Learning About Lenses

When I carry my camera, I usually also take along my four lenses. I bought two when I got the camera, another one for my birthday and the fourth… do I really need to make up an excuse?

As it turns out, the fourth is the cheapest, simplest, most basic of my lenses. Made of plastic, it feels like a toy when held.

It’s called a prime lens – no zooming here. It has a fixed focal length of 50mm. What makes it different from my other lenses is its speed. It is a 50mm f/1.8.

I didn’t always know what that meant either.

It’s not the fastest, but this is still considered a fast lens. They’re called fast because low “f stop” lenses pass more light, allowing you to shoot with a faster shutter speed.

The added bonus is, low f stops produce a very shallow depth of field. In other words, the area in focus is quite small. That ‘feature’ makes this little lens perfect for portraiture.

I had the 50mm in tow Sunday when I went to a friends house to take some shots of his nearly one year old daughter. I’m not as good with people as I am with inanimate objects like trees and rocks. Still I managed to get off a few nice shots.

I used my all purpose 18-125mm zoom lens too, but the 50mm was absolutely the best. The softness of the background makes the shots.

Every time I pick up the camera, I learn something new. Getting at ease with this lens is part of that process. Even after 30,000 shots (really) on this Canon Digital Rebel, I’m far from proficient.

After seeing a few samples, my friend Steve sent an email tonight:

I won’t say “I told you so” but I told you so. If you recall, that is the lens I urged you to get and told you you’d fall in love with it. It’s what

will make you more of a “people” photographer.

Lenses are like children. You should never have a favorite. It’s just, I’m beginning to appreciate this lens more than I had.

6 thoughts on “Learning About Lenses”

  1. She is adorable – obviously I’m biased.

    If I may call attention to one other important piece of the puzzle – one that I’m sure isn’t in your camera manual. Part of the overall success of a photographer comes from being able to relate, communicate, and have fun with the subject. She enjoyed having the photographer down on the floor with her, snapping away…and even though she doesn’t know you very well, she cried for a good few minutes after you left!

    30,000 photos with “Clicky”…these are some of my favorites…

  2. I don’t know much about f stops but these are nice pix. Geoff, you’re really too modest when it comes to your

    photos… The lens might help, but the photographer knows when to push the button…!! Evi, Danbury

  3. You are a good man with your camras, I read your site eery day, keep up the good work, I also find your site very interesting. Thanks

  4. You are a good man with your camras, I read your site eery day, keep up the good work, I also find your site very interesting. Thanks

  5. All I ever use for portraits is a 50mm f/1.4 and a f/1.7. The Nikkor lens, small as it is, is alone heavier than a lot of newer cameras are. Even canvases up to 30×40 turn out really well from these lenses – I would never try that with any of my zooms.

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