Lens focal lengths - selecting the correct ones

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Stephen McLees, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. Stephen McLees

    Stephen McLees TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone.

    I recently purchased my first DSLR and with it a an 18 - 140mm lens.

    I really struggle to get my head round focal lengths and what the best ones are for specific situations.

    Anyone have any tips on what that Lens is best for, and how best to decide what length to use for what photos?


     
  2. Space Face

    Space Face Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What you looking to take pictures of?
     
  3. Stephen McLees

    Stephen McLees TPF Noob!

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    Anything and everything really. But I really enjoy trying to get close up/magnified shots
     
  4. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Which DSLR - APS-C has a crop factor relative to full frame so the way you approach focal length is different.
     
  5. Space Face

    Space Face Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    As in Macro?
     
  6. Stephen McLees

    Stephen McLees TPF Noob!

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    Yes macro.

    Nikon D5600
     
  7. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    There is no such thing as a list of "You're photographing _______, so use ___mm".
     
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  8. Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The easiest way to look at it is focal length is as an equivalent to magnification. There are lots of other things such as depth of field and shutter speed that are at play. However, if you are just starting out, you will use the lens to zoom in or out, to crop the photo you want to take.

    After a while you will notice that when you zoom in or out the aperture may change. This is because the amount of light hitting the sensor changes and the camera automatically re-sets the aperture and or the shutter speed. This then effects the depth of field or the ability to stop motion etc.

    After a while most folks move off of auto because the want to control the shutter speed, aperture and/or the ISO rather than let the camera do it. For example when I do a close up of a flower, I move to aperture priority and manually set the aperture to a lower f stop to limit the depth of field. Then anything behind the flower is out of focus. If I wish to catch birds in flight, I will move to shutter priority and set a fast shutter speed to stop the wing action. The camera adjust the other variable for a proper exposure. At times I go completely on manual because I want try something really unique.

    As always, the way you learn these things is to listen what other do, then practice practice practice.

    Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
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  9. mjcmt

    mjcmt TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    The best way to find out is to shoot with your camera/zoom lens kit this spring and summer. Then look at the data of your favorite shots to see what focal lengths you use the most. Even basic photo editing programs will tell you this. Then you can find what you like the most.
     
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  10. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Beginners invariably get G.A.S. (Gear Acquirement Syndrome) soon after their first camera purchase. The problem with that, is everything is so new, you have no idea where exactly your interests lie. You're lucky in that you have a wide range of focal lengths in the lens you have. Rather than rushing out to buy something now, why not use what you have for a bit, try shooting at various focal lengths while reading up on different types of photography. When you do you'll likely know what you want or at least be better able to phrase your questions for specific answers.
     
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  11. Stephen McLees

    Stephen McLees TPF Noob!

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    Just on this, while I'm looking at reviews for lens. Does the lens I have (18 -140mm) when set at 50mm do the same job as a Prime 50mm lens?
     
  12. Stephen McLees

    Stephen McLees TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I think you have hit the nail on head there
     

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