What Are the 6 Types of Lenses?

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Lenses are an essential part of photography. It is impossible to capture images or film videos without a lens. 

However, with the numerous types of camera lenses, it can be confusing to know what each lens does and what makes them different from each other. 

What Are the 6 Types of Lenses?

The six types of lenses are standard lenses, telephoto lenses, wide-angle lenses, macro lenses, prime lenses and zoom lenses.

Characteristics of Each Lens

Lenses are categorized by their focal length, aperture, and other capabilities like fast autofocus and stabilization.

Canon camera with 50mm lens

Standard Lenses

Standard lenses have a fixed focal length of 50mm. It is ideal for street, documentary, and portrait photography. 

The standard lens has the same focal length as the human eye, which is why it is also referred to as the “normal” lens. 

The standard lens is also called the nifty fifty. The nifty part comes from its wide aperture of f/1.8, while the fifty part comes from its fixed focal length of 50mm. 

Standard lenses are great for beginners because they are light, compact, and produce sharp images. 

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses are ideal for sports, wildlife, motorsports, action, and portraiture. It has numerous focal length ranges that you can choose from. 

The lenses can easily zoom in on subjects that are a few feet away from your camera. This is very useful, especially for wildlife photography, because it allows you to capture animals behaving naturally without disturbing them. 

Telephoto lenses are also great for sports photography; they can capture the action from across the field or the arena while ensuring that the subject remains in the frame. 

As for portrait photographers, telephoto lenses can flatten the features of the subject, and they can help isolate them from the background, making them stand out in a photo. 

Long focal lengths produce clear shallow depth of field on images. Telephoto lenses also create a creamy bokeh which can improve your pictures. 

The 70mm-200mm telephoto is great for portrait photography and long-distance still shots as it can zoom at any focal length that is within its range. 

The 100mm-400mm lenses are telephoto zoom lenses with a long focal range that can be used in nature photography. 

The 85mm is known as a prime telephoto lens that has a shallow depth of field, so it can be used for portraits with clear foreground and beautifully blurred backgrounds. 

Canon camera with zoom lens

The 135mm prime telephoto lens has the same shallow depth of field as 85mm lenses. The difference is that it can focus on subjects that are farther away. It is ideal for weddings, portraits, and events. 

As for super telephoto lenses, the focal length starts at 600mm and is used for wildlife photography. 

Wide-Angle Lenses

Wide-angle lenses are ideal for interior photography, landscape photography, and architecture. Its focal length range is 24mm-35mm. 

Wide-angle lenses are known to have a wide field of view compared to other lenses. This means that any lens below the 50mm focal length is already considered wide-angle. 

The lens can be used for numerous styles of photography. However, generally, photographers use these lenses to fit more of the scene in the frame. 

The lenses are also smaller than most camera lenses because they have a shorter focal length. They are also lighter compared to other lenses, which makes them easier to bring when you travel.

Macro Lenses

Macro lenses have a focal length of 45mm-200mm. It is ideal for nature shots, products, weddings, and other detailed photography. 

Macro lenses can capture the size of the subject realistically. The size of your subject in real life is exactly what the sensor of the lens picks up, it does not add or remove angles, width or height. If you wish to reach the perfect angle, you can always use an articulating arm for your shoots.

The reproduction ratio is usually referred to as 1:1. This is the reason why it is a good lens for taking pictures of your products because they will appear exactly as is in the image. 

Prime Lenses

Prime lenses have fixed focal lengths, which means you will have to stand close to the subject since it won’t let you zoom in. Prime lenses often come in focal lengths of 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm. It is ideal for food photography and portrait. 

Prime lenses have wide apertures of f/1.8 to f/2.0, which makes them great for taking pictures in the dark. It can also create a beautiful background blur. It is also known to produce sharp images, and it has a better image quality than zoom lenses. 

Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses have a focal length range of either 11mm-16mm, 18mm-200mm, or 100mm-400mm. It is ideal for travel, portrait, wedding, and wildlife photography. 

6 different types of camera lenses

Zoom lenses let you alter composition without having to change the angle of the camera. This is helpful, especially when you are in a scenario wherein you can’t change the shooting position. 

Zoom lenses are also used in travel photography because they have the focal length range that you need to capture images from afar. 

Related Questions

How to Know What Lens Fits Your Camera?

You will know if the lens fits your camera by checking the mount. Lenses are usually matched to the mount, and each camera mount has certain compatibility. 

For example, full-frame cameras can accept electro-focus or EF lenses. However, it is not compatible with Focal-plane Shutter or FD lenses. To check if they are compatible, you can attach the lens to the camera and review all of the features to see if it works properly. 

What are the Types of Camera Mounts?

The types of mounts for Canon and Nikon are Electronic Focus mount or EF-Mount, Positive Lock mount or PL-Mount and Format SLR mount or F-Mount. 

The types of mounts for Sony are the Alpha Series mount or A-Mount and the Mirrorless mount or E-Mount. 


Camera lenses do so much more than just taking pictures, it contributes to the art of photography which is why it comes in different apertures, focal lengths and functions. 

Each type of lens is made for a certain genre of photography. If you know what subjects you want to take pictures or film videos of, then you can choose lenses better. 

Kaitlin Cooper is an active professional wedding and portrait photographer in San Diego, California at Kaitlin Cooper Photography. She is also a contributor to many large publications, including Bridal GuideBustlePixpaWith Joy, and Hello Giggles.