How many of you have been on a session with us and hear me say, " Just a moment while I switch cameras?"
I am switching cameras because I have a different lens on the other camera and it needs to be used. Why? Why not just use the one on the other camera?
Lens choice is just as important as the vision for the session and what camera to use. Actually, the better the "glass" (lens), the better the image.
So, what are the different types of lenses and what are they used for?
1. PRIME LENSES
2. ZOOM LENSES
There are several different types of lenses, Prime, Zoom, Wide Angle, and Telephoto, with us talking about Prime and Zoom today. But, before we break that down, let's talk about focal length. What is it and why does it matter?
Focal length is basically the distance between the point of convergence in your lens to the sensor or film and is measured in millimeters. It shows you how "zoomed in" your image is. For example, have you seen photographers at sporting events with their cameras on a tripod and a very long lens? That lens is most likely a 200 or 300mm lens. They are most likely far away from their subject, but because their focal length is large, the subject is very zoomed in, almost like the photographer is right there.
Or, have you seen an image where the landscape is large and the people in it are relatively small? Most likely a wide angle lens was used; either a 20 or 35mm. Do you see a pattern here? The smaller the number, the less zoom.
Prime lenses have a fixed focal length. They cannot zoom in or out. Rather, you, the photographer have to do the zooming! If you want to get your subject closer, you actually have to move your feet and get closer. If you want the subject to be further away, you have to get further away. Prime lenses come in different milimeters-the most common is the 50mm, which actually mimics what your eye sees. It is considered to be a good first lens for a beginning photographer.
1.Usually, due to the less complicated build of the lens, images turn out sharper than a zoom or wide angle. They usually have a better optical design than zoom lenses.
2. Usually, prime lenses offer a wider aperture such as f/1.4 to give you a beautiful, creamy background for your portraits.
3. Usually, they are lighter weight so easier to carry and use!
Prime lenses can be used for portraits, but they are also used for macro and landscape work. Depending on what focal length you are using, your portrait could become distorted due to the angle of the lens. A 35mm prime lens could distort a face, for example, if you are very close up taking a portrait. Better to step back and get the entire scene in the frame! The 85mm lens is the perfect choice for portraits and is often used in the studio just for this purpose. Choose a 24mm or a 35, or even an ultra wide lens like a 14mm if you are photographing landscapes, and fix any distortion in photoshop or lightroom.
Unlike prime lenses, zoom lenses have quite the range of focal lengths. Some "kit" lenses (those that come in a bundle with a camera) are from 35-200mm! There are mid range zooms, such as 35-70 or 70-105, telephoto such as 70-200, then super telephoto such as 200-400. Keep in mind, that the larger range of a zoom lens, the less sharp the images will be. The quality is not as good as one that has less of a range, or one that has a lower aperture, like the f/2.8 70-200mm nikon or canon. I LOVE my 70-200mm for portraits, as it compresses the image and draws the subject closer to the image. The background can be creamy and "blurred out" (bokeh) to create a beautiful portrait of someone. The larger focal length zooms are often used for taking images of wildlife and sporting events.
The horizontal image of my son and his wife was taken with a 24-70mm lens, and the vertical one of my granddaughter was taken with a 70-200mm. Do you notice any differences?
1. Having a zoom lens means you can stand in one place and just zoom your lens in or out to achieve the desired result. If you have a non kit zoom lens, you have the ability to create beautiful bokeh in the background (bokeh is the creamy look you see behind a person), too.
2. When you need to be further away from your subject, a zoom lens is perfect! Think wildlife and sporting events.
Zoom lenses can be used for a variety of photographs. Depending on the aperture, and how much of a focal range you have, you can take portraits, wildlife and sporting events. My favorite lens is the 70-200mm for all portraits of families as it compresses the image so the subjects are front and center, and it can create a beautiful bokeh behind them. For studio use, I still use an 85mm or 105mm. When I want to photograph wider and include more of the scene, or if I am photographing a large group, I use my wider angle zoom lens, my 24-70mm.
First image taken with a 24-70mm and second with a 70-200mm. Notice any differences?
There is so much more to lens choice to create a beautiful image, but knowing that there are two basic types of lenses: Prime and Zoom, and how they can be used is a great start! Usually, when someone purchases a "kit" or "bundle", a camera and lenses are included. Those lenses are large range focal length lenses and are great to learn with, but as you progress, look into lenses that have a f/2.8 aperture not just a range of f3.5 to f 5.6 as you will have a better lens to use that will create more beautiful, sharp, images for you. Yes, you might get sticker shock when you start looking (new 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses start at $3000), but if you are serious about your photography, that is the way to go.
If you have questions about lens choice, or are ready to have your portrait taken, just get in touch below!