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Get more from your standard lens


Andrew James

Editor-in-chief, Practical Photography
As well as a highly accredited photographer and journalist, Andrew is also editor of Practical Photography magazine which often includes articles on photographic products, techniques and includes advice, as well as exhibiting and commenting on reader's photographs, and profiling professional photographers. Andrew's work has taken him around the world, photographing places such as the Falkland Islands, Kenya, Japan, Bahamas, the USA and Rwanda.

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Get more from your standard lens

The top selling point with any digital-SLR is the ability to change the lens.

This feature gives you the option to choose the lens that will suit your needs and give you the creative edge. Many of the budget and mid-ranged digital-SLRs are supplied with a basic standard zoom lens, usually with a focal range of 18-55mm. Here are three areas of photography you can shoot with your standard zoom.

At the wide-angle end of your lens (around 18mm) you can shoot dramatic landscapes. If you want the best quality from your budget lens, try to use a middle range of apertures, around f/8, as sharpness will generally be better. In darker conditions you'll need to use a tripod to ensure your shot doesn't suffer from camera shake - as a general rule don't handhold the camera at shutter speeds of less then 1/30sec when using a focal length of 18mm.

Shooting portraits is easily within the capability of an 18-55mm lens. It's commonly accepted that a focal length of 50mm is best for natural looking head and shoulder portraits, while for close shots on the face 80mm is more flattering.

Most bundled lenses can focus as close as 30cm and when used with the lens zoomed all the way in, you can photograph surprisingly small subjects in incredible detail. One thing to be aware of is that the depth-of-field will be really shallow at this extreme, meaning less of your subject will be in sharp focus. If you need more of your subject to be in sharp focus so the detail is clear, you'll need to use a tripod and increase the aperture value to around f/22.