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Tips & Tricks

Lens Tutorial by Vimeo and Vincent Laforet

By Tuan Tran on July 22nd 2013


With so many lenses available in the market, it can be stressful in deciding which is best for you. The staff at Vimeo and Vincent Laforet have crafted an exceptional instructional workshop that outlines the different types of lenses available, what focal length is, and what depth of field is. The 3 videos below can assist you in clarifying some questions you may have about different lenses, and provide a better understanding of their capabilities.

An Introduction to Lenses

Knowing the proper camera settings and what lens to use is an essential for taking a good photo. This video focuses on various parts of lenses, and creates a great visual comparison between different lenses.
Aperture – the size of the opening within your lens that allows light to hit the image sensor
Focus Ring – Located around the barrel of your lens, allows you to focus the image
Zoom Lens– allows you to switch to different lens equivalents with one lens

As described by Vincent Laforet , “Various lenses are appropriate for particular situations

    16mm– An ultra wide lens, this bad boy distorts heavily, emphasizing objects in the foreground by making them look a lot larger than the background. Dynamic, but use with caution!
    28mm– Standard for documentary and photojournalism to shoot cowboy shots, otherwise known as medium shots.
    35mm– Another standard for documentary filming, also tight enough to shoot portraits.
    50mm– Standard for cinema/video, it approximates the human eye’s typical focal length.
    85mm– A popular portrait, or “beauty” lens. Capable of making everyone look lovely!
    200mm– The top of the scale for most people, this is a telephoto lens. Their inherent shallow depth of field makes them useful in eliminating unwanted foreground and background objects by simply throwing them out of focus. Great for sports photography!”

Focal Length

A great way to highlight or define the subject of your shot is to utilize focal length. In this video, we are introduced to a range of focal lengths and their possible uses. A wide angle lens will highlight an object in the foreground and exaggerate the relative size and distance of the objects. A standard lens shows the foreground and background subjects at about equal sizes. Lastly, a telephoto lens has a very short depth of field and will greatly compress your image.

Depth of Field

There is a large range of lenses that can be used to favorably tell your story how you want your viewer to see it. In this final video, we venture through the uses of depth of field at various focal lengths. Depth of field refers to the part of your image that is in focus. A deep depth of field provides both the foreground and background to be in focus, while a shallow depth of field provides focus on a single area or subject. A deep depth of field can be handy for documentary work, as your subject may be moving at random allowing you to pull focus.

We have reviewed a wide range of lenses, the differences in focal lengths, and the unique properties of depth of field. Invest time into considering how you want to compose your images, and apply the various functions of your lenses to create more meaningful and dramatic pictures to present your story.


Tuan is a photographer with Lin and JIrsa Photography, a writer for SLR Lounge, and a freelance wedding and commercial photographer in Southern Cali.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for sharing

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