One of the most crucial elements of any (still or video) camera is the lens.  Depending on what an individual wishes to photograph or film, choosing the right lens for the job can be essential to bringing an artists' vision to life.  Particular types of lenses serve distinct purposes and understanding the differences between them is critical to using them properly.


Before getting into the various types of lenses, it's important to understand the concept of Focal Length.  Focal length is the distance between the center of a lens or curved mirror and its focus.  A shorter focal length bends light more sharply than a longer focal length and has greater optical power, which means that a shorter focal length can bring light rays to a focus in a shorter distance.






A Standard Lens has an approximate focal length range of about 35mm to 70mm, and the most common of these lengths is 50mm.  This type of lens is often used for a real-life look and feel in documentaries and street photography and gives photographers the ability to move around freely and capture points of action.








A Wide Angle Lens has an approximate focal length range of 21mm to 35mm.  These lenses are often used to capture expansive spaces and structures including buildings, landscapes, cityscapes, and large crowds of people.






A Medium Telephoto Lens (AKA a 'Portrait Lens') has a focal range of about 80mm to 135mm.  The reason they are known as portrait lenses is because they are optimal for framing close-ups and head shots and medium close-up shots.



A Telephoto Lens has a focal length of approximately 135mm to 300mm.  The main purpose of these lenses is to film objects from far away and bring them closer into view.  They are often used for large events (such as sports or concerts) as well as filming nature and wildlife.

There are also a variety of specialty lenses used for specific functional purposes.  Some of these include a Super Telephoto Lens (which have a focal length of more than 300mm and are used to capture objects at extreme distances), a Macro Lens (which are able to focus closer to objects than a normal lens and are used for detailed extreme closeup shots), and a Fisheye Lens (which magnifies the center of the image and diminishes any objects or visuals around the center).  Using the right type of lens entirely depends on the focus of the film or project being worked on, and with the variety of lenses that exist today, the possibilities are endless!



AuthorChris Lawn