How to Choose Your Very First Lens?

(Last Updated On: July 16, 2023)

How to Choose Your Very First Lens?

Choosing your first lens is more complicated than selecting a lens afterward. Simply because you know a lot about this subject since so far you have not had to choose one, you have probably purchased a compact digital camera. The lens is more critical than the device itself, and we will see that in detail here.

There are four major manufacturers of SLRs in the market: Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Pentax. Everyone builds not only cameras but also lenses. However, the lenses are not interchangeable between brands, which means that you cannot attach a Canon lens to a Nikon and vice versa. In conclusion, the choice you make for the camera will determine the brand of the lens.

The reduced sensor cameras represent the majority of models on the market. To make lenses more affordable, manufacturers have ended up making lenses built for these cameras. In Canon’s world, these lenses are identified by the code “EF-S,” in Nikon by “DX.” It is essential to understand that while you can still use full-frame lenses (EF for Canon and FX for Nikon) on cameras with a reduced sensor, the reverse is not possible.

In the rare case that you could, you would suffer from very strong vignetting (black bands around the exposure). It is due to the simple fact that Small Frame Lenses are constructed with narrower glass elements than Full Frame ones, and the distance to the sensor is not the same either (closer). Therefore, there would not be enough information from the lens to fill the entire sensor area with a Full Frame sensor.

Additionally, two factors characterize a lens: the focal length and the maximum Aperture that a lens can offer. It is why you may hear of a 50mm 1.8 lens. There would not be enough information coming from the objective of filling the entire surface of the sensor.

The focal length is the value in millimeters that is written on a lens. It represents the distance between one of the glass elements inside the lens and the digital sensor. However, what changes in the field of view of the lens. As a result, it is often a source of confusion for young photographers.

Before digital Single Lens Reflexes (DSLR), there was Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras, which used a film of more or less the same size (35mm). Over the decades, photographers have come to appreciate the field of view that a specific focal length provides and have created rules around these basics to make the art of photography easier to practice.

A lens that offers a large aperture (f1.2, f1.4, f1.8, f2, f2.8) is considered a fast lens. It is because the larger the opening, the shorter the exposure should be. When photographing wildlife or sports, the action often has to be frozen, and therefore a very fast shutter speed is needed. With a fast lens (large Aperture), we will need to compensate less with the ISO to obtain a correct exposure, and therefore the result will have less noise.


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