Types of camera lenses
Types of camera lenses
Types of camera lenses – Introduction
I mostly cover here the lenses for Full frame Dslr cameras like Canon 5d, 6d or Nikon d600,d700 d800, d3, d4 or Aps-C sensor sized Dslr cameras like Canon rebels, Canon 20d,30d,60d,70d or Nikon d3000,d3100,d5100 d5200, d7000, d7100 cameras. Pentax, Sony, and Fuji cameras are usually have Aps-C sensors, although some Sony cameras has Full frame sensors. The usual size of the Full frame sensors are 36*24mm while the Aps-C or Dx(same meaning) for Nikon are usually has a sensor size of 22.5*15mm. Micro 4/3 cameras (Panasonic, Olympus) has a sensor size of 17*13mm. The are also bigger sensor cameras called medium format cameras like Mamiya (usually 44*33mm sensor).
Types of camera lenses – Prime or zoom lenses
Prime lenses are single focal length lenses. This lenses cannot be zoomed always has a same perspective. These lenses usually go from 8mm to 800mm. The smaller number is wider the bigger show longer lenses. They can have different angle of view though. These can be very wide to very long. Zoom lenses are varifocal lenses, we can change the perspective using the same lenses. There are mid-range zooms, ultazooms, and lenses with little zoom range. The usual lens has a zoom range of 18-55mm. It has an angle of view of approximately 20-70 degree. The ultrazooms can go from 18-300mm. Some wide angle zooms only have a range of 11-16mm. Some telephoto zooms are 70-200 or 100-400 or 200-400mm. There are 50-500mm or 150-600 zooms are also exist. For general photography the wider range is the most usable from 15-50mm.
Same lens for different sensor sized cameras:
Sometimes this issue is confusing for some people. Here I explain a bit, to avoid later confusion. Let’s say we have a fixed lens. This lens is not zooming, always have the same perspective. Below pictures show the perspective of a Full frame and Aps-C sensor camera.
Full frame picture
Picture with Aps-c sensored camera with the same lens.
If we would use a Micro Four Thirds camera with even smaller sensor, the picture would be even narrower. To explain it different if we put the FF lens on the Aps or DX camera the smaller sensor camera will cut the center part of the lens image. It is good for several reasons. First here is the lens is the least sharp, has bigger distortion and chromatic aberration. To assume bigger sensored cameras has wider angle pictures with the same lens, better to make wide landscapes. Or other way smaller sensored cameras makes narrower pictures, better for telephoto, such as birds or wildlife, because they have longer reach.
For this the lens must be a Full frame lens, because
Aps-C lenses doesn’t fill the frame, and it causes dark corners on the FF camera.
Focal lengths and field of view of different lenses
Below pictures shows the perspective of different lenses. The pictures made from the same place.
16mm focal length (24mm on Full frame cameras)
50mm focal length (75 mm on Full frame cameras)
85mm focal length (127,5 mm on Full frame cameras)
200mm focal length (320 mm on Full frame cameras)
560mm focal length (896mm on Full frame cameras)
The 560mm on Aps-C cameras is quite in the super telephoto range already.
Fisheye lenses has 100 to 180 degrees field of view on Full frame cameras. On a smaller sensor size the field of view is much narrower. The 8mm(widest existing) lens gives 112.6 degree angle of view on an Aps-C camera. To achieve this extremely wide perspective, this lenses has huge bended front elements, and makes funny looking distorted images. This lenses are useful in photographing rooms, or making interesting looking images, with wide perspective. But if we see these lenses on absolute scale these are not the most useful lenses, many people don’t like distorted images. I won’t advice to get a fisheye lens for huge money as your first lens. Cameras usually can create fisheye effect for fun, and probably you won’t use this lenses as much as you think. If you go out to makes photos in summer there is lots of flare and vignetting problems can occur with these lenses. But if you have several lenses, and has a budget for this, can be a great fun. According to me the Samyang 8mm f/3.5 (or other wider Samy) is perhaps the most reasonable option if you don’t want to rob the bank, and want decent quality.
Ultra wide angle lenses
Ultra wide angle lenses have little more narrower view than fisheye lenses, sometimes the same but has more than 73.7 degree angle of view and has not got so pronounced distortion. Some of them are very wide, but doesn’t has the distortion the fisheye lenses have. One important thing with these lenses though. If you want to go deep in landscape photography, you perhaps interested in one of these. There are two groups of these lenses, with one group you can use filters with, but with some of these lenses you cannot use photographic filters, and for landscape photography it is a serious drawback. For example for the class leading Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 lens or for the also excellent much cheaper the Samyang 14 f/2.8 lens you cannot use filters, or at least not an easy way.
Wide angle lenses
Wide angle lenses has an angle of view of 40-73.7 degree. Perhaps these lenses are the most useful in photography.
General purpose lenses
General purpose lenses are usually zooms with an angle of view starting from 64-73 degree (wide angle) to 4-23 degree.(telephoto) General purpose lenses are the do it everything or most things in one lenses.
Normal lenses has an angle of view of 40 degree. The popular 50mm lenses for Canon and Nikon and other systems are the normal lens for a Full frame camera. It is important to understand that on Aps-C the field of view is narrower, more in the portrait range. In the past photographers use this lenses exlusively for all kinds of photography, partly because this lenses are light, bright has very good optical qualities. On Film cameras the sensor size is 36*24mm like now in Full frame. This lenses has good optical quality relatively cheap, and has good brightness which helps in dark situations. For smaller sensor cameras has not so much use, unless you have a small kid or likes to make lots of portraits.
Portrait lenses has an angle of view of 6.4-40 degree. There are two options:
1. The favorite 70-200 zooms usually f2.8 or f4 brightness
2. Fixed lenses usually 85,100,135,mm. 85mm f1.8 usually with better brightness, than the 70-200 zoooms. The primes are usually sharper with better background blur, which makes portraits more artistic.
Telephoto lenses has an angle of view of 5-40 degree. They usually used for portaits or sports or makes pictures of distant things. Some telephoto lens is specialized to macro, but not all of them has good magnification for macro. The magnification is mostly depend on focal length and close focus distance. If the lens focuses closer, the lens has higher magnification desired for macro.
Super telephoto lenses
Super telephoto lenses are like telescopes with an angle of view of 5 degree or smaller. These lenses are usually the most expensive lenses of any manufacturer. The best of this lenses are very good optically, can make very nice sharp images for distant objects such as birds, animals or close pictures of sport players.
Macro lenses is specialized to make magnified pictures of small creatures or objects, such as insects or jewellery. Macro lenses usually have the angle of view of 6.4-40 degree. The specialized “true” macro lenses usually have 1:1 magnification. Some macro lenses has 1:2 magnification. If we don’t want to put the lens to close to the subject the longer lenses are preferred. If we carefully check the range we find out that the range is usually same as for portraits. This lenses usually can be used for portraits as well.
Tilt swift lenses
Tilt swift lenses are specialized lenses for architecture and landscape photography. This lenses allow to lens to move in an angle or paralel with the image plane of the camera this way helps to keep anything in focus. Canon lenses can tilt and swift separately, Nikon lenses only together, and Samyang also has one. These lenses are not in the cheap category at all.
Types of camera lenses-Mirror lenses
Mirror lenses are usually cheaper lenses with lower optical quality. The out-of-focus highlights can be nervous ugly looking.