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Lenses To Consider for Photography or Videography Part 1


camera-158471_960_720Once you start on the journey of church photography and service or testimony videography, you immediately are faced with the problem of choosing the right lens or lenses for your camera. Now, I shoot with Canon cameras so I choose their lenses. But whatever you shoot with there will be a similar lens to choose from. First lets cover the basics. There are two types of lenses. Zoom lens, and prime lens.

lens 2

A zoom lens has the capability to maneuver from one distance to another. There are numerous amounts of zoom lens’s to choose from. There are so very many different ranges it can be maddening to know what you should choose. Just look at B&H list of zoom focal lengths:

  • 7-14mm
  • 8-15mm
  • 8-16mm
  • 9-18mm
  • 10-17mm
  • 10-18mm
  • 10-20mm
  • 10-22mm
  • 10-24mm
  • 11-16mm
  • 11-18mm (1)
  • 11-20mm
  • 11-22mm
  • 11-24mm
  • 12-24mm
  • 12-28mm (2)
  • 12-60mm
  • 14-20mm
  • 14-24mm
  • 14-35mm
  • 14-42mm
  • 14-54mm
  • 15-30mm (1)
  • 15-85mm (1)
  • 16-28mm (2)
  • 16-35mm (3)
  • 16-50mm (2)
  • 16-80mm (2)
  • 16-85mm (2)
  • 16-105mm (1)
  • 16-300mm (3)
  • 17-35mm (3)
  • 17-40mm (1)
  • 17-50mm (11)
  • 17-55mm (2)
  • 17-70mm (5)
  • 17-85mm (2)
  • 18-35mm (6)
  • 18-50mm (1)
  • 18-55mm (8)
  • 18-105mm (1)
  • 18-135mm (5)
  • 18-140mm (1)
  • 18-180mm
  • 18-200mm (14)
  • 18-250mm (6)
  • 18-270mm (4)
  • 18-300mm (7)
  • 20-40mm (2)
  • 24-35mm (3)
  • 24-70mm (15)
  • 24-85mm (2)
  • 24-105mm (6)
  • 24-120mm (1)
  • 28-70mm (1)
  • 28-75mm (5)
  • 28-105mm (2)
  • 28-135mm (1)
  • 28-200mm (1)
  • 28-210mm (1)
  • 28-300mm (7)
  • 35-100mm
  • 40-150mm
  • 50-100mm
  • 50-135mm
  • 50-200mm
  • 50-500mm
  • 55-200mm
  • 55-250mm
  • 55-300mm
  • 60-250mm
  • 70-200mm
  • 70-300mm
  • 70-400mm
  • 75-300mm
  • 80-200mm
  • 80-400mm
  • 90-250mm
  • 100-400mm
  • 100-500mm
  • 120-300mm
  • 150-450mm
  • 150-600mm
  • 200-400mm
  • 200-500mm
  • 300-800mm
  • 650-1300mm

I think you get the point. On with it then; what to choose. Let’s start with lenses for photography. In part 2 we will discuss lenses for videography, but you can use these zoom lenses for videography as well.  First on the list of considerations for your new lenses is  your budget.  Here is my list of affordable but quality zoom lenses. All prices are based upon B&H Photo and Video.

  1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens. $849

  2. Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens. $599

  3. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. $649

  4. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens. $699

  5. Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens. $299

Again if you don’t shoot Canon there are similar Nikon or Sony lenses out there. You should even investigate to see if Sigma, Tamron or another brand makes a lens that will fit the mount of your camera.1280px-24mm-Fixed-focal-SLR-lens You can even buy special lens mounts for your camera if need be. These are good lengths to consider when buying a zoom lens. You can get wider zooms or even more telephoto zooms but for standard day to day shooting for church services or events this is a good list. The 24mm to 70mm is a decent mid range.  A down side is that the f/4L f-stop is kind of a low spot to have to start at. By that I mean that you can’t have a larger aperture than f/4. You can go higher ( f/5, f/6, f/7…) but not lower (f/3, f/2…). That aperture doesn’t allow you to get that beautiful depth of field. When your shooting at church it is nice to be able to go brighter with your aperture since your shooting in the dim lighting. Read my blog post on shooting in dim lighting. On that note, the 24-105 gives you more range and a lower f-stop to shoot at. The f/3.5 f-stop aperture is going to let in more light to your sensor for a better image. The next lens is nice because you can use it as your ad on lens. By that I mean if you want to be able to zoom in further it’s a good lens to have as an addition. It matches up really nicely with the 24-70 because with the two lenses you now essentially have a 24-300mm lens kit. That’s a nice kit.

For the most flexibility I like the 18-200mm lens. This is a all in one lens. Its range is wide to a nice telephoto. With the bottom of the lens at a 3.5 aperture, it lets in a fair amount of light. I’ve gotten a lot of really nice shots wit this lens and it keeps me from changing from one lens to another most of the time.  Finally another all in one lens is the 28-135mm. Its range is not as good but the price makes up the difference. You’ll notice that all of these have ranges in their aperture settings. For example, 3.5-5.6, this range means that the lowest f-stop you can have when at its widest setting is a 3.5. When the zoom is extended to 200mm the lowest setting of aperture will be 5.6. You can always go darker from there but know that those are the lowest settings you can get on your lens at any given time.

Now if you have a little higher budget here is my favorites list.

  1. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. $1,499

  2. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. $1,799

  3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens. $1,249

The first lens is the 16-35mm. Thats a nice wide range for shooting a large group, the whole stage, or building. The bottom of the lens is f/2.8, which means that no matter how far in you have your lens zoomed, you can maintain a low aperture of 2.8 or for that matter, whatever you wish. There are no limits on this lens. The same is true for the other two lenses. Again the 24-70 is a nice medium range and the 70-200 is a nice telephoto. The strength of these lenses is that you can set your aperture no matter if the lens is at its widest or deepest. There are no restrictions on them. That’s the difference between the expensive lenses and the cheaper ones. The cheaper lenses have restrictions on them and the more expensive ones do not. The key to look for to tell the difference is to look for the “L” series or a lens with a constant f2/8 f-stop or less. Next time I’ll discussing prime lenses and video production.


Do Better Photography



I know photography is an important part of your churches advertisement. Anyone with a eye for media can see that a point and shoot camera or a smart phone camera is not getting the job done. What kind of camera do you want to choose? For photography purposes you will want to check on two things really, the amount of control and precision the camera gives and the sensor size. On that note its clear that you will want to buy a DSLR camera. When purchasing a camera what brand do you want to choose, Nikon, Cannon, Sony or some other?

The general rule is that Cannon is better for shooting video because of the higher quality h.264 codec. Most people will tell you that Nikon is the photographers camera. What it really comes down to here is sensor size. For the sake of argument lets just say that the large the sensor the the better the picture. A large sensor will give you a shallower depth of field, greater dynamic range and better low light sensitivity. Lower light sensitivity is what really matters in my opinion. That along with the right settings will allow for your images to not be grainy.

Now if your choosing Cannon I’d go with a 5D or 7D. In laymen terms if the Cannon camera has a “D” in the name your going to get a professional grade camera.  If your going for Nikon then the D3 is ideal. It has a full frame sensor like the 5D. It also has larger pixels for the same size sensor all in all giving it the best low light performance. Ok great you’ve chosen a camera. But wait it doesn’t come with a lens!? Maybe you got a deal and you got a kit lens being a 18mm-55mm. Sorry but the kit lens’s are kits for a reason, their not so swift. Now comes the fun part. What kinda glass do you want to put on your new camera?

For shooting pictures you want to be versatile, so I suggest that you get a lens that can cover everything from the wide shots to the closeup. Find something that has at least 18mm to 200mm or something in between. Now if your going to be shooting landscapes then I suggest something like a 10mm or lower. If you want to shoot sports then your going to need a very long zoom lens with a very low aperture setting. For portraits might I suggest a 5omm. The nifty 50 is a great lens. It is inexpensive and you get a lower range of f-stops. F-stop is what you measure the amount of light coming into the aperture. The aperture is the hole that lets in light. For example f/2 is a very large aperture hole for light to come in. While f/22 is very tiny. If you were shooting narrative films then I would suggest prime lens’s. Prime lens’s have a fixed focal length and don’t zoom in our out. They make you think about the shot you want more. But were shooting photography not narrative films therefore zoom lens’s are going to be your bread and butter. We could go into great details just about lens’s but this is a general article so time to move on.


Once you have your camera and choice of lens its time to get started taking better pictures for your church and ministry. Quick side note, you will also need to buy a 16 or 32GB SD card to record to. You may also want to buy an extra battery and a bag to store everything in. Now onto photography. Start by turning the dial on the top right hand side to M for manual. The number in the upper right hand corner of your LCD screen is the ISO. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. ISO is going to let in the bulk of your light. The major changes occur here. But beware that the higher the ISO the grainier the images are going to be. Its usually a safe rule that anything shot over 1600 and certainly 3200 is going to be grainy in the dark areas. Look at a picture taken in poor light and you will see what amounts to “sand” all over your image especially in the dark areas where the light is the poorest.

The next column over is our f-stop. This is going to fine-tune your light. Remember the f-stop measures the amount of light coming in the aperture or the opening at the rear of the lens. Remember from the previous paragraph that the more light you want to come in the lower the f-stop. Your f-stop size is also going to determine your focal length. For simplicity sakes focal length is the amount of area that is going to be able to be in sharp focus. Longer focal lengths have a narrow angle of view such as 200mm. Whereas shorter focal lengths have a broader angle of view, such as 10mm.

Next the numbers in the far left corner indicate the shutter speed or the length of time at which an image is exposed. The lower the number the lower the shutter speed and the more light will get in. The higher the number the faster the shutter will click. Usually you want to keep the shutter speed around 100-125 for average exposure. If you are shooting sports or fast moving water or cars then you want to have a high shutter speed such as 1/400-1/1000. This will stop that moving object right in its tracks! Ultimately all three need to be averaged and work together to get a perfectly exposed image. The grid on your screen that runs from -3 to 3 tells you if your image is under exposed, properly exposed at 0 or over exposed and by how much.

Finally (For this article anyway) you need to properly set the white balance. The white balance tells you what in the frame is true white and adjust the other colors accordingly. Some cameras will have set options for you. These options include daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten light, white light, and flash. Set the white balance depending on what kind of light setting your in.

There is a lot more to say about photography. More to discuss abut the camera, flash photography, an then to photography with set up lights. There will be more articles on this subject so keep coming back to find out more.

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This is a great video, enjoy!