The Right 📷 Lens for You! 🧐    

How do you know which is the right lens for you? In this blog I’ll help you answer that question by reviewing different lenses for DSLR cameras and their typical uses. 

To keep this blog to a manageable size, I’ll cover zoom lenses and discuss aperture differences in other blog posts. This post will only cover a select number of “prime” lenses.

1.   50mm - Nifty Fifty

The 50mm is often called the “nifty fifty” because this is usually what people start out with when they get interested in DSLR photography and want to get the most bang for their buck. On a full frame sensor, this lens sees what your eyes naturally see. That means that it’s a great way to capture beauty without distortion. It’s used for portraits, landscapes, weddings, pretty much anything. The downside and upside to this lens is you might have to move around to get the shot. I would argue this helps you to think more creatively and become a better shooter.

2.   85mm – The Tougher Cousin

The 85 is the tougher cousin to the 50 for a lot of folks. Its tighter focal length makes it ideal for buttery portraits or images of your pets’ faces. The extra 35 adds a sense of compression to your images that is ideal for close ups. I know photographers who swear by the 85, and it’s a good lens to work with, especially if you’ve transitioned from a crop to a full frame sensor and miss that closer feeling to your images.

3.   35mm – The Chameleon

Here’s a fun fact. In the old film days, most photography was shot on a 35, and not much has changed in 2018 as our IPhone’s share a similar perspective. The 35 is a versatile lens.It offers a unique twist for portraits because of its perspective and it is used for both landscapes and lifestyle images. This lens has become the bread and butter for many in the industry, and is praised for its classic nostalgia and the various ways it can work under different circumstances.

4.   135mm – The Portrait One

Well that escalated quickly. The 135 is a serious portrait contender. This lens usually offers even smoother bokeh (out of focus blur) and crisper resolution than the 85. For a lot of photographers its main drawback or its best attribute is the focal length itself. For those who like the 50, it may take a bit of practice to adjust when you’re so far away from the subject. If you’re invested in wildlife, concerts, or astrophotography, you may fall in love with the 135’s depth, clarity, and function of its design.

Crop or Full Frame?  All of these lenses have fixed focal lengths but your perspective, meaning how the see the images in camera and later in Photoshop, will change depending on whether your camera has a crop or full frame sensor. A crop sensor cuts out the edges of the frame and thus increases how we perceive the focal length. A 50mm lens on a full frame sensor is actually a 75mm on a crop sensor. The same 1.5 ratio applies to all of your basic digital crop sensors.  Confusing? Don’t sweat it.  At the end of the day, you can use any lens for any situation depending on the type of shot you want to achieve. We all have individual preferences and until you practice you won’t know what you like!

Want to Learn More?

If you’re interested in learning more about a specific photography subject or idea, shoot me a message on Instagram or contact me via email I’m always happy to answer additional questions or comments!

Morey Spellman is a Los Angeles based photographer. 
His work combines a love for beautiful light, authentic beauty, and natural scenery. 

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