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Alley Cat's tips to great photography

Lenses have all kinds of uses, all pertainint to a certain kind of shot and feel.
Follow this column for photography techniques and advice from Alison Watkins.

Chapter 16: Lenses

I am really excited to write this column for my loyal readers. This chapter is all about lenses, when and why to use certain types.

There are literally tons of lenses to choose from for your camera all with different effects or qualities. Your choice depends on the price and the maker. Every camera brand has their own type of mount. The mount is where the lens attaches to the camera. Nikon has its classic F-mount, while Canon has EF mounts, and other brands have they’re own particular mounts. It’s best to pick one brand and stick with it, rather then buying adapters for all sorts of mounts.

To name a few types of lenses, there are prime, zoom, and specialty.

Prime lenses are also known as fixed lenses. Prime lenses have one focal length, unable to change no matter what. You either have to walk closer or walk away if the shot isn’t at the distance you want. The human eye sees at a focal length of about 50mm; it’s a classic prime lenses length.

Some people prefer prime lenses over zoom because there may be some darkening over the edges, aka vignetting on a zoom lens.

A zoom lens has multiple focal lengths. A great lens to have is 24-70mm, as you can get generally close up or a good distance. Most professional photographers will normally have one of these multi-purpose lenses in their arsenal.

Besides the multi-purpose lens there are wide angle and telephoto lenses. Wide angle lenses are from about 18mm to 40mm. These are great for portraits and close-up shots.

Telephoto is a term for longer zoom lengths, not physically though. Longer as in farther away, from 100mm to over 700mm. This type of lens is great for animal photography. A couple of drawbacks include the weight, requiring a tripod or monopod for normal use, and of course a high price tag.

There are special lenses that have very special outcomes, like macro, fisheye, tilt-shift, and certain bokeh effects; to name a few.

Macro (sometimes called Micro) is extremely close up, and is great for bugs, flowers and eyes. They're normally used to show extreme detail. Fisheye lenses are extremely wide, and give a rounded feel to the edges.

Tilt-shift lenses, also know as PC-e, can be used for two reasons. One reason is to make parallel lines actually parallel in the photo (with a regular lens the lines may curve a little). The other reason is to make things seem miniature by creating tons of bokeh above and below the subject. There are more lenses to count to create totally different effects. A great website to poke around to find such lenses is lensbaby.com.

Next week I will be discussing the diffrences between FX & DX. Check back at the same Alley Cat time, same Alley Cat channel!


Alley Cat's
Photo Tips


Start shooting
Sunrises and Sunsets
Black and White
Long Exposure
Shoot in RAW
Back Button Focusing
The Challenges of      
      Sports Photography
Studio Photography
FX and DX
Street Photography
Painting with Light
Bokeh vs. Blurry
Tripods and Mounts
File Naming and

-Printing and Resolution

-Paid Gigs
-Gadgets and Gizmos
-Film Photography


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