Photography and camera lenses

By , last updated June 5, 2017

Everybody has one or more camera and take lots of pictures. Many people do think they take professional pictures.

Indeed, pictures may be very much alike, but designers will never use images taken with a mobile phone in their professional designs.

Why? Look at these two images:

mobile and wide angle camera dandelion

One of these images is taken with a very new mobile phone camera (HTC One M9, right) and the other one with a wide angle zoom lens (left, Canon EOS 7D w/Canon 17-40mm lens). This was just a quick shot, and you see the difference. Colors are much better with a professional camera and lens.

Here is another example where we tried to take a picture with good quality. The quality of a digital photograph defines often in how detailed it stays when zoomed in:

zoom camera and mobile

In this example a camera image (left, Canon 7D) has more detailed objects and has preserved the original color as well in comparison to a mobile phone.

Amateur or Professional?

Amateur photographers are people with a photo camera taking random pictures. They can get lucky and get really good pictures now and then, but it’ll almost always be pure luck. Those pictures are seldom a good raw material for good designs.

Professional photographers are people with:

  1. Photography skills. It means that they know what angle to take pictures at for different purposes, what light should be at the scene, how the objects should be placed and so on.
  2. The right equipment. You can shoot some simple images even with your mobile phone. But those pictures would be either of a bad quality, bad angle, damaged color palette and so on. A professional photographer knows what equipment to use for different purposes: how many camera bodies, what lenses, what light and so on.

    Did you see the TV series “Sherlock“? Remember the scenes with a frozen image rotating? Look here how they shoot it.

  3. Skills of editing software. Every picture can be made a little bit better. Snow photos can be more white, and forest photos more green.

Camera lenses

The first step to good images is photography skills, but the second one is camera and lenses. You can take some decent pictures with mobile phones and super skinny cameras. But those won’t be as good as a good camera with a substitutable lens can take.

When it comes to cameras – there is only one choice – DSLR ( digital single-lens reflex camera).

What lens to choose for your camera will be dependent on your goals. Good lenses are pretty expensive, so you should consider lens hire if you need to do a one-time job.

In the following table I’ve tried to summarize the goals and lens types.

lenses and usage

Wide angle zoom lens

Wide angle lenses capture a wider angle picture. This lens is great for outdoor landscape shooting with some distance. If you zoom in on something though the edges become blurred.

The lens is good for panorama photography (but fisheye is better). Here’s one of our panoramas taken with a wide angle lens:

panorama krim small

This is a lens we mostly use here at SF Textures to take photos for our textures.

Medium telephoto zoom lens

medium telephoto lens

This is a medium range zoom lens that is perfect for outdoor photography, especially weddings. This lens provides a somewhat narrow field of view so they are not a very good fit to shoot wide angle photos.

Here is an example of an image taken with this type of lens.

_MG_8087

The nearest part of the picture is blurred due to focus on a bird far away.

Long telephoto zoom lens

long telephoto lens

This type of lenses provides a very narrow field-of-view (FoV) and can shoot objects hundreds meters away. Those lenses are able to compress the distance and take a picture of just that one object and not the whole landscape. The majority of these lenses come with a stabilization system. This is a lens you’d need to take with you on a trip to the mountains. Ironically enough, they are the largest and heaviest lenses available.

Macro lens

Have you seen all those beautiful detailed images of insects?

super-macro-photography_w725_h544

In order to take such image you will need a macro lens. No other lens will give you this opportunity as the camera won’t be able to focus on a so small object.

Macro lenses can have a very sharp focus on small near objects, but can’t focus on anything in some distance. Nature photographers will love it.

Fish eye lens

The Fish Eye lens is an extremely wide lens that captures a lot of space around you and makes spherical images. It gives you an opportunity to be creative and shoot unique images that no other cameras and lenses can. It can produce circular, convex and oval images by distorting the perspective and creating a 180° image.

This is a lens used to make textures of skies.

sky fisheye

Tilt and Shift lenses

Tilt and Shift

This lens enables you to focus on whatever you want. For example, when taking pictures of a landscape you can focus on both foreground and background at the same time thus getting equally sharp regions. You can set focus selectively and some objects will be in focus and others out of focus within the same plane. This lens is also able to alter the perspective of an image. Parallel lines will be staying parallel, thus giving perfect architecture images. Look here for more explanation and examples.

Conclusion

You will need two types of skills and a decent equipment in order to be a great photographer. Professional cameras are rather expensive, but that is nothing compared to the cost of lenses. But remember that you don’t always need to buy all the lenses. Check out if some store nearby can lend it to you for a couple of days.