Field of view

What Are Prime Camera Lenses, and Why Would You Use Them?

In photography, there are two types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. Zoom lenses cover a range of focal lengths. If you’ve just bought a new DSLR, the kit lens that comes with your camera is almost certainly a zoom lens; most come with an 18-55mm lens, which means that lens covers every focal length between 18mm and 55mm. A prime lens, on the other hand, covers just one focal length. A 50mm lens is just a 50mm lens.

If, however, the 18-55mm lens that comes with your camera can be used as a 50mm lens, why on earth would you get a dedicated 50mm prime lens?

Prime Lenses Perform Better

Focal length is just one of the characteristic of a lens; the other important one is aperture. Just knowing the focal length of a lens doesn’t tell us a whole lot about how it will perform in the real world.

This image, like all the others in the article, was shot with a prime lens. For this photo, I used a $150 50mm prime. Even a $2000 zoom lens would have struggled to get this shot.

Focal length determines the field of view and apparent magnification of the lens, while aperture determines the depth of field and low light performance. All 50mm lenses will share the same field of view and magnification, but they can have vastly different apertures.

Looking back at our 18-55mm kit lens, at 50mm it probably has a maximum aperture of f/5.6. This isn’t especially wide, and won’t make pleasing portraits or perform great in low light. The 50mm prime lens, however, will have an aperture of f/1.8…

What Is a Wide Angle Lens?

A wide-angle camera lens can make for some pretty interesting photos, but how is it different from other lenses, and when should you use it?

What Is a Wide-Angle Lens?

A wide-angle lens has a field of view significantly wider than that of the human eye. In other words, it’s got a wider field of view than a normal lens, which has a focal length of somewhere between 40mm and 58mm on a full frame camera.

This means that, on a full frame camera, any lens with a focal length of less than 35mm is considered to be a wide-angle lens. The lower the focal length, the wider the field of view and thus, the wider the lens. Any lens with a focal length lower than 24mm may be referred to as an ultra wide-angle lens.

On a crop sensor camera, wide-angle lenses start at a focal length of around 24mm and go down from there. Ultra wide-angle lenses start at around 16mm.

Let’s look at this in action. This photo was taken at 50mm, a normal focal length, on a full frame camera. The photo appears pretty similar to how things look with your eyes.

This photo was taken at 35mm. It just qualifies as wide-angle. Notice how much more of the scene is showing.

This photo was taken at 24mm. This is the start of “ultra” wide-angle. Once again, even more of the scene is captured in the photograph.

This photo was taken at 17mm, which is as wide as my lens will go. The image looks completely different than the one taken with the normal lens.

How a Wide-Angle Lens Affects Your Images

The most obvious effect of wide-angle lenses is their massive field of view. You can just capture a huge…

HTC’s newest VR headset is the Link

Well this is surprising; HTC has yet another new VR headset on the way, promising to make an important breakthrough for a major category of device. Meet the HTC Link.

The Link was first reported on by Japanese site Mogura VR. Intriguingly, it’s promising full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking, which is something we haven’t seen in any major smartphone-based VR headset so far.

It’s set to work with the company’s latest smartphone, the HTC U11. Concrete details are scarce but it appears that the kit won’t use Vive’s lighthouse stations. The headset and two compatible controllers appear to have lights on them, which look to be tracked using an external sensor, similar to what can be seen with Sony’s PlayStation VR. The camera and controllers are bundled in the box.

Interestingly it…

How Does the “8x” Zoom on My Point-and-Shoot Compare to My DSLR?

Your camera may boast “8x zoom”, but most DSLRs do not advertise values like these. So how do they compare? The answer is more complex than you may think.

That “8x” value that doesn’t necessarily mean objects in the photo will look 8 times bigger than they do with your eyes. It just means things will be 8 times bigger than its most zoomed-out position—but two cameras in their most zoomed-out positions will not look the same size.

Every lens affects your image in a different way. A wide angle lens warps the perspective in the image so it shows more than you could see with your naked eye. A telephoto lens does the opposite, zooming in like a telescope to distant objects. These things are separate from the actual “zoom” function on your camera, so one 8x zoom lens may not make objects as large as another 8x zoom lens.

So how do we calculate how much bigger an object appears in a photo compared to your eyes, where you’re currently standing? To find that out, you need to know the focal length and field of view of the lens you’re using.

“Canon vs Nikon:”
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Focal Length and Field of View

In photography, the focal length of a lens is the distance between a the camera’s sensor and the internal components of the lens itself. This focal length determines how close objects look to your camera and what part of the scene actually fits within the picture—otherwise known as your field of view. A massive, telescope-like lens with a 1000mm focal length will make objects look very close. Lenses with smaller focal lengths will make objects appear farther away.

Many lenses can “zoom” to different focal lengths. For example, an 18-135mm lens will let you zoom from an 18mm focal length to a 135mm focal length.

Here’s an example. I shot the following two images with my Canon 650D and an 18-135mm lens.

The first photo was taken at the shortest focal length: 18mm. It’s a pretty wide field of view.

The next photo was taken in the exact same place half a second later. The only difference is that I’ve zoomed in to use the lens’ longest focal length, 135mm.

As you can see, the field of view is a lot narrower in the second photo than the first, because we’ve zoomed in on the mountains.

Here’s the catch, though. Different lenses, at their shortest focal length, will show things differently. Remember that 1000mm telescope lens? Even if you don’t zoom in with it, you’re still seeing things much closer than a camera with an 18-135mm lens. So focal length alone isn’t…