For all photographers who use a DSLR camera, at least one lens is required to accompany a DSLR body to take a photograph. Unlike a compact point and shoot camera, in which the camera incorporates the lens into the body, making the lens and body one item and therefore not having the ability to amend the lens in anyway, SLR cameras are sold in two parts.
Firstly, the body, which is the considered the primary part of the camera, as this is what processes the photograph and secondly the lens, which, for those who are not photographically savvy, is the long, cylindrical part which protrudes from the front of the camera body and arranges the light that enters in to actually create different image perspectives.
Prior to any photograph being taken, the photographer must first attach a lens to their DSLR camera body. For the majority of general consumer DSLR cameras (i.e., those aimed at the widest possible market, from amateur photographers to semi-professional), most will be sold with at least one lens, known as a kit lens. Suitable for taking general photographs, they are not designed to be particularly efficient at taking photographs that require a certain perspective and using a camera with this lens is often seen as the next step up.
However, unlike on a compact point and shoot camera, which has a fixed lens, this lens can be removed and replaced with a different one, such as one with a greater focal length or wider aperture, so to be able to produce a varying style of image, offering a different style of image.
Due to the vast amount of lenses that are available, deciding on the one that is the most suitable for you as an individual photographer is far from being an easy process. Prior to any lenses being looked at or considered, it is important that several questions are answered and points are considered, including the actual type of DSLR camera that is being used, what type of photography is carried or planning to be carried out and any additional needs or circumstances that should be taken into consideration.
Whilst searching for a new lens will be possible without taking note of this information, the process will be one that is much less time consuming and complex if it is all taken into consideration. However, as this information can be particularly laborious to digest and become fully aware of it, it can be difficult for an amateur photographer to take it all in. Therefore, as the needs of an amateur photographer will very often be substantially less than professional photographers, the basics of the information would more often than not suffice when choosing a DSLR camera lens for an amateur photographer.
The reason why it is important to know what type of DSLR camera is being used is that lenses are camera (sometimes model but at least brand) specific, meaning that they cannot be interchanged between cameras from different manufacturers.
With this in mind, there are some exceptions to this rule, which are the lenses that are created by third party DSLR lens manufacturers. Not producing DSLRs themselves but focusing solely on the manufacturing of lenses, these companies produce lenses of all types to fit most DSLR cameras, meaning that a lens from the manufacturer of your DSLR body does not necessarily need to be purchased.
However, it has to be noted that due to the different fixing points (known as lens mounts) that the DSLR bodies from different manufacturers have, these third party lens manufacturers will often create the same lens, for the same price, but with different fixing points. Therefore, if purchasing a lens from a third party manufacturer, it must be ensured that the lens with the correct fixings for the DSLR body is purchased.
Discussions arise regularly in regards to lenses that are not produced by DSLR body manufacturers, primarily in respect of their quality, with many professional photographers believing that the images that third party lenses produce are not of the same standard as those created by DSLR body manufacturers. Whilst this may be the case, for the majority of amateur photographers, this difference will be barely discernible, meaning that they are more than suitable, extremely practical and very cost efficient, as they are more often than not cheaper than those lenses created by the manufacturers of the DSLR bodies.
On the assumption that this information is held, it is paramount that the four primary types of DSLR camera lenses are understood, so that the most suitable lens for the type of photography which is going to be carried out is chosen.
Wide Angle With a telephoto lens, a photographer will very often only want to capture a certain object when they first look through their lens. If a photographer wanted to capture in an image all that they could see, encompassing everything that the photographer is looking at from the sky to the ground, then they would generally use a wide angle lens.
Ideal for photographers who regularly take shots of a landscape due to the breadth and extent as to which the lens can cover, due to the way in which the lenses are created, they tend to make the area closest to the camera appear larger than it actually is.
Although this can give a fantastic perspective to landscape photography, offering a certain depth to photographers which other lenses cannot reproduce, it makes them almost completely unsuitable for facial portraits or head shots, as the distortion that is apparent makes the nose in particular appear considerably larger than it actually is.
In terms of focal lengths, wide angle DSLR camera lenses are at the opposite end of the scale to telephoto lenses and any lens with a focal length under 28mm is usually considered to be most suited to the needs of wide angle photography. As this is apparent, many amateur photographers choose to purchase a wide angle lens after experimenting with the lens which is sold with their chosen DSLR body, as the vast majority of consumer kit lenses that are sold with DSLRs today feature an 18- 55mm lens, giving the photographer a good taster of both a standard and wide angle lens.
For many professional photographers, a standard DSLR camera lens is something that will very rarely be used when working, as they do not have the capability of being particularly efficient at taking any type of niche photograph. Although they can be used for taking different types of photography, such as for images of landscapes, it is portrait photographs where they truly excel, particularly when utilizing the lens at a focal length of above 50mm and below 80mm.
Whilst this may be the case for professional photographers, for an amateur photographer who purchases an DSLR camera for the first time, the standard lens that will accompany the DSLR body will usually be extremely suited to their needs.
Not requiring a category of their own, particularly for the fact that they are often seen as an expansion or addition to one of the three lenses above, there are a small selection of lenses that can aid with producing a different photograph, most notably fish eye and macro lenses.