Lens Types

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Lens Types Refer to different focal lengths of lenses

Normal, Wide & Telephoto

A normal lens yields an image that has a naturalistic perspective.  

The normal lens of 50-60mm on a full frame camera (35mm) appears as though you are looking through a window onto your subject. Your viewer will feel like they are in the scene and will be more aware of the subject of the shot rather than the effect of the lens.

The normal lens of 50-60mm on a full frame camera (35mm) appears as though you are looking through a window onto your subject. Your viewer will feel like they are in the scene and will be more aware of the subject of the shot rather than the effect of the lens.

A telephoto lens magnifies an image.  

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A telephoto lens 70-150+ focal length can magnify an image that is far away.  I'm sure you have seen gigantic lenses on the sidelines of sports events, those crazy focal lengths allow photographers to get a close-up of an athlete from great distances.  

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A telephoto lens also creates a shallow depth of field (the distance between the nearest and farthest subjects in a frame that appear acceptably sharp.)*  The greater the focal length of the lens, the less depth of field.  

Film shot with a telephoto lens also appears more 2-dimensional, because the distance is compressed within the lens.  Faraway objects appear similar in size to closer ones.  

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Another thing to watch out for is camera shake.  If your image is magnified, that means any little shake or movement of the camera will be exaggerated as well.  With many telephoto shots, a tripod is necessary.  

A wide angle lens is usually 1/2 the focal length of a normal lens. 

The effects of the wide angle lens are basically the opposite of a telephoto lens: they create images with more depth of field, aren't the best for portraits, and decrease camera shake.  

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A wide-angle lens can show more image area and suggest the spaciousness of what you are shooting. It allows you to fit more into the frame.

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A wide-angle lens also causes distortion where objects closer to the camera appear larger while ones further away seem smaller.  As you can imagine, this effect isn't awesome for portraits.  

Let's look at portraits ranging from wide to telephoto

Above, the portrait is distorted, because the wide-angle lens is making the middle of the subject's face appear larger. Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

Above, the portrait is distorted, because the wide-angle lens is making the middle of the subject's face appear larger. Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

A little wider than a normal lens, creating some facial distortion Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

A little wider than a normal lens, creating some facial distortion Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

The above photo was taken with a standard portrait lens: 70mm. There is no facial distortion, and the shallow depth of field brings viewer attention to the subject.

The above photo was taken with a standard portrait lens: 70mm. There is no facial distortion, and the shallow depth of field brings viewer attention to the subject.

The above is taken with a telephoto lens: 160 mm.  The background is even softer drawing even more focus to the subject. 

The above is taken with a telephoto lens: 160 mm.  The background is even softer drawing even more focus to the subject. 

Wide angle lenses are perfect for some portraits: 

The photographer needed more image area to make this shot work, and the distortion adds to the offbeat humor of the shot.  Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

The photographer needed more image area to make this shot work, and the distortion adds to the offbeat humor of the shot.  Photo from "Digital Photo Mentor"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citation: Wikipedia contributors. "Depth of field." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Sep. 2017. Web. 16 Sep. 2017