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The lens of a camera is the easiest way for a photographer to manipulate the image that's projected onto a camera's imaging sensor. While anyone can take a simple photo, camera lenses are often what transform a shot into a truly artistic creation. Choose a lens that fits your style, budget, and type of camera, and learn how to maximize your photographic skills.

Different lenses support different types of photography, which is why photographers tend to carry so many. If you shoot both video and photos, you might consider a cine lens for shooting motion. If you photograph large areas, a large format lens may be a better choice.

Once you've decided on your type of lens, you'll also want to consider the aperture range of your lens. The aperture allows you to control the amount of the image that's in focus. The lower the f-stop number, the more control you'll have in using your lens.

Prime vs. Zoom Lens

A prime lens is one with a fixed focal length. These are considered a higher quality type of lens, which takes clearer photos. They're also lightweight and more affordable than a zoom lens. In comparison, zoom lenses provide more flexibility, and they're the more commonly sold type of camera lenses on the market today.

What Focal Length Should I Look For?

Focal length, measured in millimeters, is the distance from a camera's lens to the sensor inside it. Consider the type of photography you do when choosing your lens. If you're shooting objects that are far away, for example, you'll need a longer focal length lens, such as a telephoto lens. Lenses sold on the market as wide-angle often feature a focal length between 17mm and 40mm.

What Other Types of Lenses Are Available?

Other types of lenses are available to suit other aspects of visual photography. These include:

  • Fisheye lenses, with focal length of less than 15mm
  • Macro lenses, used for extreme close-up photography
  • Special effects lenses
  • Digital cinema lenses for shooting video
  • Medium and large format lenses, for shooting at various special sizes

Whatever your style of photography, you'll want to pick a lens that gives you the flexibility you need for the type of experiences you shoot.