Saturday, April 23, 2011

Selecting lenses for your shooting style

Lenses are very important, they are the eyes of your camera, for obvious reasons. One thing I love about Canon is that they have so many lenses to fit a lot of budgets. They generally have two kinds of lenses. One is the general type of lenses that fits a wide variety of budget types and the L lenses. The L in the L lenses stands for Luxury. These lenses are very expensive, some are even more expensive than a car or even a house. They are heavy, bulky, and attention grabbing. Despite all the bulk in price and size, these are the top of the line lenses Canon has and are very very sharp, as in "I can see your pores" sharp and fast (more about this in another post), most L lenses are weather sealed.

So what lenses do you need? Again, what do you want to shoot?

  • Portraits - the longer the focal range and the wider the aperture, the better. Lenses with wide apertures are essential in portraiture, because it gives a very nice bokeh or depth of field. Bokeh is the blur used to isolate the subject from its background or foreground. Focal range also affects the the amount of background blur. Factors affecting blur are: Aperture and the subject's distance from the background as well as the photographer's distance from the foreground. However, when choosing the focal range of the lens, you better consider the working space you will be using. 
  • Landscapes - wide lenses are primarily used in this type of photography. There are Wide Angles and Ultra Wide Angles, wide starts at 35mm(or so) below, You really don't need a wide aperture to shoot landscapes, because during the night, you will need a tripod for those light streaks and you will absolutely need a tripod to shoot night time landscapes because you will be using a small aperture to make everything in the frame sharp.
  • Street Photography/Documentary - You need a fast lens. In street photography, not only you need your best judgement to spot a subject but also speed. A certain scene can be gone away in a few seconds, so you better be armed with a fast lens on this type of photography.  There are two ways to do documentary or street photography... The "In the Scene" style, where the photographer blends in with the crowd of where he searches for a particular scene or subject, he gets to know them and interacts with his environment. This way, the photographer becomes invisible and accepted by blending and interacting, people gets comfortable with his presence allowing him to shoot as he like and has their silent "go ahead take a picture" acknowledgment. The "Invisible Stalker" type, the one that shoots from far away and keeps his presence hidden from his subjects or makes them think he is not shooting them at all, one will need a fast telephoto lens for this style of street shooting.
  • Macro - Taking super close ups of different objects requires a special lens called Macro lens. Macro lenses allows the photographer to take super close ups by enabling them to focus on the subject at super near distances, like several inches close. 


  1. examples, so others can have the idea..

    Portrait: Nikon 70-200mm II VR f2.8
    Landscape: Sigma 10-20mm EX DC f4-5.6
    Street: Tokina 28-70 ATX Pro II f2.8
    Macro: Nikon 60mm micro f2.8

  2. Keep the photography posts coming!
    I think I will invest on lenses for landscapes and for macro. I am not good on portraits.

  3. @Chemistryguy: Thank you for the help! "Street: Tokina 28-70 ATX Pro II f2.8" ----- this is the best ultra wide lens available in tje market today for both Nikon and Canon!

    @Xall: Surely!

  4. To add: Portrait: Nikon 70-200mm II VR f2.8 ----- Best focal range and aperture for portraiture. This zoom lens has a wide variety of uses, from tight landscape shots to portraiture. :-) having an F2.8 aperture, makes this lens very expensive.