All About Lenses – Lens Types and Focal Length Explained

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Here’s a couple of great videos that are chock full of outstanding information about lens types and how to use them.

The first video (above) is from pentaxian1 on YouTube, professional travel photographer, Kerrick James talks about virtually every kind of camera lens, what they do, and how to pick a lens that is right for your photography and vision.   Although the video is technically about Pentax Lenses only, the information James conveys can apply to lenses from all manufacturers.

In the video below, from photographer Mike Browne on YouTube, Mike explains that “the best ‘zoom’ lens is your feet! Why? Because changing focal length on your lens also changes how your photo will look.”

Mike writes…

“Once you know in what way different focal lengths (or zooms) will affect your images – you can begin choosing a zoom setting because of creative reasons rather than simply zooming in and out hoping it’ll look good.

Obviously as you increase focal length (zoom) magnification makes everything come closer – and this is where your feet come in. As you increase length you may have to move back depending on what the subject of your image is.

In this video I’m going to take the exact same portrait of Tasha over and over again at different focal lengths, starting at 10mm and ending at 500mm. BUT I’m being very careful to compose the picture identically each time I change my focal length. The impact on the finished image is extraordinary – watch for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.”

See more excellent videos from Mike and his partner, Jayne on their Photography Tutorial Website Here.


Here are some of our Favorite Prime and Zoom Lenses

Micro 4/3

Hands down, the largest selection of high quality lenses of any mirrorless camera category.

Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 and 35-100mm 2.8 Pro spec Zoom Lens

One of 2 new lenses released by Panasonic towards the end of 2012 that are garnering a lot of attention in the digital imaging world, and rightfully so.  This lens, along with the 12-35mm 2.8 lens (below) deliver superb quality in a small, light package.  They’re weather sealed and can cover a broad range of focal lengths while maintaining a constant aperture of f/2.8.  Slap one of these babies on a Panasonic Lumix GH3 or an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and it’s easy to see why DSLR makers are sweating.

Panasonic 7-14mm 4.0 Wide angle Zoom Lens

This is the cream of the crop for wide angle zooms.

Panasonic 8mm 3.5 Fisheye lens

This great, Ultra-Wide angles lens from Panasonic is the go-to fisheye for m43 shooters.  It’s fast focusing and delivers stellar image quality.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm 2.0

One of our favorite wide angle lenses.  It’s high quality through and through, and one of the reasoms why we’re fans of Olympus’ M.Zuiko Lens Lineup.

Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm 1.8 Wide Angle Lens

Another exception M.Zuiko Lens.  It’s bright and fast and delivers high IQ.

Panasonic 20mm 1.7

This should be one of the staple lenses in any M43 shooters camera bag.  This is a great all purpose lens that delivers in both still photo and video IQ

Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 DG Summilux

This is the micro 4/3 version of the “nifty fifty” – only better – and it delivers every bit of quality that the “Leica Summilux” name would suggest.

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8

This one is another “must have” M43 lens.  Great for portraits and it produces high quality images from the center of the lens to the edges.

Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm 2.8 Macro Lens

One of the best macro lenses in existence.

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm 1.8

Like the smaller 45mm M.Zuiko lens, this one delivers sharp images from the center to the edges.

Bargain Primes

Here are a few of the best lenses made by 3rd party manufacturers. Great lenses at a bargain price!

Rokinon 7.5mm 3.5 Fisheye lens

One of the great 3rd party lenses for M43 cameras.  A great alternative for those who aren’t afraid of manual focus.

Sigma 19mm 2.8

Don’t let the price fool you.  This lens and it’s 30mm sibling (below) are two of the best prime lenses that you’ll find in the M43 range.

Sigma 30mm 2.8

**NOTE** The Sigma lenses have been discontinued and will soon be replaced by updated versions in Sigma’s new “Art” lens lineup, which are supposed to be higher end lenses. That being said, these two lenses are great. I have both and they produce sharp, clear images and the focus is lightning fast (and quiet too, so they’re good for video). If you can still get these, I highly recommend snapping ’em up. — SG

Best Cheap Lens That You’ll Ever Love

If you’re looking for a fun little manual focus lens, you can’t go wrong with a C-Mount lens (with micro 4/3 adapter). These little beasties were originally made for 16mm film cameras and have also been used used as closed circuit tv lenses, but they adapt extremely well to micro 4/3 cameras. They’re very similar (almost identical) to the specialty SLR Magic lenses that sell for hundreds of dollars, and the best part… you can get one for about $30 USD! (Learn more here)

Rainbow Imaging 35mm 1.7 TV/Movie Lens with micro 4/3 adapter

Fuji X-Series Lenses

For the Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji X-E1.  Not a lot of lenses to choose from yet, but the ones that Fuji do have are superb, and they’re priced just right too!

See all X-Series Lenses Here


Sony NEX Lenses (E-Mount)

Best lenses for Sony’s breakthrough new cameras, the NEX 5R and NEX 6

Sony 24mm 1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar Lens

The best NEX Lens to date.  Worthy of the Zeiss name in every way.

Sony 35mm 1.8

Renders excellent, sharp images with smooth bokeh.

NEX Bargain Lenses

Sigma 19mm 2.8 and Sigma 30mm 2.8

Same as the excellent Sigma lenses listed above under Micro 4/3, but these are specially designed for Sony NEX Camera – and they’re some of the best lenses you’ll find for this popular Sony camera line.


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