What does a 75 300mm lens mean
Which lens for what? Our lens advice with purchase recommendations!
Finding the right lens is often even more difficult than finding the perfect camera. What should I look out for when buying a lens? Which lens is suitable for what? What do the numbers on the lens mean? And which lens is the right one for me? We answer these questions for you in this article.
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Hey We are Jenny & Basti
We are the founders of 22places, the 22places online photography course and the cameral love online shop. 22places is your starting point for helpful travel tips and easy-to-understand photo tips - independent and above all: always honest.
We are the founders of 22places - your contact point for helpful travel tips and easy-to-understand photo tips - independent, authentic and above all: always honest. Just learn to take pictures in our online photography course and browse our cameral love online shop.Learn more about us!
If you're reading this article, let's assume you already have a camera.
If not, we would like to recommend our camera purchase advice to you. There we answer all questions about buying a camera.
This is all about lenses. Is this your first time looking for a lens? Perfect, then you will find all the information you need to know about buying lenses here.
Do you already know a lot about lenses? Good as well. We are sure you will still find new information and tips in our buying guide.
You can also use the table of contents to quickly jump to a section of your choice.
Also read our other articles on lenses
What do I have to look out for when buying lenses?
Before we look at what types of lenses there are and what specific lenses we recommend, let's take a look at the basics.
Before you decide on a lens, you should finally know what to look for in the first place.
There are 6 basic factors to consider when buying a lens:
- The right focal length
- The light intensity
- The closest focusing distance, if you want to get very close to your subject
- The right lens connection
- The size and weight of the lens
- And of course the price
Focal length of a lens
The focal length of a lens determines whether and how far you can zoom with a lens.
The focal length is measured in mm and the information is printed on each lens.
The larger the focal length of your lens, the larger the zoom.
With a short focal length (e.g. 16 mm) you can capture a very large image section on your photo. In even simpler words: you get a lot on your picture! This is useful, for example, when you want to photograph landscapes.
With a long focal length (e.g. 300 mm), on the other hand, you can zoom in on very distant subjects and, for example, capture distant animals in your picture from a safe distance on a safari.
So before buying a lens, you should think about what you would like to photograph most.
Do you photograph a lot at sporting events or animals in the wild? Then you need a large zoom, i.e. a long focal length.
On the other hand, do you prefer to photograph landscapes? Then a shorter focal length is important for you so that you can capture as much of the landscape as possible in your picture.
Do you photograph a lot while traveling and have very different subjects in front of the lens? Landscapes, cities, animals and people? Then a lens with a wide focal range that allows you to cover everything can be a good choice for you.
There are also fixed focal length lenses that don't allow you to zoom, and zoom lenses that have a flexible focal length. We'll come to the advantages and disadvantages of both variants in a moment.
Luminous intensity of a lens
If you are concerned with buying a lens, you have probably come across the term light intensity.
The speed of a lens is nothing more than the maximum aperture of the lens.
If the term aperture doesn't mean anything to you, then take a look at our detailed tutorial on this topic:
The aperture in photography
By the way, the article about the aperture is a sample chapter from our online photography course. If you want to absorb even more photo knowledge, then be sure to stop by:
Our online photography course
But we also want to give you a very brief introduction to the aperture:
The further you can open the aperture on your lens, the more light reaches the sensor of your camera. In poor lighting conditions, you have more leeway when taking photos with a large aperture. That is why one speaks of fast lenses.
You can tell how big the maximum aperture of a lens is by the f-number that is written on each lens.
The f-number always starts with an f /. The smaller the f-number, the more powerful a lens is.
A lens with a maximum aperture of f / 2.8 is therefore brighter than a lens with an aperture of f / 3.5.
Very fast lenses have z. B. an aperture of f / 1.8.
There are even lenses that allow a maximum aperture of f / 1.4 and more. But for this you have to dig deep into your pocket.
On the lens shown you can see that the maximum aperture is specified as f / 3.5-5.6. You can often find this information on zoom lenses.
Your maximum f-number is then always between f / 3.5-5.6 and changes depending on the focal length with which you are photographing.
In this specific case, the lens has a focal length of 16 to 300 mm. F / 3.5-5.6 means that you can set the aperture to a maximum aperture of f / 3.5 with a focal length of 16 mm and f / 5.6 with a focal length of 300 mm.
Incidentally, the aperture not only has something to do with the light, it also influences the depth of field of your pictures.
Do you want to take pictures with a blurred background? Then you also need a lens with a large aperture, i.e. a small f-number.
Close focus limit
The closest focusing distance of a lens is always relevant if you want to get very close to your subject.
You are probably familiar with the following situation: You move your camera very close to a subject, for example a beautiful flower.
But you just won't get your photo in focus.
Then you have fallen below the close-up limit of your lens. The closest focusing distance is specified in cm and you can also find this information on your lens.
If your lens has a closest focusing distance of 50 cm, there must be at least half a meter of space between your subject and the sensor of your camera.
Otherwise your camera will not focus the picture. This is why the closest focusing distance is sometimes also referred to as the minimum focusing distance.
This is especially relevant for you if you like to take macro photos and get very close to your subjects.
Every camera manufacturer has an individual lens connection. So when buying a lens, you have to make sure that your lens fits your camera.
The main lens connections are as follows:
- Sony A-Mount (For Sony SLR cameras)
- Sony E-Mount (For mirrorless system cameras from Sony)
- MicroFourThirds (Panasonic, Olympus)
If you want to buy a lens, you have the choice between a lens from the camera manufacturer itself or a lens from a third party.
Third party suppliers are lens manufacturers who offer lenses for various connections. The best known are Tamron, Sigma, and Samyang. You can buy lenses from these manufacturers without hesitation. They are by no means worse than lenses from the camera manufacturers themselves.
For various lens mounts, we have also written detailed articles with our recommendations:
E-mount lenses for the Sony Alpha 6000
E-mount lenses for the Sony Alpha 7ii
MFT lenses for Panasonic and Olympus
Lenses for Nikon Z cameras
height and weight
Size and weight are important decision criteria not only when choosing the camera, but also when choosing the right lens. So if weight is important to you, you should pay attention to it when buying.
Of course, money also plays a role when buying lenses. The price range for lenses is almost limitless. You can get very simple lenses for around 100 euros. Professional telephoto lenses, on the other hand, can also have the equivalent of a small car.
In essence, when it comes to lenses, one can say that the price of a lens reflects its quality. So you can assume that a more expensive lens is a better lens.
Of course there are exceptions, but by and large this rule of thumb applies to lenses.
Our tip: Basically, we recommend that you invest a little more money in lenses than in buying a new camera.
An example: You have a camera that cost 600 euros and now you have 1,000 euros available for new equipment. You're wondering whether to buy a new camera for 1,000 euros or a new lens for 1,000 euros.
In this case, we always advise you to buy lenses. The difference between the € 600 and € 1000 cameras is likely to be relatively small. But if you screw a great $ 1,000 lens onto your $ 600 camera, you'll likely notice a much bigger difference.
Zoom vs. fixed focal length
We already mentioned it above. When buying lenses, you have the choice between zoom lenses and fixed focal lengths.
With a zoom lens, the name suggests, you can zoom in on subjects. This is not possible with a fixed focal length.
Here you are always limited to a fixed image section and can only get closer to your subject if you get closer.
At first glance, of course, the advantages of a zoom lens predominate, because you are much more flexible that way.
However, prime lenses also have a number of advantages. A fixed focal length is often faster. Zoom lenses actually never go beyond an aperture of f / 2.8. W.
hen you want a lens with an aperture of f / 1.8 or even f / 1.4, you have to use a fixed focal length.
If height and weight are important to you, a prime lens can also be a good choice. Of course there are also large and heavy prime lenses, but they are often much smaller and lighter than zoom lenses.
The third big advantage is the better imaging performance. The image quality is often better with fixed focal lengths than with zoom lenses. There are of course exceptions and, as is so often the case, the price also matters here, but basically that's true.
Our recommendation: We always have a zoom lens and a fixed focal length in our photo bags. For us, this is the ideal combination that we have been using for many years.
You can find even more information about the advantages of a prime lens in our article:
6 reasons why you absolutely need a prime lens
Which lens for what?
We get regular emails with questions like: "Which lens is right for me?"
Good question, we have to admit that.
The answer is of course not that easy, because everyone has different requirements for a lens.
Often the requirements are so extensive that it is actually not possible to recommend a suitable lens.
An example: “I want to take portrait photos, photograph landscapes and use the lens for my next safari. The lens should take very good photos, especially in the dark, and should not cost more than 300 euros. "
Unfortunately there is no such thing. Really not. We would like to have just such a lens, but nothing can be done about it.
Basically, choosing the right lens becomes easier when you have a purpose or two for it. If you are looking for a good lens for portraits, then such a lens cannot be perfect for landscape photography at the same time.
Of course there are also good all-round lenses. But you have to be aware that you always have to make a few compromises with an all-round lens. You will always achieve better results for portrait photos with a special portrait lens than with an all-rounder.
Now that sounds more dramatic than it is. For most amateur photographers, that's not a problem at all and an all-round lens is a good choice.
Which lens is right for me?
Here you will find a small overview of which lens is the right choice for you for which purpose:
Beginners: Normal lens / all-round lens
Travel Photography: All-round lens / travel zoom
Landscape Photography: Wide angle lens
Architectural photography: Wide angle lens
Wildlife photography: Telephoto lens
Sports Photography: Telephoto lens
Portrait Photography: Portrait lens (fixed focal length in the telephoto range)
Macro Photography: Macro lens (fixed focal length with 1: 1 image ratio)
In the following sections we will show you for the various lens categories what you have to look out for when buying such a lens depending on the intended use. We also suggest specific lenses for different camera connections.
Small digression: full format vs. APS-C vs. MFT
This topic is a bit technical. Feel free to skip it if you don't feel like it. We're not angry with you either.
An article about lenses simply includes the subject of sensor sizes and crop factors, which is why this section exists.
So, let's go: We have already written something about the focal length above and if we recommend specific lenses to you right away, you will come across the focal length even more often.
For example, we'll tell you that a wide-angle lens has a focal length of up to 40mm.
And that's where it gets complicated, because that's not true for every camera. This is where the crop factor comes into play. Don't worry, this actually sounds more complicated than it is. So don't give up and keep reading!
The focal lengths are usually specified in what is known as the small picture format. This comes from the days of analog photography and describes the size of the film. Small picture corresponds to 35 mm, which is how wide the individual photos on the film roll used to be. Maybe you still remember it.
This size is still used today in digital cameras with a full-frame sensor. These sensors are 36 x 24 mm in size, roughly the same as the photos on the roll of film in the past.
But there are different sensor sizes in the digital area. Since modern cameras are often very small, the sensors also have to be smaller.
In total, three different sensor sizes have established themselves on the market:
No. 1: full-frame sensors are the largest sensors. They are mainly built into professional cameras, which often cost well over 1,000 euros.
No. 2: APS-C is now the most widely used sensor size. It is used in most non-professional Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras. Nikon also offers an extra sensor size with the DX format, but it is very similar to APS-C. An APS-C sensor is 1.5 times smaller than a full format sensor.
No. 3: Micro-Four-Thirds is the sensor size that is built into cameras from Olympus and Panasonic. These sensors are the smallest on the market. They are half the size of a full-frame sensor.
What does that mean for the focal length now? Good question. This is where the crop factor comes in. In our example above, we wrote that a wide-angle lens goes up to a focal length of 40 mm.
However, this information applies to full format sensors.
With an APS-C sensor you have to divide this focal length by 1.5, with Micro Four Thirds even by 2. This is then the famous crop factor.
If you want to buy a wide-angle lens for a camera with an APS-C sensor, the focal length should therefore not be greater than approx. 26 mm (40 divided by 1.5), for a Micro Four Thirds sensor no greater than 20 mm (40 divided by 2).
All right? Very good! We have of course taken all of this into account in our lens recommendations, which are coming soon. So you don't have to worry about converting.
Lenses for beginners
If you're looking for your very first lens, we definitely recommend a zoom lens. This is always the best choice for the first steps in photography.
You are most flexible with it and can try out all areas of photography.
If, over time, you find that you enjoy a certain type of photography, you can always choose a special lens later, e.g. a camera lens. B. for portraits or landscape shots, buy.
Our lens recommendations for beginners
In the following table, we recommend an all-round lens for beginners in photography for each lens connection.
Kit lenses: yes or no?
If you buy a new camera, you will surely come across various combination offers from the manufacturers, where you get a lens directly to your camera.
These lenses are called kit lenses and don't always have the best reputation, and most advanced photographers in particular will likely advise against kit lenses.
Our opinion on kit lenses: If you're buying your first camera and are on a budget, buy a camera with a cheap kit lens!
In the beginning we took photos with kit lenses ourselves and took great pictures with them, which we still like very much today.
It is not the technology that makes the pictures, but the photographer. Before you spend endless amounts of money on equipment, invest in a photography course or other training. By the way, we have an online photography course there, but shhh.
By the way, there are not only cheap kit lenses out there. Especially when it comes to cameras for advanced photographers, there are always kit offers with really good lenses that can save you a few hundred euros compared to buying them individually.
So it's worth exploring the market a bit and not categorically ruling out a kit from the start.
When traveling, the space and weight of the luggage is often limited. It is not always possible to take a large selection of lenses with you in order to be prepared for all subjects.
Travel zooms that have a very large focal length range can help. Travel zooms don't have the very best reputation either, which in our opinion is utter nonsense.
Of course, a lens with a focal length range of 16 to 300 mm is not as good, especially in the border areas, as an expensive telephoto lens or a special wide-angle lens.
With a travel zoom you get three lenses in one for a price of 300 to 800 euros: a wide-angle lens, a normal lens and a telephoto lens.
Our recommendations for travel zoom lenses
In this table, we recommend a travel zoom for each lens connection.
We have also written a detailed article on the Tamron 16-300 travel zoom:
Our experiences with the Tamron travel zoom
Wide angle lenses
If you love to photograph landscapes, then a wide-angle lens is the right choice for you.
The light intensity tends to be less relevant for you, as landscape shots are rarely taken with an open aperture and the photos are often taken on a tripod anyway.
As already mentioned above, wide-angle lenses range up to a focal length of 40 mm.
A super wide angle is particularly helpful for landscapes, with which you can capture an even larger section of your picture. Super wide angles have a focal length of less than 24 mm.
Our recommendations for wide-angle lenses
We have selected three lenses for each of the most important lens connections that we would buy ourselves.
For each connection we show an inexpensive lens, a lens in the middle price range and a premium lens.
Nikon wide angle lenses
Canon wide angle lenses
Sony A-mount wide-angle lenses
Sony E-mount wide-angle lenses
MFT wide-angle lenses for Panasonic and Olympus
Telephoto lenses are the kings of lenses. Have you ever seen the photographers on the sidelines with their giant zooms at a soccer game? Such lenses can cost up to 20,000 euros. No joke!
Of course, this is also cheaper, but with telephoto lenses it tends to be the case that you have to put significantly more money on the table for good quality than with other types of lenses.
When making a purchase decision, the focal length is of course important. The larger the focal length, the closer you can zoom in on your subject. Inexpensive telephoto lenses often offer focal lengths of up to 300 mm in APS-C format, i.e. up to 450 mm on full format.
You can do a lot with it. If you need more zoom, it will usually be significantly more expensive.
We have already written detailed buying guides for some connections:
The best Nikon telephoto lenses
The best telephoto lenses for Sony E-mount
Our recommendations for telephoto lenses
With the telephoto lenses, too, we have selected an inexpensive lens, a lens in the middle price range and a very good, but also expensive lens.
With telephoto lenses, you shouldn't expect too much, especially with the very cheap lenses. They are perfectly fine for getting your first experience with telephoto lenses.
Very high-quality and extremely sharp images are difficult, but maybe not so bad for private use.
Nikon telephoto lenses
Canon telephoto lenses
Sony A-mount telephoto lenses
Sony E-mount telephoto lenses
MFT telephoto lenses for Panasonic and Olympus
Pentax telephoto lenses
If you like to take portraits, you usually have very special requirements for your lens.
A popular stylistic device in portrait photos is beautiful bokeh, i.e. a blurred background. To do this, you need a lens with a very large aperture.
Since zoom lenses cannot do this, we always recommend a fixed focal length for portrait photography.
It is also important that the focal length is not too short. If you are a person e.g. For example, if you take pictures with a 30 mm lens, this often leads to unsightly distortions and large noses on the model's face.
If you have a camera with an APS-C sensor, we recommend a focal length between 50 and 85 mm. In the case of a full format, this is 75 to 130 mm, and in the case of Micro Four Thirds around 40 to 60 mm.
Our recommendations for portrait lenses
If you want to try your hand at portrait photography first, we have good news for you: Simple portrait lenses are available for very little money.
Some of the entry-level models cost less than 200 euros, but the quality of these lenses is definitely not bad.
Of course, portrait lenses are also more expensive and better, which is why we are also introducing lenses in various price ranges here.
Also read our article on portrait photography, in which we give you a lot of tips on the subject:
Portrait photography: tips for beginners
Nikon portrait lenses
Canon portrait lenses
Sony A-mount portrait lenses
Sony E-mount portrait lenses
MFT portrait lenses for Panasonic and Olympus
Macro lenses are special lenses that allow you to take very detailed photos of subjects from a very short distance.
With a macro lens, for example, you can get very close to a beautiful flower and in the end see the structure of the flower very clearly in your photo.
This is not even possible with a normal lens, as you can no longer focus with these lenses if you get too close to your subject. The reason is the closest focusing distance, which we have already described above.
Danger: But not all macro lenses are created equal. The term is also used by lens manufacturers for lenses that are actually not real macro lenses at all. Macro is not included everywhere where it says macro.
When buying a macro lens, make sure that the image ratio is as close as possible to 1: 1. This is actually always included in the product description.
There are also 1: 2 or 1: 4 magnification lenses that are sold as macro lenses. The optimum is always 1: 1.
Our recommendations for macro lenses
Macro lenses are usually fixed focal lengths with a focal length between 40 and 105 mm.
Since macro lenses are very complex to construct, they are usually correspondingly expensive. So you won't find really cheap macro lenses on the market.
We will introduce you to a macro lens for each lens connection that we would buy for the respective camera.
We hope we were able to shed some light on the lens jungle with our lens purchase advice.
Note: We get numerous emails every day with questions about which lens is best for personal use. Please understand that we won't be able to answer them. As a 1-woman-1-man company, we simply cannot manage that in terms of time. Thanks for your understanding.
If you have any questions, please leave us a comment below the article and we will try to help you as soon as possible. Deal? Do you have a lens that you really like? Then write it to us in the comments. So we can all benefit from your experience!
And now we wish you a stress-free lens purchase and, above all, lots of fun unpacking and trying out your new lens.
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