Understanding and choosing lenses
Ever wondered what kinds of lenses are available? Once you know about the types and features of lenses, you can find one that matches your creative vision.
- Zoom and prime lenses
- Lens descriptions based on focal length: wide-angle, standard, and telephoto
- Specialized lenses (macro and conversion lenses)
- Choosing the right lens for your subject or scene
Zoom and prime lenses
Lenses can be classified as zoom or prime. With the former, the focal length is adjustable, and with the latter, it's fixed.
To explore the features of each type, see the following page.
Lens descriptions based on focal length: wide-angle, standard, and telephoto
The descriptions “wide-angle,” “standard,” and “telephoto” tell you about the lens focal length.
- A: Center of lens
- B: Image sensor surface
- C: Focal length
Some zoom lenses cover a wide range of focal lengths. Even if they're called “standard,” these versatile lenses can be used for both wide-angle and telephoto shooting.
And despite a 35 mm prime lens being described as wide angle, you'll get a standard angle of view on an APS-C camera.
These are only convenient descriptions based on focal length, but each type of lens has its own special features and excels at certain scenes.
Choose the best lens for your camera and the scenes or images you want to shoot.
Sample shots from each kind of lens
- Shot with a wide-angle lens
Capture vast landscapes or starry skies in a single image with wide-angle lenses
Wide-angle lens features
- Shot with a standard lens
Standard lenses are suitable for many situations, including culinary photography, everyday shots, and much more
Standard lens features
- Shot with a telephoto lens
Make distant or difficult-to-approach subjects appear closer with telephoto lenses
Telephoto lens features
Specialized lenses (macro and conversion lenses)
For closeup views of small subjects, choose macro lenses. They reveal fascinating microcosms that are otherwise too small to see. This outstanding imaging is thanks to expert design.
SEL90M28G (F-number: 5.6 / Shutter speed: 1/1.6 sec.)
To explore macro lens features, see the following page.
Conversion options include wide conversion lenses that make wide-angle lenses even wider, fisheye conversion lenses, and teleconverter lenses that make telephoto lenses even more telescopic.
Fisheye conversion lenses can show ordinary scenes from extraordinary perspectives.
SEL28F20 + SEL057FEC (F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/6 sec.)
With teleconverter lenses, you can capture wild animals at a distance without being noticed, so that they look perfectly natural.
SEL100400GM + SEL14TC (F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec.)
Choosing the right lens for your subject or scene
The lenses you should consider using will vary depending on your subject or scene. Consider a prime or macro lens to shoot food or table settings, for example, or a wide-angle lens for starry skies or vast landscapes. For shooting techniques and recommended lenses for different scenes, explore Shooting tips.
To find the right lens by selecting your camera and the kind of image you want to shoot, try Lens Selector.