Different Types of Camera Lenses and Their Uses in Photography

Do you like to search for the perfect shot? Have you ever thought about the importance of focus when taking a photo?

The quality of your camera focus depends on its lenses. Camera lenses are an optical device composed of a set of lenses responsible for the process of focusing, angulation of the frame and for the optical quality of the image.

So, a good camera with interchangeable lenses (that you can replace) is all you need to take awesome shots. This way you don’t need to get a new camera to take better photos, you can get new lenses!

The most common camera models that have interchangeable lenses are DSLR cameras and Mirrorless Cameras.

In this post you will discover the different types of camera lenses and their uses in photography. They are the most common types of lenses. You will also discover which lenses to use for different types of photography. This will help you choose the right lens for your camera to take much better photos!

Let’s get started!

Types of Camera Lenses for Many Photography Styles

Understanding the types of camera lenses

The main feature of a camera lens is the focal length. It is through the focal length that photography enthusiast and professionals define their field of vision, the image approximation and the area size (wideness) of the photo scene.

Measured in millimeters, the focal length of a lens is between the point of convergence of the light to the point of the camera sensor or film. The greater the focal length, the smaller the angle of view of the image, and the greater the “approximation” of the focused subject/object due to the cut made.

Camera lenses are categorized based on their focal length, which gives us the following types of lenses:

Normal Lenses

Those are made of five or six lenses with a maximum aperture of 50mm. They are called Normal Lenses because it approximates the perspective capacity of the human eye.


Wide Angle Lenses and Fisheye Wide Angle Lenses

They are lenses that have shorter focal lengths. Wide Angle Lenses have a large field of view of around 180° with an aperture range of 24mm. Fisheye Wide Angle Lenses have a field of view of around 60 ° and an aperture range of 8mm. These types of lenses cause the effects of distortion of any objects or person near the focus subject/object of the photo scene, making them seem larger than their normal size.


Telephoto Lenses

This type of lens has a longer focal length than Normal Lenses with an aperture range of 50m to 400mm. They are made to take photos of objects/people at a greater distance, their unique feature is the production of enlarged images and a seeming “flattening” in the image plane. This is because Telephone Lense are produced to observe or take photos of objects at a higher distance, and thus the relative distances between objects become shorter.


Zoom Lenses

This type of lens has an aperture rage varying from 35mm to 200mm and has a fixed focal length. However, in some of them, it is possible to move the lenses internally, which allows the change of the focal length in an instant without the need to constantly change the lenses.


Micro and Macro Lenses

They are lenses designed to focus at short, fixed distances, on a natural scale, some causing a 10-fold increase in the natural size of the photographed object. Macro lenses typically come in three focal length aperture ranges: 50mm, 90mm and the 180mm. Only Macro Lenses provide a rich detail approach.


Camera Lenses Categorization and Use

It’s important to know that the quality of a camera lens is defined by a few factors:

  • The quality of the lens crystal
  • The polishing of the lens crystal
  • The luminosity of the lens crystal
  • The assembly quality of the lens crystal
  • Whether the lens is mounted with plastic material or with noble metals
  • The type of the lens hood

Also, the better the material used for mounting the lens, the higher its value (price).

Now that you know how lenses types are classified, which is by focal length, let’s see which is the ideal lens for different photography styles.

Ideal types of lenses for different styles of photography

Sometimes it is  much better to get new lenses than get whole new camera. That’s a way to save money and also a way to have the perfect equipment to use with different types of photography.

When the lenses are of better quality, it avoids Chromatic Aberrations a.k.a. CA that are purple or green lines that appear at the moment of the photo when the light is very strong.

First discover what’s the sensor of your camera

It’s important that you know what is your camera’s sensor, that influences the result of the photoshooting. A Cropped Sensor a.k.a. APS-C Sensor, for example, is small and causes a decrease in the viewing angle, this sensor shoots a smaller part of the image that is generated by the camera lens.

The Full Frame Sensor has the same size as analog films, which allows more light to be captured using a higher ISO range. This increase in light sensitivity can help a lot in low light situations, such as night shots. Also, the size of the image generated by Full Frame Sensors is larger.

So make sure you know if your camera has a Cropped Sensor or a Full Frame Sensor before you choose a lens for it.

Understanding the Types of Camera Lenses

Ideal lenses for architectural photography

If you shoot architecture and interiors you will need a Wide Angle Lens, the ones with focal length below 35mm or 40mm.

If you use a Cropped Sensor, that is, a smaller sensor with a significant cut, it is recommended to use focal length aperture ranges of 10-18mm, 10-20mm, 10-22mm or 10-24mm. Wide Angle Lenses open the camera’s field of view.

In case you have a Full Frame Sensor, the recommended focal length aperture ranges 16-35mm.

Ideal lenses for natural and urban landscape photography

Many people like to take photos of landscapes (natural or urban) with Wide Angle Lenses. However, natural landscape and urban landscape photography are better with Full Frame Sensors and Zoom Lenses with from 24-70mm focal length, with 24-105mm focal length or with 18-135mm focal length. With Wide Angle Lenses you can work with a wide open or closed zoom.

Wide Angle Lenses cause the compression effect when zooming. This effect happens when what is in the background of the photo starts to grow. When shooting a mountain, for example, if you zoom in, the mountain grows and the nearby trees decrease.

The ideal Zoom Lenses focal length ranges for Cropped Sensors (APS-C) are: 16- 80mm, 18-140mm,18-300mm and 18-400mm.

The ideal Zoom Lenses focal length ranges for Full Frame Sensors are: 70-200mm, 70-300mm, 100-400mm, 150-600mm and 200-500mm.

Ideal lenses for portrait photography

For portrait photography, the ideal is to use lenses with focal length aperture ranges between 50mm and 135mm, because if you choose a lens with a range below 50mm, photos of people will have distort faces, and aperture ranges above 135mm makes images flattened and increases people’s body weight.

Which Lens to Use for Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras

What makes a big difference in portrait photos is the aperture of the diaphragm. The lower your “f” on the lens, the more the background gets blurry. So an f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens is ideal for portrait photography. This type of portrait lenses is fixed and called Prime Lens.

The ideal focal length aperture ranges for Cropped Sensors (APS-C) are: 35mm (f/1.4 or f/1.8) and 50mm (f/1.4 or f/1.8).

The ideal focal length aperture ranges for Full Frame Sensors are: 35mm (f/1.4), 50mm (f/1.4 or f/1.8), 85mm (f/1.4 or f/1.8) and 135mm (f/1.2 or f/1.8).

What’s next?

Great! Now you know the different types of camera lenses, how they are classified and what is the best type of lens for many photography styles! So don’t hesitate to choose your next set of lenses for your Mirrorless Camera or your DSLR and start taking better photos!

You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!

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