What is the best lens out there that you could possibly buy? Many a photographer has asked himself or herself that over the course of their career, which illustrates how vital this issue is to the quality of the images one takes.
The thing about a lens that comes with the DSLR that you buy is that it’s usually not the most versatile…which is why it’s a good idea to consider getting a better, more capable one. In general, any new lens that you’ll buy won’t be one that can do everything well. Rather, it usually has a specific feature or benefit that makes it worth buying. Here’s what to know to pick the best lens for your specific purpose.
When to Pick Wide-Angle Lenses
Wide-angle lenses are great for shooting a lot of photography real estate due to their scope. Sometimes referred to as the storytelling lenses, wide angles do their best work when they’re utilized for travel and vacation pictures. This is because their short focal length makes it easy for you to ensure that both the foreground and background are kept in focus simultaneously.
So if you’re about to go on a family vacation, backpacking all over Europe, or embark on a cruise with a lot of port of calls, then bringing a wide-angle lens with you is a smart and useful solution.
When to Go With Telephoto Lenses
Let’s first review what telephoto lenses are all about and what they can do for you. They excel at being used for portraiture, in general, as they’re intended to bring far-away objects much closer to you, but be warned that it’s all too easy for photographers to become somewhat lazy and lax when using these. It’s all too easy to simply let this lens do all the work for you when either your subject is uncomfortable with being photographed up close or when the subject is altogether unapproachable.
After all, good photography relies on getting close enough to your subjects to get that great shot. All told, telephoto lenses are ideal for things like bird watching (or other nature photographs), snapping passing airplane formations in the sky, or even for sporting events.
When to Select Fisheye Lenses
You can think of fisheye lenses as extreme wide-angle lenses, which is putting it lightly. Some fisheye lenses are designed to take in as much as a 180-degree view, so that’s pretty wide! Naturally, with this width, fisheye lenses will severely distort whatever you see inside the frame, but that’s the whole point. These lenses are great for shooting smaller and indoor areas or even large, outdoor expanses.
Of course, due to their severe distorting effect, they’re also popular for use in comic effect. Fisheye lenses can be so wide that they actually make your pictures look like mere circles with your camera shooting a portion of the interior of the lens barrel as well!
If you’re aiming for the appearance of severely exaggerated depth, then you should go with fisheye lenses, but sometimes they’re also useful if you absolutely need to capture everything in your frame.
To get a sense of what a fisheye lens will make your pictures look like when you start snapping away, simply look out the peephole of a door, and you’ll get the idea rather quickly.
When to Pick Your Basic Prime Lenses
So here’s the deal with prime lenses: They’re devoid of any complex zoom mechanisms. High-speed prime lenses, therefore, are often cheaper than zoom lenses with a similar speed, primarily because they possess fewer elements and don’t have that many moving parts.
Still a high-speed prime lens is advantageous for a couple of reasons. First, it’s easier to shoot with a higher speed in low light, and, second, it’s much more efficient to snap images where your subject is nicely in focus, yet everything else around it has been strategically blurred.
Prime lenses are available in everything from telephoto lenses to wide angles. However, the most widely used length is the 50mm lens (also called the “nifty fifty“), which is ideal for things like portraits, provided the accompanying DSLR comes with the best common size sensor. 50 millimeter prime lenses are also fantastic for your basic close-ups involving nature photography.