choice of lens...


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Apr 1, 2013
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New Zealand
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So I like to think of myself as an 'intermediate' photographer but I still struggle in deciding just which lens works best for which scenario. I don't suppose anyone has a nifty wee chart or table or website for me to have a geeze at?

cheers, discussion welcome. :)
You didn't mention which format you're shooting, which is a critical part of lens selection. APS-C and FX require different focal length lenses to get equivalent angles of view. In general, if one wants wide angles of view, the shorter lenses in the 10mm to 16mm or 18mm length range are going to be selected (this is assuming an APS-C sized digital sensor). For long-range photography, such as surfing or birding photography, long lenses of 300,400,up to 600mm, are the normal choices of most people.

There really is no chart-based way to do this. If you want wide-angle photos, a wide-angle is the best choice; if you want semi-wide, then a semi-wide is best; if you want a normal look, then a normal lens is good; same with short, moderate, and super-telephoto; horses for courses, as the Brits say.

The camera makers have a lot of zoom lenses these days, as well as many single focal length lenses. A rough selection guide is to approximately double your focal length between each prime lens in a kit: say an 18mm, then a 35mm, then an 85mm, and then a 180mm to 200mm.

Or, with an FX-format digital SLR, say 24mm,50mm,100mm,200mm.
What do you have now?
This is not a chart, but it does give some great insight of why one might look to choose a different focal length over another

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Thanks guys/girls,

I have just an APS-C I'm fairly sure :) I have a Nikon d7000. Lens I do have 50mm 1.8 and just a 18-105mm. I pretty much only shoot people at this stage. Some in my home studio (meaning my living room with lights and backdrop!) haha and then on location (for example at the gardens or at the beach). I'm always told to switch to the 50mm to do the headshots but how important is this really?!?

I need to study up on what makes a lens a 'wide angle' confused!!!!! what are the two lenses I have listed classed as? Sorry if this is baby stuff!

Off to watch that video now. :)
Thanks for that video MOREGONE! brilliant, I see what people are talking about more clearly now. :)
a 55-250mm zoom lens works well for portraiture (people). As I learn in my current class of portraiture, using a lens that includeds a focal length of a 100-135 is the best and having it stay at that, but you can use other focal lengths, as shown in that video above explains it well of what the focal lengths do.
This one also helps get a better understanding:
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I'm fairly sure :) I have a Nikon d7000
*eyebrow raise* Uh, it should say right on it.

'm always told to switch to the 50mm to do the headshots but how important is this really?!?
It is important. However, 50mm is not your best choice amongst the lenses you have for true headshots. Your 105mm would be most appropriate for headshots in typical circumstances. The background will appear even blurrier (most likely, not 100% sure, might be close) than with the 50mm at its wider aperture, but more importantly, 105mm will cause you to stand a "normal" distance away from a person in order to fill the frame with their head and shoulders. A 50mm will make you stand a little close for comfort, causing you to exaggerate the subject's nose a bit (An effect most obvious in the 10mm photo in the video. Still present at 50mm but more subtle).

50mm would be more appropriate on a crop sensor camera for a full body shot or waist up with environment included in the scene, etc.

I need to study up on what makes a lens a 'wide angle'
For your camera, anything lower than about 30mm would be wide. It's not an exact cutoff, though. Just a generally descriptive term.
I'm fairly sure :) I have a Nikon d7000
*eyebrow raise* Uh, it should say right on it.

haha sorry should have punctuated! I'm fairly sure that it is APS-C rather than FX.

Thanks for the other comments. Interesting to learn that 50mm is not IDEAL for headshots... so many differing opinions and advice! Perhaps Ill try out the 50mm for some full body shots.
Thankyou Candidchick... very useful. Starting to begin to wonder why I own a 50mm for people photos!
If you're looking to buy a lens and don't know your own vision, nobody can help you choose a specific lens. For more help on buying lenses, see this: Joel Nisleit Photography | What Lens Should You Buy?.

If you're just wondering what lenses work for different photos, the answer is any. Nobody can tell you your vision. There's no wrong lens. If it's your vision, it works.

A lens is a hammer or saw. It's a tool for getting a job done. What job do you need to get done? Thinking about the image you want to accomplish will help you pick the right tool.
word. Your other thread titled "what's the best portrait lens" already covered this.
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