Thursday, August 19, 2010

A simple, no-nonsense, begginers guide to SLR lens

From personal experience, I know the daunting feeling when you own your first SLR camera and have absoloutely no Idea which lens you should purchase. That is why I have decided to write this article, to help new-comers to this amazing new world of expressive imagination.

The Single lens reflex (SLR) camera.

This amazing machine is unlike any other camera, by doing something so simple as to press a button, turn a lens and put on another lens, you have been transported into another world. Because the point of an SLR is to have interchangeable lenses, most manufacturers sell numerous ranges of lenses. Canon and Nikon are two companies who are praised for this.

Which lens?

There are different categories for lens which are all designed to do something different. I am only going to inform you on the basic categories.

Primes - This is a very vague category, It means that it only has one FOCAL LENGTH. This is a fancy word for a lens that does not zoom, and only magnifies to one consistent magnification.

Zoom - The opposite of Prime, it can change from one focal length to another, these are more convenient than primes but often have lower optical quality than primes.

Wide angle - The name really gives this away, these lens are designed to get as much 'Picture' in as possible, however can sometimes be distorted and make the image slightly round.

Fisheye - These lenses give the image an almost completely round characteristic and make very good distorted or sometimes even 'wacky' photos!

Telephoto - This means that a lens that has a long focal length therefore they bring subjects that are far away closer
however this doesn't actually mean that lens has a zoom feature.

Macro - These lens are primarily designed to photograph very small subjects from a very close distance, these are also good portrait lenses.

Purchasing a lens

I have informed you on the basic types of lens so that you have an idea of what you probably want, you should now seek professional advice. However, I would like to give some last 'survival tips!'

Do's and Don't's

Buying a lens that was originally designed for a 35mm SLR (Film SLR) and then fitting it on a compatible digital SLR will often increase the focal length, for example, fit a compatible 35mm lens onto a Canon EOS 350D (Digital SLR) and the focal length shall be multiplied by 1.6!

Cheap immitation lenses are a flase economy! You often have an incovenient 'Push and Pull' zoom mechanism instead of a turning mechanism, there is no auto focus so you have to use manual focus. This will result, especially in action photography, in disappointing photos. They are much larger than 'proper lenses' and the low quality optics will only result in tears.

If you have purchased a lens online ( is great for the British, they ship world wide,) you should:

Put the box on a soft surface, such as a bed, making sure though that the box does not roll away.

Inspect the packaging, has the box been opened or resealed? If so, do not proceed, get the ordering information and contact the seller immediately.

If the packaging is good then proceed to open the package CAREFULLY, do not use a knife or any cutting tools!

Lenses are fragile pieces of precision optics, pull the lens out of the box gently.

Inspect the physical condition of the lens, if it is damaged, or is scratched or has any imperfections then do not proceed, get the ordering information and contact the seller immediately!

Gently shake the lens, listen to make sure that there are no broken internal components.

Lenses are not usually sold with an extensive user manual, this of course, calls for celebration! In your parade, ensure that you do not knock the lens onto the floor, as this would be dissapointing!

If you are as unfortunate as to receive a long manual, then just read the quick start guide.

Installing a lens should be covered in the quick start guide! If it is not:

Take your camera, and press the lens eject button followed by twisting the lens anti-clockwise. Remove the lens, immediately install both lens caps and the body cap. Put the lens somewhere safe such as a camera bag.

Take the new lens and remove both lens caps and the body cap, carefully but swiftly Insert the lens where it fits and turn the lens clockwise until it moves no further, you should probably hear 'click'. Turn the lens onto Auto-focus mode (if it has it) and then test the new lens!

I wish all the best luck to new SLR camera users, I am serious, these are bundles of fun that turn sliced break into tea-coasters!

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