A Beginner’s Guide To DSLR Camera Lenses

If you’re not necessarily that technologically inclined, buying a DSLR camera can seem pretty overwhelming. And then on top of that, figuring out which camera lenses to add to your repertoire can just about make your head explode. With so many different options and hordes of numbers and other technical jargon to wade through, how do you know where to start?

While it’s certainly daunting, acquiring camera lenses past the one that comes with your kit initially is a must. Having different lenses for specific situations is essential for any photographer to be able to completely explore the wide range of artistic possibilities. Here’s a rundown of the basic groups of lenses you’ll run into and what they can do for you.

Wide Angle

When you want to capture a whole scene in one photo, chances are you’re going to want a wide angle lens. With a wide field of view and the magnification of distance between foreground and background, it’s the perfect tool to shoot many things going on at once in the same frame.

Ultra Wide

If wide angle lenses just aren’t cutting it for the kind of epic scenes that you want to shoot, turn to the ultra wide. They feature an even larger depth of field, meaning foreground and background action will stretch further apart. Photographers typically use an ultra wide for landscape, architectural or interior shooting. A creative offshoot of the ultra wide is the fisheye lens, which curves the periphery of the image, resulting in many cool artistic results.


If you need some serious zoom action going on, move over to the telephoto lens. With a focal length above 70mm (or above 135mm for the serious zoomofile), this lens will bring far away subjects up close. It also has a narrower field of view than other lens so the focus on subject details will be enhanced, while the surrounding area will be blurred. The telephoto is great for shooting sports, wildlife or anything else that you can’t necessarily get too close to.


Want to do a lot without necessarily having to change lenses? Try a superzoom. It can act as a good bridge between wide angle and telephoto lenses, allowing you to tap into the benefits of both. Now don’t pitch out your individual wide angle or telephoto lenses yet – superzooms don’t have quite the same level of image clarity as the more specified ones do. It’s perfect for travelling or on-the-go situations, however, when changing lenses is not ideal.


Get up close and personal with a macro lens. This is the kind of lens you want for the extreme close-up. With focal lengths between 40 and 200 mm, it’s perfect for getting crisp shots of tiny subjects. You’ll often see them used in nature photography for images of insects or flowers, but they can be used for portrait shots as well because of the level of sharpness.


Lastly, shooting with a prime lens is the closest you’ll get to how you see with the naked eye. Hence why they’re referred to as “normal” lenses. These are often the best lenses to practice photography techniques with, as it forces you to put more effort into creating the image. With a shallow depth of field and good low-light abilities, the prime is a versatile lens to have for any situation.

Source: New Atlas

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.
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