Focal Length Decisions

A daunting array of lenses await the landscape photographer – the majority of them seemingly exorbitantly priced but nevertheless tempting. Andy Brown shares his thoughts on choosing lenses

How do you acquire and learn to select the right ones for your particular style of imagery? What is the magic combination? Well, in short, there simply isn’t one, as a great deal depends on your budget, shooting style and natural affinity with one piece of glass over another. A good starting point is to work with the kit lens you are most likely to have first, typically an 18-55mm as this is a solid introductory piece covering a useful range. As you outgrow it you will perhaps want to consider a decent wide angle, as this will enable a greater breadth of the scene before you to be captured, in better clarity and resolution.

As a general rule you get what you pay for, and it is often wise to prioritise your lenses over your camera body. In basic terms, think of it as having ‘good eyes’ – your camera can’t process or work with what your lens can’t capture. A fast lens – that is one with a large maximum aperture – is desirable as it will allow the same exposures with a faster shutter speed, meaning less chance of motion blur and greater capability for handheld work. If you can afford prime lenses – in that they have a fixed focal length – these are fabulous quality given everything is geared around the same length, but you do sacrifice versatility and will increase the amount of lens changes a shoot often dictates.

The best solution for many is to build an initial trio of lenses that cover a good range from wide angle through to a reasonable zoom that allow some degree of overlap between. As time goes on you will find your favoured sweet spots, and these can be further enhanced by lenses that play to them.

After that, things really start to...

Read the whole article inside issue 71.

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About Author

Andy Brown

An ardent devotee to most genres of landscape photography, Andy’s primary fervour and passion is for mono and split-toned, ultra long exposure imagery.

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