GET MORE FROM LENSES
Become familiar with lens technology and understand how to use yours for maximum quality and performance
Modern camera lenses are exceptionally advanced pieces of equipment, incorporating a plethora of optical and electrical technologies to create a precise imaging tool. Generally lenses are less comprehensively understood by photographers than cameras, as many of the features cannot be easily seen – lens coatings for example are not necessarily observable to the naked eye, rather they consist of a micro crystalline structure that benefits image sharpness and colour. The effects can be monitored, but it is more challenging to draw connections between specification and results. This lack of understanding of lens functionality and behaviour can lead to misuse and in turn, lower-quality images. It is vital to recognise that, independent of lens price and target user, all optics exhibit strengths and weaknesses. Only by identifying these is it possible to make informed decisions about how best to use a lens and in which circumstances it is ideally equipped to deliver desired images. This becomes more complicated when you put your lenses to work outside of their expected target conditions, which can occur as you seeks new ways of framing images creatively.
Performance is influenced by many factors, including aperture choice, focal length, focus distance and light direction, among many others. Another critical consideration is that these do not affect all lenses in the same way – there are variances depending on lens type, manufacturer (due in part to the chosen optical design) and even between individual units. Take the time to use your lenses in a range of situations, which test its capabilities at the full range of aperture settings and focal lengths. Use them in multiple lighting scenarios to examine resistance to flare. This will give you a good understanding of what to expect from the optics you use most, how to improve their performance and how to get more use of each model.
In order to further extend the versatility of your lens collection, adapters can be a useful and affordable solution. These enable the models you already own to achieve previously unreachable images, raising the creative possibilities of your kitbag. Do be aware of the expected compromise between low cost and absolute quality however.
Lenses are usually updated less often, both by manufacturers and by photographers, who upgrade their cameras more frequently. Optics are therefore a great focus in the quest for making the most of the maximum potential of our equipment inventory.