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Photo Tips

Long Lens vs. Wide Lens

July 10, 2024

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One of the most confusing things I encountered as a beginner photographer was the overwhelming number of different lenses on the market. The pricing ranged from hundreds to thousands, which seemed so crazy to me at the time. I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be the difference between all these lenses. Which lens is best for the type of photography I am trying to achieve, and which should I buy first?

One of the main differences that affect the final result of your image is the focal length of your lens.

There are long lenses and wide-angle lenses, and each of them will allow you to create different effects.

A wide lens (like the 24mm or 35mm) will not only capture a wider range of what’s in front of you but also capture more of the details.

A long lens (like the 85mm, 100mm, 135mm…) will capture a smaller section of what’s in front of you and will compress the background.

The longer the lens, the greater the compression and the blurrier the background you will be able to achieve (there are more factors to blurry backgrounds to consider, and you can read about them here).

Example:

Here are examples of images taken seconds apart in the same spot and with the same light but with different lenses:

Wide lens:

Long lens:

When to Use Wide Lenses:

Wide lenses are my favorite to use during indoor sessions. They give me more freedom to move around and include more of the details around my subject, which is very important for storytelling purposes. My favorite is the 35mm (or 24mm if you have a crop sensor camera). In my outdoor sessions, I love using my wide lens when I want to include more of the background (if it is pretty and worth capturing) and if I want to get close and intimate shots to include more of the situation.

When to Use Long Lenses:

Long lenses are my favorite to use in situations where I am trying to focus entirely on my subjects. The compression and blurry background that these lenses help create really make my clients pop off the image. These lenses are also very helpful to minimize distractions in the background and create a “cleaner” look.

I also use longer lenses (50mm, 100mm) when I am trying to focus and capture small details like baby feet, baby noses, wedding rings, and such.

Mixing Wide and Long Lenses:

Using a mix of wide and long lenses will give you the option to provide a wider variety of images for your client. So I highly recommend having both options handy!

I hope this helps!

Xoxo, More

PS: If you are just starting your photography journey or have a camera and are not sure how to use it, check out my Photography for Beginners course! It’s designed to help you take beautiful photos quickly and confidently. Whether you’re aiming to master manual mode, understand your camera settings, or create stunning images, this course will guide you every step of the way. Don’t miss out on the chance to transform your photography skills!

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welome to my blog

I'm More, and I'm so happy you're here. This blog a journal about my sessions, photography tips, travels,  and style. Stay a while and say hello!

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