WHICH LENS Should I Choose?

Pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher, Karen Al­sop, tells us how to choose the best lenses for shoot­ing ev­ery­thing from land­scapes to por­traits while trav­el­ling.

Provincial Living - - Photography -

Last edi­tion, I ex­plored the best cam­eras for the am­a­teur travel pho­tog­ra­pher. Once you’ve de­cided on your cam­era, it’s time to choose which lenses to add to your kit. There are hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent lens con­fig­u­ra­tions out there and it can be quite over­whelm­ing when you first start re­search­ing. This ar­ti­cle will sim­plify the process and help you un­der­stand the pur­pose of each type of lens.


Zoom lenses come in an as­sort­ment of ranges. A stan­dard zoom lens may range from 24mm – 70mm while oth­ers may have a range over 100mm. If your cam­era is “full frame”, then a 35mm set­ting means that “what you see is what you get”. There’ll be no dis­tor­tion. How­ever, if you set the zoom to a smaller num­ber, the lens will take in a wider view and, con­se­quently, dis­tort the im­age a lit­tle. A higher set­ting, on the other hand, means the zoom lens will bring the im­age closer.Length isn’t the only con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing a zoom lens, how­ever. Many peo­ple think that lenses with a big­ger zoom range are au­to­mat­i­cally bet­ter than those with a smaller range. But lens build and glass com­po­nents gen­er­ally de­grade in qual­ity with a zoom that cov­ers more dis­tance. Also, due to tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions,

zooms such as a 24 – 105mm won’t al­low for a very wide aper­ture open­ing. This means that less light can make it into the lens, which can cause blurry im­ages in low light sit­u­a­tions. A zoom lens that opens to 2.8 (the smaller the num­ber, the wider the open­ing) will pro­duce bet­ter qual­ity re­sults and will be more flex­i­ble in low light sit­u­a­tions. You will also get bet­ter look­ing “bokeh” (the blurry part of the im­age that you de­lib­er­ately throw out of fo­cus).


Tele­photo zoom lenses al­low you to get up close and per­sonal with your sub­ject. A com­mon tele­photo range is 70 – 200mm. Tele­pho­tos are an es­sen­tial part of your kit if you can’t get phys­i­cally close to your sub­ject. A wildlife sa­fari is a prime ex­am­ple of a sit­u­a­tion in which a tele­photo lens is es­sen­tial to en­sure those beau­ti­ful an­i­mals are more than mere specks in the dis­tance.

In terms of aper­ture and build qual­ity the same prin­ci­ples ap­ply. Look­ing for a lens that al­lows a 2.8 open­ing (the widest you can get on a tele­photo) will

en­sure that you are po­si­tioned to cap­ture im­ages in a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions.


Wide An­gle lenses, or even Fish Eye Lenses al­low you a wider area of view. Per­fect for grand in­te­rior shots of clas­sic churches and build­ings, wide an­gles are a won­der­ful ad­di­tion to your kit, es­pe­cially if you love ar­chi­tec­ture or land­scape. Wide An­gle lenses will dis­tort though and the edges of your im­ages will be stretched, so re­mem­ber to keep peo­ple away from the outer edge to avoid them look­ing ‘wider’ than re­al­ity.


Prime lenses are fixed at one fo­cal length. You need to do a lot more mov­ing with them, as you can not zoom closer to your sub­ject. The ben­e­fit of a prime lens how­ever is that they are gen­er­ally bet­ter qual­ity than zooms, and pro­duce sharper, more de­tailed re­sults. You may also be able to pick up a prime lens at a frac­tion of the cost of a qual­ity zoom lens. A good all rounder prime lens is a 50mm. Many man­u­fac­tur­ers have pro­duced a 1.8 aper­ture ver­sion of the 50mm lens that costs as lit­tle as $100. This will let in more light than a qual­ity zoom (which will open as wide as 2.8) and en­able you to blur out your back­ground beau­ti­fully. A great lit­tle lens for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy which is also nice and light.

When choos­ing the first lens to add to your kit, con­sider the type of pho­tog­ra­phy you will be mostly con­cen­trat­ing on in your trav­els. If it’s land­scape and ar­chi­tec­ture, a wide an­gle lens may be your first choice. If it’s wildlife a tele­photo zoom. If it’s a bit of ev­ery­thing you can go past the flex­i­bil­ity of a 24 – 70mm lens (this would have to be my most used lens).

As with ev­ery­thing, lens build and qual­ity is vari­able, so do your re­search be­fore buy­ing. I highly rec­om­mend read­ing through un­bi­ased lens re­views online and lens com­par­isons to help you choose the best lens for you.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.