Audio Visual · Digital Printing Group · Cameras
Photography Tips

Essential lenses & how to use them

Timothy Farmer
October 29, 2020
The past year has flown by, so we decided to ask our Schiller’s experts about their favorite cameras they used to capture it. Read on to learn useful details and features on the best new products of 2019!

The past year has flown by, so we decided to ask our Schiller’s experts about their favorite cameras they used to capture it. Read on to learn useful details and features on the best new products of 2019!


Most entry level cameras come with an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm lens, which are great for getting started. As you mature in your photography skills, you’ll most likely find your “kit lenses” are not quite as sharp as you first thought. At that point, it’s time to start investing in some better glass.

The next step in your development would be the 24-70mm zoom — your go-to lens. Getting a high quality lens might seem like a lot at first, but it’s worth the investment. From landscapes to portraits, this lense is ideal for most shoots. This, along with a 70-200mm zoom, can cover 95% of all your shooting needs. All brands offer lenses in this range, but we’ve found that Tamron and Sigma offer top-of-the-line quality at a great price point.


Wide-angle lenses are fan favorites for shooting landscapes, cityscapes, astrophotography, and having a little fun! These lenses allow you to get a wider view on the world than what you normally see. They’re perfect for showing the vastness of a landscape, the space of a room, or the scope of humanity in a crowded concert. Specialty wide-angle lenses called “fisheye” are fun to play with and add an interesting distortion to the subject. One of our favorite wide-angle lenses is the Tamron 15-30 f2.8 G2. It’s sharp, quick, and comes at a great price point. For architectural photography, Canon 11-24 or perspective control (PC) lenses work wonders. They’re specially made to not distort your photo, giving you straight, clean vertical and horizontal lines on buildings.


The lens sweet spot for traditional portraits is between 85mm and 135mm, 50mm-100mm on crop sensor cameras. This range is very flattering for the human face. The top-notch choices for this type of portrait lens is the Sigma 85mm f1.8 Art for digital cameras, and the Nikkor 135mm f2 for film cameras. If you’re looking to shoot environmental portraits, go with a slightly wide-angle lens like a 35mm. Tamron offers 35mm and 45mm lenses that we highly recommend for documentary portraits, environmental portraits, or street photography.


These specialized lenses allow you to take a normal subject and turn it into an “out of this world” photograph. Great for flowers, coins, and other

small-detail objects, macro lenses capture 1:1 close-ups of your subject. The Canon 100mm Macro and the Nikon 105mm Micro are front-runners in this category. Both brands offer macro lenses other than the 100mm or 105mm but we love these specific models because they allow you to get 1:1 shot without having to get super close to your subject. Honorable mentions also include the Olympus 60mm macro, the OM-D E-M1 camera, and the Nikon D850 camera, which all have built-in focus stacking that allows for fast hyper-focused macro shots.


Telephoto lenses are the bread and butter of wildlife and sports photographers’ careers. If you’re going out and really want to capture close-ups and action-packed photos, go long with a monopod or gimbal to take the weight off your arms. Telephoto lenses can weigh a good amount and waiting for the right moment can get tiring, fast. The go-to lens we keep in our bags is the Tamron 150-600mm. However, the new Canon 100-400mm is small for its power and tests to be very sharp and fast. If you’re loyal to a specific brand, Nikon also has a good 100-400mm.


A prime or fix focus length lens is dedicated to one length like the 85mm or 100/105mm macro lenses we discussed previously. These are less expensive, sharper, and lighter than an equal-quality zoom. Because they are crafted for just one focal length, they’re less complicated to design and manufacture. If you are only shooting one or two types of subjects, prime lenses are a great option. The big drawback is you need more lenses to cover different ranges. With 15-35mm, 24-70mm, and

70-200mm zooms, everything is taken care. With only prime lenses you would need SEVEN lenses to cover the same amount of focal distances, and still need to move closer or further away from the subject to get framing and composition right. Sometimes, this isn’t even possible! We suggest carrying a mix of primes and zooms. The 85mm for portraits, 100mm macro, and a Sigma 14mm f1.8 Art for astrophotography and landscapes are the primes along with the 15-35mm, 24-70mm,

70-200mm, and 150-600mm zooms. Always pick what you need for a shoot — 3 lenses in your bag at any given time is usually a good number.

Stop by Schiller’s any time to learn more about any lenses we’ve mentioned, or anything else in your arsenal — we’re always eager to talk about our favorite gear!