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Choosing the Right Lenses for Production

Updated on March 3, 2016

Pastor Caleb at Victory Orlando

Defining Lenses. What's the Difference?

The first thing to know when choosing your lens set is the difference in lenses. There are hundreds of choices when it comes to lenses. But all of them boil down to two different types of lenses. The two types of lenses are Zoom lenses and Prime lenses. Both are great and both have their purposes.

Zoom lenses have multiple focal points. Zoom lenses give you more options and range and are easier to use to adjust to your surroundings. For example if something exciting is happening on stage; then with a zoom lens you can have more flexibility to capture whats happening. They can be restricted in their f-stop range. Some of them can't be any wider then f/3.5 or higher. That's important because you may need more light to enter your camera or you may want more bokeh in your background. Now if you get a "L" series zoom lens then you can get a wider aperture.

Prime lenses have a singular focal length. They don't have any range to them. You can't move from 50mm-85mm. No instead, each lens is one focal length. You will need to get a lens for each focal length such as 24mm, 35mm, 50mm 85mm and anything in-between. But prime lenses are normally cheaper and they have a wider aperture to them. As mentioned zoom lenses have restrictions in the aperture settings whereas prime lenses usually do not. A further definition of a prime lens by Digital Photography School:

is one that has just one focal length only (in contrast to a zoom lens that covers a wider range of lengths). Prime lenses come in a wide range of focal lengths from wide angles through to the very longest of tele-photo lenses.

What I Use

My Lens choice

I like to have a variety of lenses. Each for a different purpose. To start with I use a 10mm-18mm wide angle lens. It's a good lens to capture the whole room. You can really capture from one corner to the next. The other good thing about a wide angle lens is that you can start with a wide image and crop it down if you need be to get a tighter image. It's great for getting the whole stage or the entire team or group. The downside is that its widest opening aperture is 3.5. You can't get good bokeh with that and it can sometimes be dark on your image.

I also enjoy shooting with my 50mm. The nifty fifty is a great lens. It's medium range, so it's decently wide yet narrow enough to get a close up shot. Because it is a prime lens you can get a wide aperture setting to let in lots of light and you can capture nice bokeh.

I also really love my all in one lens which is my 18mm-200mm. It's called an all in one lens because 18mm is a wide focal length and 200mm is tight. It's very flexible and allows me to shoot something on the dime. I like it for mission trips because of the flexibility. The down side of my lens is that it's not an "L" series. Again this means that my widest aperture is f/3.5. A wider aperture will let in more light and again will give you better bokeh.

What About You?

What's Your Favorite Lens?

See results

What is Bokeh!?

What is all this talk about bokeh? I've been talking about how prime lenses give more freedom to get nice bokeh in your images and how zoom lenses have more aperture restrictions. Every photographer wants to get gorgeous bokeh. Bokeh is an artistic effect where the foreground or subject is in crystal clear focus and the background is blurred out. Sometimes you can get some really fun imagery if there are some lights in the background. Then you can can capture beautiful light ringlets. With a larger aperture you can achieve this effect because you will have a narrower depth of field. I'll do another Hub on bokeh and depth of field some time.


Background is blurred out.
Background is blurred out.

Choosing the Right Lens

  • 24mm Wide Angle. This is a great lens. I think you'll find that it is plenty wide enough for church production. You'll be a able to crop down any image that you desire. You can get decently priced lenses from $130-$600. Of coarse you can buy more expensive than that but I really believe that these will be the best options.
  • 35mm MediumWide Angle. Everyone needs a 35mm prime its kind of a staple lens. There are some times that you don't need a wide or a zoom lens and this is just wide enough to make the magic work. You can get a quality lens for $550.
  • 50mm Medium Tight. This is another staple lens. I described the benefits of this lens in an earlier part of the Hub.
  • 85mm Tight. This is a great prime for close up images or portraits. For services it is great to capture smiling faces! You can get a good one for $370. All of the above lenses have nice wide aperture settings giving you flexibility and a lot of light to shoot in dimly lit settings.
  • 24-70mm Zoom. This lens is a super all in one lens. Be sure to pay for the "L" series so that you will have more flexibility with your lighting choices. You can do more creative images with this lens and get the bokeh and capture the lighting you desire. Unfortunately you'll have to pay $1,750 for it. You might be able to get another brand for cheaper.
  • 70-200mm. Unless you are going to shoot sports or need some kind of extreme telephoto, you won't need a further zoom than this. Again get the "L" series for more creative control and aperture range. Price will be $2000. Ouch, right?

70mm-200mm L series
70mm-200mm L series
24mm-70mm L series
24mm-70mm L series

Prime or Zoom; Which One Is For You?

That's a Wrap!

Is it affordable to buy all those lenses? No. Is it advisable to buy them all? Maybe not, but each has its strength and times of necessity. You might not ever need to get a high end zoom lens but trust me when I say I love them. Shooting church photography; I'll say that you will certainly need a wide angle lens. You have to decide what is necessary, what's your style, and what your church can afford to buy or rent. I hope this helps when deciding what to purchase. I kept one thing in mind as I was writing this post; "what would I have wanted someone to share with me when I got started"? Let me know your thoughts and happy shooting!


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