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The Pros & Cons of Camera Lenses

Getting Familiar with the Different Types of Camera Lenses

There is a huge range of camera lenses available for DSLR cameras. For each type of lens, there is a special use and feature. The lens is one of the most important elements in determining the quality and feel of your photography.

Whether you are just starting out in photography, or you've been taking pictures for years, it's important to know the different types of camera lenses and their benefits. The following is a breakdown of the types of lenses available.


The zoom lens has variable focal lengths. This means you can increase or decrease the zoom through the zoom ring in the lens. Each zoom lens is represented with two numbers; its beginning and end of the focal length of the lens.

These lenses come with a minimum and a maximum focal length, which makes them ideal when you prefer a variety of photography subjects such as both landscapes and portraits. This allows you to have just one lens for both situations without having to switch between multiple.

One thing to keep in mind with purchasing a zoom lens is the aperture. Most models will have an aperture that changes as you zoom in and out. However, there are more expensive models that have a fixed aperture, such as the one pictured above. This means when you zoom in and out, the aperture stays the same. This is crucial to have in a fast paced setting such as a wedding ceremony.


The opposite of a zoom lens is the prime lens. This lens has a fixed focal length. In other words, it doesn’t have the possibility of zooming.

Prime lenses tend to be more compact and lightweight than the zoom lenses. These lenses tend to give a better quality photo, for more than one reason. The glass tends to be of better quality, the lightweight feature reduces hand shake, and they are better for low light conditions.


The macro lens is used to shoot small objects at a very close range such as insects, flowers and products. These lenses let you focus close, but they also work as a normal lens.

A macro lens doesn’t cut down the light, allowing you to keep your ISO low. These lenses tend to have moderately wide apertures, moderately long focal lengths and are spectacularly sharp.


A telephoto lens is simply a long lens that magnifies things that are far away. Generally, all lenses from 100mm and up are considered telephoto.  

The longer the lens in terms of millimeters, the greater the magnification of the photo.  Therefore, a telephoto lens is the best lens for shooting sports photography, wildlife, or any other object that is far away or which is small and needs a lot of magnification. The telephoto lens will let you capture subjects that are too far away to reach, or too dangerous to approach.


A fisheye lens is like a wide-angle lens, but a lot larger. The shape of the lens causes the camera to produce images using extreme visual distortion so that they appear hemispherical or as very wide panoramas.

Fisheye lenses are used extensively both in film and photography, often to create a sense of disorientation or to capture certain action shots. The finished shot can look as if the edges are wrapped into the sphere. This lens is commonly used for cityscapes and extreme sports.


The normal angle lens is characterized by giving a closer perspective to seeing the human eye.

This lens is used in normal conditions, events, daily events and portraits. If you prefer shooting portraits or lifestyle photography, this lens may be a good fit for you.

These lenses tend to cost less than those with more desirable features.


Wide-angle lenses are basically any lens with a field of view wider than a standard lens. On a 35mm film camera or full-frame digital, this is any lens with a focal length of 35mm or shorter.

These lenses are great when you need to take in a lot of a scene. This could be a dramatic shot of a landscape or a picture showing the interior of a room.

Wide-angle lenses vary greatly in price, with the focal length acting as the primary factor in determining cost.

Focal lengths close to normal, 28mm to 35mm for full frame, tend to be affordable simply because those lenses are easy to produce. But the wider you go, the more the light has to be bent and the more complex the optics have to be.

The graphic below might help you better understand lens focal length.

Check out the video below where I explain a little further the difference in lenses available.

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith

A monocular is essential for any night sky admirer.

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Very interesting read!


Victoria Fricke
Victoria Fricke

Great tips on these.



I’m very new to taking photos and this truly is so very helpful! Thank you!


Naomi Hormann
Naomi Hormann

This is extremely helpful! Wish I could go back to HS and take your class. Thank you for the info! Appreciate it!

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