universal classic for a beginner. Suitable for almost any genre, does not distort the proportions in the frame. Few opportunities? Take a closer look at adapters that will help you make the angle wider or turn the lens into a macro.
- Wide-angle and telephoto lenses are the next step. You can look at them when you feel that the capabilities of the lens and image quality are no longer enough, or if you are aiming to go into a certain genre from the very beginning. For example, architecture, landscape, sports, reportage or interior photography.
- Macro lenses, tilt-shift lenses are interesting toys that will either amuse you and collect dust on the shelf, or help you further develop in photography, expanding the possibilities. Buying them for a beginner can be an expensive and pointless investment that he will not appreciate if he does not have enough experience.