Key points to know before buying a lens
Key points to know before buying a lens

When we start taking pictures, we soon realize how important it is to choose wisely the camera lens that will accompany us in every situation. Among all the elements of our equipment, the camera lens will be the most important, the most time consuming and the most thought provoking when choosing one. So, what should we consider before buying a lens? You need to know clearly what you want, because it is not the cheapest photo accessory available, far from it.

Moreover, the decision will be decisive when it comes to giving quality and character to our images. With all this in mind, what should we look for when buying a lens? Today, we explain what we consider to be the key points to consider when choosing a photo lens.

1. Compatibility of the lens with my camera

Buying a lens that is compatible with your camera may seem like a no-brainer, but not as much as you might think. Many photography enthusiasts who are just starting out face a real headache when it comes to checking the compatibility of the lens they want for their camera.

The brand

You may have a clear idea of the brand. Let's take a Canon camera as an example. Well, then we'll need an original Canon lens or a compatible lens, be it Tamron, Samyang or even Sigma... Brands that design lenses compatible with the most popular camera mounts on the market. So far, so good. Either an original lens or a lens compatible with our brand.

The mount

On the other hand, we need to be clear on what the mount is. Is it a Canon EOS or a Canon M? Let's pretend we have the Canon EOS 12000D, so we already know the brand and the mount (Canon EOS). But what about the sensor?

The sensor

We must also be attentive to the compatibility with the sensor. If we keep the example of the Canon EOS 1200D, we have a camera with an APS-C sensor. So a lens designed for cameras with a Full Frame sensor may be suitable, as well as a lens designed for APS-C sensor cameras.

But be careful, if you are lucky enough to have a camera with a Full Frame sensor, you will not be able to combine it with a lens designed for APS-C cameras, because either it will be impossible to assemble them for a design issue because it may produce a shock on the mirror of the camera or simply, even if you manage to assemble them, you will get an image with vignetting.

This is due to the fact that the amount of light that the lens is able to transmit is less than that of the sensor, which will result in parts of the image "without information", without light (the edges). If we applied this combination, it would give something like this:

But as explained before, this does not happen in the opposite situation: a lens designed for Full Frame will bring to an APS-C sensor more light than it needs, except that you will lose information along the way. So it would be a shame to invest in a FF lens (with a higher cost) and not take advantage of it later on.

What is sure is that by owning an FF lens, you are always guaranteed to be able to use it on APS-C cameras as well as on Full-Frame cameras, if you ever have more than one or if you plan to switch from one to the other later on.

2. The focal length of the lens

The fact that the lens is compatible with your camera is the first step. The second is clear to us: what focal length to choose? Cameras usually come with a short zoom lens in their basic packages, you can decide to upgrade to a zoom lens with a larger focal range or take the plunge and opt for fixed focal lengths.

Zoom lens vs. fixed lens

Should I go with a zoom lens or a fixed lens? To answer this question, there are two known principles: zoom lenses are generally considered to have greater versatility and convenience in their use, while those with fixed focal lengths are characterized by better optical quality.

Fixed lenses, on the other hand, are known to better "train" photographers by forcing them to move around, in addition to giving a certain consistency to the angle of view when shooting a series of photos. This step is a very personal decision, many photographers generally like to have both options in their equipment and choose one over the other depending on the specific situation they will be facing.

Wide angle, telephoto... ?

We can also approach the question from another angle: what kind of pictures do I like to take? This comes down to choosing the focal length according to the reasons for which we will mainly use the lens (it is not the same thing to want to photograph landscapes as portraits, in the same way, the choice will be different if we talk about nature or studio photography).

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