Basic Types of Lenses

Read the guide to learn:

  • Basic types of camera lenses
  • The difference between them
  • What features do different types of lenses have
  • How to choose the appropriate camera lens

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

September 17, 2019

Understanding the different types of lenses

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One of the most popular questions in photography is not what is a camera lens but how to distinguish and master the uses of the available models. Lenses are an intrinsic trademark of photography attached to a camera to give an exceptional photographic effect that is distinct across models. Therefore, beginners must understand the basics and have a standard knowledge of its composition.

A decent photographer can take a professional shot on an SLR or DSLR after mastering the lens types. Nevertheless, a lens can act as fire; it can have beautiful effects on your picture or ruin the whole photo session when you misuse it. At least have an adequate understanding of how the models vary in properties before purchasing your ideal equipment.

Right before we proceed to the types of camera lenses explained below, some essential details should guide your thought before jumping at a lens. Consider the kind of photography that you need it for, (portrait, wedding, landscape), the compatibility of the types of lenses with your camera, the cost of the equipment and a host of other vital factors. The definition of these commonly used photography terms will be useful for dummies to relate more to the topic.

Focal length: The focal length of a lens is the determination of the range between the image sensor/ focal point to the center of the given lens. The lens predetermines the extent of image magnification from a position and the angle of view.

Aperture: An aperture in photography is the number of allowed sunlight that gets to the image sensor or film. The higher the aperture number, the lesser the required opening so a notation of f/2.8 will produce twice as much sunlight than f/4.

Depth of field: The depth of field controls the sizes of the image in focus. It is the distance between the closest and distant items on a picture that appears clearly, and the sufficient mastery of DoF will be beneficiary irrespective of your choice of lens.

The various types of camera lenses

Standard/ Normal Lens

Focal Length: 35 / 50mm

Ideal Usage: Documentary, street and portrait photography

The standard lens functions similarly to the human eyes with a fixed midrange focal length and broader aperture without much distortion. As a result, it helps the display focus on the main subject and produces higher display quality. It retains a constant angle, so photographers have to readjust their position while framing and take other directional shots without the support of in and out zooming to reproduces images in the perspective of sight. By concentrating mainly on the object to capture and placing a deemed emphasis to the broader details around it. This lens makes a good option for beginners who has the less technical knowhow of taking complex photographs.

Key Advantages

  • Suitable for lowlight photography
  • Lightweight device
  • Higher quality image production
  • Good beginner’s choice

Zoom Lens

Focal length: 50-200mm

Ideal Usage: traveling, wedding, portrait, wildlife

A zoom lens is a widely used device amongst the photographers to take pictures in succession without having to run around places or change anything while shooting. It works as a multi-purpose device when photographers have access to only one lens. Examples are, like weddings or while filming a wildlife activity where the best details can disappear in a split second. A photographer can experiment better with a zoom lens while shooting. They can easily compose and reshape scenery while still on the camera.

Interestingly the rugged lens can take decent pictures of different focal length with good quality. While the optical zoom changes the shape of the lens by extending. When zooming, the digital zoom lens captures, edits, and resizes the image to give a closer sight of the photos.

Key Advantages

  • A photographer can take different focal length shots while maintaining the same posture
  • The lens is suitable for a one lens situation. Like when on holiday trips or when you do not have the liberty to interchange lenses
  • Cuts the stress of readjusting positions before taking subsequent pictures

Telephoto Lens

Focal Length: 100-600mm

Ideal Usage: Astronomy, sport, and wildlife, landscape photography

The extended focus photography hardware focuses on the detail of a faraway image by narrowing it down to make the image appear closer. These are possible because of its characteristics; the physical length is shorter than the reach of its focal length. The physical range comprises of various lenses called the telephoto group. They function to create an extension of the path of light to establish a precise concentration to the subject of focus. It is not surprising why it can catch faraway images like the stars at night to look closely. There are three types of telephoto lenses. Identify each type of telephoto lens by its focal length. A short telephoto ranges from 88-135mm. While the medium telephoto,135-300mm, and the super-telephoto have a focal length which exceeds over 300mm.

Key Advantages

  • Photographers do not need to move around; they can take shots while maintaining the same position
  • Rids unwanted details by creating a blur in the background surrounding images but produces a high-quality clear picture of the subject of concentration
  • Reduces the distance to make the image look closer than it should be
  • Stabilizes the image by automatically reducing vibration and the shake inside the lens

Macro Lens

Focal length: 50-200mm

Ideal Usage: Detailed Photography (nature shots, wedding detail)

This small-sized device corrects the positional shift of the camera and normalizes the effect of vibration. Some of the lenses are of optical material layers; others make use of aspheric surfaces. A microlens can enlarge images on the sensor to a reproduction ratio of 1:1 and above without jeopardizing a stable optical output and a good quality. They are not just suitable for taking close-up pictures alone. Portrait images appear to details, like when a photographer snaps a funny facial expression of someone that is laughing.

Key Advantages

  • Excellent image sharpness and quality
  • All hidden details become evenly bright
  • Captures tiny things that other lenses cannot reveal apparent enough

Wide-angle Lens

Focal length: 24 - 35mm

Ideal Usage: landscape, Architectural, and Cramped interior photography

A wide-angle lens is a lens that can take pictures of more degrees more than the eyes can cover at once. It has an angle of view between 64 degrees and 84 degrees; this makes the lens a perfect choice for taking a cramped Interior or architectural photographs. They normally have a smaller focal length than most lenses. It is possible to maintain the same position and focus closely on a subject without compromising any detail in the background. The lens will cover other encompassing images and capture a broader surrounding, just like the ultra-wide-angle lens. When we physically represent the image, there is a difference in the size of the closer object to the ones that are further behind. The closer features appear bigger than others in the background that are more distant than they are.

Key Advantages

  • Pictures contain more depth and information
  • It provides more focused images. The precision and resolving power is excellent
  • Super light wares that can be easy to stack and carry around
  • The lens highlights texture better and boosts Image perspective

Fisheyes/ Ultra-wide Lens

Focal length: 8 - 24mm

Ideal Usage: Sports, landscape, advanced science, and architectural photography

Fisheye lenses are specialists for capturing extremely wide-angle images of up to 360 degrees. Distinct mappings on the lens make images have a convex look. The circular fisheye lens picks images at 180 degrees from all the angles, which results in a spherical image. Produce a less circular image use the full-frame fisheye lens that tends to capture images up to 180 degrees on the diagonal angle of the lens. Mastery of the lens is important to tap into its full benefit; it fits for more professional use than for casual shots. Astronomers use the lens to determine light pollution and capture cloud cover, in sport, it catches live-action shots revealing the positions of surround characters.

Key Advantages

  • It is useful for scientific photography, to determine solar radiation and observe plant canopy geometry
  • Used to re-projecting images snapped from another lens. The lens provides a broader vista view. It covers vast areas of landscapes very well
  • Perfect for abstract photography
  • Useful for small enclosed spaces

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