Having the right lens can really help to improve your photography and give you a real sense of creative control over what youre trying to achieve. But choosing the right lens can be a complicated task especially when terminology and categorisation of lenses between manufacturers isnt always consistent. As a camera and camera lens hire company we get a lot of people asking for advice about what type of lens they should hire for a particular job and we endeavour to provide them with consistent and practical advice to help them make the right decision.
To remove the mystery and help reduce confusion we adopt a relatively simple approach to the categorisation of lenses and we focus on focal length. The focal length of a lens determines its angle of view and therefore how much the subject will be magnified for a given photographic position. Wide-angle lenses have short focal lengths (e.g. 10-20mm) while telephoto lenses have longer focal lengths (e.g. 70-200mm).
The details below provides an overview of lens categorisation according to their focal length and an idea of what you might use that lens for. Please note that the focal lengths listed are just rough ranges and actual uses may vary considerably as people will use a lens that feels comfortable for them and it doesnt always fit into what is outlined below.
Lens focal length:
Lens focal length: 21-35mm. Category: Wide Angle. Photography style: Landscape.
Lens focal length: 35-70mm. Category: Normal. Photography style: Landscape, Weddings & Documentary.
Lens focal length: 70-130mm. Category: Medium Telephoto. Photography style: Portraiture.
Lens focal length: >130mm. Category: Telephoto. Photography style: Sports & Wildlife.
Of course there are always other factors to consider when choosing the right lens including cost, size, weight and lens speed, hopefully the information above will help reduce the confusion over what type of lens you might need.