What Size Camera Lens Do I Need | Best Handy Guide For Beginners In 2021

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Sarthak Koul
Sarthak Koul
Sarthak brings a technical perspective to the everyday aspects of life through his blogs. Breaking down the storyline of movies and shows is something he enjoys thoroughly. He firmly believes in contributing to this flawed and beautiful world in his own way. His mantra is to take things one day at a time.

Are you confused about which kind of lens you should buy? It’s natural to feel confused and overwhelmed with a ton of information around the web regarding different types of camera lenses. And so, we’ve come up with a handy guide on ‘What size camera lens do I need?‘ to help you choose the right size of the camera lens for your needs.

Starting out in the photography field can easily leave you submerged in the vast ocean of information around the camera tech which can lead you into buying the camera gear that you might not actually need. We understand that concern and that’s why we’ve shared this handbook to let you know how to decide the right kind of lens for yourself.


Without further ado, let’s check out the content of the article that’s going to get you started on the right path of your photography journey:

  • The Basics: Focal Length
  • Categorization of Lenses
  • Different Types of Lenses
  • A Focal Length based Help-Guide

Read along the article to know more about these lenses in order to understand what is it that you need from the lens and how to select it the right way.

Check-Out: 6 Great Criteria On How To Choose Lens For Camera | A Beginner’s Guide

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need? 

Now that you’ve overseen the list of content, let’s take a deeper dive into the article to get some basics clear in order to understand what’s the right kind of lens for you to buy.

1. The Basics: Focal Length

To better understand, let’s first discuss what focal length in photography means. Focal length is the characteristic of the lens (usually given in mm) that defines how much area of a scene the camera is able to capture. 

The focal length of a lens is inversely related to the angle of view of a scene. If the focal length is longer, the angle of view produced is narrower and higher magnification. Similarly, a short focal length dictates a wider angle of view and a lower magnification as well. Now, let’s try to use this concept in defining the different types of lenses.

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2. Categorization of Lenses

Broadly, all of the camera lenses can be divided into two main categories: Prime lenses and Zoom lenses. In the next section, we’ll get a brief and basic idea of what both of these lenses are and how they differ.

2.1 Prime Lens

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Prime Lens
Source: Flickr

A Prime lens comes with a fixed focal length. This also means that the lens doesn’t allow the zoom in and zoom out feature. The very fact that prime lenses don’t have any extra glass in order to zoom, makes these kinds of lenses to be smaller, lighter and produce sharper images than their counterparts – Zoom lenses.

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Since the prime lenses are fine-tuned to function with a specific focal length, they intend to deliver higher quality images than zoom lenses. The standard 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses are the most widely used prime lenses. The 50mm prime lens is a recommended and popular choice for portrait photography.

2.2 Zoom Lens

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Zoom Lens
Source: PremiumBeat

The most common type of lens that you will come across in the photography world is the zoom lens. Zoom lenses come with a defined range of focal lengths, making them diverse and versatile than the previously mentioned prime lenses.

Due to its versatility, the zoom lens offers great freedom of choice in the creative realm, from street art photography to wildlife action shots. The most popular zoom lens is the 70-200mm with which you can zoom all the way from 70mm to 200mm. Because of its wide range of applicability and adaptability, the zoom lens is considered an all-around lens typically recommended for beginners. 

3. Different Types of Lenses

From Wide Angle to Fisheye lenses, this section will cover all major types of lenses that you’ll come across in the market or on the internet. Let’s get a better understanding of each lens:

3.1 Wide Angle

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Wide Angle Lens
Source: Upgarde

What size camera lens do I need? : Wide Angle Lens

A wide-angle lens, as clearly suggested by its name, corresponds to a wider field of view. This helps to capture more of the same scenery than the above-mentioned standard zoom lens. Wide-angle lenses are the go-to lenses for landscape photography.

In regards to focal length, a wide-angle lens refers to a lens below 35mm. These lenses are categorized as standard wide-angle lenses with focal lengths between 35mm and 24mm; wide-angle with focal lengths between 24-16mm and ultra-wide-angle lenses below 16mm.

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In addition to landscape photography, wide-angle lenses are great for interior architectural photography and large group photos in confined spaces. The most popular wide lenses fall under the 16-35mm range. 

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Wide angle Lens Shot
Source: Borrowlenses

3.2 Fisheye

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Fisheye Lens
Source: Wikiwand

What size camera lens do I need? : Fisheye Lens

Fisheye lenses are a special type of wide-angle lenses, sometimes referred to as ultra wide angle lenses, to provide an enormous field of view. These lenses have a 180-degree angle of view that gives them the unusual fisheye effect.

The focal length of fisheye lenses can be as low as 8mm which helps them to capture as much scene information as possible. These lenses give off a hemispherical type of view similar to the GoPro action cameras.

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Fisheye Lens Shot
Source: Shutterstock

3.3 Telephoto

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Telephoto Lens
Source: Lifewire

What size camera lens do I need? : Telephoto Lens

If a standard zoom lens doesn’t cut it, then you’ve got to level up to a telephoto lens. These lenses are not suitable for budding photographers as these lenses conform to special needs and are rather bulky and possibly out of a beginner’s budget.

Telephoto lenses have focal lengths ranging between 70-200mm with Super Telephoto lenses working in the 300-600mm range. This makes them suitable for sports photographers as well as nature and wildlife photography to get a close and clear shot of the subject. 

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Telephoto Lens Shot
Source: Shutterbug

3.4 Macro

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Macro Lens
Source: B&H Photo Video

What size camera lens do I need? : Macro Lens

Macro lenses are popular for their extreme close-up photography. These lenses come with a closer focusing ability than the usual lenses which helps them to reproduce a 1:1 life-size ratio of the focussed subject. Macro lenses are widely used for capturing small products or objects such as flowers, insects, etc.

What Size Camera Lens Do I Need: Macro Lens Shot
Source: pixelpluck.com

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4. A Focal Length based Help-Guide

Focal LengthType of Camera LensUsed for
1. 4mm – 14mmFisheyeAbstract and creative shots
2.14mm – 35mmWide angleLandscape and architecture photography
3.35mm – 85mmStandard ZoomStreet, travel, portrait 
4.85mm – 135mmShort telephotoStreet photography and portraits
5.135mm+Medium telephotoSports, wildlife, action photography
6.300mm+Super telephotoSports from a distance, nature and astronomy
7.35mm – 200mmMacroClose-up shots

Wrapping Up

This concludes our article on a handy guide on what size camera lens do I need. We hope that the article gave you a great insight to help you choose the right kind of lens gear for your creative photographic journey. 

Feature Image Credit: pro-lapse.com


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