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…

Priceless Photos Capture The Moment Mom Got The Shock Of Her Life

Dara Crouch recently gave birth to her second child and was certain it would be a girl since her side of the family had failed to produce a single boy in fifty years.

These photos capture the exact moment she realizes she gave birth to a boy.

mom has first boy in family in 50 years

Photo credit: Ker-Fox Photography

The 29-year-old mother from Columbus, Georgia said when she met her newborn son, Liam, she felt “shock more than…

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…

What’s next for 360-degree photography?

Flattened 360 degree photography

360-degree photography and VR are breaking new ground, not just in gaming but also in business. Leading companies are finding that a more immersive experience pulls their users in.

Some of the world’s biggest players, such as General Motors and McDonald’s, are getting serious about VR and 360-degree technology, building new products and VR experiences for their customers. For example, if you stop by a McDonald’s in Sweden, you can turn your Happy Meal into a pair of virtual reality goggles. Just slide your smartphone into the specially folded box and you can play a game where you hit the ski slopes.

Last year, I declared VR was not quite ready to explode, due to cost of the equipment, a gaping hole in available content, clunky headgear, and the financial viability of some early innovators. That prediction turned out to be true for most industries, with the exception of gaming. On the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sides, too many businesses are still viewing 360-degree photography and VR as bells or whistles they don’t need to think about yet, or ever.

That is a big mistake.

Virtual reality is the future of content consumption. There are huge wins waiting for businesses and photographers alike, if we are willing to get messy, creative, take some risks, and step into the future of visual storytelling.

Opportunities for content creators

Most exciting for me, as CEO of 500px, are the new opportunities these technologies create for photographers. The most creative and entrepreneurial photographers around the world now have a new chance to become experts before the field gets glutted. For these artists behind a lens, the ability to layer visual stories is one of the most exciting times in the photography industry’s recent history. As proof that 360-degree photography and VR are on the brink of being mainstream, just think of the new terminology being adopted. At Photokina last September, one Nikon photographer used the term “story worlds” to describe the possibilities of this new era.

The last time we saw a photographic shift of this magnitude, in the early 2000s, the introduction of the sub-$1,000 camera created a revolution in stock imagery and thousands of former hobbyists were able to turn their passions into new careers. But, as with all industries, maturity brought congestion, competition and higher prices. For a photographer or videographer, 360-degree…

Photographer Uses 166-Year-Old Technique To Shoot Kids, And The Result Is Haunting

Spanish artist Jacqueline Roberts swims against the tide, reviving 19-th century photography in the digital era. Jacqueline’s work mostly revolves around the psychological and emotional transition from childhood to adolescence, and the technique she uses further intensifies the eerily change, making the images look like something you’d find in your nightmares.

Wet plate photography (also known as the collodion process), is said to have been invented in 1851, almost simultaneously, by Frederick Scott Archer and Gustave Le Gray. Although the process required a portable darkroom, it combined desirable qualities of the calotype process (enabling an unlimited number of prints from a single negative) and the daguerreotype (creating a sharpness and clarity that could not be achieved with paper negatives). The technique quickly became really popular and was used for portraiture, landscape work, architectural,…

This Photographer Brilliantly Documented Crime on the Mean Streets of New York City

Back in 2001, I stumbled upon a photography show at the Getty Center in Los Angeles that I still think is one of my favorite museum exhibits I’ve ever seen. It showcased the work of a photographer who went by the name of Weegee.

Weegee captured street scenes in New York City like no other photographer during the 1930s and 1940s. While he sometimes focused his lens on regular folks going about their daily business, it was his stark black and white photos of crime scenes that made Weegee a legend and exposed people to the dark side of American society.

Weegee was born Usher Fellig in 1899 in what is now part of Ukraine. When he was 10-years-old, his family emigrated to New York. Weegee started taking photographs at a young age, working his way up through several companies before striking out of his own as a freelancer in 1935.

Weegee installed a police scanner in his car so he could be the first photographer on the scene to document New York City’s murders, accidents,…

How I Create Epic “Outdoor” Scenes Almost Without Spending Any Money

I am commercial still life photographer but I love creative or conceptual photoshoots. I love to do miniature photography and what I love about my art is that I can turn my fantasies into reality. Being a miniature photographer, I always think of something new and something everyone can do.

I do not use any expensive ready to use props and dioramas. I make all the stuff I use in a set of the very minimum resources. I usually use plaster of parts to create mountains or rocks and some old paper to give basic shape of hills. I mainly used polystyrene sheets and mixture of plaster and black paint…

What Is a “Stop” in Photography?

“Stop” is a photography term that gets thrown around a lot. Someone will describe a photo as a stop under-exposed, or tell you to increase your shutter speed by a stop. The concept can be a little confusing for new photographers, so let’s look at exactly what a stop is and what it means when it comes to photography.

Stops, Shutter Speed and Aperture

When you take a photograph, the exposure is determined by the area of the aperture and the exposure time (also called shutter speed). Although exposure is basically quantity-less, there are a range of combinations of aperture and exposure time that will create a good photographic exposure. If the aperture is too wide or the exposure time too long, then all you’ll get is a white photo; conversely, if either of them is too low, you’ll just get a black photo.

Since exposure is valueless—you don’t look at a scene and describe it as a 12 stop photo for example—there is no way to talk about things in absolutes. Instead, stops are used to describe relative changes in aperture and exposure time. One stop is equal to a halving (or a doubling) of the amount of light let into the camera by that factor.

So for example, if you have the shutter speed on your camera set to 1/100th of a second, increasing your exposure by one stop would change the shutter speed to 1/50th of a second (letting twice as much light into the camera). Changing your shutter speed to 1/200th of a second (halving the amount of light let into the camera) reduces your exposure by a stop. As you can probably see, for shutter speed the rule is really simple: to increase your exposure by a stop, double your shutter speed; to decrease your exposure by a stop, half it.

Photographers also talk about half-stops or third-stops. Third-stops are especially important as they’re the increment that most cameras use for their settings. These are…

How I Got Seduced By Wildlife Photography

While photography has become my primary language, animal whispering has evolved as a tool to communicate the unique sincerity emerging from a wild animal’s eye. Beyond the Art, wildlife photography allows me to seek the uniqueness in things while engaging with nature in a unique way. When meeting wild animals, I always feel gifted to be able to capture such sincere moments as it makes me feel instantly at peace.

Besides this bond with nature, I enjoy the challenge that is wildlife photography. As there are numerous things you have to deal with when you’re shooting a moving animal, finally getting the perfect shot makes for an unspeakable feeling of satisfaction.

A question I often get is how do you get the birds to land on your hand without food? Although I always wanted to reply saying that I am the real Snow White, every photo session simply starts with bird seeds and a whole lot of patience. However, my goal here isn’t to photograph birds eating out of my hand. The challenge is to create something unique. With persistence, I slowly gain the animal’s trust and it eventually comes to me without food. That’s when the real deal starts. There’s…