What lens should I use and why? Camera Lens Guide for Photography


Why do I need more than one lens?

That is a good question, it’s not like these things are cheap! The answer depends on what you want to capture.  Like in any profession you need the right tools for the job. When you are first getting started lenses can be overwhelming.  The numbers… the letters… what does it all mean?


What do all the numbers mean such as 105 or 85?

The number (105, 85, etc.) is the number of millimeters between the camera sensor to the front of the lens.

The smaller the number the “wider” view you will get in the view finder. In other words you will see more of the world in front of you inside the view finder. 

The larger the number the less you will see in the view finder or the more magnified the objects will appear.  Some lenses can cover different lengths or zoom from a wide angle to a magnified view. 

They will have two numbers separated by a dash to show the highest and lowest angles they will cover.  These are called zoom lenses. 

An example is the 24-70mm. It will cover a wider view at 24mm to a magnified view at 70mm with a number of angles in between.  Lenses with single numbers are referred to as prime lenses. These lenses are fixed at one particular focal length.  In essence, your body is the zoom.  You will have to walk back and forth to control your distance from the subject.


What does the ratio mean, you know the 1:1.8G or 1:3.5-4.5G? 

These numbers represent the lenses widest available aperture (smaller number = wider aperture). The wider the aperture the more light is let in + more bokeh. So, 1:1.8G means that the widest f-stop available is f/1.8.  That is pretty wide open and is good for lots of gooey bokeh.  For a zoom lens you might see more than one aperture listed.  The first number is the widest aperture available at the widest focal length. A 70-200mm lens with a ratio of 1:3.5-4.5G would have an aperture of f/3.5 at 70mm.  The widest aperture available when zoomed in to 200mm would be f/4.5.


There are other letters and numbers on the side of lenses. Some of these are specific to the brand.  For example Nikon© uses FX for their full format lenses and DX for their cropped.  We are not going to cover all of that here.  We suggest checking the manufactures website for that information.


So now we have a basic understanding of focal length and aperture we can look at what types of images the different lenses can achieve.  We are going to cover some of our favorite lenses.


Let’s start with the big guy.


105mm f/2.8 - The perfect macro

Remember the bigger the number the less of what is in front of you can be seen inside the view finder.


This lens is great for:  Macro - for the close up fine details such as flowers, rings, creepy crawlers and more.  Some even say it's great for portraits though I have never tried.

Limitations:  I haven't found one yet to complain about.

Benefits:  Absolutely stunning bokeh and sharp as a tack.

In our opinion this is the best lens for macro photography



and amazing wedding details.




85mm f/1.4 - sweet buttery bokeh

This is my go to lens for photographing people; seniors, portraits & even weddings


This lens is great for:  Endless opportunities.  We love it for portraits.

Limitations:  Hard to use in tight spaces.

Benefits:  Absolutely stunning bokeh and very sharp.

In our opinion this is the best lens for portrait photography



Capturung amazing details with rich buttery bokeh.



Yet, it still allows you to capture the scene.


50mm - nifty fifty ... you might have heard of it

This lens is pretty popular because of its versatility.  It also is small enough to use in tight spaces.


This lens is great for:  Tight spaces or when you do not want a heavy lens on your camera.

Limitations:  I have found it to be less sharp than my other lenses.

Benefits:  The focal distance is perfect for everyday lifestyle shooting.

In our opinion this is a great and affordable lens for lifestyle photography




24-70mm 2.8 - amazing advantage over small spaces with zoom

When you are in a smaller space such as a chapel this lens really can help while having the luxury of a zoom.

This lens is great for:  We love this lens for wedding photography but many photographers even use it for lifestyle and portrait sessions.

Limitations:  It is a little on the heavier side.

Benefits:  You can use in tight spaces and very sharp.

In our opinion this is one of the best lenses for wedding photography



35mm f/1.8 - light weight & compact perfect in small spaces

Last but not least, the smaller the focal length the wider the angle or the more you will see inside the view finder.  This small, but mighty lens, is great for landscapes, or food-scapes.  To be honest, this one gets more use than my 50mm.


This lens is great for:  The bomb-diggidy for lifestyle sessions and details.

Limitations:  You can get some slight vignetting on edges.

Benefits:  Absolutely stunning bokeh, perfect in tight spaces and very sharp.

In our opinion this is the best lens for lifestyle photography


The yummy food.


  • Stacie Jensen

    Yay Carla I am so glad I could help!

  • Mel

    Wow! I have now a clear understanding what those numbers mean and what type of lenses to use fo different events. That was really helpful. Thanks.

  • carla

    Thank you! Finally someone made it plan and simple!!!!!!!!

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