Camera Lens Essential II

Passion Project Day 6

Camera Lens Essential II

The first episode gives a quick overview of what a good lens means, but knowing the specification of a good lens is far from enough. Excellent photographers are also proficient in choosing lenses based on different situations.

Most of the online articles about lens selection make a long list of situations with its corresponding lens suggestions, which is tedious and ineffective because you don’t know why or in which way a particular type of lens is good at.

So, I want to adopt a quicker and more efficient way, by giving a broader view of two categories: prime lens and zoom lens situation.

Why Prime lens?

A major reason why photographers use prime lens is to create the blurry effect. With a blurry background, photo’s main object perfectly stands out and attracts audiences’ attention.

There are two ways to create the blurry effect.

The first one is through a large aperture.

Nikon D500 AF-S 50mm f/1.8G © 2017 Leon Liu, Jianle

The second one is through the telephoto focal length.

Nikon D500 AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G © 2017 Leon Liu, Jianle

Because prime lens can create such a strong sense of depth that distinguishes the main object from the background, photographers use prime lenses for portrait and sports.

Nikon 105mm f/1.4G © Drew Gurian

The commonly-used portrait lens is 85mm f/1.4 or 105mm f/1.4. Both of them are large apertures, prime telephoto lenses.

Nikon 300mm f/4G © Robert Bösch

The go-to lens for many sports and wildlife photographer is 300mm f/4.


Nikon 20mm f/1.8G © Nasim Mansurov


Prime lens such as 20mm f/1.8 is also used for landscape and street photography. Because of its large aperture, the lens works pretty well in low light situation.


Nikon 35mm f/1.4G © Nasim Mansurov


35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 are the most well-round prime lens because its focal length is neither too wide nor too zoom. They can be used for street, portrait, and landscape photos.

Why Zoom lens?

A practical reason is that it is convenient. You can zoom in to shoot objects meters away but also can zoom out to shoot objects beside you.


Nikon 24-120mm f/4G © Nasim Mansurov

One of the best-values Nikon zoom lenses is 24-120mm f/4G. The lens features a focal length from wide-angle to a moderate telephoto range and a fixed aperture (professional lens standard). Although its aperture is not as large as the professional standard zoom lens of the Hebrew Trinity 24-70mm f/2.8G, 24-120mm f/4G features a wider focal range and, more importantly, a much reasonable price!! (600USD rather than 2400USD).

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