Digital SLR Camera Lenses and other Interchangeable Lens Camera Lenses

 Interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), including digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILCs) come with the HUGE advantage that one can swop out the lenses. This allows the photographer to utilize the perfect lens in each and every situation. The photographer can choose a lens based on their exact requirements in terms of focal length, quality, image stabilization, aperture and other attributes for each and every situation!


Interchangeable lens camera lenses generally speaking can fit on any camera that allows interchangeable lenses, whether it be a DSLR or mirrorless camera. One gets special adapters that even allow lenses from different manufacturers, or old film camera lenses to fit on a particular camera body, though in some cases some of the functionality may be reduced. Out of choice we would recommend that you try as much as possible to get your lens from the same manufacturer as your camera, or get a third party lens (e.g. Sigma or Tamron) that is specifically designed for use with your camera manufacturer.


Here at Cameraverse we recommend that you first purchase a quality camera before saving for a quality lens, as opposed to rushing out and buying a camera and lenses that are all somewhat below the quality you would like, in order to fit within your current budget. Once you have a quality DSLR it will serve you for years. And the process of buying lenses for a quality camera is definitely worth the wait!   


Feel free to consult with us as to which digital SLR camera and lenses will best suite your budget and requirements.


Types of photographic lenses

 There are many different types of interchangeable camera lenses, available for both Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (DSLRs) and Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras (MILCs). Let’s us take a quick look at some of the types of interchangeable lens camera lenses available.


a. Prime Lenses

 An SLR "prime" lens is one with a fixed focal length (e.g. 50mm), and thus is less versatile but generally ‘sharper’ / of a higher quality than a similar priced zoom lens.


b. Zoom Lenses

 An interchangeable lens camera "zoom" lens is one that has a variable focal length and thus can be zoomed in and out to provide a wider range of distances from which objects can be photographed. It is thus very versatile, but there can be a slight trade off in quality as it has to be manufactured to focus across a wide range of focal length. We at Cameraverse feel that for the highest level of zoom lens sharpness you do not want a lens that goes beyond about a fourfold magnification (e.g. Canon 100-400mm, or Sigma 150 – 600mm). Have a look here at the relative strengths and weaknesses of zoom lenses and prime lenses.


1. Standard lenses

 An interchangeable lens camera standard lens (whether it be a zoom lens or prime lens) is ‘standard’ in the sense that it has a focal length that is similar to that naturally viewed by the human eye. This tends to be around the 30mm to 70mm range, as on a full frame (35mm) camera a 50mm focal length lens makes images viewed through the viewfinder appear of a ‘normal’ size to the human eye.

Some awesome quality standard lenses and great value for money standard lenses include: Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens, Pentax 35mm f/2.4 SMC DA AL, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZA SSM, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G AF-S, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S DX, Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF, Pentax smc DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED VR, Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 D FA HD ED SDM WR Lens, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, Sony 35mm f/1.8 DT SAM, Sony Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II.


2.  Wide Angle Lenses

 A digital camera wide angle lens has a shorter focal length than a standard lens (approximately 10mm – 30mm) and a wider field of view (i.e. you can fit more of the objective image in the frame).


Some awesome quality wide angle lenses and great value for money wide angle lenses include: Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens, Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens, Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens, Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE Lens, Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens, Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens, Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE Lens, Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Lens.


3.  Fisheye lenses

 Fisheye lenses are really just extreme wide angle lenses, and are so named due to the ‘fisheye’ lens construction at the front of the lens that allows for the up to 180 degree field of view. The inevitable level of distortion lends itself to some great abstract shots! The lenses are also particularly useful for anyone trying to take photographs of extremely wide but shallow areas (where it is impossible to step back to capture everything). An example of this might be that of an estate agent photographing the interior of a house.


Some awesome quality fish eye camera lenses and great value for money fish eye lenses include the following: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L USM Fisheye Lens, Sigma 8mm, 10mm, Sigma 15mm, Tokina 10-17mm, Nikon 10.5mm, Nikon 16mm, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm F1.8 Fisheye PRO, Inon UFL-165 and the Canon 15mm, Canon Fisheye Lens 15mm f/2.8 EF


4. Macro Lenses

 Any decent digital camera macro lens has an extremely short focal length. This allows for a very short minimum distance between the lens and the object, so that incredibly small objects such as insects appear really large. This also maintains incredible depth of field!


Staff at Cameraverse are often asked about whether one can also use a digital camera macro lens for ‘normal’ photography. The answer is that whatever the level of magnification that the lens professes (e.g. a Canon 100mm macro lens) this is indeed the level of magnification that one will get. The only difference is that it is possible to use a digital macro lens at a really close distance from the object being photographed. Please note that because of this a (for example) 180mm macro lens has a far greater depth of field than a ‘normal’ 180mm lens.


In practice what this means is that when you are using a digital macro lens for normal (not super close-up) photography you need to be careful that enough of the subject is in focus. If you are using a high F-stop such as F2 and take a photograph of a face you might find that only a portion of the eye is in focus (if this is what you were focusing on) and the rest of the face is blurry. This can be easily remedied though by stopping down to say F11.


Some awesome quality macro lenses and great value for money macro lenses include the following: Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Sony 50mm f/2.8 D Macro AF. Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di USD VC, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 G AF-S VR IF ED Micro Nikkor, Pentax 100mm f/2.8 SMC D-FA WR Macro, Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro, Sony SAL100M28 100mm f/2.8 Macro, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM.


 5. Telephoto lenses

 A telephoto lens has a high level of magnification due to the long focal length. This also results in the telephoto lens having a compressed depth of field and diminished field of view. The impressive focal length means that telephoto lenses tend to be somewhat expensive and also rather heavy, and are used mostly by sports photographers and wildlife photographers.


It is in fact easy no problem to put relatively small telephoto lenses on cameras with small sensors as the very little actual length is necessary to cover the sensor. You can see this clearly with bridge cameras (compact cameras with large zoom lenses) and indeed with smart phone telephoto lenses. However, a telephoto lens on a large sensor camera, such as a DSLR, is a beast of a thing really and can become quite problematic to shoot out of hand.


Some excellent quality telephoto zoom lenses and phenomenal value telephoto zoom lenses include the following: Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro for Canon, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR, Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM, Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD, Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens, Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens, Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender.

 Without a doubt the best quality lenses on the planet are the top quality telephoto prime lenses, and the image quality nowadays is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately though all that glass just doesn’t come cheap! A short list of some of our favorites includes the following: Nikon Nikkor AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR, Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200mm f/2G ED VR II, Nikon Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8G ED VR, Nikon Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Nikon Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, Nikon Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Nikon AF-S 800mm, Canon 300mm F 2.8 IS II, Canon 400mm F 2.8 IS II, Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, Olympus 300mm f/2.8 ED, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 300mm F4 IS Pro, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 EX DG Sony Alpha, Sony 500mm f/4 G, Sony 300mm f/2.8G II, Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO Sony Alpha, Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM Sony Alpha, Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Macro Sony Alpha.


6. Superzoom lenses

 An superzoom lens is merely the term used for a zoom lens with a really large difference between the shortest focal length and the longest focal length. The longer focal length is often 10 or more times that of the shortest focal length. This massive range means that interchangeable lens camera superzoom lenses are often used as a versatile one-size-fits-all lens in situations where carrying more than one lens might be inconvenient. The only downside, as mentioned above, is that there can sometimes be a loss of some level of sharpness that can come from trying to create a lens that is super sharp across such diverse focal points.


Some excellent quality superzoom lenses and phenomenal value superzoom lenses include: Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens, Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Lens, Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens, Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR, Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, Panasonic Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS, Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM, Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III and Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro.


 7. Pancake Lenses

 A pancake lens is merely a slim-line lens designed to minimize size and weight, often with the trade-off of some image quality. Pancake lenses are great for any situation where size and weight become a factor, such as when hiking with a camera and lens or when travelling abroad.


Some of the best value pancake lenses and most interesting pancake lenses include: Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 PII, Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM, Olympus 25mm f/2.8 ED Zuiko, Panasonic 14mm F2.5, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, Samsung 16mm f/2.4, Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited, Sony E 16mm f/2.8, Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 ASPH, Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS.



 Specialist camera lenses are generally not carried by regular photographers as their range of use tends to be somewhat circumscribed. These specialist interchangeable lens camera lenses might include tilt - shift lenses for perspective control, soft-focus lenses for glamour portrait photography, and IR lenses / thermal imaging lenses / UV lenses for capturing light outside the normal visible light spectrum.

 8. Tilt-Shift lenses


Tilt-shift SLR lenses are specialist lenses that allow you to manipulate the vanishing points so that parallel lines in the picture (e.g. with buildings) do not appear to converge. Tilt-shift lenses also allow for selective image focus where the photographer can control which image parts are in or out of focus.


Some excellent quality tilt-shift lenses and phenomenal value tilt-shift lenses include the following: Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II and Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L, Rokinon 24mm f/3.5 Tilt-Shift Lens, Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens


 9. Soft focus lenses

 A DSLR soft focus lens is used mainly in the glamour photography field, in order to allow a level of blurring of the image to remove any perceived blemishes on the person being photographed.


Some of the most interesting soft focus lenses include the following: Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 With Soft focus Lens, Nikon 135mm f/2 DC. Yusuhara has produced a new much talked about soft-focus SLR lens called MoMo, and it is launching with mounts for most of the major camera brands!


10. Infrared lenses, thermal imaging lenses and ultra violet lenses

 Infrared lenses, thermal imaging lenses and ultra violet lenses are used in order to be able to record light wavelengths that are not part of the normal light spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Normal lenses record light from around 400 nm – 700 nm, whilst UV lenses record shorter light waves than this and IR lenses and (even more extremely) thermal imaging lenses record light wave lengths longer than that visible to the human eye.


 Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the primary purposes of these different lens types so that you are more empowered when it comes to making your purchases! Feel free to contact us here at Cameraverse if you would like some advice on what camera lens will best suite your needs!