It takes two to tango. And just like Bonnie and Clyde, the lens and the camera are the perfect two partners in crime (read photography). You simply can’t create beautiful photography without having a great camera and a set of interchangeable lenses for your camera. Even if you have the perfect eye to set a scenery or capture a great moment, you cannot bring it to life without the right camera and lenses.
Camera lenses play a greater role in your photos in more ways than you may think, so it’s essential you have a few at your disposal. However, make sure you don’t go on a shopping spree and end up with more than you’d find yourself using, because after all, lens can be very pricey.
In this article, I’ll focus on lenses and all the numbers and letters written all over them you might find confusing. I know many people are baffled when they see lens specs, and for a good reason if you ask me. There are so many things to be on the look out for, that you might miss even the most simplest of things, such as them being compatible with your camera. Luckily, you can try whether they fit before you buy in most shops, but then again, some people shop for camera lenses online, thus have to be able to read and understand all those “weird” numbers and letters.
So before you go shopping for camera lenses online, grab a pen and paper, sit down and write the specifications of your camera. Let me explain the information on the lenses so that you may choose the right ones to help you improve your works of art.
The first set of numbers you see on a lens describe the focal length of the lens combined with the camera’s sensor size. The focal length defines the view angle that’s being covered by the lens. The smaller the number is, the wider the angle the lens provides. Some lens have a single number – meaning you can’t zoom and these are also known as primers, or two numbers which indicate the limitations of the range (example 30-55mm).
Next to the focal length, you’ll find a set of numbers (sometimes combined with letters) and that’s the aperture specs of the lens. In simple terms, it’s the amount of light the lens is capable of gathering. For example, f/4, 1:4 and F4 all mean the same thing. The smaller the number is, the larger the maximum aperture and therefore – the more light collecting capabilities the lens has. A F4 aperture lens can gather two times less light than a F2.8 aperture lens, for example.
Format and Mount
The mount specs define whether the lens can physically fit your camera, and the format defines whether the lens is compatible with your sensor size. Most manufacturers make lens that are compatible with more sensor sizes, so you shouldn’t worry much about it, but still check it just to be sure.
Many manufacturers implement image stabilization in many different ways. For example, Pentax and Olympus implement it into the camera’s body, whereas Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Samsung use systems which are built-in in the lens. This feature is especially useful with telephoto lens, something worth considering when comparing your available options.
With all that being said, all that’s left for you is to decide what lenses you need and where to buy them. Be wary, shopping online has its benefits, but there are more and more people complaining about fake lens being sold for very attractive prices. So make sure you do some research on reputable retailers, and read some tips on how to find a good camera and accessories store.