Understanding the MM in your lenses, and what you might need:

When you first own your new dslr camera, most people buy it in a kit form, where it comes with one lens, strap, bag, camera, etc. And at first, most people don’t really understand all the numbers on their lenses. Today, I wanted to talk about 1 of the numbers on your lens, so that you understand it, what it can do, and what you might need next.

person holding film strip
35 mm film….. Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Back when we had 35mm film, the standard lens was then: 50mm. What defines the standard lens, or what I liked to call it, the “normal” lens? When I worked at a camera store, the one thing we used to tell people was, “your 50 mm lens, is about the same as what your eye sees. We would take the camera with the 50mm lens, hold it up so the customer could look through the lens, then bring it down, and look with your eye at the same subject, and then back with the 50mm lens on the camera, and you found that the lens was the same as your eye, as far as magnification. There was none with the 50 mm lens.

Today we have the digital camera. And the 50mm lenses you had for your 35mm film cameras are just not the same. Every time you change the format of a camera, you change the “standard lens” or normal lens. So, the normal lens for a dslr camera is: approximately 28mm. Why would I say approximately? Because it depends on the format of your new digital camera’s sensor. Ha, you thought they were all the same, but, they are not. There is an APS-H sensor, An APS -C sensor, a FoveonX3 sensor, and a Four-thirds sensor. You would have to look at the specs of your camera to find out which one it was. But, the normal lens for a APS-H sensor, for example is roughly 30- 38 mm, where a normal lens for an APS-C sensor is: 25-32, and so on.

For sake of making things easy, let’s say all cameras’ normal lenses are 28mm. So, when you look through this 28mm lens, it looks about the same as what your eye sees: no magnification, just the same thing. Now, let’s play with this number:

Anything greater than this 28 mm, will be a telephoto lens. Everything smaller than the 28mm lens, will be a wide angle. Now, look at this:

A 56 mm lens (or closest to that number) is double the magnification of your normal lens (28mm). Or in other words, the 56mm lens will pull something that you would normally see, twice as close to you now.
Architectural Photography on M4/3 - 9-18mm vs OM 28mm with shift adapter:  Micro Four Thirds Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
If 28mm lens is the new normal lens, then at 50mm (56mm is close enough), you also will lose the area that you would see, but, it would enlarge that area by double. And at 18 mm, or even 14mm, you would see twice the area as your normal lens.

Now, let’s look at other lenses. I have a lens that is 75-300mm. If we go by that magnification scale, it would be a lens that brings things closer by 3X to 9X magnification. At 300mm, that lens is now hard to handhold and get a sharp picture, unless I increase the shutter speed significantly. But, I have got used to putting my camera on a tripod when using this big lens.

Just for giggles: Olympus just announced a lens that will go from 300mm to 1000mm using the teleconverter it comes with.

The Olympus 300 – 1000mm lens is not for the faint of heart. The new super lens for sports and wildlife.
Focal Length and Angle of View — The Photo Video Guy

Notice in the diagram above, that by going from 28mm to 14mm you get twice the area in your image as the normal lens, even though the degrees of what you can see is going from 75 degrees to 114 degrees. Have you ever heard of a “Fish-eye” lens? Now, that is a super wide lens, and you get about a full 180 degree view. But, the lens may look like this:

Fisheye-Nikkor 6mm f/2.8 mounted on a Nikon F2 in the Nikon Museum.

You know what would make me nervous about using this lens, is you cannot protect the front element of your lens with a UV filter or Skylight filter. There is no way that it will fit.

The Squirrels 0048.jpg
And this is what your picture would look like with a fish-eye lens. A full 180 degrees. You can see the same sidewalk on both sides of the image.

Most camera manufactures today, make something called: A full-frame fish-eye lens:

Sigma 10 mm F2,8 EX DC HSM Fisheye.jpg
This is a “full Frame” fish-eye lens.
Image shot with a 16 mm full-frame fisheye lens before and after remapping to rectilinear perspective.
Conclusion:

A 28mm, is your normal lens, anything larger in number is a telephoto. A telephoto pulls things closer to you, much like binoculars do, only this is a single lens, pulling the image closer to you. A 280mm lens is 10X magnification.

Anything of a smaller number than 28mm is a wide angle, meaning it gives you “more angle” in your lens, and by so doing, pushes it back further. So, a 14 mm, would, theoretically give you twice the angle as your normal lens, but pushes your main subject back twice as far in order to get that angle.

Tomorrow: we will talk a bit about those other numbers on lenses, and why some are very desirable to have.
17-24mm
A wide angle lens is usually the best for scenery or landscape photos.

LENS HOOD! A VITAL PIECE OF CAMERA EQUIPMENT!

For those of you who have a DSLR camera or Mirrorless cameras, this one is especially for you. I used to work in a camera store, and one of the things our customers would ask me is: What can I do to make my pictures better? Well, I explained to them how many times people get something called “lens flare” and then described how it shows up on their photos. And “Bang”, they bought it every time.

You want better photos, don’t you? Then read this article by Brian Leng from Picture/Correct:

“What’s that weird thing on the front of your lens?” This is something I hear every time I teach a photo workshop. Well, you canʼt blame the students. They’re usually beginners, and since we were all beginners once, I try to cut them some slack.

lens hood
Various lens hoods

Lens hoods or lens shades are a vital piece of camera equipment that you must have on all lenses. Why? Because its main purpose is to prevent lens flare, which happens when you point your lens toward the sun at just the right angle. It looks like a series of translucent rings. Sometimes you’re able to see them through your eye piece and are able to change your angle, but most of the time they appear unexpectedly—and they arenʼt easy to Photoshop out.

A lens hood keeps the light from entering the lens from the sides and degrading the quality of your image. It helps improve the saturation, color, contrast, and density of the photograph.

Why do I have so many students come to class with “naked lenses”? The reason is simple—they arenʼt told that a lens hood is an essential piece of camera hardware for the production of quality images.

Lens hoods are also good protection for the front of the lens, keeping it safe from damage and fingerprints. The tulip shaped lens hoods are used on zoom lenses to accommodate the many focal lengths of the lens. Lens shades for fixed focal length lenses are not tulip shaped.

camera lens hoods
An example of lens flare

There are many different lens hoods produced by third party manufactures, which are less expensive than brand name equipment. They can be made out of plastic, metal, or rubber. Rubber lens hoods are ideal, because theyʼre best for shooting through glass; the rubber may adhere directly to the glass without slipping and thus reduce reflections. As an added bonus, rubber lens hoods can collapse to take up less room in a camera bag.

The most important thing to remember when buying a lens shade is to find one to correspond to your lens’ focal length. An incorrectly matched shade will produce “cut off” on the corners of your image, which is just as bad as lens flare, if not worse. The rim of the shade contains the necessary information for matching it to the lens. The shade will list the circumference of the corresponding lens in millimeters, and it will also show the focal length of the lens which the shade was designed to be used on.

Why some manufactures donʼt include a lens shade with the purchase of a new lens is beyond me, but what I find even more startling is that camera stores that donʼt recommend lens shades to their customers. Itʼs no wonder so many people fail to realize the necessity of this equipment. I personally have lens hoods or shades for all of my lenses and use them whether Iʼm photographing indoors or outdoors.

how a lens hood works
How light slips through the sides of the lens without a lens hood.

If youʼd like to improve the quality of your images, I highly recommend that you buy a shade for all of your lenses.

About the Author:
Brian Leng (calphotoworkshops) is a photography educator at Santa Monica College, Pasadena City College, and Glendale Community College. He leads photography workshops around the downtown Los Angeles area and hosts overnight workshops in many locations in the Southwest. He is a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography and has worked as a freelance photographer in Los Angeles for over 30 years.

Here are some examples of lens flair on photos:

lens flare as paranormal angel photos explained - NEW ZEALAND STRANGE  OCCURRENCES SOCIETY
Was this something paranormal, or lens flare. When the photo was first viewed, the author thought he caught a picture of an alien space ship, but in reality, it was just a lens flare (light, striking the front element of the lens)
This is hard to do, but, this photographer was purposely trying to get the light in the background, to create a special effect. And then when the photo came back, they noticed the lens flare on the right of the photo. AAAHHH
Shooting directly into the sun or some other light, you are playing with fire. It may seem really a good idea, but, you will almost always have lens flare, that could destroy your photo.

For Landscapes: wide angle or telephoto lens? How about both!!

An easy assumption to make, when shooting landscapes, is to use a wide-angle lens. After all, most landscape photographers favor wide-angle lenses for a reason: They naturally give you the widest view and allow you to get the full landscape into the frame, from the foreground to the horizon.

Wide-angle lenses also have the widest depth of field, so you get the whole landscape in focus. And their distortion enlarges objects in the foreground, letting you show off close-up details. The same distortion also emphasizes leading lines, enhancing your compositions and giving your image a more dynamic feel. But when you default to wide-angle glass, you miss many hidden opportunities offered by telephoto lenses.

Field of view: The whole and its parts

This is the most basic difference between the two lens types:

Wide lenses give you a wide view; telephoto lenses give you a narrow view.

And while landscapes look great in their entirety, it’s a good habit to take a moment and look for details. These details are beautiful elements of the landscape that might get shrunken or ignored in the expanse of a wide-angle image. This is where your telephoto lens comes in. Its narrow field of view is perfect for trimming the extra elements and for focusing on small, beautiful scenes like the curve of a mountain, a reflection in a far-off pond, or the silhouette of a tree.

WILLCK 2 YOSEMITE

In the two images above, you can see this in action. They were both taken from Olmstead point in Yosemite National Park, one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto.

In the first image, the wide-angle lens shows off the total landscape. It includes both sides of the valley, the up-close textures of the rocks, and the far-off peak of Half Dome. In the second image, the telephoto lens brings the eye right up to the mountains, showing off their shapes and the details of the geology.

Another pair of images (below) shows this effect even more dramatically. The first image is not just a wide-angle image, but an aerial shot as well, taken from a small airplane over the Okavango Delta in Botswana. From this vantage point, all of the individual elements of the landscape become incredibly small and your eyes pay more attention to their arrangement than their individual shapes. In the second image, also from the Okavango area but this time on the ground, a telephoto lens is used to draw attention to the beautiful curves of a single Acacia tree.

WILLCK 3 OKAVANGO wide
WILLCK 4 OKAVANGO tele

Depth of field: Focusing the eye

The second major difference between wide-angle and telephoto lenses is the innate size of their depth of field.

Put succinctly, the higher the focal length, the narrower the area of focus. In practice, this means that when shooting wide, it’s much easier for you to get everything in focus, from the grass at your feet to the ridge on the horizon. This is especially true when you’re trying to use your lens’s sharpest apertures (the so-called sweet spot).

However, a narrower depth of field is much better for isolating your subject from the background, and this is where your telephoto lens comes into play. Try shooting a close-up detail at a wide aperture, using the landscape as a nice, creamy bokeh backdrop.

WILLCK 5 FLATTOPS
WILLCK 6 DENVER

The two images above are perfect examples of this effect. In the first image, the wide-angle lens brings the whole landscape into focus, from the close-up sunflowers to the far-off mountains.

In the second image, shooting with a telephoto blurs out the flowers and mountains in the background, turning them into a nice soft background for the main sunflower.

Depth compression: Playing with size

It’s no secret that wide-angle lenses expand the sense of depth in an image by enlarging elements in the foreground and shrinking those in the back. This is great for creating images that make you feel like you could step right into the frame.

On the flip side, you run the risk of making towering, awesome mountains in the distance look like puny hills. Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, compress depth, causing objects near and far to appear more similar in size. A compressed sense of depth is great for abstracting a scene and bringing out its graphical qualities. Colorful forest canopies, layered mountain ridges, and curving sand dunes are all great subjects for this kind of shooting.

WILLCK 7 MICA

In the left image above, notice how the wide-angle lens exaggerates the size of the flowers in the foreground at the expense of the mountains in the background. The mountains are so tall that they’re shrouded in clouds, but the lens keeps them from looking quite as grand.

Pull out a telephoto lens, and you can zoom straight in on the mountain, showing off the contrast between the rugged outline of the peak and the soft wispy form of the cloud (right).

WILLCK 8 BIGBEND wide
WILLCK 9 BIGBEND tele

Here are two more images, both taken at the same location in Big Bend National Park, that show off this effect. In the first image, you can see that the wide-angle lens increases the size of the plants and rocks in the foreground while shrinking the large desert mountains in the background. In the second image, a telephoto lens flattens out the depth of the many desert ridges, calling attention to their graphic patterns and outlines.

Summary: Space versus object

Have a hard time remembering all these details? Here’s an easy way to summarize it with a simple idea:

Wide-angle lenses show off space, telephotos show off objects.

The wide-angle lens’s big field of view, ease of uniform focus, and depth-distorting abilities are great at showing off big, expansive landscapes. However, they take focus away from individual elements within the landscape in favor of showing the whole. Telephoto lenses are naturally the opposite: they’re great at showing off the size, shape, and intricacy, of detail of individual elements within the landscape. But their narrow field of view, small depth of field, and depth-compressing qualities make it hard to capture the landscape as a whole.

WILLCK 10 WILLOW wide

You can analyze this pair of images to see exactly how all of these techniques work together. Starting with the photo above, you can see how the wide-angle lens fits the whole landscape into the frame, from close-up rocks to far off peaks and sky. Because of the lens’s large depth of field, the whole landscape is in acceptable focus as well. The lens’s depth distortion is readily apparent, as well: the foreground rocks look very large, creating a pleasing sense of depth, and emphasizing the leading lines that draw the eye from the edges of the frame to the center. Overall, you get a very good sense of the space and the expansiveness of the valley.

WILLCK 11 WILLOW tele

This image was taken in the same place, but the use of a telephoto lens captures it in a very different way. The photo brings out a single element of the landscape; look closely and you can see this peak in the previous image on the top right. It allows the viewer to appreciate its subtle details.

Because of the telephoto lens’s narrow depth of field, the sky is slightly out-of-focus while leaving the details of the peak itself perfectly sharp. And most of all, the compressed sense of depth flattens the image, showing off the rocky mass of the mountain, and calling attention to the beautiful curve of the ridgeline. Overall, you get a great sense of the mountain as a solid object, rather than a bounded space.

When to shoot what?

The best way to know which lens to use is to get out there, look, and think. What part of the landscape are you most drawn to? Does the landscape’s expansiveness give it its character? Are there stunning details surrounded by less photogenic elements? Are you shooting spaces or objects?

WILLCK 12 ZODIAC

That said, my personal strategy is to just shoot both, because almost any landscape has enough beauty that just one type of lens isn’t enough to get to all of it.

The post Wide Angle Versus Telephoto Lenses for Beautiful Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Will Crites-Krumm.