Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses

The post Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

 

Canon-reveals-RF-lensesCanon has announced two new lenses for its mirrorless lineup:

The RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS.

Let’s take a closer look:

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L Lens

Canon-reveals-RF-lenses

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L offers a classic focal length that’s useful for pretty much everything.

You’ll find a 70-200mm in practically every landscape photographer’s bag for those tight shots that require a longer focal length. Portrait photographers like 70-200mm lenses for their headshot capabilities. Sports photographers love the focal length for powerful action shots. And event photographers appreciate the way a fast 70-200mm zoom lets them shoot without getting in the way.

Up until now, Canon hasn’t produced a lens in this focal length range, unless you count the RF 24-240mm, which is nowhere near as fast as the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L, nor does it have the ‘L’ lens designation. Therefore, many of Canon’s serious mirrorless shooters will jump at the chance to add such a powerful lens to their bags.

Note that the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L seems specially designed for low-light shooters: A combination of an ultra-wide f/2.8 aperture and Canon’s image stabilization technology makes this a formidable piece of kit for any low-light shooting scenario.

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L will debut in November 2019 for $2699 USD.

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS Lens

Canon-reveals-RF-lenses

Canon already offers an RF 85mm f/1.2L lens, so what makes this lens stand apart?

The new RF 85mm lens is designed with a brand new DS coating, known as Defocus Smoothing. The DS coating promises a smoother bokeh effect when shooting at wide apertures by darkening the edges of lens elements. While this serves to create a beautiful background quality, it also decreases light transmittance, so you do lose a bit of the light-gathering capabilities that you generally expect from an f/1.2 lens.

That said, the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS is bound to be appreciated by portrait photographers. With the DS coating, you’ll be able to capture some of the creamiest bokeh you’ve ever seen, while the f/1.2 aperture is perfect for creating a beautiful shallow depth-of-field look.

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS will debut in December 2019 for $2999 USD.

Do these lenses excite you? Will you add them to your line-up? Share with us in the comments below.

The post Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Five Foot Lens and 3.2 Gigapixel Camera Produced for Night Sky Photos

The post Five Foot Lens and 3.2 Gigapixel Camera Produced for Night Sky Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Image: L1 Lens of the camera polished and coated with a broadband antireflective coating by Safran-R...

L1 Lens of the camera polished and coated with a broadband antireflective coating by Safran-Reosc. LSST Project/NSF/AURA.

Last month, engineers packaged up the largest optical lens ever created, before shipping it 17 hours from Tuscon, Arizona to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in central California.

The lens is five feet in diameter and four inches thick; it required a truck to transport it. It was attached to an additional (3.9 foot) lens element when shipped, and it will soon be followed by another.

Together, these three lens elements will be mounted to a camera that, when finished, will be the largest digital camera in existence. And the camera-lens duo will ultimately be attached to a telescope: the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is over ten years in the making.

Note that the camera itself is constructed out of 189 sensors which, when combined, will create pictures of an astonishing size: 3.2 gigapixels. It’s still in production at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, but will likely be finished in 2021. The cost of the camera alone is a whopping $168 million dollars.

The purpose of this huge setup is to capture detailed photos of the night sky. The full telescope will be placed on Cherro Pachon mountain in Chile, where the camera will take exposures at 20-second intervals.

As explained in a press release by one of the laboratories involved in the lens construction:

This data will help researchers better understand dark matter and dark energy, which together make up 95 percent of the universe, but whose makeup remains unknown, as well as study the formation of galaxies, track potentially hazardous asteroids and observe exploding stars.

We recently reported on Xiaomi’s 108-megapixel smartphone, with its wrap-around screen, but a 3.2-gigapixel camera blows this out of the water. Even a recently announced security camera, which made waves when it was unveiled at the China International Industry Fair, topped out at 500 megapixels. Equipped with facial recognition technology, there are major privacy concerns when it comes to how this may be used in a country that already heavily monitors its citizens.

But, the high resolution of these cameras does bring to light something that is conveniently forgotten by tech advertisers: More megapixels will only produce greater detail if you have a lens that can resolve that detail. If your lens can only resolve 12 megapixels worth of detail, then you’re not going to gain from slapping a 108-megapixel sensor onto the camera. That’s why the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope requires ultra-precise optics if scientists want to gather meaningful data.

Of course, you don’t need a lens costing millions of dollars to produce highly-detailed 108-megapixel photos. But my suspicion is that the current optics used by smartphones (Xiaomi, but also Huawei, Apple, and Google) just aren’t up to the task of generating 108-megapixel photos.

So don’t fall prey to the megapixel myth. And keep your eye out for photos from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope!

What are your thoughts on these new lenses and cameras? Share with us in the comments!

The post Five Foot Lens and 3.2 Gigapixel Camera Produced for Night Sky Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

788 Tricks of the Press Photographers

Let’s look at how a spaghetti strainer can help you learn about photography. There are three new and probably a bit exotic lenses on the horizon and Chris explains what they are good for. He also looks at the tricks of the press photographers to help you take better hand-held low light shots.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 788 Tricks of the Press Photographers appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

788 Tricks of the Press Photographers

Let’s look at how a spaghetti strainer can help you learn about photography. There are three new and probably a bit exotic lenses on the horizon and Chris explains what they are good for. He also looks at the tricks of the press photographers to help you take better hand-held low light shots.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 788 Tricks of the Press Photographers appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

783 Why are Lenses Round?

On this quick-fire question and answer episode, Andy wonders why lenses are round and Chris talks about how lenses are made and how the round shape makes most sense. John has a LR workflow question and Mark is curious about digital medium format. Chris goes into detail on why medium format isn’t clearly defined and on the differences between film medium format and digital medium format.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Links:

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 783 Why are Lenses Round? appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

781 Physical Backups

This episode features questions on broken links, printing your photos as a physical backup, the whereabouts of the Marquardt International Pinhole project, lens elements and groups and an SD card tester for Windows.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Links:

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 781 Physical Backups appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

Let’s Get Up Close with Extension Tubes

If you want to get up close to your subject, closer than you can by setting your lens to its minimum focusing distance, then extension tubes are an excellent way of doing so.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

When you turn the focusing ring of your lens away from infinity, the front element moves out from the lens body. The distance between the front element and the sensor (or film) plane is called extension. When your lens is set to its minimum focusing distance, the front element can move no further forward. You have reached the limit of the lens’s design.

An extension tube is a hollow tube that fits between your lens and camera body. It moves the lens further away, increasing the extension of the front element. In turn, this lets you move the lens closer to the subject, increasing magnification, and in some cases even matching the 1:1 magnification of a true macro lens.

This is the Fujifilm MC-EX 16 extension tube that I use. The electrical contacts, that allow the lens and camera body to communicate, are visible at the back (more on the importance of this later).

Extension tubes and close-up photography

This is the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens mounted to an X-Pro 1 camera. The distance between the front lens element and the sensor plane is the extension. This figure helps determine the closest point the lens can focus on (in this case 28cm), and subsequently the magnification.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

Below is the same lens with the MC-EX 16 extension tube added. You can see that the front element of the lens is now 16mm further away from the sensor plane. Now the lens can focus on a much closer point.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

Extension tubes versus macro lenses

Extension tubes are a great tool, but for the best possible optical quality and the most versatility you should choose a macro lens if you can. The reason for this is that increasing the extension of a non-macro lens means that you are using it outside the limits it is designed to work within. Macro lenses, on the other hand, are designed to give their peak optical performance at close focusing distances. They can also focus at infinity – whereas a lens fitted with an extension tube cannot.

The main benefit of extension tubes is that they are small and light. You can carry them around in case you need them, and leave your macro lens (if you have one) at home. They are ideal for anybody who travels a lot, or who wants to keep the weight of their camera bag down.

Cheap extension tubes versus good quality ones

You can buy inexpensive extension tubes from Amazon or eBay. These may look like a great deal but they break the electrical connection between your camera and the lens. If your lens has an electronically controlled aperture that means, you can’t stop the lens down. The camera also can’t record the aperture setting in the EXIF data.

Your camera will still work, and meter the subject to give you the correct exposure. But, given that depth of field at the widest aperture is incredibly narrow, and that you need to stop down to improve image quality, these cheap extension tubes are not of much practical use. They are only useful if you have a lens with a manual aperture ring.

The best ones to buy are those made by your camera manufacturer, or by a third party like Kenko or Vivitar, who make extension tubes that maintain the electronic connection between lens and camera. There is usually a choice of two sizes. The widest will get you closer, and the narrowest will come in useful when you don’t need to be quite so close. You may want to start off buying one or the other, but will probably end up buying both to cope with different situations.

Extension tubes and magnification

Extension tubes are most effective when used with lenses of focal lengths between 24-100mm. They are not so effective when used with telephoto lenses (for these, use a close-up lens). You can’t use an extension tube with some wide-angle lenses as it becomes impossible to focus with it fitted.

To see how much magnification an extension tube will give you with a specific lens, check the specifications on B&H Photo Video (United States) or Wex Photographic (UK). You may also be able to find the information on the manufacturer’s website. The instruction sheet that comes with the extension tubes also has this information, and you may be able to find a copy online.

There’s an easy formula for calculating how much extra magnification an extension tube will give you:

Increase in magnification = extension distance/lens focal length

For example, my Fujinon 35mm f1.4 lens has a magnification of 0.17x at its closest focusing distance of 28cm (I found this information in the spec sheet). Adding a 16mm extension tube means the increase in magnification is 0.45 (16/35), giving a total of 0.62x (0.45 + 0.17). This figure is a little academic, but it’s useful for evaluating whether you can add an extension tube to your lens and reach the 1:1 (1x) magnification, offered by most macro lenses.

Extension tubes in action

These photos show you how much difference an extension tube can make.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

This first image was taken with my 35mm lens. This is the closest I could get to the flowers.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

This was taken with the 35mm lens plus 16mm extension tube. Look at the difference.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

This photo was taken with a Canon 85mm lens fitted with a 12mm extension tube.

Extension tubes and close-up photography

This was taken with the same lens fitted with a 25mm extension tube. It shows the huge difference a different sized tube makes to the magnification.

Your turn

Do you own an extension tube? Which ones do you have and how useful are they? Let us know in the comments, it will be useful for other readers who are thinking about buying some.


Mastering PhotographyMastering Photography ebook by Andrew S. Gibson

My ebook Mastering Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Using Digital Cameras teaches you how to take your camera off automatic so you can take control and start creating the photos you see in your mind’s eye. Click the link to learn more or buy.

The post Let’s Get Up Close with Extension Tubes by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

4 Things You Should Know About Focal Length and Composition

Lenses are the eye of your camera. The focal length of a lens (and your point of view) determine how much of the subject your camera sees.

You may already be familiar with the basics, and understand the difference between, say, wide-angle and telephoto lenses, but let’s dive into the the topic a little deeper to see what’s really going on.

focal length and composition

There are four fundamental things to know and understand about the focal length and composition.

1. Focal length is not as important as field-of-view

There are two factors that determine the field-of-view of a lens:

  1. The focal length.
  2. The digital sensor or film size

Field-of-view (sometimes called angle-of-view) is far more important than focal length, because it tells you how much of the scene the lens sees. However, as field-of-view changes according to sensor size, manufacturers tell us the focal length instead. Focal length is a fixed measurement that doesn’t change (it is literally the distance from the middle of the lens to the focal plane, which is the sensor).

Here are some practical examples.

Example #1 – 50mm prime lens

A 50mm prime lens has a field-of-view of 47 degrees on a full-frame camera. This field-of-view approximates what we see with our own eyes. But what happens when you put the 50mm lens on an APS-C camera (crop factor of 1.6x)? The crop factor of the smaller sensor means that the lens now has a field-of-view of around 30 degrees, making it a short telephoto lens.

This change in field-of-view means that you have to move further away from your subject in order to fit it in the frame, which also changes the perspective (giving the compressed effect that characterizes short telephoto lenses).

If you want the equivalent of a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera you need to use a focal length of around 31mm, as it has the same field-of-view (47 degrees).

A prime lens with that focal length doesn’t exist (you could choose between a 28mm or a 35mm depending on whether you wanted a slightly wider or a tighter field-of-view), but you can set that focal length if you have a zoom.

focal length and composition

50mm lens, full-frame camera. The lens has a field-of-view of 47 degrees.

focal length and composition

50mm lens, APS-C camera. The same lens has a field of view of 30 degrees with this camera.

Example #2 – 21mm lens

The same applies to wide-angle lenses. A 21mm prime lens has a field-of-view of around 92 degrees. That’s a nice wide field-of-view ideal for landscape photography, or creating images with dramatic perspective.

But put it on an APS-C camera the field of view narrows to around 65 degrees. It’s still a wide-angle, but the effect is much more moderate. It now has nearly the same field-of-view as a 35mm lens does on a full-frame camera

To get the same field-of-view as the 21mm lens (on a full frame) you would use a 14mm lens (on an APS-C camera).

focal length and composition

This photo was taken with a 14mm lens on an APS-C camera. It has the same field-of-view as a 21mm lens does on a full-frame camera.

Example #3 – 16mm lenses

It’s even possible to have two lenses with the same focal length, but different fields-of-view (on the same camera).

A 16mm wide-angle lens has a field-of-view of 107 degrees – but a 16mm fisheye has a field-of-view of 180 degrees.

They have the same focal length but each one is designed for a different purpose. The 16mm wide-angle is designed to keep straight lines straight. The fisheye doesn’t try to do that, and as a result has a much wider field-of-view.

This table shows the field-of-view of common focal lengths with full-frame, APS-C and micro four-thirds cameras.

focal length and composition

The next points explore the relationship between field-of-view and composition.

2. Wide-angle lenses are lenses of inclusion

You can think of any lens with a field-of-view wider than around 63 degrees as being a wide-angle. That’s 35mm or shorter on a full-frame camera, 20mm on APS-C, and around 18mm on micro four-thirds.

Wide-angle lenses have two characteristics that affect composition:

  1. The wide field-of-view means that you have to move in close to your subject to fill the frame. But, at the same time wide-angle lenses also include quite a bit of the background. The shorter the focal length, the closer you need to get, and the more background is included.
  2. Wide-angle lenses also appear to have more depth-of-field at any given aperture setting than longer focal lengths (they actually don’t, it has to do with lens to subject distance which also changes with focal length).

These two factors combine to make wide-angle lenses, ones of inclusion. You can always fit more into the frame with a wide-angle lens, no matter how close you get to your subject. The background is also more likely to appear more in focus, than it is with longer focal lengths. Getting in close, creates the dramatic perspective that some photographers love. It emphasizes line, and creates a sense of depth, that images taken with longer focal lengths can lack.

The slightest change in your point of view makes a dramatic difference to the composition of the photo. The shorter the focal length, the more this applies. As wide-angle lenses include so much background it can be difficult to simplify the composition and remove all distractions. There’s no way around it, it’s just a characteristic you have to embrace.

focal length and composition

This photo, taken with an 18mm lens (APS-C), includes the buildings, the city wall, the reflection in the water, the city trees disappearing into the distance, and keeps everything in sharp focus.

3. Telephoto lenses are lenses of exclusion

A telephoto lens is one that has a field-of-view of around 30 degrees or less. That’s around 85mm or longer on a full-frame camera, 50mm on an APS-C camera, and 40mm on micro four-thirds.

Telephoto lenses are ones of exclusion. They have a narrow field-of-view. Fill the frame with your subject, and you won’t get much background in at all. It is also easy to throw the background out of focus by using a wide aperture, and making sure there is sufficient distance between your subject and the background.

focal length and composition

This photo, taken with a 50-150mm lens set to 72 mm (APS-C), shows the woman’s hands and the textiles she is selling. There is not much in the background at all.

4. Normal lenses occupy the middle ground

Normal lenses, those with a field-of-view somewhere around 55 degrees, occupy the middle ground between wide-angle and telephoto. They don’t create images with the dramatic perspective that you can obtain with a wide-angle, nor do they exclude the background to the same extent as telephotos.

If you have a normal prime lens you can open the aperture up to defocus the background, sometimes quite dramatically if you get close enough to the subject. But, you can also often stop down enough to get everything within the frame in focus.

focal length and composition

I took this photo with a 35mm lens, a normal lens on an APS-C camera. It lacks the dramatic perspective, and wide field-of-view of the photos taken with wide-angle lenses. But it includes more of the background and shows less compression than the photos taken with telephoto lenses.

Your turn

Can you think of anything else that photographers ought to know about focal length, field-of-view, and composition? If so, please let us know in the comments. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Note: this is the second in a series of articles on dPS this week talking about composition. See: Using Framing for More Effective Compositions and look for more over the next few days.


Mastering Composition ebookMastering Composition

My new ebook Mastering Composition will help you learn to see and compose photos better. It takes you on a journey beyond the rule of thirds, exploring the principles of composition you need to understand in order to make beautiful imag

The post 4 Things You Should Know About Focal Length and Composition by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Which Three Lenses do You Need for Photography?

Camera lenses

I used an 85mm lens fitted with a 500D close-up lens to create this photo of a Chinese Water Dragon.

Two things occurred to me When I read Phillip VanNostrand’s article The Only Three Lenses You Need for Travel Photography. One, is that his choice of lenses would not be my choice. Two, is that you cannot recommend three lenses for every photographer to use, as everybody’s requirements are different.

Imagine if you went to a showroom to buy a new car and the salesperson said “Sir, the only car for you is a Ford Focus”. Fine, if that’s the car you happen to want. But how annoying would it be if the salesperson insisted that you should buy a Ford Focus if it didn’t fit your needs?

A professional would establish your requirements first by asking you questions. How many miles do you drive a year? How many people does the car need to transport? Do you need lots of storage space? How important is fuel economy? Safety? What is your budget? And so on. When the answers to are known, the salesperson can make a recommendation.

It’s the same for lenses. My needs are different from yours because we are different people with different priorities and requirements.

Please don’t take this as a criticism of Phillip’s article (which is a great read, and the comments are fascinating). I learned this lesson when I wrote my article Buyers’ Guide – Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses in which I came down in favour of primes (my personal preference). Some readers quite correctly pointed out that the convenience of zooms makes them invaluable in certain situations. I realized that I was imposing my preferences on other people.

The three lenses I couldn’t do without

So here’s my question. If you could only own three lenses, which ones would they be? That’s right, three lenses to cover you for all the types of photography that you do. And, taking it further, if you could only own one lens, which one would you choose?

It’s a hypothetical question for most, as we are free to buy as many lenses as we like. But there is a semi-serious point behind it. Creativity works best within constraints, and limiting your lens collection to three is certainly a constraint. Also, it is possible to put together a good selection of three lenses that cover you for most situations on a limited budget – there is no need to spend many thousands of dollars on expensive glass if you can’t afford, or don’t want to.

Before you give your answer, have a think about your requirements, because they will drive your choice of lenses. These are my requirements:

  • My lenses must be light and relatively small. I don’t want to carry around a large, heavy bag full of gear.
  • My lenses must be good value for money. I don’t have a budget as such but when I buy a lens I need to know that I will use it a lot, it will last for decades and that I won’t have buyer’s remorse.
  • The autofocus must be reasonably quick and quiet.

To get the debate started, here’s my choice of three lenses, in order of preference. Bear in mind that I’m a Canon user so that naturally influences my choice of lens, and that I use a full-frame camera.

85mm f/1.8 lens

This is my favourite lens. I use the 85mm f/1.8 for portraits, close-up photos and landscapes that benefit from selective framing and compression. It’s light, relatively inexpensive and the image quality is excellent. The only weakness of this lens is that the minimum focusing distance is 85cm (2.8 feet), so it is not so good for close-up photography. I get around that by attaching a 500D close-up lens (this is technically a lens, although I think of it as a filter and I’m not including it in my choice of three) which gives me excellent quality for close-up images as long as I stop down to f/2.8 or smaller.

Camera lenses

The 85mm f/1.8 lens is ideal for portraits, especially those taken in low light, like this one.

Camera lenses

The 500D close-up lens that I use with my 85mm lens for close-up photography.

40mm f/2.8 pancake lens

While I love the quality and versatility of 50mm prime lenses, they are too middle of the road in terms of focal length for me to include one in my choice of three. Instead, I’m selecting the Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. I love this lens because it is extremely small and has high image quality. On my full-frame camera the focal length sits on the borderline between wide-angle and normal focal lengths, and turns out to be a surprisingly useful focal length. I use this lens a lot and I love it.

Camera lenses

The 40mm lens is ideal for scenic photos like this.

Camera lenses

The 40mm lens is also idea for photos where the composition demands a gentle wide-angle, in this case for the converging verticals effect created by shooting from a low viewpoint.

24mm f/2.8 IS lens

This is the newest addition to my lens collection and while I’m still getting to know it, the 24mm f/2.8 become one of my favourites. There’s something special about the 24mm focal length - it’s ideal for landscapes and scenic photos without being too wide. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is a little limiting (I like to experiment with wide apertures for creative effect) but I can live with it as the lens is much lighter, cheaper and smaller than the Canon 24mm f/1.4L lens.

Another thing I like about it is the Image Stabilizer (IS). Theoretically with this engaged I can handhold the camera at shutter speeds down to around 1/2 second and still get sharp images. Yet anything moving within the frame will record as a blur – lots of creative potential there.

Camera lenses

The 24mm lens is great for environmental portraiture, where you want to show you subject and include a dramatic background.

If I had to chose just one of these lenses, what a difficult decision! If I could only ever have one lens, and it had to be one of these three, I think I would go for the 85mm f/1.8. Otherwise I would go for something like the Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens. It’s bigger and heavier than my primes but it covers a very useful set of focal lengths.

Your choice

Now it’s your turn. If you could only own three camera lenses, which ones would they be? If you could only own one lens, which would you choose?  Please let us know why. What are your personal requirements? It should make for an interesting discussion.


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Understanding Lenses ebooks

My ebooks Understanding Lenses Part I and Understanding Lenses Part II will help Canon EOS owners decide what lenses to buy for their cameras. They are both filled with lots of tips to getting the most out of your Canon lenses. Click the links to learn more.

 

The post Which Three Lenses do You Need for Photography? by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Simplify and Improve Composition with Normal or Long Lenses

Telephoto lenses and composition

Andrew S. Gibson is the author of Understanding Lenses Part II: A Guide to Canon Normal & Telephoto Lenses, special deal on now 40% off at Snapndeals for a limited time only.

Wide-Angle Lenses

A potential issue with wide-angle lenses is that you try to include too much information in the frame. It takes real skill to create a strong composition with lenses that have a wide field-of-view. It is easier with normal and telephoto lenses, because you can utilise their narrow field-of-view to compose strong yet simple images with little in the background to distract the viewer.

Let’s take a look at how that works:

Field-of-view diagram

Angle of view from a wide-angle lens (left) and long lens (right)

This diagram shows the difference in field-of-view between a wide-angle lens (left) and a telephoto lens (right). You can think of a wide-angle lens as a lens of inclusion: it enables you to fit a lot of the scene in a photo. You can get close to the subject and still fit in a lot of the background.

The telephoto lens is a lens of exclusion. You don’t get so close to your subject and there is less in the background.

Here are a couple of examples:

Portrait taken with wide angle lens

I took this portrait using a wide-angle lens (24mm on a full-frame camera). I was able to get fairly close to the model and still include a lot of the background.

Portrait taken with telephoto lens

This portrait was taken using a short telephoto lens (85mm on a full-frame camera). I was able to get in close and exclude most of the background. The effect is emphasized by placing the model against a dark background.

This effect seems to kick in at around 50mm on a full-frame camera (the equivalents are 35mm on an APS-C camera, and 25mm with the micro-four thirds format). Here’s a photo taken with a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera to illustrate:

Photo taken with a normal lens

This means that you can use this technique to simplify composition even if the only lens you have is a kit lens. Just set it to the longest focal length and move in closer to your subject.

There are other ways to simplify composition – you can’t rely just on focal length:

  1. Pay attention to the background. Does it contain bright highlights or anything else that pulls attention away from the subject?
  2. Are the colours in your photo harmonious? If the colours don’t work well together this can also weaken the composition.
  3. Experiment with depth-of-field. Using a wide aperture helps simplify composition by throwing the background out of focus. This works best with prime lenses as they have wider apertures than most zooms.
  4. Move in as close as you can to the subject. One of my favourite techniques is to use a close-up lens (it’s called a lens but looks like a filter and screws to the front of your lenses the same way) to reduce the minimum focusing distance of my 85mm lens and get in really close. Another benefit is that depth-of-field becomes narrower in close up photography, helping create images with beautiful bokeh.

Here’s an example taken with an 85mm lens fitted with a Canon 500D close-up lens:

Photo taken with 85mm lens plus close-up lens

What are your thoughts? Do you use normal or telephoto lenses to simplify composition the same way? What are your favourite focal lengths? Let us know in the comments.


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