The ability to change the lens on a Digital SLR (DSLR) or mirrorless compact camera opens up a world of creative possibilities. Thanks to advances in lens manufacture it's never been easier to pick up an ultra-wide zoom, fast prime or long telephoto. High resolutions, bigger zoom ranges and faster auto-focussing mechanisms are emerging every few months.
Smartphone cameras are great for capturing moments of daily life, but you need quality lenses if you're serious about photography. A digital camera's sensor is one of the key components in terms of image quality, but it's the lens in front of it that really makes a difference. The following photography tips will help you to understand how different lenses can be used for creative effects.
“ Lenses with longer focal lengths can create more extreme bokeh, and backgrounds can be reduced to abstract colors.”
Filling the frame with the main subject is a powerful way to create impact in a photograph. For example, a tightly-cropped shot of a smiling face makes a great portrait picture. A zoom lens allows you to experiment with composition and placement of subjects within an image without having to move closer. Zooming to a longer focal length also reduces the depth of field in a photograph, so you can isolate a subject against a blurred background.
Images of the petals on a flower or the intricate patterns on an insect's wings can be highly effective. Macro lenses allow you to capture these kinds of pictures, and it's a very rewarding field of photography. One of the great things about macro photography is that you don't need to travel or find locations. A couple of lights can be useful, but you don't need a full studio set up. Macro lenses aren't just for close-up work. The sharpness and wide aperture means they are also great for portraits and other subjects.
A pin-sharp subject against a blurred background can make a stunning photograph. This is often referred to as the 'bokeh effect.' Smartphone apps are available to create bokeh, but a fast digital camera lens with an aperture of 1.8 or 1.4 is far superior. Lenses with longer focal lengths can create more extreme bokeh, and backgrounds can be reduced to abstract colors. Circles of light behind a subject can also be created using fast lenses.
Telephoto lenses allow you to bring far away objects close. They open up new fields of photography, including nature and sport, and compress perspective in pictures creating a graphic effect. Longer telephoto lenses can also be used to capture shots of the moon. A tripod capable of supporting the weight of your camera when fitted with a telephoto lens helps to ensure image sharpness.
Ultra-wide lenses, often called "fisheye" lenses, distort the world to create unique images. The fisheye effect distorts leading lines and creates shapes and perspectives the human eye would never otherwise see. Used creatively, an ultra-wide lens is great for landscapes, street photography and shots of city skylines. The fisheye effect isn't flattering for portraits as it exaggerates the nose and distorts facial features, but it works well for creating caricatures.
The so-called "kit" lenses supplied with most digital cameras as standard are fine for general use, but the option to switch to others takes photography to another level.
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