Types of Camera Lenses

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What are the different types of camera lenses?

If you are new to photography, you may be wondering how more seasoned photographers know what kind of lenses to use.

After all, there are so many types of lenses, and it can be tempting to get one of each especially if money is not an issue. But what if you are on a budget and you’re not willing to spend a fortune on expensive lenses that you won’t end up using?

Read on to know about the types of camera lenses and how to choose the right lens for your photography.

Related: best camera for beginners

Different Types of Camera Lenses

Standard Prime Lenses

Standard prime lenses are lenses that have a fixed focal length. They can come with maximum apertures of f/1 or f.1.2 and higher. Starter standard lenses for new photographers include the nifty fifty or the 50mm with an aperture of f1.4 or f/1.8. Another favorite is the 35mm which also comes with apertures ranging from f/1.2 to as small as f/2.8. Standard lenses offer the right mix of creamy and blurry backgrounds, called bokeh, and a decent field of view. Good for all-around photography, these lenses work for shooting weddings, portraits, street, and even landscape photography.

Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses extend and retract depending on the distance of your subject, which means the lens can take photos from different focal lengths. The best thing about zoom lenses is that you can stay in place as you focus on faraway objects without being too conspicuous. Canon has a popular 70-200 mm lens that is not only a favorite of birders but of event photographers as well, as this allows them to shoot from a distance. Zoom lenses can also have low focal lengths allowing the photographer to take wide-angle shots when the lens is not zoomed in. This makes zoom lenses a good lens for events like weddings when the photographer needs to switch from shooting a big crowd to shooting close-ups of the couple from several feet away. However, most zoom lenses come with an aperture of f/2.8 or higher which means that you can focus on far-away subjects but your bokeh may not be as creamy as a prime lens with bigger apertures.

Wide Angle Lenses

Wide-angle lenses allow you to get a wider field of view making them perfect for landscape photos. Wide-angle lenses can be as wide as 14mm or as close as 35mm and they tend to come in more compact builds compared to standard lenses. Small pancake lenses are great for landscape photography especially for those who want to travel light. One downside is that the wider the lens, the greater the lens distortion you tend to get. Distortion is easy to fix in post-production, however.

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses are lenses with long focal lengths. Unlike zoom lenses, telephoto lenses usually come with just one focal length, such as 70mm or 200mm. Telephoto lenses are ideal for shooting wildlife and events like sports tournaments. Because these lenses are prime lenses, they can give creamier bokeh than your standard zoom lens. One downside is that they can be heavy and can cost five to ten times than a standard prime lens. Due to the size and weight, you may need to use a tripod when using this lens.

Types of Camera Lenses: Creative Lenses

Fisheye Lenses

Fisheye lenses are artsy lenses that allow you to take ultrawide photos of landscapes and other subjects. Fisheye images have a characteristic convex appearance, giving you a 100-180 degree image. Due to this unique characteristic, fisheye lenses aren’t suitable as all-around walking lenses, unless this is the kind of effect you want in all your photos.

Macro Lenses

Macro lenses are for taking close-up pictures of really small subjects, like water droplets or leaf blades. Macro lenses are great for details like ring shots. They can also be used for product photography. Like fisheye lenses, macro lenses produce a characteristic image making them unsuitable as all-around photography lenses.

Tilt-Shift Lens

A tilt-shift lens is another creative lens that rotates the lens in relation to the sensor. This allows the shooter to get a wide depth of field at the biggest aperture while keeping the subject in focus. Tilt-shift lenses are great for panoramic shots, correcting converging lines, and creating miniature effects in photos.


Photography lenses vary according to focal lengths, apertures, and functions. If you are new to photography, start with standard lenses until you discover your photography style. You could gravitate towards nature photography, portraits, or even macro photography Knowing what your style is can help you choose the right lenses that can take your photography skills to the next level.

See all the types of camera lenses from Canon here.

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