One essential aspect of your camera setup is the lens. Understanding the characteristics of the different photographic lenses empowers you to capture images with the desired visual impact.
Travelling and photography go hand in hand. Most of us use our smartphones when photographing, and the image quality is, most times, plenty good. But understanding the basics of photography, whether you use your smartphone or a DSLR or mirrorless system camera, will enhance your chances of documenting your travel in a wow-factor way. daGamas School of Photography for Travellers gives you input on how to become a better travel-photographer.
For the best variety of lenses, a DSLR or mirrorless camera system will give you the best options and quality of lenses. However, many smartphones are equipped with multiple lenses as well. More on lenses and smartphones at the end. (All lens data equivalent to a full-frame sensor on a 35mm camera system).
Ultrawide Lens 12-20 mm (35mm equivalent)
Ultrawide lenses exaggerate perspective, making objects closer to the camera appear larger, and those farther away seem smaller. This effect can be creatively used for dramatic shots, especially in landscapes and architectural photography.
Expansive Field of View: Ultrawide lenses allow you to fit more into the frame, capturing breathtaking vistas or large group shots.
Creative Distortion: The wide perspective of ultrawide lenses can introduce creative distortion, making lines appear more exaggerated or curving the edges of the frame, resulting in a unique and artistic effect.
Engaging Perspectives: Ultrawide lenses offer an immersive and engaging visual experience, allowing viewers to feel like they're part of the scene.
Potential Distortion: Ultrawide lenses may introduce distortion, especially towards the edges of the frame, resulting in stretched or bent shapes.
Wide Lens 24.35 mm (35mm equivalent)
Wide lenses capture a broader scene than the human eye, making them ideal for landscapes, architecture, and group portraits. They allow you to include more elements within the frame without significant distortion.
Versatile Field of View: Wide lenses offer a slightly wider perspective than normal lenses, making them suitable for capturing landscapes, street photography, and architecture.
Natural Perspective: Wide lenses maintain a more natural perspective, with less distortion compared to ultrawide lenses.
Suitable for Environmental Portraits: Wide lenses can capture subjects in their surroundings, providing context and adding a storytelling element to portraits.
Less Dramatic Perspective: While wide lenses capture a broader scene, they may not provide the same dramatic impact as ultrawide lenses.
Normal Lens 50-55mm (35mm equivalent)
The normal lens is designed to mimic the field of view of the human eye, offering a familiar and balanced perspective. It minimizes distortion and presents objects in a way that aligns with our visual perception.
Balanced Perspective: Normal lenses provide a perspective that closely resembles how we naturally perceive the world.
Versatile and Everyday Use: Normal lenses are well-suited for a wide range of photography genres, including street photography, portraits, and general everyday shooting.
Minimal Distortion: Normal lenses typically have minimal distortion, resulting in more accurate representations of scenes and subjects.
Limited Field of View: Normal lenses may not capture as wide of a scene as ultrawide or wide lenses, making them less suitable for expansive landscapes or group photos.
Telephoto Lens (70mm and up)
Telephoto lenses offer an extended reach, allowing you to zoom in on distant subjects. Telephoto lenses provide a narrower field of view and are particularly useful for portraits, wildlife photography, sport photography or capturing details from a distance.
Increased Zoom Range: Telephoto lenses enable you to get closer to subjects that are far away, providing the ability to capture details that would otherwise be challenging to reach.
Compressed Perspective: Telephoto lenses compress the scene, making distant objects appear closer together and creating a pleasing background blur.
Portraits and Details: Telephoto lenses excel in isolating subjects and capturing fine details, making them ideal for portraits or subjects that require a closer look.
Limited Field of View: The narrow field of view of telephoto lenses restricts their use for capturing expansive scenes or group shots.
Low-Light Performance: Unless you invest heavily in a high-end telephoto lens, they may struggle in low-light conditions due to their smaller apertures.
When using a telephoto lens, the choice of aperture allows you to control the depth of field, emphasizing your subject while blurring the background. A wider aperture (lower f-stop value) like f/2.8 or f/4 creates a beautifully blurred background, drawing attention to the subject. For landscapes or scenarios where you want more elements in focus, a narrower aperture (higher f-stop value) can be used.
Lens Options in High-End Smartphones
High-end smartphones equipped with multiple lenses offer remarkable versatility for photography enthusiasts.
From ultrawide and wide lenses for expansive scenes to normal and telephoto lenses for more traditional perspectives and zoom capabilities, these lenses enable you to capture a wide range of subjects with creative flexibility.
Check the manual of your smartphone for more explicit information on how your cellphone model utilises multiple lenses.
Cons: Smartphone telephoto lenses may struggle in low-light conditions due to their smaller apertures, resulting in potential image noise or slower shutter speeds.
Some models use digital technology, not optical, to zoom in on the object. This may result in poorer image quality.