Choosing a Lens by Peter K. Burian

Virtually every digital SLR camera is available in a kit with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 or similar zoom and this lens is fine for getting started. Of course, it was designed primarily for light weight, compact size and a very affordable price. Hence, it certainly won’t meet every need so every manufacturer also offers numerous other lenses. These include models with a wider maximum aperture for actionstopping shutter speeds, more rugged construction, and special amenities such as extremely close focusing ability. Naturally, you can also find entirely different focal lengths too, both much shorter and much longer.

Let’s take a look at the most important lens categories, the benefits of each, their characteristics and a few specific models of each type. Before doing so, it’s worth noting an important aspect re: compatibility.

Most recent lenses are intended for use with the numerous DSLRs employing a sensor smaller than 24x36mm. Each manufacturer specifically designates such products; Tamron uses the Di II label. They’re not suitable for a 35mm film camera or a DSLR with an oversized 24x36mm (full-frame) sensor like the EOS 5D Mk II, Nikon D700 or Sony a900. That’s because they cannot project an image circle that would fill the larger frame. But you can certainly find multi-platform lenses too, such as the Tamron Di series, suitable for any type of SLR camera.

Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Choosing a Lens Windsurfer

I used a 70-300mm zoom to capture this image – 300mm, 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 200, with the camera on a tripod.

Telephoto Zooms: When you want to fill the frame with a distant subject, a much longer focal length will be necessary. I’ll often use a lens like the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4- 5.6 Di LC Macro 1:2 at air shows, zoos and National Parks and at cycle or go-kart races. Long focal lengths not only magnify a distant subject, they provide a narrow field of view or scene coverage. This makes it easier to include only the important subject, without a lot of the surroundings. Whether that’s a T-ball batter, a small waterfall in a vast landscape, or a black bear surrounded by tourists’ cars, you can avoid including extraneous items.

Long lenses seem to produce “compressed perspective”: subjects at different distances appear closer to each other than the eye normally perceives, making for an interesting effect. The higher magnification produces shallow depth of field: a limited range of sharp focus, especially with a nearby subject – at a wide aperture like f/2.8 to f/5.6 – it’s possible to blur a cluttered background. The viewer’s attention is then drawn to the center of interest in a photo. I find a telephoto with a very wide maximum aperture – like the pro-grade Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro – particularly useful for such effects at f/2.8. This type of lens can also be used with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter for greater effective “reach”.

Tamron 70-200

Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro

Much longer telephotos are available too, including the Tamron AF 200-400mm f/5.6- 6.3 LD DI (IF), for situations where the subject is farther from the camera. I have often used a super tele focal length for striking portraits of wading birds, for tight close-ups of Indy cars battling for position, or the facial expressions of distant athletes. Do note however that long focal lengths amplify the effect of even slight camera shake with blurring that reduces sharpness. Use a rigid tripod whenever possible to maximize the optical potential of the lens.

Ultra Wide Zooms: Do you find your current lens or lenses too restricting? Do you often want to fill the frame with a large group of people, an entire building or an expansive landscape? Or are you interested in creating entirely different photographic effects? If so, you’re a candidate for a very short focal length lens such as the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AL IF with incredibly wide scene coverage.

At the 10mm end, a lens like this provides approximately a 108-degree field of view, encompassing more than your eyes can see without scanning a scene. By comparison, an 18mm focal length will provide a much less expansive field of view of about 76-degrees. The exact field of view depends on the camera brand, and the size of the sensor. That wide-angle perspective makes a small cabin seem more spacious, or a sweep of wildflowers seem more expansive. Except in very close focusing, depth of field will also appear more extensive, making it possible to render the entire scene sharply from the foreground to the background.

Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Choosing a Lens PEI Fisherman

For an interesting perspective, I shot a portrait of this P.E.I. fisherman at 17mm, 1/250 second at f/10, ISO 200.

In addition to including more of a scene in a single photo, a very short focal length also provides expanded perspective. Move in close to a nearby subject and it will be unusually large and prominent in your photo. Anything at a greater distance is “pushed back”, rendered much smaller than the eye perceives. I find this exaggerated near/far relationship useful for an interpretive – instead of a documentary – depiction of reality.

Tilt the camera upward to include an entire building, and another trait becomes obvious: linear distortion. Whenever the camera back is not parallel to a subject, the perspective will seem unusual. Vertical lines will lean inward out of plumb, the edges of the horizon bow upward and a tall building will appear to be leaning backward. The solution to linear distortion is simple.

Hold the camera level, so the back— and hence, the digital sensor—is perfectly parallel to the subject. Of course, you’ll then need to move further back to include an entire tall subject in the frame. When that’s not possible, take advantage of the dramatic effects that are possible. Move in very close to the building and tilt the lens way up to make your creative intentions clear to anyone who will view your photos.

An extremely wide angle of view – and the unusual perspective – does require some experimentation, so practice, search for suitable subject matter and try unusual viewpoints. Some of the pictures will seem “distorted” or “unnatural” but others will be “dynamic” or “dramatic”. Whether for problem-solving in cramped spaces or for making unique photos, a very short zoom will surely prove to be a suitable investment.

Multi-Purpose Lenses: During very long days of touring cities or hiking, a single wide angle to telephoto zoom (on a compact DSLR) can be a blessing. Tucked into a hip pack or slung over a shoulder, the weight/size rarely becomes a burden. An image stabilizer (or Vibration Control) system is a definite benefit with an all-in-one lens that won’t often be used with a tripod, such as the Tamron AF 18-270mm and AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro.

Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Louvre 10mm


Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Louvre 18mm


Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Louvre 24mm


Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Louvre 70mm


 In my experience, one of the better multipurpose zooms provides good to very good image quality particularly in the central 75% of the image area. That’s fine because in most photos, our primary subject is not near an edge of the frame. For the best results, I’ll shoot at f/11, the optical “sweet spot”; this also provides greater edge sharpness/brightness. Granted the shutter speed is longer than at wider apertures but that’s easy to solve (if necessary) with a higher ISO setting.

Macro Lenses: Designed to focus much closer than the “macro” designated zooms, a true Macro lens is great for extreme closeups. (I covered this type of lens – and suitable techniques – in the Spring 2010 issue.) In a nutshell, a lens like the Tamron AF 60 mm f/2 Di II or 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro can provide very high magnification (as high as 1x) of a stamp or coin, an insect or a small blossom. Although optimized for great sharpness in extreme close focusing, a true Macro lens can provide superb images at other distances as well. Note too that a 60mm or 90mm is ideal for a head-and-shoulder portrait, providing pleasing perspective.


Important Lens Features

Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Choosing a Lens Church InteriorWhen researching specific lenses check the Specs or Features charts for important amenities and technology. Look for specifics as to internal focusing (IF) for fast autofocus and high-grade optical elements. Aspherical and low dispersion (LD) glass correct optical aberrations (flaws) for better image quality. A wide maximum aperture of f/2.8 is also useful in a lens you’ll use for serious photography. If your DSLR body does not include a built-in stabilizer, a vibration control feature is a definite asset.

While shopping, you’ll also find single focal length lenses. They may feature extremely wide maximum apertures for low light photography, or focal lengths specifically for portraiture or perspective control options for architectural photography. They’re fine for specific applications but zooms outsell them by a huge margin. Because of their greater versatility, I now use only zooms except for a Macro lens, and occasionally a (rented) 600mm super telephoto. Instead of missing photo opportunities while others are changing position or their lenses, a zoom allows me to work quickly. When it’s important to capture a fleeting instant, it’s great to be able to concentrate on exposure and precise framing for the best composition.


The Bottom Line

Photo Copyright Peter K. Burian - Hotel ExteriorNo matter technically advanced an SLR may be, it is actually the lens – and the creative vision of the photographer – that makes the image. Consequently, the optics are the single most important part of any camera system. Granted, a few photographers have produced a body of exceptional images with a 50mm lens. On the other hand, the vast majority acknowledge the need for several focal lengths and lens types: for problem-solving, for creative effects and for the most suitable perspective for each type of subject.

There’s no merit in acquiring equipment that’s unlikely to be used regularly. But a new lens type – substantially different than those already owned – can certainly enhance your abilities. Experiment until you learn how the new purchase can be used to the best effect, and begin to reshape your creative vision accordingly. Experiment, try the frequently-recommended techniques and break the “rules” occasionally. A selection of lenses that span the wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths can provide a virtually unlimited view of the world around you!


Article by Peter K. Burian

Find PHOTONews on Facebook! Follow PHOTONews on Twitter!
PHOTONews on Facebook PHOTONews on Twitter
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. 情報 幅広い年代の方に着やすいベーシックなセパレーツ。
    銉儮銉?銉︺儕銈ゃ儐銉冦儔銈儹銉笺偤 http://blog.omnigy.com/wc-logs/ylwhqkfrn_6162vazlgemo_2435.html

  2. お中元 お歳暮 母の日 プレゼント ギフト 敬老 インテリア プランツ 贈り物 誕生日 涼しげ 風鈴 ハイドロカルチャー 水耕栽培 観葉植物 お中元 お歳暮 母の日 プレゼント ギフト 敬老 インテリア プランツ 贈り物 誕生日 サンゴ砂 涼しげ 風鈴。
    鎶樸倞銇熴仧銇胯嚜杌㈣粖 銉偆銈儙 http://www.edytamassage.com/wp-includes/ID3/tm36hofct_0380duet03rl_4158.html

  3. 足とアッパーの一体感を追求したシンプルなデザインくるぶし部周辺にメモリーフォームを配置し、足首周りを包み込むようなフィッティングを実現 コメント 適合する別売中敷: TIZ107。
    銈淬儶銉?銉娿儞 鍙栥倞浠樸亼 http://snoezigenstoer.nl/wp-logs/em01qgsvr_9313whel40le_9135.html

  4. ※送料無料の地域は「本州・四国・九州本島」となります。
    銈汇儶銉笺儗 銉┿偛銉笺偢 銉炪偆銈儹 http://blog.pipelinersales.com/wp-content/cache/nv36jybfm_6211mzzp62id_6281.html

  5. ※こちらの商品は海外輸入品になります。
    銈偓銉冦儓 銉斻偄銈?浜烘皸 http://europe.samediff.net/wp-includes/SimplePie/wb35kflfo_5487jnmf26qq_9149.html

  6. 今回はデザインもブラッシュアップし、より精悍なマスクに。
    マルニ メンズ 店舗 http://www.afrconsultoria.com.br/wp-content/cache/jz51gfjvf_1702dhlo92kb_1571.html

  7. ハイブランドならではの高級感を演出します。
    ゴヤール公式サイト http://discover.halldis.com/wp-content/languages/wx35wgpzc_5107rjjb64qc_8561.html

  8. I really take my personal wow gold http://www.gamesky.com.au/ all of the time if at all interesting sufficient in the garden. They continue to keep my your feet type and they go perfectly; even so, So i’m usually occupied with keeping them messy.

  9. At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming over again to read further news.

    Also visit my blog post: garcinia cambogia free trial dr oz (Trina)

  10. ホワイト、グリーン、オレンジの3色をご用意しました。
    gaimo銉撱儍銉堛偍銈广儜銉夈儶銉笺儲 http://www.thegatewaysacramento.com/wp-content/languages/fx92vuyhd_3094wuhd61jl_4166.html

  11. その場合お客様(自転車店)にて調整をお願いします。
    銉兂銈兗銉栥兗銉?銉堛儶銉冦偒銉笺偤 http://saasproperties.com/wp-content/languages/uo25jgjlm_9059ausq26jc_4291.html

  12. 完全個室は最大12名様までのご案内が可能です。
    銉炪儷銉?銉濄兗銈裤兗 鍊ゆ http://trailersforsalebuy.net/wp-includes/SimplePie/hg64fhctx_3497shii48uw_7538.html

  13. 優しく足を守り、毎日使っても長持ちする、エントリー用のクッション素材。
    iphone5 銈便兗銈?zozo http://www.iyasucolonics.com/wp-includes/ID3/cz21nffjh_2307ocpj77yq_7687.html

  14. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your web site in web explorer, could test this?

    IE still is the marketplace leader and a big part of other people
    will omit your great writing due to this problem.

    my webpage; water damage cleanup

  15. If you wish for to obtain a good deal from this piece of
    writing then you have to apply such techniques to your won weblog.

    Also visit my page: garcinia cambogia free trial dr oz – Velma,

  16. 目立たないところで試してからご使用いただくことをお勧めします。
    alden ウイングチップ http://www.completed.co.uk/wp-logs/wk93ehvmy_8744mvtj75ka_8134.html

  17. [DUN] ドゥアンDUN 96 5メガネフレーム2011新作 眼鏡 日本製 新品 本物 度付対応GUMMETALスクエアNEW 正規品[DUN] ドゥアンDUN 96 5メガネフレーム2011新作 眼鏡 日本製 新品 本物 度付対応GUMMETALスクエアNEW 正規品。
    丸石エンペラー ツーリングマスター http://www.vaznaznamost.cz/img/tj05yxddw_6811hfpf03eg_0923.html

  18. Lenders are taking a substantial risk when they offer payday loans since
    these loans are usually sought by persons who are in a challenging monetary

    my web-site; http://nonvulgi.com

  19. Net Promotion presents price helpful techniques for modest corporations to improve their item or service distribution networks.

    My site; websites like omegle chat (Retha)

  20. Hi there, just wanted to mention, I loved this
    blog post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

    Have a look at my blog – riverside seo

  21. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto
    a colleague who has been conducting a little homework on this.
    And he in fact bought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this subject here on your web site.

    Also visit my page: riverside seo expert

  22. I am really happy to read this weblog posts which contains plenty
    of helpful information, thanks for providing these statistics.

    My web-site … take a look

  23. Hello, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am as well happy to share my familiarity here with friends.

    Feel free to surf to my weblog perez

  24. That is a very good tip particularly to those fresh
    to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

    My web page click

  25. 車のトランクなど、70℃以上の高温になるようなところには保管しないでください。
    ゴヤール 格安 http://www.juicedd.net/images/qd85hituv_4638czwi81fb_5494.html

  26. 更に特別に、アウターの上からの着脱を可能にする伸縮性に優れたゴムの替えバンドを同梱。
    dahon oem あさひ http://www.desertacademy.org/wp-includes/css/fw72ublir_1486koko39jb_7457.html

  27. I’m really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues?
    A couple of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer
    but looks great in Opera. Do you have any suggestions to
    help fix this problem?

    My web-site :: here

  28. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before
    but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    Have a look at my homepage :: here

  29. What’s up to every one, the contents present at this web site are in fact awesome for people knowledge,
    well, keep up the nice work fellows.

    my website: perez

  30. 輸入品の性質上、外箱にキズや凹み等のダメージがある場合がございますので予めご了承くださいオニツカタイガー スニーカー Onitsuka Tiger メキシコ Mexico 66 アシックスメンズレディース (Birch/Indian Ink/Latte)。
    鍚夌敯銈儛銉?porter 銉濄兗銈裤兗 http://dowilo.com/images/6619emnk85ta_54ck65.html

  31. また、なんらかの理由により結果が発表されなかった場合は、この予想は無効となります。
    銈偆銉曘偐銉炽偙銉笺偣 5s 銉栥儵銉炽儔 http://drdivanyoung.org/wp-content/themes/8932tfya03xl_19lz84.html

  32. Thankfulness to my father who told me on the topic of this web site, this weblog is in fact amazing.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site tyler

  33. I know this site presents quality based articles or reviews and additional
    data, is there any other web page which offers these
    data in quality?

    my web page … riverside seo

  34. Notice to UT shoppers:For queries or complaints please call the Utah Department of Monetary Institutions
    at 801-538-8830.

    my web blog; http://Leisure-esports.De

  35. Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

    Here is my website – garcinia cambogia burn free
    trial (Josephine)

  36. Wow, awesome blog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running
    a blog for? you made running a blog glance easy. The entire look of your website is fantastic, as neatly as the content material!

    Check out my web site :: garcinia cambogia burn free trial

  37. It’s actually very difficult in this busy life to listen news on Television, therefore I just use world wide web for that purpose, and
    take the newest news.

    Feel free to visit my page riverside seo expert

  38. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article!
    It is the little changes that produce the
    largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Feel free to surf to my homepage: riverside seo expert

  39. What’s up, constantly i used to check website posts here early
    in the morning, because i love to learn more and more.

    Feel free to visit my homepage – perez

  40. Payday loans are not suitable for longer-term borrowing and are not a option if you are
    in monetary difficulties, either.

    Also visit my web-site :: Http://Solterrawinery.Com/?Option=Com_K2&View=Itemlist&Task=User&Id=110562

  41. Have yyou ever thought about creating an ebook or
    guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you
    share some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to senmd me an e mail.

    Also visit my web blog :: site (Derrick)

  42. I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing
    issues with your site. It appears as though some of the text within your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and
    let me know if this is happening to them too? This might be a
    issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
    Thank you

    Also visit my web site: perez

  43. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform
    are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of
    Wordpress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking
    at options for another platform. I would be great
    if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    Feel free to visit my weblog – riverside seo expert

  44. I go to see everyday a few sites and websites
    to read content, except this webpage gives quality based articles.

  45. Most payday lenders will supply you with a decision on the spot or within 60

    Take a look at my web-site; http://www.qcsolutions.co.za/?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=91971

  46. Payday loans applications are normally carried
    out on a secure on the internet application type to aid guard your privacy.

    Also visit my blog post http://eng.aki-inter.com/

  47. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not
    seeing very good success. If you know of any please share.

    Review my web-site: tyler perez

  48. Stunning quest there. What occurred after?

    Take care!

    Here is my website … riverside seo

  49. 配送日時のご指定ができません。
    louis garneau cr23 http://koba.tv/wc-logs/zj24wusfb_1880ccrv33xc_3849.html

  50. 柔らかく足を守り、毎日使っても長持ちする、エントリー用のクッション素材。
    鑷虎杌?銈裤偆銉?銉栥儶銈搞偣銉堛兂 http://www.miljogartneriet.no/wc-logs/ax70tvnvd_4937ylyy94op_0783.html

  51. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I
    provide credit and sources back to your website?

    My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Appreciate it!

    My site: tyler

  52. 上品なピンクの色合いが華やかでやさしい気持ちを誘う、母の日の感謝を込めるにふさわしい逸品。
    銉戙兗銈兗 銉溿儓銉偆銉炽偗 http://trilimousine.com/wp-includes/ID3/it18bswna_1246ibgq23tw_9296.html

  53. Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with after that you can write otherwise it is complex
    to write.

    My weblog: tyler perez riverside seo expert

  54. Hey there! I’ve been reading your weblog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter
    Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

    Feel free to visit my weblog – click here

  55. 2) 秘密キー変更後、速やかに新しい秘密キーを含んだ新しいアプリを既存ユーザに配布できるようご手配いただくこともし、hack行為によってお持ちのIDが不正利用されているにもかかわらず、秘密キーの変更が速やかに行われなかった場合、Product Advertising APIチームによってアカウントがロックまたは停止され、このIDを利用したアプリが一切動作しなくなる危険性がありますのでご注意くださいちょっと順を追って説明します。
    銈ゃ儷銉撱偩銉炽儐 閫氳博 http://trikkles.com/wp-content/uploads/8260vecx54vp_17yr44.html

  56. 横幅高さ 13036mm 重量 14g カーブ数 8 この製品のおすすめ天候・コンディション >>レンズカラー・天気チャート一覧 レンズ機能 可視光線透過率・・・33% 紫外線透過率・・・0.1%以下 偏光度・・・98%以上(Fit P) 素材・・・ポリカーボネート(ペトロイド)レンズ その他機能・・・高校野球対応モデル フレーム機能 形状・・・2眼(フレーム無) 素材・・・ナイロン その他機能・・・超軽量フレーム、ラバー素材でしっかりフィットするテンプルエンド > ※こちらの商品はメール便での発送ができません。
    ysl 璨″竷 http://www.buildgreen.ae/images/1327cabe27gk_37fq67.html

  57. May I just say what a comfort to discover somebody that really
    knows what they are discussing on the net. You certainly understand how to bring
    an issue to light and make it important. A lot more
    people ought to look at this and understand this
    side of your story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular because you definitely possess the gift.

    My web-site: perez

  58. This website certainly has all of the information and facts
    I needed about this subject and didn’t know who
    to ask.

    My web blog – water damage help

  59. アシックス(asics) レディゲルフェアリー6 TBF400 0143 【バスケットボール シューズ バッシュ レディース 女性用】スポーツ>バスケットボール>シューズ>アシックス【ポンパレモール/ポンパレ】。
    閲e叿daiwa http://izicap.com/wp-content/1512niff18ae_01ax07.html

  60. 【送料無料】asics(アシックス) TTP505 2301【ユニセックス・メンズ】HEATSPRINT FR 6(ヒートスプリント FR 6)陸上 シューズ
    銈搞儯銈兗銈ㄣ儍銈?iphone6plus http://www.jpmercier.com/wp-content/languages/py27yvhbi_4367wffc46ab_6948.html

  61. Wow! Simply awesome! Thanks so much for the info discussed! I recognize you have put a bunch of initiative right into this and I would like to inform you just how happy I am! There have to be a lot more blogs such as this on the net! I will certainly bookmark and also subscribe to your outstanding internet site! Hope you produced even more remarkable things in the soon and also I will certainly return and also read it! Keep up the magnum opus!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>