How to Shop for a Camera Lens

Different camera lenses let you capture quality photos in a variety of situations. Cameras with interchangeable lenses offer vastly superior photography options over traditional point-and-shoot cameras. Everything from versatility to photograph quality is an improvement, though all of these benefits do come with a significantly higher price tag. Selecting the best lens for your situation may seem overwhelming initially, but as long as you just consider the most important features and don’t get bogged down in details, you can locate the best lens for your situation without much hassle.
Decide which focal length you need
This feature is specified in millimeters, and it determines your field of view when using the camera. You should get one that will meet your needs in the setting you’ll use it to photograph. Different manufacturers describe their focal lengths with different standards, so make sure you know the standard appropriate for your camera. Common standards are APS-C, which Nikon, Sony and Canon use, and Four Thirds, which Panasonic and Olympus use. Sometimes you’ll see lenses by various manufacturers also described by their traditional 35mm equivalent so you can more easily compare them.
Pick a zoom or prime lens type
This relates to the focal length: a zoom lens uses a range of focal lengths, and a prime lens uses a fixed focal length. Zoom lenses work in a variety of situations but are larger than prime lenses and don’t always offer the same photograph quality. Prime lenses have a single focal length and are ideal for specific situations, such as low-light shots. Prime lenses are usually more expensive.
Choose the maximum aperture you need
A lens’ aperture is the mechanism that allows light into your camera, which influences your exposure and depth of field. A larger aperture lets in more light and has a shallower depth of field, and it’s indicated by a smaller f-number, such as 1.4. A smaller aperture lets in less light and is indicated by a larger f-number, such as 5.6.
Decide if you want or need a lens with built-in image stabilization
This is a feature that reduces the effect of movement or shaking the camera, which can especially be a problem when photographing at a distance. Many cameras have this feature, so if yours does, then this isn’t an issue when purchasing a lens. Otherwise, look at your lens options that include this feature, though bear in mind it does increase the cost.
Choose a lens with the correct mount
This is the physical connection between your camera and the lens, so it’s crucial you purchase a compatible lens. Despite the mount’s importance, you don’t need to look into this initially because any type of lens you want to purchase will be available for your camera. The simplest way to find a compatible lens is to find one from your camera’s manufacturer that says in its description that your camera model or model line is compatible. You can find other options from third-party companies, but you should look at the lens’ information to ensure that it’s specifically compatible with your camera. In some cases adapters will allow you to use a lens not normally compatible with your camera, though these often lower the camera’s performance, especially its autofocus speed.

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