If you buy a camera, a variety of accessories will perfectly pair with your camera, starting with the objectives. But knowing how to differentiate them is not always easy if you do not know a minimum in photography. Let’s take a closer look at these values that do make sense.
What better than to take a concrete example to explain it? Let’s look at the case of a Canon lens.
What Does The mm Mean on a Camera Lens
It is on the first values, namely “18 – 200 mm” that we will first look at. They concern the focal length. What do they mean? Nothing complicated in the end. In this case, we have here two numbers, 18 and 200, which means that this objective is a zoom.
Sometimes there is only one number, and in this case, it is a fixed focus lens, which means that you will need to move to get the captured item to the scale of your choice. The numbers themselves are concerned about the importance of the zoom and the range it covers. The higher the numbers, the more objects will be magnified in your photo. The lower they are, the greater your angle of view! and short focal length.
The figures following the focal point, therefore, refer to the opening. We talk about opening or closing the “diaphragm”, which will be adjustable and will more or less penetrate the light in the device. The two figures concerning the opening (here 3.5 and 5.6) are related to those of the focal length. 3.5 will be the maximum aperture at 18mm, and 5.6 at 200. But beware, the smaller the number, the larger the aperture will be. The more the diaphragm is open, the more light can penetrate! So you know what you have to do if you want your photos to be brighter!
Zoom or fixed focal length lens
There are two types of lenses: the fixed focal length lens and the zoom lens. Fixed focal length lenses have a constant focal length and zooms have varying focal lengths. The advantage of the zoom is its versatility. It is perfect when you are shooting different types of subjects such as landscapes and portraits, and you want to use a single lens for both situations. Using a zoom also limits lens changes, saving time and reducing the risk of dust getting into the camera’s mirror chamber or onto the sensor.
The main advantages of fixed focal length lenses are size and weight as well as the maximum aperture or aperture f-number. Fixed focal length lenses tend to be more compact and lighter than zooms.
Fixed focal length lenses also tend to offer a larger maximum aperture (f / 1.4 to f / 2.8). This is an advantage when shooting in low light conditions, as it increases the opportunities for handheld photography without enduring the inconvenience of shaking or blurring caused by long exposures. Photographing using fixed focal length lenses with large apertures also means that you can achieve shallow depth of field, useful for portraits when you want a softer or blurry background (also known as bokeh).
What does 50mm or 18-55mm mean?
These terms refer to the focal length of your lens. The greater the focal length, the more the image is “magnified” in the viewfinder.
So, with a short focal length (wide angle), you can fit almost everything in front of you into the frame.
With a long focal length (telephoto) you can only bring in a small part of the scene in front of you. Long focal lengths are used when photographing a distant subject or a small subject without having to get too close.
If there is only one number (50mm, for example), it means that the lens is a fixed focal length. You have a single focal length, so you have to move around to compose your photo.
If there are two numbers (18-55mm for example), it means that the lens is a zoom. You have a focal range that you use according to your needs. To compose your photo, you can choose to move or zoom.
What does f / 3.5-5.6 or f / 2.8 mean?
These numbers indicate your lens’s maximum aperture, which is the maximum amount of light it can let through. The smaller the number, the more light the lens lets through (more info in my article on the aperture of the diaphragm ).
On entry-level zooms, there are usually two apertures. Indeed, their optical construction does not ensure a constant aperture over the entire focal range.
They, therefore, have a maximum aperture at wide-angle and a maximum aperture at telephoto. For example on an 18-55mm f / 3.5-5.6, the maximum aperture is f / 3.5 to 18mm but only f / 5.6 to 55mm.
High-end zooms generally have a constant aperture throughout the focal range. For example, a 24-70mm f / 2.8 lens can use an f / 2.8 aperture at both 24mm and 70mm.
The fixed focal lengths having a single focal length, they logically make it possible to have the maximum aperture in all circumstances.
What does Ø 52 mm mean?
This abbreviation refers to the diameter of the front screw thread of the lens. Ø 52 mm, therefore, means that the thread has a diameter of 52 mm.
This setting is important if you want to screw a photo filter or macro lens on your lens.
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