DSLRs are amazing apparatus in modern day photography world. Some of these modern digital cameras now come with user-friendly setup and their prices are not as high as they used to be. While DSLRs help create art, choosing the right lens is important to get the perfect shot. Two most important elements to consider are focal length and depth of field. Different lenses have different purpose, and hence you need to ask yourself what you want to capture – portraits, landscapes, architecture, action sports etc. Here are some of the key lenses that are meant for different situations and address specific photography needs.
Prime lenses are mostly helpful while capturing portraits where you require sharp focus and wide aperture. These lenses have one focal length, which means you can’t zoom in or zoom out. But their simple design provides you refined visuals and higher quality images. The standard 50mm lens does the basic job of capturing portraits, close-ups with shallow depth of field and good bokeh effect. There are other lenses as well like 35mm, 85mm which are not that expensive. While these lenses may not provide zoom feature and require you to physically move to take the correct shot, but limiting yourself to fixed focal length allows you to experiment, explore and add effects that standard lenses won’t let you.
Wide-angle lens have small focal lengths (18-30mm) and are useful when you are trying to capture broader area. Landscape shots perfectly fit in the wide-lens frame where you try shooting scenic beauty, interiors and pull more of the subject in the photograph. These lenses extend the possibility to capture more in an image but they have a few shortcomings as well. For instance, if you are taking a shot of a building from low angle with the subject in horizontal alignment you can experience distortion. A few expensive wide-angle lenses can rectify this issue or alternately, you can use photo editing tools to make the corrections.
Telephoto lens removes the barricade of physically getting closer to a subject to capture it. These lenses are ideal for wildlife photography where you try capturing animals, birds etc. from a distance. Telephoto lens, however, flattens depth and at times makes the subject appear artificial. But these lenses do a perfect job of isolating individual subject and keep the foreground sharp. Lenses from 100mm and above are suitable for capturing subject far away. But while these lenses magnify everything, it is necessary that they have optical image stabilisation to avoid motion blur when you hold the camera in your hand rather than using a tripod.
Macro lenses come in handy when you are trying to shoot small objects from up close. These lenses magnify small subject and offer close focusing distance. Some macro lenses provide magnification of up to 10x. Lenses with a focal length between 90mm to 105mm are best suited to shoot extreme close-up shots. These lenses have ‘convenient minimum focus distance’ and adds a natural effect to the image. Like prime lenses, these lenses are also capable of taking pleasant portraits. Macro lens with an aperture around f/2.8, good auto & manual focus and image stabilisation can perform the trick of capturing a buzzing bee, insects etc., up-close.
Fish-eye is the ultra wide-angle lens that is useful when you are trying to fit in almost everything possible in the frame. These lenses are popular in the area of artistic photography, extreme sport, wide panorama etc. The fisheye lenses have very large depth of field which means the images that you take will appear sharp from foreground and background as well.
These lenses, however, suffer from barrel distortion (curved edges) making the subject at the centre look bulged out. Further, it produces high distortion. You can make the most of these lenses while shooting crowds, architecture etc. The fish-eye lens can capture shots with a field view of 180 degrees and some can even cover close to 360 degree.