For beginner photographers and videographers, understanding what lens you may need and why you need it can be very confusing. There are all types of camera lenses from what looks like toys to telescopes.

You’ve all seen the lens comparison videos where a portrait is taken with each lens, and the subjects face gradually goes from goofy (wide angle) to flat (telephoto). Taking a portrait with a fish eye lens is a good way to display distorted optical characteristics of the lens, but does not portray its uses in a way that is flattering to the lens.

In this article we will take you out of the studio and into the real world, simply trying to find the best shot for each lens type. If you don’t yet know difference between an 18mm and a 50mm, read on. Look for the images that reflect the type of shooting you want to do – then see what lens was used to achieve it!

       The images produced by these lenses should be observed for their field of view characteristics only, that is how much can be seen from top to bottom and left to right. Things such as bokeh (blurry background) are achieved by camera placement and aperture, these looks are adjustable depending on the aperture of the lens. For more on how aperture affects depth of field view the video here. 
       This article will be running through lenses in all the main categories, a few with multiple examples. Images are unedited with use on an APS-C sized sensor. More information on this at the end of the article.

12mm Lens Ultra Wide Angle

types of camera lenses, 12mm lens example Cameraplex

Price Range: $$$$$

This 12mm lens is an ultra wide angle lens  in the wide angle lens category. The lenses that make up this category are, Fisheye, Ultra Wide Angle, & Standard Wide Angle. 

28mm Lens Wide Angle

types of camera lenses, 28mm lens example Cameraplex


Also in the wide angle lens category, a 28mm is lens is a great wide angle lens with a broad use. It provides a realistically wide view without the extreme distortion of a fish eye lens. The 28-35mm range is generally considered the best focal length for street photography.

50mm Lens Standard

types of camera lenses, 50mm Lens Example Cameraplex


If this is not your first lens purchase, it will most likely be your second. 50mm lenses are right in the sweet spot between wide and telephoto, often able to act as both if you have the room to move around. With most major brands having multiple 50mm lenses at $100 to $250, their typically low aperture numbers and affordability make them probably the most purchased focal length.

Macro 55mm Lens Macro Lens

types of camera lenses, 55mm macro lens example Cameraplex


Macro lenses have the ability to focus much more closely than non macro lenses. A non macro lens may have a minimum focus distance of a foot, while macro lenses often can focus at one inch and closer. The best part is, beyond close focusing, they focus all the way to infinity just like your other lenses.

16mm CCTV Lens Creative/Toy Lenses

types of camera lenses, 16mm toy creative lens example Cameraplex


Usually made of plastic with a high aperture number, creative and toy lenses are a popular low-cost option for in camera special effects, or creative filter type looks. Some popular style toy lenses include, perspective control, vignetting, and fisheye.

35mm Tilt-Shift Lens Tilt-Shift

types of camera lenses, 35mm tilt shift lens example Cameraplex


Tilt-shift lenses also known as perspective control lenses have unique control over the lenses focal plane. Known mostly for their miniature effect capabilities, tilt-shift lenses can also be used to

You can see one such use in the image above. A sideways tilt was used to achieve narrow depth of field focus on the apple while simultaneously focusing on the subjects left eye.

100mm Lens Telephoto

types of camera lenses, 100mm Lens Type Example


Generally speaking, 50mm to 200mm is considered the telephoto field of view range. A 100mm or 135mm lens is another sweet spot, this time between telephoto and super telephoto. The 100mm focal length provides a nice telephoto reach without too much spacial compression, making it a great lens for portraits.

200mm Lens Super Telephoto

types of camera lenses, 200mm Lens Example Cameraplex


200mm and beyond is considered the super telephoto range. Super telephoto lenses are best for sports and wildlife photography, when you want your subject to fill the frame while maintaining a good amount of distance from them.


All images shot in this article are taken with an APS-C sized camera sensor, this means that the smaller sensor (in comparison to a full frame sensor) gives a 1.5 - 1.6x zoom on the actual lens' focal length. 

Times all focal lengths of the lenses used by 1.5 to get full frame equivalent focal length. Using the focal lengths in this article with a full frame camera sensor will result in a slightly wider field of view.

BONUS! [When getting the shot means getting awkward ]