Why Adding These 5 Types of Lenses to Your Kit Can Make a Difference to Your Photography


We all love a lens. After all, they are, arguably, the most important part of our photographic equipment. Most people will start off with one, maybe two lenses and usually these will be a standard zoom and a telephoto zoom. However, as you grow as a photographer, you come to realize that there is a whole world of creative possibilities being denied to you using the “usual” lenses. Today we will take a look at five lenses that you should consider adding to your kit.

1. The Super Wide

Anything wider than 21mm on full frame can be considered in the super wide category. Super wides can be zooms or primes but whatever your choose, they can give you dramatic looking images. The choice of the landscape photographer, they can be very tricky to use from a compositional point of view, challenging you to look for foreground interest and leading lines, but get it right and the super wide will reward you with stunning looking images.

2010-06-18 Odessa-12
A 14mm Super Wide on Full Frame gives a dramatic field of view. Photo by Jason Row Photography

2. The Super Zoom

The die hard purists may be throwing their arms up in protest at this one, but there is no denying a super zoom can be an extremely useful lens. While it is true that in the early years of the super zoom, image quality was sub par, today these lenses have really improved. The most common range of a super zoom these days is around 28-300mm equivalent on full frame. That is a massive range and makes these lenses the ideal objective for travel and general walk about shots.

Tamron 28-300
Compact but with a great range. Photo by Garry Knight

3. The Prime

Which prime I hear you ask. Well, the fact is any prime can make a difference to the way you shoot. If you are a landscape photographer then a 14 or 20mm prime might be your choice. A portrait photographer should really consider an 85mm. Primes make you think about your composition differently. If you need to get a tighter crop, you do so with your feet, not a zoom ring. This in turn changes the perspective of the composition, opening new creative possibilities. Primes are also smaller, lighter yet with faster apertures than their zoom equivalents. Whilst even the fastest zoom lenses may not go much wider than f2.8, a good prime can be as wide as f1.4. This opens up a whole new range of shallow depth of field images.

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A 23mm Fuji Prime, equivalent to a 35mm f2. Photo by Jason Row Photography

4. The Macro

Technically these lenses should be called micro, not macro but any lens that can create an image equal or greater than 1 to 1 is a great addition to your equipment. The photographic possibilities of “the small” are boundless, an entire, almost unseen world of beauty available to us at the end of a macro lens. It is not only the sublime beauty of nature that we can capture with these lenses, but also the often surreal abstract of the man-made as well. A good macro lens deserves a good tripod to ensure you can get as close as possible to your subject and keep the image sharp.

Find worlds within worlds with a macro lens. Photo by Kathrin Reinsch

5. The PC Lens

No, this is not a politically correct lens, it is a perspective control lens. Expensive, yes but as a tool for the architectural minded among you, it is the lens to aspire to. While Photoshop might make a decent fist of correcting verticals, nothing can replace the PC lens for giving you a pure, natural looking upright in your building shots. They are also known as tilt and shift lenses due to the way that the front part of the lens is moved up and down, off the center axis, working effectively like the bellows in a field camera.

My PC Nikkor 35mm
No, it's not broken, it's a perspective control lens. Photo by George Rex

Of course, it's pretty unlikely that you will desire all of these lenses, or indeed have the budget for all of them. However, whatever type of photography that you do, amongst these five there is, almost certainly one or two that can open new shooting possibilities for you. A prime lens should be considered for any type of photography as it can really focus your mind on composition. Whatever you choose, there is nothing like buying a new lens to spur you on to take more creative images.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

I honestly don’t understand why you’d need a PC lens. They are expensive, their perspective control is rather limited and you can have exactly the same effect in Photoshop or other photo editing software. For free…

Nuno, in my experience the tilt shift is primarily for above average real estate photographers. Fish eyes are out of the question and even the widest of wides has barrel distortion the tilt shift can bypass. A novelty lens for pretty much anyone else.

I have a Canon 1200D with a standard kit lens. Also, 75-300mm Sigma lens and a wide angle lens with 0.45x Macro. So far. Anything else should I buy next.

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