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Last week we looked at some ideas for updating cameras and lenses. You can read about that here.

No doubt, there’s an endless selection when it comes to purchasing lenses, but two of the biggest decisions that will help you narrow it down are:

1.) What focal length do you want?

Focal length will determine how your lens sees the world. If you choose a wide focal length (10mm-35mm), you’ll take in an expansive view.

If you choose a telephoto focal length (100mm-500mm), you’ll take in a narrower field of view, but far off elements will be magnified in your frame.

Or, choose something in between (around 50mm) to get a “normal” perspective similar to the human eye.

Of course, some lenses will “zoom”, giving you a range of focal lengths in a single lens.

2.) What aperture do you need?

Every lens has a different widest maximum aperture. Generally speaking, more expensive lenses tend to have apertures that can open wider. This means they can let in more light… which helps you have a faster shutter speed and sharper overall images.

If you are trying to blur the background or get just a thin sliver of your photo in focus (see photos below), then a wide aperture opening such as f1.4 or f2.8 will really help with that, too.

161209BSCPhotoExamples

Once you answer the two questions above, you’ll have a much better idea of which lenses are right for you.

To give you more guidance, I asked our stock photo pros to share their favorite lenses.

Here’s what they said:

Ryan Lane: My favorite lens is Sigma’s 35mm f1.4.

I almost always shoot with it wide open (at f1.4). The shallow depth of field with the wide angle perspective just looks so visually appealing in my opinion. It is my go-to lens for lifestyle photography; it rarely leaves my camera.

Here’s a shot I took with this lens:

Bike Commuter in Portland Oregon

Andrea Gingerich: Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro – The one I have is at least 20 years old and it’s still my favorite lens and sharp as a tack.

Danny Warren: I’ve been shooting a ton with my Sigma fisheye lens recently. It provides a different perspective and lets you shoot really close to your subjects. If you do it right, you can avoid those warped lines and capture a vantage point that other photographers miss.

Here’s a fun fisheye image I took recently!

DJW_7748

Matthew Spaulding: As for my favorite lens, I really love my Canon 70-200mm f2.8. The clarity is phenomenal, and I find myself using it more than my wide angle lens when shooting landscapes.

Shelly Perry: My favorite lens I currently have is a 24-70mm 2.8, my best overall lens.

Sarah Ehlen: My favorite lens is the Fuji 14mm — a beautiful and lightweight wide angle lens for landscape photography. Here’s a photo I took with it during a trip to Norway:

SarahEhlen-7303

As for me, I love the look of my 70-200mm 2.8 lens. It’s a very expensive lens, because it’s both telephoto and has a wide aperture. But for family photos and client shoots, which I do a lot, it creates a great, soft background. Here’s a sample shot I took with it recently:

untitled-8579

Lenses can open up so many creative possibilities that it’s worth figuring out which ones you like best for your type of photography!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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