Quick and Informative Intro to SLR Lenses for Beginners

The world of camera lenses can be a bit daunting when you first start out, and so a videographer and photographer have joined forces to put together a fun (and funny) introduction to all the basic lens options, what they do, and what situations you might use them in.

The video is useful for the video and photo junkies among us, as we get both the videographer and photographer perspective. They cover everything from fast lenses, to telephotos, to wide-angle lenses, to fish-eye lenses.


Obviously a four-minute video isn’t enough to get comprehensive about all of the myriad lens options within each of these categories, but for someone just starting out, it’ll help them navigate the world of glass and decide, if not which, then at least what type of lenses to buy.

Admittedly, all of the lenses they cover in the video are pretty expensive — not many beginners can afford to pony up for a 50mm f/1.2 if they need a fast lens. But the lesson is about the types of shots you can get with specific types of lenses, not about the lens within that category you need to buy. If you’re a beginner, just get a nifty fifty (50mm f/1.8) if you want a fast lens.

Check out the video at the top to get a bit more detail, and you experienced folk feel free to drop further explanations or more tips in the comments for our beginner readers.

(via Reddit)

  • Ohnohedidnt

    Neat, but.. Nikon announced the D90 in August 2008, and Canon announced the 5D Mark II in September 2008. Sure, the D90 doesn’t offer “INCREDIBLE HD VIDEO”, just 720p HD — but this makes the Nikon D90, not the 5D Mark II the first DSLR that shot HD video. *hides before the nikon x canon fanboys attack me*

  • Edgar

    Great and funny video ;)

  • lidocaineus

    It was phrased badly, but they probably thought it was the first *useful* dSLR to shoot HD video. The D90 had so many ridiculous limitations tossed onto it that it wasn’t really useful when you wanted full control – I can’t recall offhand the specifics, but when I used it after a 5Dmk2, it was crazy. Stuff like aperture control had to be changed in other modes, focus control, shutter angles, etc. It was more of a casual video add on than any kind of serious video tool.

  • bmassao

    I’ve noticed that also, but I think the point they’re taking is “as a videographer, finally I could get a small DSLR to shoot HD videos”, not in a sense of HD as a standard, but usable HD video, for professional work.

  • Ohnohedidnt

    The key part of the response is, ” the first DSLR that shot HD video”. That’s a fact. It was not in response to how useable it was for production.

  • Chris Lavigne

    Busted! I guess I need to do some better fact checking! ;)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts guys.

  • lidocaineus

    *shrug* I understand the literal understanding and spirit of the phrase. You’re right, the D90 came before. It was also rightly dismissed.

  • Adam Cross

    50mm 1.8 is a great lens, optically just as good as many of Canon’s L lenses. Thankfully the glass isn’t in a metal case, doesn’t have MF override or a USM otherwise it would be just as expensive. Technically you’re not doing the 50mm 1.8 justice with the 60D because of it’s APS-C sensor :P

  • sharper

    Does anyone know the last name for the photographers in the video?

  • jkantor267

    If we are talking Canon – the 1.2 (any of their 1.2s) are ridiculously overpriced lenses that no one needs. The 50 1.8 is useless for autofocus and only usable for manual focus with a tripod. And the 50 1.4 is only a bit better. A decent 50mm is the only reason you need to pick Nikon.

  • Paul

    Please no more intro to photography videos!

    Their are enough period

  • tomjelen

    no you may not borrow my fish eye
    and where in the world is a lens baby a cheap lens?
    all of them I look at are $400.00 +

  • bocci

    What did you guys use to shoot this video?

  • Chris Lavigne

    We used the Canon 5D Mark III

  • Chris Lavigne

    Totally true Adam! The cameras we used for this were all 5D Mark III cameras with full-frame sensors. A 35mm would be the closest to a 50 on an APS-C camera, but it still won’t give you the creamy bokeh like a full frame sensor camera would. Cheers!

  • CalTek

    Unfortunately there will not be a full frame in my line up for a long time – am likely going to look at a wider angle lens in the future – something like Canon 17-40mm f/4L or even the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X sounds nice for landscape shots.

    Of course I will just take my APS-C camera and make it full frame by using my feet and moving back – cheap alternative ;)

  • Kwanon

    What a bunch of fags. It’s official – Canon is for fags. What? You got something against Canon? You homophobe!

  • Adam Cross

    good thing about the 17-40 is that it’ll work with your camera when you decide to go full frame, your EF-S lens won’t :)

  • lolo

    There is a bit half way thru when the music is still playing but the bearded guy is talking. I cant hear what he has to say.

  • King


  • Djalma Reis

    “only usable for manual focus with a tripod”. A clear fast lens like this?

  • Chris Lavigne

    Hey Guys,
    This should be fixed…my bad! thanks for the heads up.

  • Stacey

    Enjoyed that.. you guys are #$#. hilarious. Good job on making the complicated world of lenses a bit easier to understand.