Camera Lenses Explained - Shall We Wrap This Up And Move On? Hi and welcome to Episode 67 of the Photography Explained podcast.
I’m your host Rick, and in each episode I will explain one photographic thing to you in plain English in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details. What I tell you is based on my lifetime of photographic experience. And not Google.
Here is my answer
A camera lens directs light onto the camera sensor. Different lenses are used by photographers for different subjects and different creative effects. You can get standard, wide angle, telephoto and other specialist lenses to suit your needs as a photographer. Camera lenses are either zoom (variable focal length) or prime (fixed focal length).
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Glad you asked! In Photography Explained Podcast 68, Are Phone Camera Lenses Any Good? Lets Find Out.
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Camera lenses explained. Shall we wrap this up and move on? Hi, and welcome to Episode 67 of the Photography Explained podcast. I'm your host Rick, and in each episode, I will explain one photographic thing to you in plain English in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details. What I tell you is based on my lifetime of photographic experience are not Google.
And there's no Google in this one, trust me.
Here is the answery bit.
A camera lens directs light onto the camera sensor. Different lenses are used by photographers for different subjects and different creative effects. You can get standard, wide-angle, telephoto, and other specialist lenses to suit your needs as a photographer. Camera lenses are either zoom (variable focal length), or prime (fixed focal length).
But you've already told me all this - so what are you going on about in this episode?
Well, that is a very good question. And I've just noticed that my accent appears to be changing into some ones other than mine. So I will try and speak like I normally do.
Okay, what I wanted to do here was just a quick recap, and then get on to the bit that I've not said before. I'll come on to that I won't bore you with it now.
We have a standard lens 50mm focal length on a full frame camera. Standard lens equates to how you and I hopefully see the world through our own eyes. It's generally a familiar view that we all have.
Wide angle lenses have a shorter focal length (smaller number) and less than in general terms than 40mm. Wide angle lenses, you can get more in, but it's further away. And that's that.
Telephoto lenses in general terms have a focal length on a full frame camera of more than 60mm. Telephoto lenses get you closer in so you can (capture) subjects further away. They don't change the depth of field, but magnification makes it look like it does.
Tigers and telephoto lenses
They (telephoto lenses) can help you with things like photographing a tiger. Rather than walking up to a tiger with a fisheye lens and being eaten, you can photograph it from some distance away (and live).
Prime and Zoom
Now we have prime lenses and zoom lenses. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, such as a 50mm. A zoom lens has a variable focal length such as 24-105mm.
We also have fisheye lenses, where you get a circular image with 180 degree field of view. You can also get a full frame fisheye which is distorted but not circular.
Tilt Shift Lenses
Finally, we have tilt shift lenses which I talked about in the last episode.
Now I'm sure there are other types of lenses out there but I just wanted to go through the main consumer lenses.
And now the bit for this episode
Okay, this is the bit I wanted to say. With all these lenses, all these different things and all these different manufacturers
How do you choose a lens?
Now there's one thing I haven't mentioned before is that every camera manufacturer manufactures lenses that fit on the cameras that they make.
And you can also buy third party lenses which fit on your camera.
What I use
I have a Canon 6D. Yep, still using a Canon 6D. I have Canon lenses on my Canon 6D, I could buy other manufacturers lenses but I haven't
Sigma are an independent third party lens manufacturer. I'm not being paid to say this, and I do not have any Sigma lenses but I have in the past and they are excellent.
Third party lenses can actually be better than the lenses made by camera manufacturers (these days) and are certainly going to be cheaper.
There are other lens makers available. Check on the internet and you'll find them. Sigma are a pretty safe bet.
Okay, so as well as camera manufacturers, you've got these other people's (lenses) - I just opened up the range of possible lenses.
What do you need to think about?
What are you taking photographs off? What is the subject matter?
That's number one.
It just depends, but you need to think about what do you want to take photos off?
Budget? How much are you prepared to spend?
They're not cheap, but then again, you buy a high quality lens, it will serve you for many, many years. And if you look after it, you'll get your money back in a few years, or not far off it.
Camera bodies devalue rapidly, camera lenses do not – a wonderful thing about camera lenses
Are you just happy taking photos for yourself? Or do you want to go pro? This will have an impact on the choice of lens. In very general terms, the more money you spend on a lens, the higher the quality of the images that you may get.
Not will, may.
Do you need a fixed lens or a zoom lens? My notes helpfully said fixed/ prime lens which was really useful and caused me to have a complete meltdown recording this episode, which is now take five, I think - it's not good is it?
Okay, but this is the point.
If you only have one lens, learn to use it. If you have two lenses, learn to use them. And keep on going. But learn to use them use everything about them.
This applies to your camera as well.
Yes, people we’re talking about practice.
Use your lens to its limit until you can't do any more with it, there is nothing left that you haven't tried. Then you could think about getting another lens, not before.
Needs and wants
Unless you have a specific need, where you need to buy a lens. I only buy gear now if I need it, if it's going to help me take photos, take better photos, or just get a photo.
Use what you've got. Decide what you want to photograph. And then ask yourself do you need another lens?
Now if you just want another lens, that's absolutely fine. Nothing wrong with that, they are great bits of gear, lovely, lovely bits of kit.
So if you want one, that's fine – it’s your money, go and get one.
Learn from me
But to get the best out of anything, and to not do what I've been doing for years, which is this.
Find a lens, buy it, use it half a dozen times, don't learn how to use it, don't practice with it properly, and then be disappointed and sell it and lose money.
If you want to do that, fine. I've done it for years.
I don't recommend it.
Choose with care and thought
So, yeah, decide if you need another lens and then carefully choose that lens. And once you got that lens do all of those things above. Keep on practising learn it inside out.
Okay, can you get by with one lens?Yes, you can. If you're happy with that, and it serves what you do fine. One recommendation from me if you have a full frame camera, I use a Canon 24-105mm lens. 24mm is a decent wide angle focal length, and 105mm is a very short telephoto, but it’s just getting you into the telephoto range.
It's a great starting point.
To start with
Anything that goes you from wide to telephoto is a great starting point.
What if you can't afford another lens?
Use what you got. I've said it all before, you've probably not used your lens to its limits, you've probably not pushed it and tried everything. So use what you have, learn to live with it. It will make you a better photographer. It certainly will.
Learning to use the gear and live with the restrictions and adapt yourself – this will make you a better photographer.
You need more gear though!!
Okay, what if people say you need more gear, you can't be a real photographer with that camera and that lens.
You don't need more gear. But you do need to do this probably.
You probably need to go and take more photos, you probably need to practice more. More gear doesn't equal better photos.
More practising taking photos does.
So what do I do?
This is not even written on the script. I do this.
I use my Canon 17-40mm lens for my commercial work, and I use my Canon 24-105mm lens for travel.
I also have a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens which I use as and when I need to.
I don't have any other lenses on my Canon system.
Yeah I've got a few other bits but that's it for the Canon.
And don't forget I have bought and sold lots of lenses that I did not need - do not do this!
My one line summary
Camera lenses offer photographers creativity and the opportunity to capture a wider range of subjects Next episode
Well I have forgotten something haven’t I? I've gone on about lenses and cameras and focal lengths (and vests?), but there's one thing that I haven't covered in any way, shape, or form.
Phone lenses are there any good - you know what? I think I need to cover that so Episode 68 - title to be agreed - are phone lenses any good?
Okay, I'm done.
Thanks for listening to my small but perfectly formed podcast. It says here to find out more and do stuff to help me check out photographyexplainedpodcast.com/start and to find out more about me check out rickmcevoyphotography.com/ start.
Brought you by
This episode was brought to you by me not being under the blanket now - let me know if you can tell the difference or not? Was it worth my while spending 12 and three quarter minutes under a large heavy fleecy blanket? I am prepared to do it again, but only if people tell me that it made the sound better.
This is sounding fine. It is actually so I'll leave it there.
I’ve been Rick McEvoy thanks again very much for listening to me and for giving me less than 12 minutes of your valuable time, and I will see you on the next episode. Cheers from me, Rick.
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