Choose DSLR Lens - Focal Length

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Focal Length is measured in millimeters (mm) and it represents the distance from the optical center of a lens to the digital camera sensor when the subject of the photo is in focus.

With a short focal length you have to be close to your subject for getting a close-up, with a long focal length you can be far from your subject but still can get a close-up.
A zoom lens has a variable focal length, and a prime lens has a fixed focal length.

Lens Type

Each lens has specific range of focal lengths.
So, you will not find all focal length range from 10mm to 600mm in single lens only. There are no such lens.

Generally, lenses are grouped into four primary categories based on their focal lengths:
- Wide Angle: 28mm or lower.
- Standard: 35mm to 85mm.
- Telephoto: 100mm to 300mm.
- Super Telephoto: higher than 300mm.

For DSLR with 1.5x crop factor (not a Full Frame DSLR):
- Wide Angle: 18mm or lower.
- Standard: 24mm to 55mm.
- Telephoto: 70mm to 200mm.
- Super Telephoto: higher than 200mm.

Different focal lengths have different uses in the world of photography.
Generally, they are used for:
- Wide Angle: Landscapes, Architecture and Interiors.
- Standard: Portraits.
- Telephoto: Portaits and Sports.
- Super Telephoto: Widlife and Sports.

Wide Angle

Wide angle lens is good for landscape photography, because you can get all the scenery, from the foreground grass to the mountain background in the distance.
But wide angle lens is not good for taking portrait photo, because they distort the facial features, such as the noses look huge.

Standard Lens

Standard lens is good for a wide range of photographic sbujects, but better at portraits.
Standard lens create very natural-looking portraits without the distortion.

Telephoto Lens

Telephoto lens is good for portraits but also have some distortion, in the term of distance between objects. This lens have less depth and three-dimensionality than lenses with wider focal lengths.
They good for getting you up close with subjects that are far away.

Super Telephoto Lens

These lenses are extremely expensive. And usually used only by professional photographers.
Wildlife photographers used them, where getting up close is not an option. Also you can see them in professional sporting event.
This lens requires a lot of skill to use effectively.

Next article is choosing Prime Lens or Zoom Lens.
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