What are the Different Types of Camera Lenses

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What are the Different Types of Camera Lenses

Camera lenses are optical devices made of glass and other transparent material that let light through to create an image of an object electronically or chemically. The lens is the foundational element of a camera and arguably its most important component. Changing the lens can drastically affect the camera's capabilities, allowing it to take better or wider picture from a greater distance.

About Camera Lenses

A camera lens is actually an assembly of various lens elements that focus a ray of light onto the camera sensor that replicates the object's image. The purpose of these lens elements is to create as accurate a reproduction of the object as possible while minimizing aberrations. Aberrations are produced when the light does not focus onto single points after going through the lens. Poorer-quality lenses can also suffer from distortion, dithering, and contrast loss. Theoretically, camera lenses function in exactly the same way in still cameras, video cameras, and even microscopes, differing only in the number and complexity of lens elements used. Better-quality cameras use more complicated lens assemblies to keep aberrations as low as possible, although some aberrations are present in even the most advanced lenses.

Camera lenses need to be practical, lightweight, and affordable enough to meet the demands of photographers. Consequently, lens designers have to work with significant constraints on size, quality and equipment costs. Not only does the lens assembly have to be created so as to keep aberrations to a minimum, but errors such as internal flare, contrast loss, etc. have to be reduced as well. At the same time, designers have to ensure that the lens weight, durability, zoom and focus capabilities do not get affected. As a result, most quality camera lenses tend to be expensive.

Different Types of Camera Lenses

Different types of camera lenses are used for different purposes. Professional photographers often carry multiple interchangeable lenses to be used in various situations. Camera lenses can be differentiated on various parameters such as focal length, zoom, construction, etc.

Fixed (Prime) vs. Zoom Lenses

Broadly speaking, camera lenses may be divided into two categories: zoom and fixed.


Camera lenses with pre-set focus lengths are called fixed lenses or fixed-focus lenses. The focal length is set at the time of manufacture (usually set to the hyperfocal distance) and cannot be changed later. As a result, the quality of images produced by these lenses tends to be poor. Fixed lenses are found in phones, and point-and-shoot cameras.


The focal length of interchangeable lenses can be changed as per the photographer's requirements. It is also possible to add new lenses to the camera to increase the quality and kind of pictures it can take. Since the focal length can be customised, cameras with interchangeable lenses typically take better-quality pictures than fixed lens cameras. Zoom function also allows photographers to take pictures of objects at a distance.

Camera Lens Focal Lengths

The focal length of a camera lens is a crucial factor in determining the quality and kind of pictures a camera can take. The focal length essentially determines the size of the image projected onto the camera sensor. Typically, larger focal lengths allow photographers to take pictures at a distance, while shorter lengths allow them to take wider pictures. Most professional photographers have lenses with different focal lengths to allow them to take a variety of pictures. Based on the focal length, cameras may be divided into the following categories:

Standard Lens

The standard lens is the most commonly used camera lens in modern photography. The lens has a focal length range of 35 to 70mm. Most lenses are built with a 50mm focal length. The lens is small enough to be carried easily and allows the photographer to shoot on the move to better frame images.

Wide-Angle Lens

Wide-angle lenses have a focal length between 8 and 35mm. Lenses below 20mm focal length are called super wide-angle lenses. A few crop frame DSLRs utilize super wide lenses with focal lengths of less than 8mm. Because of the low focal length, these lenses allow photographers to take wide pictures and are perfect for capturing landscapes and groups of people.

Portrait Lens

A specialist lens for taking portraits, portrait lenses have a focal length between 80 and 135mm. At this length, it becomes easier for photographers to frame the human body and emphasise the head and shoulders.


Telephoto lenses are common among professional photographers shooting wildlife or sporting events. The extremely large focal length of telephoto lenses - between 135mm and 300mm - allows photographers to capture images at a huge distance. Telephoto lenses vary wildly in quality and magnification capabilities and are available at various price points.

Super Telephoto

Lenses with focal lengths in excess of 300mm are called super telephoto lenses. These lenses are used almost exclusively by professional wildlife and sports photographers. The extremely large focal length allows photographers to capture subjects from a huge range.


Fisheye lenses are modelled on wide-angle lenses and have extremely low focal lengths (between 8 to 16mm). Fisheye lenses focus on the subject directly before the lens, diminishing everything else. This is a specialist lens used in very particular scenarios.


Macro lenses are used for photographing small objects. Depending on the subject to be photographed, the focal length may be from 45 to 200mm. Lenses with continuously variable focal lengths are also available. Macro lenses with focal lengths in excess of 100mm are used to photograph insects, flowers, and other similar small objects, while lenses below 65mm are used for taking pictures of small products and food items.

Camera Lens Apertures

The aperture determines the amount of light that goes through to the camera sensor image plane. After focal length, aperture is the most important factor in camera quality. Lenses with larger maximum aperture are more flexible and allow photographers to capture a range of subjects in different settings. The camera lens aperture is expressed in f-number, written as f/1.0, f/2.0, f/2.8, etc. The f-number is the focal length of the lens divided by the aperture. Lower f-numbers translate into higher maximum apertures, making for faster cameras. Lenses with higher f-numbers have a greater depth of field and are used in special cases. Typically, camera lenses can be categorised as following based on maximum aperture:

Maximum Aperture

Lens Type


1. 0

Fastest consumer prime lens

Low f-number translates into very high shutter speed that allows photographers to take pictures in quick succession.

1. 4

Fast prime lens

Lenses with slightly higher maximum aperture and shutter speed.

1. 8

Fastest zoom lens

This is the standard maximum aperture of most fast zoom lenses, combining fast shutter speed with good depth of field.

1. 6

Super telephoto prime lens

Lenses with very high f-numbers are used in special scenarios such as photographing sports events and wildlife at an extreme distance.

When purchasing lenses, special attention must be given to the aperture and focal length. There is no perfect aperture or focal length; different lenses are suitable for different purposes. Photographers must recognize their requirements and purchase lenses accordingly.

Buying Camera Lenses on eBay

Camera lenses can be prohibitively expensive, with some high-quality professional-grade lenses running into several hundred pounds. eBay is a good marketplace to purchase camera lenses for cheap with a variety of used and new lenses for sale. To buy camera lenses on eBay, go to the eBay UK homepage and search for ' camera lens'' in the Lenses & Filters category. The search results can be filtered by manufacturer (Canon, Hoya, Nikon, Olympus, etc.), by type (wide-angle,, telephoto , etc.), and by condition (used or new)). Searches can also be filtered according to camera fitting, such as Canon EF , Nikon F , Canon EF-S .


Owning a wide variety of camera lenses is essential for any aspiring photographer. Using high-quality lenses can dramatically alter photograph quality. Different lenses are useful in different situations, with focal length and aperture being the two most important factors in determining lens quality and use. Camera lenses tend to be expensive, thus, purchasing them off platforms such as eBay is highly recommended.

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How to Buy Digital Camera Accessories on eBay

To buy digital camera accessories, first go to the eBay homepage, opening theAll Categories tab, then scroll down the page until Electronics is seen. Click the Cameras & Photography tab and then either select the tab needed, such as Lenses & Filters or Tripods & Supports, or click on Camera & Photo Accessories to find other items. Further filters will then appear in the left hand column. Alternatively, use the bar at the top of any eBay page and key in, for example, "camera tripod".


A digital camera takes photographs by storing any shot or image on an EIS. Some digital cameras, however, not only perform this basic function, but can also undertake elementary image editing. Accessories may extend and enhance functionality of a digital camera, so although some computers have an in-built memory card slot, the purchase of a memory card reader, for example, may provide a useful addition to the process of uploading image files. Sometimes barely perceptible hand movements may ruin a shot, so having some sort of support system, such as a tripod or monopod, close to hand may be wise, and a lens specific to the genre may well enhance the ultimate result. In order to extend the duration of any session, it is recommended that rechargeable batteries should also be kept nearby.

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