Choosing a New Lens

A new lens gives you a whole new perspective on your photography—you can get up closer than you imagined or capture sweeping vistas in crisp detail. Here are five steps to help guide you to the perfect lens.

  1. Know your camera: Each brand of SLR has a unique lens mount, which is the point of connection between the camera body and the lens. This means that a Canon SLR can only accommodate a lens with a Canon mount. To be safe, bring your camera body to the store and try it out before you buy.
  2. Determine your focal length: Practically speaking, focal length is how much of the scene will be captured, or how much your subject will be magnified. Note: Your eye sees at a focal length of about 40 mm.
    • Wide angle (less than 35mm): Shorter focal lengths are called wide angle lenses—they take in a wider field of vision than the human eye. They are generally used for photographing large, panoramic subjects like landscapes and architecture.
    • Standard (35-70mm): These lenses have a magnification and perspective similar to the human eye, and are good for snapshots and other general purpose photography.
    • Telephoto (larger than 70mm): Longer focal lengths can capture details that the human eye cannot see at the same distance. The longer the focal length, the greater the magnification, which makes these lenses particularly good for portraiture as well as photographing sports, birds, and wildlife.
  3. Prime or zoom:
    • Prime lenses have a fixed focal length—they come in a variety of lengths, from extreme telephoto to extreme wide angle. Prime lenses tend to be physically shorter with a wider maximum aperture. This means that prime lenses let in more light than zoom lenses, which makes them much better suited for photographing in low-light conditions.
    • Zoom lenses have a variable focal length within a certain range (for example, 18¬¬-55mm). They are convenient since one lens can photograph different focal lengths, but they are physically longer with smaller apertures. This makes them less suitable for low-light conditions.
  4. Specialty Lenses
    • Macro Lens: these are used for detailed, extreme close ups that are not distorted. A true macro lens will allow for a 1:1 reproduction, capturing minute detail like the legs on a caterpillar or the fine lines on a baby’s foot. Many of today’s digital cameras have a macro setting that will give you a similar effect to a macro lens—it is best to bring your camera body with you when you shop.
    • Fisheye Lens: these lenses distort the image, creating a curved or convex effect. The fisheye lens was first developed for astronomy photography, but today many landscape photographers use it to curve horizons.
  5. Protect and Filter
    A lens is an investment that you will use for years. It’s good idea to protect the front from scratches with a filter which will also reduce UV rays. Sigma carries a quality line of filters in a variety of sizes to fit nearly every lens.

Your London Drugs Camera Department is an excellent resource for all of your photography questions. Make sure to bring your camera, and we will help you find the perfect lens.

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