Types of Camera Lenses and When to Use Them
If you’re not a photographer, a filmmaker or a professional video producer, camera lenses can be a confusing world, but there are simple principles you can keep in mind. The main elements to look at in a camera lens are aperture and focal length.
Aperture means how much light can go into the lens, and is measured in “f-stops”. The lower the f-stop number, the more light goes into the lens, and the blurrier things get when they’re out of focus. You can change this number as you see fit, within the limits of each specific lens.
If you’ve gotten to the lowest possible f-stop on your lens and the image still doesn’t look bright enough, you can adjust the exposure, which is a tool that can increase the brightness of the image digitally. Be careful, though! Exposure abuse can lead to noisy footage.
Focal length, on the other hand, means the “angle of view”, which is to say how much of what’s in front of the camera you can see, and it’s measured in millimetres. If this sounds confusing, fear not: basically, the lower the mm, the more the camera can see, and the deeper the perspective looks, and the higher the mm, the flatter it looks. Still confused? Don’t worry. Here are the types of the lens according to a focal length:
1 – Wide Lens (less than 35mm):
The perspective looks exaggerated to our eyes. This is the family of the fish-eye lens. These lenses are great for shooting landscapes, architecture, or big locations with people far away. If used for close-ups, they can make faces and objects look funny and weird.
2 – Normal Lens (35mm – 50mm):
The perspective looks similar to how we normally see. These lenses can be used for shooting things from any distance, and are very versatile. They work best for medium shots.
3 – Long-focus Lens (over 50mm):
The perspective looks flat to our eyes. If the subject is in focus, the background is probably out of focus and vice versa. These lenses thrive when shooting close-ups, or things far away we want to focus on. They’re often used for product close-ups and nature documentaries.
A zoom lens, depending on the quality, can go to many focal lengths, which makes it very practical; beware, however, that it doesn’t let much light inside, so it may not work for any situation.
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