Choosing a Lens & Lens Accessories | Stephen Hicks | Skillshare

Choosing a Lens & Lens Accessories

Stephen Hicks, Photographer

Choosing a Lens & Lens Accessories

Stephen Hicks, Photographer

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7 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Choosing a Lens

    • 2. Prime vs Zoom Lenses

    • 3. Wide Angle Lenses

    • 4. Standard Lenses

    • 5. Telephoto Lenses

    • 6. Accessories

    • 7. Cheating the System + Project

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About This Class

There are so many different lenses out there it can be difficult to choose the one you like and the one that will suit your needs!

In this lesson, we go over wide lenses, standard lenses, and telephoto lenses to help you choose the best lens for you and what you do. Additionally, we'll discuss some extra accessories you can buy to help your lenses go further and do more (and even a way to cheat the system a little bit).

Meet Your Teacher

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Stephen Hicks



Hello! I'm Stephen Hicks.

I’m a photographer in Southern California. I’ve been working in photography since 2010 (and practicing since 2005). Currently I work as the lead photographer for a marine hardware company and continue to do work with portraits, product photography, and landscapes.

Photography isn’t just a job for me, it’s a passion. A passion that I’d love nothing more than to share with you!

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1. Choosing a Lens: Hey, I'm Steve and walking to another one. Millicents. This one, as you guessed from title, is gonna be all about lenses. If you have checked out my videos before Welcome back. And this your first time? Welcome. I hope that you learn a lot. Eso lenses. This can be a pretty daunting task. Which ones do you buy You want? You know something big? Do you want something small? Do you want something with an extra feature? Lets go over that. Um, I've actually got a little list. Little Cici eso We're gonna go over the difference between prime lenses and zoom lenses, cause those same terms I'm gonna be using pretty quickly we're gonna go over why you might want a wide lens. Why? You might want something more standard or a telephoto lens, and then all you can get into something that might be a little bit more advanced. A little way to cheat the system. If, uh, maybe you need to different lens or you understand special effects. So let's go ahead and we'll get started. Um, like I said, we'll get started with the prime lenses and zoom lenses, cause those are pretty frequent terms that you have been a see when you're looking around 2. Prime vs Zoom Lenses: all right. Prime lenses, zoom lenses. What are they? What's the difference? You might remember from my basics video where I talked a lot about, um, trade offs. There is always a trade off, you know, with the with the aperture. And I s so you know, you're always trading like light for quality or, um, speed. You know, just stuff like that is always a trade off in photography, and this is no different. So let me grab a zoom lens. These are the ones that you probably most familiar with. This is a lens, and, uh, it zooms. I'm not the most coordinated person I never claimed to be. Fact, I let people frequently know that I am not coordinated. Oh, yeah, Uh, zoom lenses, lenses that zoom. Uh, it's easy to tell when you're looking around online, you're going to see a range of numbers. So, you know, this one is a cannon. 28 toe, 1 35 So 20 through 1 35 that lets you know the, uh, you know, basically the focal range that the lens has 28 was very white. It's considered wide angle, not necessarily fisheye, but we'll get into that Onda, then 1 35 is considered telephoto. It's pretty close of, you know, I'm sure that most most people know what telephoto means. But just in case you're very new to photography, there's no shame in that. That just means you have to stand far away and you assumed it, that's all. Us. Prime lenses, on the other hand, are very different. They are. They don't have a range. This one is 40 millimeters. It cannot zoom in. It cannot zoom out. It is 40 millimeters, and that's it. Um, this is also called a pancake lens, but that's not really an official thing. That's just because it's super small. This part goes in the camera, so you're only seeing that when it's actually mounted. Eso There are some tradeoffs. Zoom lenses have versatility, so this 28 to 1 35 you consume all the way out take, you know, wide photos could be out in nature. You know, you could show the whole area you could be at a sports game and really zoom in to the athletes and take some photos close up or relatively close up. 1 35 is not extraordinarily telephoto, but it is. It is telephoto that it's not, you know, a crazy mouth. How so They're versatile on the trade off is that the quality is not as good as prime lenses. Typically speaking, Um, most of what I say is just in general and rule of thumb. So this 40 millimeter, for instance, is, um, Onley good for a couple of things. It's relatively standard. So you know, you could keep it in your pocket and pretty much pull it out whenever you want. But, um, you can't zoom in, so it's gonna be pretty bad at sports games unless you want, you know, of a no overall shut because 40 is a little bit on the wider side. Um, it's not going to be the best for portrait's, but you can use it. I've definitely used it for us and Portrait's before because you can also fix distortion a little bit in photo shop. Um, but the benefit off a prime lens is the quality You were gonna get really nice quality. And the aperture on a prime lens is pretty amazing. They can open up nice and wide. They can let in a lot of lights of the really good for low light photography. And for portrait's, they're really good for, um, blurring out the background. That wide aperture is gonna really let you focus right in on the subject. So it is a beautiful choice for portrait. Maybe not this prime lens, but we'll get into that when I talk about some more. Um, standard lenses. So there you go. Uh, quick summary zoom lenses, great versatile lenses to have, um, you can do a lot with them, but they're not going to be s high quality. Kremlin's is very high quality, not very versatile. So you just have to kind of pick and choose the subject or, um, basically what you're going after. So now that we've got a pretty good overview of some of the terms I'm gonna be using, let's go ahead and will jump into some, uh, wide lenses and their uses 3. Wide Angle Lenses: all right. So wide lenses. These have a pretty broad application, kind of depending on how Why do you go like I talked about in the last little video with prime versus zoom lenses, 40 is a little bit on the wide side, but not so much where I'd consider it an actual wide angle lens. For that, I would go for more of, uh, this lens as an example, since it starts at 28 millimeters, that's pretty wide. Or maybe you have a pretty standard lens. This is one of the ones that comes with a lot of base cameras on 18 to 55 millimeter. It has not the greatest quality. But these days you can always kind of not cut up in Photoshopped and kind of get it, um, looking a little bit better. So, you know, it starts at 18 millimeters. Now that's also pretty wide. Something insanely wide. What? It would be something like this, which is a fish islands. Um, this is more in a different category. Wide lenses in general are, um, gathers would fall under that, but it's more of a fish island, so it really distorts, um what it sees it can lead to some really cool effects. But, um, you're probably not gonna want to, you know, take someone's graduation photos with it. Um, you might want to do some special effect stuff with it, but I'd say if something is under maybe 24 millimeters, that would be definitely a wide lens. But, you know, we'll say if it's under about 40 that be pretty wide on. You can capture a lot with it. Now what you want a wide lens four would be something like a landscape photo where you can really see the whole vista, Um, architecture where, you know, you got a good, entire building in the frame and you're not gonna be able to do that with a telephoto lens unless you're standing super far back. In which case, um, odd choice. But hey, you do you eso They're also good for events. Now I'm not talking like sporting events. I'm talking like a party or, um, you know, some kind of get together or, you know, just an event where you want the whole scene to show. Now, one thing that 40 that I said was only kind of a little bit wide that's actually gonna be great for event photography. This is my very oldest camera here, and we'll see you're gonna be attracting a lot less attention with the lens that looks like this versus a lens that looks like this. So that also makes it great for events because you don't always want people looking at you . You kind of want to be a fly on the wall for those things, but you can still get away with that with the wider lens that's a little bit larger. You just kind of want to be a site because you want to show the whole event as it's taking place. And those were really kind of the best things for wide lenses. Sounds get into one of the more versatile, I guess Focal ranges on. That's these standard lenses. It's what I typically shoot in just because of what I tend to shoot. So, yeah, let's jump over there and get that one started 4. Standard Lenses: all right. Standard lenses. These are what you would use for portrait photography. What you would use for product photography. You can take some landscape with them, too, but we'll get onto that with cheating. Um, but standard lenses are gonna fall within about that 40 millimeter range up to about Maybe , let's say, like 100. You kind of have some wiggle room there because once it reaches telephoto, you can still do some portrait's. They just might look a little bit weird. Come and the best, I would say the best range or the best focal distance for portrait is an 85 millimeters. This isn't 85 millimeter prime lens. It is not the cheapest out there, but it's also not super expensive, and the quality is amazing. So if you are going to be taking a lot of portrait's, I would say, Maybe invest in one of these. But 85 millimeters is nice, because that is about the, uh, focal range of the human eye. There are some people who will say that 50 50 millimeters is the focal range of the human eye, But, um, it kind of has a little bit of arrange their on and I don't know, off the top of my head, I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me, that there haven't been any super good tests on that. But basically, it doesn't distort as much. So if you were to take someone's portrait with the wide lens at, like 18 millimeters, they would be pretty distorted. Whereas if you go with these kind of standard ranges, maybe kind of 40 that's pushing it because it's a little bit on that Whiteside up until, like maybe about 185 is the best. Then you're gonna be getting things that are pretty standard to how they look in real life . Uh, now portrait's aren't the only things you can do. You can also use it to shoot products. Like I said, you can also do some landscape with them. You just might have to do a panorama. I'll get into that with cheating, so they're a pretty standard lens because they're what Dry sees that standard. That's all that means, Uh, so let's get on to some of the telephoto ones, and then we'll get onto a little bit of cheating. A little bit of special effects and we'll kind of have some fun with that. And then we'll kind of get a little summary, and you can hopefully use this as a guide to pick what lens might work best for you. 5. Telephoto Lenses: All right. Telephoto lenses. These are probably the more impressive looking ones. I know that when I was just getting into photography and I saw someone with something like this on their camera, I was like, Whoa, they must be good. That's not what it means, especially now with this one. This is a really bad lens, huh? I got it to take pictures of, um, a lunar eclipse and then the solar eclipse. That happened a couple years ago. And that is just about it. It was a low cost lens, and it produces pretty low cost results. Um, it's not great, but I want to say it's about 500 millimeter lens. So it's more like that super telephoto. Um however, let's move into some, uh, more regular telephoto lenses that you're going to see on and potentially use, uh, or even maybe came with your camera. I brought this out for every topic because it spends all the topics. It goes from 28 to 1 35 on 1 35 is telephoto. It is pretty. It's a pretty large distance. You have to stand pretty far back from your subject. And a lot of these won't even let you focus if they're too close because they're not meant to, uh, this one actually has a macro function, which I don't think you need. I'm gonna be getting into that in the next little video in this lesson about cheating. Um, but, uh, you can await. No, this one doesn't have the macro functions. Another telephoto lens I have does that. But, um, yes. So this is a good lens. I like keeping some zoom lenses on my camera just because of that versatility. But getting up to 1 35 or greater lets you do nice things, like photographing at sporting events. You can really be in the stands or on the sidelines and still kind of make your viewer feel like they're getting a peek into the action. Close up. That's nice. Um, the other thing is wildlife. Sometimes you see AnAnd animal that you either don't want to disturb or get close to, like, a bear or a fox or something that could actually hurt you. And then, you know, obviously you don't want to get too close to that. Uh, Or maybe it's something small that would run away like a bird or a chipmunk or something like that. And you still want to get that photo? That's where the telephoto comes in. Because you can get that close up image and you don't have to get too close to it. You don't have to disturb it. And the animal doesn't even have to get there. Those air, The two big things with telephoto lenses. Um, yeah, you can dio Portrait's with, um But one of the rules of bone is that the if you zoom into someone and you back out, it's gonna have a different effect. Things are gonna distort a little bit. They might pinch. And also for a lot of lenses, the more you zoom in, the more it effectively closes your aperture. So it's going to bring more of the background into focus. And that's not necessarily what you want when doing a, uh, doing a portrait. Now, any lens can be good for, you know, fine art or something like that. But, um, telephoto lenses, sports, wildlife, uh, photographing anything that you can't get too close to. Those were their main purpose. You've got something like this. Like I said, get something like this. This is gonna be definitely for sports or nature just because you get super close to things . But if you will need something like this, I would honestly recommend putting in the extra, um, money and getting a better quality one not to bash this. This is absolutely worth the money I put into it. But, um, I wouldn't say that it was worth more than what I actually paid for it. Um, but I keep it around. I take pictures of the moon every so often. It's fun. This one, for instance, goes up to 300 millimeters, and it has a macro function. This is the one I was thinking about earlier. Um, where if you zoom and a lot, you can click a button or flip a switch won't let you zoom out kind of sticks it 300 but it forces the focus close to the lens on that let you get nice and close. I don't think that you need to spend the extra money if you want to. Macro. There is definitely a on accessory that you can buy that will help you out with that. So with that being said, let's move on to some cheating, some special effects or some special effect lenses and some accessories that you can buy 6. Accessories: All right, so let's start off with just accessories and by accessories. I mostly mean filters and lens hoods. Filters. Let's see here. I've got a pretty good filter on this. Um, it's a little bit dust because I haven't used this lens in a while. I've, uh I've upgraded so it doesn't get much uses. It used to, but it has a UV filter on the, uh, just screwed onto the lens there. That is just to help cut out reflection. And, um, it also protects the lens from bumps and scratches. Because, let's say I'm photographing something to do with cars. Maybe a race. Maybe, Mom, something like that, and rock comes flying at me. And if it hits my lens now, I've ruined a $40 filter. Um, I would much rather spend $40 to replace a filter than $400 to replace the lens. Eso lens hoods help with that, but the filters just a UV filter just to keep on there pretty much all the time. You can't go wrong. You just need to make sure that it's not a low quality filter. I would not recommend a plastic filter. The they'll actually lower the overall image quality. You can't get anything super sharp with them S o. I recommend, you know, spending the extra money for that, if you can. There are filters that, um, uh, cut out certain wavelengths of light. Circular polarizer are great. What they do is you can kind of twist him and they will cut out reflection from water so you can actually shoot into it rather than shoot. You know, bright lights reflecting off the surface. So it's great for fish and stuff like that, but also dark in the sky, which may or may not be a good thing, because you could make the image, like, really think, um, if the skies like a really dark blue, people just think it's edited. But, um, you can always struck a nice balance to where it looks nice and it pops without looking to pick Now. Then you got neutral density filters, neutral density or nd filters are basically just sunglasses for your camera. So if it's too bright, you can put one of those on. It'll help protect it. Um, and you can also get some, uh, slow shutter effects, which you can see when my previous videos about in camera special effects, but you can use um, slow shutter effects in bright sunlight. If you have enough of those on most filters because they just screw on, you can look at your lens and it probably you can see a little lower a little threads to screw something on. And that's where filters if you look, if you buy filter that will also have threads in it the exact same size. If you're wondering what size filters your lens can take, their lens cap is the key on the inside. It has a little I believe that's unknown. Symbol. Technically, basically, it's like a little circle with a slash through it, and then it says 72 millimeters. Or at least this one does. It will say, um something. Let's see here. This one says 58 millimeters. This one says 52 millimeters there close, but they have to be exact for the filter. Um, and that's the size of the filters. So this one says 72 millimeters, you can get a 72 millimeter filter and it will work a lot of the times filters, coming packs and really nice eso the next accessory lens hoods. These very similarly to UV filters. They will help to not necessarily cut reflection, but they'll block light. So if you've ever seen a lens flare, which is when light passes kind of diagonally to the lens and just kind of like bounces off , it will make that flare effect. You can use one of the used to cut out that effect. Now you can get some pretty expensive ones with velvet that absorbs lightened, stops it from bouncing back in off the plastic. Um, those are usually a little bit more expensive. I've seen some extremely expensive ones, or you can get something like this, which very, uh, kind of like a filter has a thread where you can just screw it into. I believe that's for this one. No, this is for my, uh, one of these other lenses, but you can just screwed in like, a filter and adjust it as you want. And then that's actually what I'm using for my 85. And this has a little thing where I can screw up just the top and flip it around. If I did that right, but it was a little loose so it It's pretty nice, and a lot of them will let you clip your lens cap right in there as well, making myself look like a fool because I didn't unscrew that first anyway. So lens hoods, UV filters there pretty good to keep on your camera. My main lens that I'm shooting through right now has a lens hood with the velvet and a UV filter because I want to protect that thing that that lenses my go to. It's a cannon 24 to 105 and I do a lot of product photography, and it works great for that. 7. Cheating the System + Project: um, now some special effect lenses. Something like a lens, baby. Um, that is not me flirting with you. That is the name of the company. This is a lens, baby spark, and it actually squishes. And that will give you some really kind of weird and interesting focus effects. I'll throw an image up on the screen right now. This is my dog. This is Hex. And you can see that the focus is weird. It is. Um there's no real plane that is easy to kind of distinguish. And that's from the sleds. I actually shot that this video is done or will have shot. It's both future and past tense for this, because by the time you see it, it's all gonna be together. Anyway, that could be nice. If you're gonna be doing some kind of portrait that you want to be a little bit more artistic, more fun like that so you can kind of play around with those kind of things. Lens baby makes some pretty expensive lenses, but they also make some lower quality are not lower quality, but lower cost ones. This is definitely, I think, their lowest cost. I've had this one for years, and I like to pull it out for, um, some extra shots for portrait sessions Now for cheating. You don't have to get a macro lens or something specifically built for that. You can get some pretty nice macro tubes. These go between the lens and the camera. Let me, uh, pull that out, and it moves the focal distance very, very, very close to the lens. So this 40 millimeter lens it could probably focus a couple inches away from it. But that's it's also a little bit wide, so it's not gonna get you true macro images. However, now this is actually a set of three. You can separate them and use them. However you want, however, works for what you're doing. But just as an example, let me put all three on it once. Now these also played differently, with the different types of lenses that you use and the physical size of the lens. This is already very short, so kind of helps that macro affect vs telephoto lenses, which might be a little bit harder to work with. You can still do it book, and then you screw the lens on top of their and I have gotten, uh, macro images that are so high quality that I have sold them as just prints and the, uh they look great, Honestly. Eso good quality lens. Not all of these air gonna have the ability to let the camera control things. So basically, there's no electrical connectivity. Uh, these ones do. They're not that expensive. I think there are about 30 bucks for the little pack here and then in green macron, just like I mentioned earlier. I take a lot of product images. Sometimes I need to do something really, really, really tiny, like a every tiny, um, grub screw or a washer or something like that. And I need insane detail, and that's when I'll pull yourself. Or if I'm just having fun. If I got a ladybug, you've been pulling yourself on. Now, if you I want to cheat a little bit more and you have access to a good image processing software like photo shop, you can kind of cheat what lens you have, Um, or even what kind of camera you have if you really want a nice, big, wide open landscape, but you don't have a lens that is at all wide. Maybe you only have something like this. You can go ahead and do a panorama. If you've ever used that future on your phone, you know that it makes you kind of sweep the area, and it's collecting lots of little images, and it's stitching them together. Photo shop allow you to do that same thing. Look over that in a different lesson. Entire, however, you can go ahead and take a photo, take another photo, take another photo. You just want to make sure that they overlap by about 1/3 and then you'll get a nice wide photo. You can do that for a lot, but the more images you have, the more difficult that might turn out to be. And I don't just have to be in a line you can actually do, you know, maybe like a grid. So three and then you move down, and another three that could get a little tricky because you want to make sure that they overlap on the top and sides and everything, but you can do it, and that's a way to kind of not necessarily trick, but you can definitely make an image. You know, if you have, like, a 25 megapixel camera, you can definitely make, like, a 50 megapixel image or something like that. Something just, you know, crazy large if you need that extra editing space and those are some little cheeks, some special effects, special effect lenses and, uh, some accessories that you can buy. So now you are armed with all that knowledge. You really have to think what is the best for you? Do you typically just take portrait's of nature? Do you take a lot of landscapes? Do you take pictures of your of your pets or your family on? That's what you want to go for now, I would always recommend having a pretty good zoom lens that has a wide range that's gonna let you, um, that's going to give you the best range of possibilities. So you know you can do that that that wide angle for those for those large vistas if you go to the beach, your future. If you're going hiking here in the forest, um, you can go ahead and zoom in a little bit and take some really nice photos on Cem Portrait's. You can really zoom in and get some good shots of, you know, maybe your kids playing sports or, um, some wildlife, some nature. It all depends on what works best for you. If you really do take a lot of portrait's, maybe go for a nice little prevalence. Ah, 50 millimeter prime. That is not in the canon l series. Um, won't run you too much. I think they're good ones. Or maybe about 150. Or you can get some good quality used ones for under $100. If you want to play with some special effects, check out lens, baby. They're not bad if you do. You know, we've talked about all these now. So what works best for you? Do you? Do you take Do you need that wide angle, or do you need that really intense zoom? Do you want to get up to, like, 300 millimeters? That's pretty intense. Um, think about what you work with, and that's gonna really put you on the right track For what lens you want pick. Um, and with that being said for the project, if you feel like doing that for this class, I would say pick a lens, pick a focal length. So if I was gonna do, let's say I'm gonna pick this the lens that came with my first camera and I wanted to go ahead and do a landscape. I'll go ahead and all zoom out, maybe 18. Maybe I don't want that much space. Small. Zoom into Maybe that 24 there. Just a little bit of that zoom. That's a good picture of that. So go ahead and pick Elin's whatever lends you have on your camera and go have fun with it . Go take a good a good portrait. Um, if you've got a dog, I love dogs. I'd like to see your dogs, um, or go ahead and take you know, that landscape photo or stretch out. Maybe try to get some architectural photos really showed the detail on that building. If it's made of glass and steel, maybe try. Do you really exemplify that? Get the light coming from behind it, you know, let it glow. And if you have any questions, you can always ask me. You can post your projects, and if you have questions, you can ask me in there. I will see it I will answer. And if you, uh I would like to leave me a review, I would definitely appreciate that. And until next time, I hope you keep taking photos and making some beautiful memories.