What makes lenses so different and why are they so important?
The focal length of a lens is described in mm’s so, for example, 50mm, 85 mm or 200mm.
This is basically the angle or the zoom of the lens and there is a whole range of focal lengths depending on how close or far away physically do you need to be from the subject to obtain what you want or see.
There are two types of lenses – zoom and prime or fixed lenses.
1. Starting with the 50mm lens. This is as the eye sees. Objects appear as far or as close as they are in real life and this is why many photojournalists or documentary photographers like this lens as there is an aspect of reality. The infamous Henri Cartier Bresson was known for using this lens.
2. Wide Angle lens is used to fit a lot into the frame. This lens is usually used by landscape photographers or Interiors. It is anywhere from 28-35mm on the lens. This is pushing objects away from each other and we can see this in some of Bill Brandt’s work. If you are taking a picture of a very large group, be careful that you leave room on the outside of the frame as anyone there will appear larger than what they do in real life. Lenses do lie!
3. Fisheye lenses are ultra wide angle like 8mm lenses and you can recognize them by a bulging bulb shape at the end of the lens. These distort the photograph massively and is fun but use with caution. They were originally developed for astrology.
4. A macro lens is important for close up. It’s ratio to the subject is 1:1 so this means it is life size. You can get in nice and close and focus with a macro lens. This is used a lot with food and product photography or of course, those wonderful flowers or insect images.
5. Lastly, but equally important is the telephoto lens. Want to get close to the action but can’t physically get closer because of fear of a wild animal or not being able to get on the pitch! This lens is used for sports, wildlife photography and much more. This lens flattens the image which means the buildings, for instance, will appear closer than they would if you were standing looking at them.
Hope this helps and encourages you to enter this month’s challenge to use a different lens than is typical for it.