Understanding DSLR lenses and their specific utility as per genre of Photography

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This post I will be attempting to give some clarity to the readers as regards to types of DLSR camera lenses and their roles. It was the end of 2013 that I first ventured into the realm of DSLR cameras with the purchase of the Canon 70D. Readers will ask as to why did I go for a Canon and not Nikon or Sony??

Well honestly, my awareness was more with regard to the name Canon compared to Nikon. Hence I opted for Canon and it was largely good fortune and a bit of reading on various articles that I homed onto the Canon 70D. I still remember when I was in the Canon store and they were giving me the Canon 18-135 mm as a Kit lens. A great beginners lens, along with that I picked up the Canon wide-angle 10-22 mm. So, I had a combination of a medium zoom and a wide-angle with a very accomplished camera body.

My note on Types of DSLR camera lenses & their roles

Introduction to the post

Over the course of a few months, I read and listened to the experts on the internet. I practised a lot with what I had to get an understanding of digital photography is all about. Eventually, I realised the limitations and advantages of the lens I had and what I needed to acquire which would help me in improving my photography ability.

It has been some years now and I can probably to a degree of authenticity write down my choices for lenses that are needed, for a particular genre of photography. I am still a learner but maybe so many hours with the camera and improving my awareness by listening, reading and comparing what I have has helped me in  understanding what is needed for a particular genre of photography

So without further ado let me begin this post on types of DLSR camera lenses and their roles. I would be speaking about these lenses on the basis of the most popular genre of photography so that is is easier for the reader to remember the kind of lenses needed.

Genre of Photography and its related lens

Landscape Photography

For landscape photography, i would be selecting the following four lenses that fit this particular genre. It is to be noted that every photographer can use the other lens too for landscape photography, these are my choices based on my experience and from the various articles that i have read over the years.

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Mandatory:

24-70 MM(2.8) & 10-22 MM: These two lenses will cover just about most of the requirements of the Landscape photographer. The depth of field, as well as the width of the focal length, will assist in most of the situations.

70-200 MM. This is used by those who wish to get some really tight visuals of a subject filling up the entire frame eg shadows of setting sun on the mountains

Optional:

11-24 MM. This is the ultimate when it comes to ultra-wide zoom lenses, a product which is a class apart. This is to be used for landscape photography when one wishes to highlight a particular subject upfront and close with the background stretching and filling up the frame. Having said this, an ultra-wide of this dimension needs experience and proper framing of the subject.

Further Update. I think I would also at this juncture like to mention about the 16-35 mm (2.8L) which is yet another classic landscape focus lens. This lens was recently acquired by me and I find this particular lens extremely useful against the 10-22 mm which I have mentioned above.

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Macro Photography

Macro photography us a very niche subject and hence not many photographers opt for it. In case your interest lies towards this genre of photography, i would suggest the following lenses.

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If you wish to practice the art of Macro Photography, pick either the 135(2L) mm or 100(2.8) mm. My favourite is the 100 mm Macro which I use whenever I do this genre of photography. This genre of photography is in a league of its own and hence needs specialized lenses contrary to what few people might tell you that it can be done using normal lenses as well.

Above two are the options that one needs to pick out of. Sometimes I have seen people using 50mm or few other options, but they are not truly lenses designed for Macro Photography which need a minimum reproduction ratio of 1:1 i.e. image at the sensor is same as the image of the object.

My note on Types of DSLR camera lenses & their roles contd.

Portraiture Photography

One of the most popular genres of photography and is the choice of many to pick as a profession as well. These are my choice of lenses that would go well out here.

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If clicking portraiture is your thing, then there is nothing better than the above choices and the top slot goes to the 85(1.8)-mm prime ably aided by the 70-200(2.8) mm. The depth of focus and bokeh effect coupled with sharpness is achieved by a combination of these two lenses magical and a sure shot winner.

I hope the readers are finding the content of the article on types of DLSR camera lenses and their roles useful and relevant. Would love involvement from each of you in the comments section for we all have to learn together.

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Architectural Photography

This is again a very niche segment of photography and for top-notch architectural frames, one needs to have very specific lenses. My choice rests on the following three.

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If architectural photography is your passion, well then, the above combination is guaranteed to cover all situations. The 11-24(4L) mm Super Ultra-Wide from the Canon stable is the undisputed king out here. The 17 mm tilt-shift lens is quite a game-changer. Its advantages over the other two when it comes to shooting large frame architecture at close range.

Astro/Night photography

Personally I love doing Astro coupled with night Photography. For this genre of photography, there are some essential equipment needed but among the lenses, I would choose the following

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For night photography, these lenses are most suited. Generally, one needs to go for the widest lens possible in order to maximize the frame. In few cases, lenses like 70-200 mm are also used however they are for very specific frames of night photography.

Further Update. I think I would also at this juncture like to mention about the 24-70 mm (2.8L) which is yet another dependable lens. I have used it on a few occasions for night shots. For those who have mastered the art of night photography, I would ask them to think of using the 70-200 mm for some portraiture astrophotography. It would make a great frame

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Food photography

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Again for photography-related to gastronomic delights,the above lenses are great and would cover all the situations that arise. The 50 mm is for extreme sharp focus and is a powerful tool in the hands of the proficient photographer. The 100 mm macro would be an excellent choice for the bokeh effect with a sharp centre focus .

I am sure there are more genres of photography but I don’t think I am qualified to speak on them. Hope this post of mine on types of DLSR camera lenses and their roles offers some clarity into the world of different genre of photography and the lenses most suited for them

Would you be interested in reading a few more articles related to culture and exploring India , well scroll down

  • I have had a lot of efforts put in to decide the best combination of gear for travel photography. Have a read
  • Another heartburn and soul searching happens when we decide to invest in a DSLR for the very first time. Do read my post on this aspect.
  • Tripods are a photographer’s best friend. Your best friend should be very capable indeed. So read about the one which I use from the GITZO brand.

51 Replies to “Understanding DSLR lenses and their specific utility as per genre of Photography”

  1. Good thing that I read this post because 1st, I am a Canon user (although mine is a mirrorless camera) and second, I know nothing about lenses. I do know though that there are different lenses for different purposes but I am not knowledgeable about the intricancies of it all. Now at least I have an idea thanks to your post. I am still on a fence about buying a new lens, all I have is the one that came with the camera when I bought it. I just haven’t decided yet if I am going to take photography seriously, for now I just point and shoot. Also, lenses tend to be expensive. But should I decide to buy one then at least now I have an idea which one to get.

    1. Not much into cameras maybe because its expensive and my cam fne suffice great pics already but maybe 1day? I will get one and thanks for sharing coz now we have ideas at least, thank you

  2. This is a rather informative post for beginners in photography like me. Though I’m a Nikon user, your points about how each lens contributes to the achievement of each genre really helps in making newbies like me understand how everything works. Thanks for this post.

  3. This is a great reference for lenses. Although I don’t use Canon. I used Nikon DSLR before then switched to Fuji Mirrorless.

  4. Hey, seriously, I never paid this much attention to the various options of lenses available now a days. I have bookmarked your post so that my husband can also go through it since he takes most of the photos for our website. Thanks a lot for explaining the details in such simple terms that even a non technical person can grab the knowledge easily

  5. Wow! Thank you for this detailed post about lenses. Same as the person above me, I have bookmarked your post for future reference. Looking forward to reading more posts in your blog!

  6. I love my 50mm lens! BUT there are certain times I need a different lens! I will use this as a guide. Great post!

  7. As a hobby photographer this post was super interesting! Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge. Super helpful!

  8. Wow! Just incredible! I still have a lot to learn about lenses. This post has given me the motivation to learn more.
    Thanks.

  9. All I need for my birthday is a good camera. I am sharing this post with my daughter and my husband.

  10. I need to save for additional lenses for wide angle and micro shots. DSLR is still the best.

  11. Just reading this post makes my head spin. Obviously, your pics will be much better than mine. However, I’m working with a bridge since I’m too scared to mess irreplacable pics up.

  12. Man Sumit, I immediately jumped to your Astro/Night photography sections to see if I could learn even some basics. I actually said wow out loud when looking at your pics of the night sky! How amazing but I guess I really need to study more because the settings you described for the best Astro/Night photography of 70mm and such is even still a foreign language to me but my wife is learning so I will share it with her!

  13. I never really heard of DSLR camera before, so thanks for introducing them to me! I learned a lot!”

  14. Hey Sumit!
    Oh deng! Photography isn’t my forte – though I wish it was. I only use a simple camera for my blog though I’ve been tempted get one. This article will surely help me pick the perfect camera!

  15. This is really a great to know. I enjoyed photography so much and my DSLR gives me a high quality shots.

Would love a feedback and your thoughts on what you just browsed :)

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