LENS SELECTION - What's the difference?
Wide angle - Wide angle lens are excellent for lots of things. They deliver greater depth of field and the minimum focus distance is less than a telephoto lens. Wide angle is great for environmental or editorial shots. Wide angle lenses do have the problem of distortion. If your subject is close to the lens, it will get distorted.
Telephoto - Telephoto and other long lenses have a shallower depth of field, narrower field of view and they condense the depth of field. They are good for detail shots, candids and isolating subjects.
Zoom Lens - A zoom lens has variable focal lengths. IE: 70-200mm or a wider ratio of 17-55mm. Not all zoom lenses are telephoto lenses. Some, like the latter example is a wide angle zoom lens. Zoom lenses offer you a greater deal of freedom and versatility. They are manufactured in all sorts of ranges.
Prime Lens - Fixed focal length. IE: 50mm Prime lenses are smaller, lighter and cheaper. They often have better optical quality however the difference is hardly noticeable with the latest and greatest zoom lenses. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds.
Lens Speed - What is it?
When people talk about lens speed they are referring to the maximum aperture of a lens, the smallest f/number. Lenses with a large aperture (smaller f/number) are considered to be faster lenses because they allow more light to enter the lens so shooting in lower light conditions is easier. Lenses with a small aperture (bigger f/number) are considered to be slower lenses because they allow less light to enter the lens so shooting in low light conditions becomes very difficult. So for example a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 is faster then a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.
Consumer level lenses are usually in the range of f/4 - 5.6. Professional level lenses are usually f/2.8, some will be faster depending on the size of the lens. Pro lenses are always bigger and heavier because of the optics.
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