Camera lenses come in all shapes and sizes, and to a first time buyer the sheer amount of choices can be overwhelming. The whole process can be simplified by understanding the categories and classifications that lens manufacturers use. In order to figure out which lens is the best for you, you first have to understand the different types of camera lenses.
Types of Camera Lenses
Most camera lenses fall into one of five categories: super wide angle, wide angle, standard, standard telephoto, and specialty telephoto.
Lenses with a focal range of 21mm and under fall into this category. Ultra wides exaggerate the relationship between near and far as well as stretch out objects on the sides and the corners. GoPro’s widest setting is the equivalent of 15mm so it’s considered a super wide lens. Many of these lenses have that distinct fisheye effect that people see in action cameras.
Wide angle lenses are those that fall between the 21mm and 35mm focal lengths. Most recent wide angle lenses, especially those made for cropped sensors are made for this range. Many YouTubers pick up a lens in this range for vlogging since it provides a fairly wide image with minimal image warping and widening of the subject,
Most every basic kit lens falls somewhere in this range. If you can recall my article about the Nifty Fifty lens, this focal range most accurately recreates what our eyes see. Typically these will be your fastest lenses compared to wide or telephoto, but not always specialty telephoto lenses.
For the average consumer this is the highest focal length that you will ever need, and if your subject is too small in the frame, move closer. These lenses are best suited for sports or wildlife photography, since you can simulate being close to the subject while being very far away.
I could only recommend this type of lens to a professional photographer and honestly they should not be used in filmmaking. The only use I could come up with for the average photographer is for astrophotography, and even then a standard telephoto will be just fine in most cases.
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