Get to Know Your DSLR :: Lenses

get to know lenses

Now that you have all been practicing your aperture settings, let’s talk about lenses.  {Okay, well you’ve at least read the post, right???}

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Prime Lenses

A prime lens is set at one focal length and you have the option to “zoom with your feet.”  Basically, you get as close or as far away as you can and do your shooting.  But there are lots of primes, and it’s best to choose the one that works for each situation.

The lower the focal length, the wider the shot.  So think of a 35mm as what you are used to from those days when you had a disposable camera.  This is an all-purpose type of lens.  I use mine for inside, outside, fast shots, low light, all of it.   But if I’m doing a portrait shot, I use my 85mm f/1.8.

To demonstrate a little more, I set up my tripod about six feet away from this brick wall and snapped some pics at different focal length.  Besides the lens, the settings were all at shutter speed at 1/1000 of a second {because there was lots of sun} and 3.2 aperture.


lenses 9


lenses 10


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Of course the drawback is that if things happen quickly, I’m stuck running into things trying to get closer or far away enough for the lens to be at the right distance from the subject.  I might have run into a few walls or cars, but whatever it takes to get the shot…right?  Prime lenses are generally faster at shutter speed and better in low light situations.  They also have pretty decent aperture.  All of mine go down to f/2 or f/1.8.  But the lower the aperture the higher the cost.

35mm lens. f/2,8{35mm lens | f/2,8}

50mm f/2.2{50mm | f/2.2}

85mm f/1.8{85mm | f/1.8}

lenses 13Zoom Lenses

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of changing out a lens or want to be ready for any situation, zoom lenses are the way to go.  As I mentioned, the camera kit comes with a zoom lens.   This really gives you a feel for what the camera can do but they tend to have a range of aperture.  My kit lens is 18-55mm with aperture range of 3.5-5.6.  Which is what lead me to buy the 50mm in the first place.

After we bought our zoo membership, I decided to get another zoom lens for far distances.  My big boy 75-300mm lens is great for capturing giraffes or birds or even sunsets.

If you want a fixed aperture, that’s going to cost you.  I rented a 24-70mm f/2.8 . This means at any focal length the lowest aperture you can get is f/2.8  which is amazing, but unless I’m really doing weddings all the time, I don’t really *need* anything at that level.

18-55mm lens. 55mm, f/5.6{18-55mm lens | 55mm | f/5.6}

75-300mm lens. 300mm, f/6{75-300mm lens | 300mm | f/6}

Fun Lenses

There are a few options out there when it comes to fun, creative lenses.  These aren’t a necessity to anyone trying to learn photography, but sometimes you just want something different without the use of Photoshop or PicMonkey.

I got a Lensbaby Composer for Christmas last year.  It is a ball based, manual focus lens with discs to manually change out aperture and even discs for bokeh.  I know all of that might be foreign to you, but once you get the hang of it, you can really produce fun, out of the ordinary pictures.


Lensbaby with bokeh disc{Lensbaby with bokeh disc}

I would strongly suggest that you figure out what lens you really need before you spend the investment on new glass.  Some lenses are only for crop sensor cameras.  Some are interchangeable between crop and full sensors.  I knew one day I would upgrade cameras, so I’ve bought lenses compatible across the board.  Check your manual to see what type of camera body you have and what line of lenses work for you.

There are also lots of options to rent lenses.  I rented the 85mm twice before I went ahead and spent the dough.  I love, love, love the guys down at Photo Rental Source on I-10 and Blaylock.  Houston Camera Co-Op has the best staff and lots of used camera gear.  And the folks at Houston Camera Exchange let you try out things before you buy.

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Breonna was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She is recently married to Tyrone, a graphic designer. They currently reside on the West Side of this great city. A big fan of movies, books, photography, and Starbucks, she currently finds herself knee-deep in the throes of being a mommy to Addy {Feb 2011}. Breonna spends the typical 9-5 doing yadda yadda yadda at her job {yes, it’s that nondescript and uninteresting}. She started blogging as a way to do movie reviews, but that gave way to pregnancy blogging. She eventually landed her own space of the internet on BreWrites as well as on Twitter and Instagram {@brewrites} where she talks about everything from the sassiness of her child, to the most recent concert tickets she got her hands on, to the occasional piece of short fiction.



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