It's not uncommon for customers to come in looking for a new lens, without really knowing what they want or what kinds of lenses are available. So today we'll take a quick look at a few different types and hopefully gain a better understanding of where they might be useful.
Let's start off with wide-angle. Most entry-level to mid-range DSLRs come with a standard lens starting at 18mm, so when you're looking for a wide-angle lens, you'll want something with a smaller focal length like this Sigma 10-20mm lens. With this, you'll be able to fit a lot more in your picture, so it's ideal when you just don't have room to physically move back, like when shooting indoor real estate type photos, or when you're trying to exaggerate a wide sweeping landscape. While wide lenses are also great for taking large group photos, you need to be a little bit careful as people towards the edges of the photo may end up getting stretched due to perspective distortion.
Perspective distortion is also what makes the tops of buildings taper off into the distance, which is not always ideal for architecture photography. This kind of distortion can be controlled using very specialised "tilt-shift" lenses, although some cameras like the Olympus OM-D series have the ability to digitally correct it with an in-camera option called "keystone compensation".
If you do like taking photos of people, you might be after a portrait lens. Generally, for portraits, you'll be looking for a lens with a fixed focal length and an aperture of 1.8 or brighter, which is what gives you that smooth blurry background. Portrait lenses can come in a variety of focal lengths depending mostly on how you want your photos to look. For headshots with a more intimate feel, or more candid looking portraits you'll want a longer focal length like the 85mm. Looking to get a couple of people in the shot, or just capture more of your subjects outfit, you might go for a shorter focal length like 35mm to fit a bit more in. The most popular portrait style lens is the 50mm f1.8, as it offers a fantastic result but is actually one of the cheapest lenses you can buy.
Here we have a few macro lenses. While some of the longer focal length macro lenses like this Tamron 90mm can be used to get some quite nice portrait photos, the real benefit of a macro lens is its ability to focus at extremely close distances to capture very tiny details. Macro lenses can come in a variety of fixed focal lengths, but put simply, the main difference between them will just be how far away you are from your subject. For example, a dentist taking a photo of a patients teeth might want a 100mm Macro, so they can take photos from further away to be less intimidating. Where a jeweller taking a photo of a ring might use a shorter 40mm lens so they can sit the camera on a tabletop tripod in a small portable studio setup.
Should you need to get close to a faraway subject, what you'll be after is a telephoto zoom. The most common telephoto lenses will zoom up to 200mm, 300mm, or as much as 600mm and generally, you'll choose a lens based on the distance you need. However, there is another consideration, which is the aperture. Most longer telephoto lenses will have an aperture that ranges from around 4.5 - 6.3, getting darker the further you zoom in, and that's quite normal, but if you're looking to do for example a lot of sports photography where a fast shutter speed is critical then it may be worth compromising on the longer reach of something like the 150-600mm for the brighter apertures available in the 70-200mm lenses.
Well, that's all for now, hopefully, that will help you get started with choosing a new lens. For more detail on which lens might be best suited to your specific needs, pop into your local Ted's store and see myself, or any of our knowledgeable staff. There's not much that we don't know to help you capture life.