Canon lenses: 40 tips for using, choosing and buying Canon-fit glass

Canon lenses: 40 tips for using, choosing and buying Canon-fit glass

How to use Canon lenses: specialist lenses

How to use Canon lenses: focus in Live View

31 Use Live View to focus
When you’re shooting macro subjects, accurate focusing is critical. You’ll be dealing with a wafer-thin depth of field, even when shooting at relatively narrow apertures, so switch the lens to manual focus (MF) and use the magnification function offered by Live View to find the focusing sweet spot.

By pressing the button marked with the magnifying lens on the back of the camera, you’ll be to enlarge the focus point – one tap gives you x5 magnification, a second tap gives you x10.

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How to use Canon lenses: try a tilt-shift lens


32 Try a tilt-shift lens
Tilt-shift lenses have two main features: they enable you to ‘shift’ the lens to correct for converging verticals in an image, and ‘tilt’ the lens to increase the depth of field when using a wide aperture.

How to use Canon lenses: try a tilt-shift lens

Lens shifted

These features have plenty of real-world benefits, such as shooting a landscape while handholding the camera; typically you’d have to use a narrow aperture to keep everything sharp, and that would usually result in a slow shutter speed.

The lens swivels around as you make these adjustments, which can be unnerving at first, but they’re pretty robust tubes of glass. They’re all manual focus too, but Live View makes it easy to manual focus.

SEE MORE: Your tilt-shift lens – more than just a miniature effect maker

How to use Canon lenses: get creative with a macro lens

33 Get creative with a macro lens
A dedicated macro lens isn’t just for close-focus photography. It still offers the full focusing range – right up to infinity focus – so it can be used in the same way as you would any other prime lens.

A 50mm macro makes a great portrait lens on an APS-C camera body, for example, while a 100mm macro doubles up as a sharp, short telephoto lens on a full-frame EOS DSLR.

With most lenses offering a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8, you can create images with a shallow depth of field and freeze motion. Just don’t expect them to be a supplementary sports lens, as they’re not the fastest focusing optics around.

SEE MORE: 9 things you need to know about using macro lenses

How to use Canon lenses: choose the right aperture

Shot at f/2.8

34 Choose the right aperture
Despite depth of field being critical in macro photography, don’t automatically choose the narrowest available aperture.

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How to use Canon lenses: choose the right aperture

Shot at f/16

Rather than producing the sharpest possible image, the result will be soft thanks to the way that light bends around the aperture blades – a phenomenon known as diffraction.

How to use Canon lenses: choose the right aperture

Shot at f/32

The aperture offering the sweet spot of sharpness and depth of field is usually closer to the middle of the aperture range. Go any wider than f/8-f/11 and the much shallower depth of field becomes an issue.

35 Get the best from a fisheye
Fisheye lenses let you capture a seriously wide, distorted image, but you’ll need to be extremely close to a subject to prevent it appearing as a tiny speck in the final image.

Framing a fisheye shot brings its own unique set of challenges. For a start, it’s all-too easy for your feet or your shadow to appear in the picture, so activate Live View and hold the camera at arms’ length.

Camera shake needn’t be a concern, as the typical 8mm and 15mm focal lengths of fisheye lenses allow for sharp handheld photos at 1/8 sec and 1/15 sec respectively. You can freely choose wide apertures too, as the depth of field will be extensive at every setting.

What to consider when buying one of these Canon lenses…

What to consider when buying one of these Canon lenses… longer focal length

36 Longer focal length is better 

You have to be closer to a subject to achieve life-size images with macro lenses with focal lengths around 50mm than you do with ones of 100mm or more. The closer you are, the greater the risk of casting a shadow over the subject or (in the case of butterflies or bugs) frightening it away.

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37 Focus limiter
As macro lenses can focus from just a few centimetres all the way to the horizon, they can be quite sluggish to lock on to a subject. A lens fitted with a distance limiter switch allows you to restrict the area that the focusing system has to cover, which can help speed things up.

38 What’s your budget? 

Canon’s tilt-shift lenses are some of the best optical performers in the EF line-up. But their cost is hard to justify unless you’ll be using them day-in, day-out. If all you really want to do is get the tilt-shift ‘toytown’ effect, try a Lensbaby Composer – or simply recreate the effect in Photoshop.

SEE MORE: Best photo apps for photographers reviewed and rated

What to consider when buying one of these Canon lenses… the right fisheye

39 The right fisheye 

There are two main types of fisheye lenses: circular and rectilinear. You also need to bear in mind whether you’ll be using it on a full-frame or APS-C camera. A circular fisheye designed for a full-frame camera won’t show a full circular image when used on a camera with an APS-C sensor.

40 Avoid dust
Despite some specialist lenses having unusually shaped front elements and lens caps, they share the same rear cap as every other Canon lens. Once you’ve attached a lens, join the rear lens cap and camera body cap together to keep them dust-free.

PAGE 1 – How to use Canon lenses: standard & wide-angle zooms
PAGE 2 – How to use Canon lenses: prime lenses
PAGE 3 – How to use Canon lenses: telephotos & super zooms
PAGE 4 – How to use Canon lenses: specialist lenses


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