Common Photography Questions From Beginners, 10-12
10 Which lens do I need for landscapes?
For 90% of landscape and scenic photography, you’ll want a wide-angle zoom lens to fit as much of the scene as possible into your frame. You can simply use the widest end of your kit lens that came with your DSLR – such as 18mm on an 18-55mm.
However, on APS-C sensor cameras, lthe 1.6x crop factor is a disadvantage when it comes to wide-angle photography; compared to full-frame sensor cameras the ‘effective focal length’ (EFL) of an 18mm focal length on a crop sensor camera is actually (1.6x18mm) 29mm. Which isn’t very wide at all!
So for APS-C DSLRs, you’ll be better off with a dedicated ‘ultra’ wide-angle lens, like Sigma’s 10-20mm f/3.5.
Similarly, when it comes to full-frame cameras, you’ll find the 24mm end of a 24-105mm kit lens, for instance, is reasonably wide. But for really wide shots try the a 16-35mm wide-angle zoom.
SEE MORE: 10 quick landscape photography tips
11 What zoom lens do I need for photographing wildlife in my local park?
Many people refer to a ‘zoom’ lens, when they really mean a ‘telephoto’ lens. A zoom is any lens with a variable focal length – and could be a wide-angle zoom, not just a telephoto.
It’s the telephoto focal length that counts – the bigger the number the further its reach. So a 400mm lens will magnify subjects twice as much as a 200mm lens.
For local wildlife, you want a telephoto lens with a focal length around 300mm or 400mm so you can shoot from a safe distance without scaring the critters off, as well as getting frame-filling shots.
As explained above, if you have an APS-C camera, you need to consider the 1.6x crop factor. But this becomes an advantage when it comes to telephoto lenses: a 200mm lens on a crop sensor camera has an EFL of 320mm, and a 300mm lens has a massive EFL of 480mm!
Telephoto focal lengths also capture a shallower depth of field, further blurring backgrounds. A ‘fast’ lens with a wide aperture of around f/4 will blur backgrounds beautifully to help your wildlife subjects really stand out from their surroundings.
12 How do I make water look nice and smooth?
This popular landscape photography effect isn’t as difficult to achieve as you might first think. You simply need to use a very long exposure!
With a long exposure (aka very slow shutter speed) any movement in shot – whether it’s people, cars, or water – will be turned into motion blur. The longer the exposure, the more blurred this movement becomes.
It’s vital to use a tripod to ensure your camera remains rock-steady, and use either a cable release or the Self-timer Drive mode to ensure that the action of pressing the shutter doesn’t jog the camera.
It’s also best to use Live View to compose and focus your scene (see right for setup tips), and set your ISO to 100 and the narrowest aperture your lens allows (eg f/22) to obtain the longest possible exposure.
Shoot on overcast days and when light levels are lowest – early mornings and late afternoons are best. It depends on how fast the water is flowing in your chosen scene, but the longer your exposure the smoother the water will become.
If your exposure still isn’t smoothly blurred enough, you’ll need an ND (neutral density) filter – this semi-opaque filter cuts down the amount of light hitting your sensor. A 30-sec exposure is about the optimum for artistically blurred water in landscape shots.
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