Camera Lenses – Understanding the Functions of your Camera

Hey Guys, today we will be discussing the features of a camera lens. Have you ever looked at your camera and wondered what everything dose? Then this is a blog post for you! Here I’ll explain everything you see on your lens, aw well as what each switch does.

Learning more about the things we aspire to do is important, so please take some time to review over this, and have your camera lens explained. Today we will be starting with Focal Length.

Focal Length 

The Focal Length is two numbers separated by a dash for example 24-70 mm, That is considered a zoom lens. Meaning, you have a range of different focal lengths, within a lens. If you only see one number, that is called a prime lens. A prime lens is a fixed focal length and cannot zoom in or out.

Basically, the focal length decides how much you can see in the frame, if its zoomed in magnifying everything in the frame or zoomed out, fitting more in the frame than you can see.

Focus Ring

When using manual focus, this ring will assist in adjusting the lens; creating a clear image. Most of the time you will never use this, but the feature is there if you ever need it.

Auto/ Manual Focus Switch 

This feature gives you the option between Auto Focus or Manual Focus. Almost most of the time you will be using Auto Focus (AF). The lens will do the work in attaining focus on the area you select. Here are a few times when you will be using Manual Focus:

  • Self Portrait – Pre-Focus switching back to Manual
  • Low Light – When the lens has trouble fining focus on its own

Distance Scale

Landscape photographers use this feature mostly, but its always good to know your cameras features. Used when making use of hyper focal focusing, mainly for times when you want to maximize depth of field in an image. (When you want everything in sharp focus.) You set the distance using the scale, then use Manual Focus on the lens instead of Auto Focus.

Maximum Aperture 

If you are unaware of the meaning of aperture, let me explain; essentially a small opening in the lens that lets light into the camera’s sensor. The size of the opening is measured in F-stops. The smaller the opening, the larger the F-stop number, for example if the F-stop number is F2.8 the opening is larger and if the F-stop number is F16 the opening is smaller. (The smaller the number the larger the aperture)

Located on the top or front of the lens, for example a Canon Lens EF of 50mm 1:1.4, the .4 (F4) is the maximum aperture. If you have two number separated by a dash, for example F3.5 – F5.6, this means the maximum aperture changes with the focal length of the zoom.

Image Stabilizer (IS)

Some lenses have this additional feature, It holds many names:

  • Vibration Reduction (VR)
  • Vibration Control (VC)
  • Among many others, but they all do the same thing.

Allowing you to handhold lenses at lower than recommended shutter speeds, without introducing motion blur. A good rule of thumb for hand holding a lens is that you shouldn’t use a slower shutter speed than the focal length of you lens. For example, If you have a 85mm focal length lens, you would never take a photograph with a shutter speed under 1/85. Only used to counteract your movement with the lens, and to stop from getting motion blur (not to take sharper images).

Only use (IS) when photographing a stationary object and you need to use a slower shutter speed than you can reasonably expect to hand hold, otherwise, keep it switched off as it does more harm than good if you have moving objects.

Zoom Ring

If you have a zoom lens, you will also have a zoom ring! Allowing you to zoom in and out, choosing different focal lengths. If you have a prime lens, you will not have a zoom ring as where a prime lens is a fixed focal length.

Focal Length Selected 

As you zoom in and out, you will change the focal length of the lens. These numbers at the bottom of the lens, are simply some lengths within your zoom. For example 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm, the little line at the bottom shows which focal length you are currently using. Again if you have a prime lens you will not have this as you will only have one focal length.

As always thank you for spending some time with me today as we reviewed the features of your lens up close. I always look forward to exploring new areas of the photography world, even if it is terminology and features. I hope to see you again soon, for now make sure to check out my other posts about the Best Camera for a Beginner – Nikon D3500.

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