This post is definitely geared towards beginners. When starting myself, I didn’t have a guide showing the different types of lenses available. I basically used that kit lens until I wanted to achieve other results & realized there was more out there. I’ll explain not only various lens types, but also focal lengths and touch on different brands as well.
There are three different categories of lenses photographers’ wind up using: prime, zoom, & specialty.
Within those categories, are different types including: wide angle, normal, telephoto, & macro.
These are the preferred choice for many portrait & lifestyle photographers. They come in a variety of focal lengths, apertures, & price ranges.
24-28mm – helpful when shooting interiors and can also show wide sweeping landscapes.
35-40mm – great for showing environmental portraits as well as interiors.
50mm – the holy grail of a walk-around lens. Excellent for most street, lifestyle, event, portrait, landscape, product work, etc.
85mm – the popular choice for portraits.
135mm – excellent at capturing close ups & makes the most dreamy portraits.
200-300mm – typically sports, other big events, or nature.
Typically not as fast as prime lenses in terms of aperture, these are a great option for fast paced events, concerts, wildlife, & weddings.
These are the go to for more creative looks. Fish Eye, Tilt Shift, Lensbaby, and others, provide a very specific look. Whether selective focus or distorted proportions, I’ve heard these make for really fun experimentation!
These are pretty straightforward, unless the type of lens you use is a sub-type. For instance, a 100mm macro will behave differently than a 100mm telephoto even though they technically have the same focal length.
9 times out of 10, the brand of camera you have will work best with lenses made by the same brand. However, there are other options that provide the same if not better quality for a similar price range. Two popular lens brands are Sigma & Tamron. I haven’t personally used them yet, but I have friends that swear by them on their various bodies. My biggest advice would be to look at your needs & do research on all the comparable lenses out there. What are you trying to achieve? What is your budget? If you do find a lens you really enjoy from a different brand, be sure to find a proper convertor so it will fit on your camera body without any issues.
So there we have it. An overview on lens types & classifications that will hopefully help guide you beginners towards finding what you need!
May the light be with you.