The Bloggers Guide To Camera Lenses - Part One.

Friday, 23 January 2015

One aspect of blogging I get asked about the most, by email or twitter is Photography. I love taking blog photos, it's something I enjoy the most about blogging. Although at times it can be frustrating, and take forever to arrange items in a composition you're happy with - when you get it 'right' and can look back at a photo with pride and admiration it's one of the most rewarding feelings. 

You can read The introduction to this series here. 
So i've found myself staring at the screen for the past hour or so, wondering where to begin in this series, when I hit a brain wave. This photography series is specifically tailored towards blogging, and to help you figure out which lens is best for you. I can talk about the pro's and con's of each lens all day long - but it's not very good if you can't see how they all compare to each other. Can you picture the difference between a 10mm lens and a 200mm lens? Or how about a the difference between a 50mm prime lens and 55mm on your camera kit lens?  

If you can anwer yes to all of the above questions, then likely you're a better photographer than me... because I found that I learnt a hell of a lot more than I thought, just by writing this post!


This post or series is in no way meant to be a brag about my camera kit, or how much any of it costs. I just want to say that I am in no means a photography expert, or tutor, and I'm sure that there are many more qualified people in the blogging world who could write these posts, I wanted to give back and share what I've learnt over the past year. Only half of these lenses belong to me, some of them belong to my work and as a perk of my job I'm able to use them outside of work for my own use

Okay, So in order to facilitate a fair test... we have to set up the environment. The image below details my set up for every photograph in this post. I'm using two different lights to control the light in the room and a tripod to ensure the camera doesn't move from it's spot. Just FYI, I'm using a Canon 600d for the photos. For the background, I'm using the bloggers favourite - fairy lights, and my product is stuck down in postition. I will say that the only exception to this rule is that I couldn't use the tripod for the images with the last lens, as the Ring light would not fit over the lens on the tripod, so I had to hold it instead.

Now that we know what we're getting ourseleves into... let's get started! I will say that I'm not going to explain exactly how your camera works inside out - as there are so many amazing blogs out there that understand that stuff more than me! But to clarify before we begin, the basic premise of the focal length of your lens, is that it determines how 'zoomed in' or 'far away' your photos appear.

  • For the purpose of this post, If a lens is a zoom lens, I'll show you the two opposite extremes of the lens. 
  •  I will be shooting on the lowest f Stop possible to get the 'blurriest' backgound I can. 
  • This post will also be tailored towards blog product photography shots.

Got that? Good! Now here are some examples.

Sigma 10-20mm lens

The 10-20mm Lens is the widest lens of the lot. At 10mm it's verging on Fish Eye, and you can certainly see the majority of the room, which may be useful if you're an estate agent.... but as we're trying to take a picture of a moisturiser, it's certainly less than ideal. You can certainly see the difference between the 10mm and 20mm focal length. 
We have barely any 'blur' from the background, and the majority of the photo is taken up by table.

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 0. 

Canon 18-55mm LENS

The Canon 18-55mm lens is one which comes with the camera. It's the kit lens, and with that, you can't expect miracles or too much greatness. 
At 18mm, It's far too wide to photograph our little tub of cream, but when zoomed into 55mm we're getting closer to the action. With a little brightness and contrast, I'd say we have ourselves a useable image for product photography.
The downside with this lens, is that your limited on the f Stop which means your background won't be totally blurred, and that may become frustrating.

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 6.

Tamron 24-70mm Lens

Where do I begin, this Tamron 24-70mm lens is a dream to use. At 24mm the shot is too wide for our single shot of cream, but would be great if you have lots of products to photograph in one image. Also check out the blur on the fairy lights! You can see a massive difference between the 18-55mm and the 24-70mm on that one aspect alone.
Let's just take a moment to appreciate how beautifully easy the 70mm setting on the Tamron 24-70mm lens makes it to take photographs. Everything about this image is just working perfectly for me. The background is blurry, the product is the right size in frame, leaving just enough space around it, and the edges of the moisturiser are just starting to soften.

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 10. (OH YES!)

Canon 40mm lens (pancake)

The Canon 40mm Lens is one which I previously used almost every time I took photographs,until I received my 24-70mm Lens for Christmas. Although slightly too wide for our product shot from our tripod set up, the background has a good level of blur. I do have to mention though that this lens is Macro, which means you can get super close up (0.3m away!) and get the small print on the product in focus. If you're looking for a cheaper alterntive to the 24-70mm lens, and don't mind moving around to get the shot - get this. 

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 8.

Canon 50mm f/1.4 Lens

The f/1.4 50mm Lens is the mid-range 50mm Lens - There is a cheaper f/1.8 version available, and a more expensive f/1.2
This lens in particular, has an f/stop of 1.4 meaning that it offers 'the blurriest background' of all the lenses I'm talking about today. 
At 50mm, it's the perfect focal length mounted from our tripod, but be warned, you can't get much closer to the products, or else it won't focus at all. 

Also, dare I say it... at f/1.4 - the background is, gulp, possibly too blurry! The majority of the moisturiser is out of focus, which in this case may not be a good thing.

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 8.

Canon 70-200mm Lens f/2.8 L

I don't even know where to begin.... let's just say, you don't ever want to use the Canon 70-200mm lens to try and take product shots, whilst mounted to a tripod, in your bedroom... This is not the lens for you.

Marks out of ten as a lens to use for Product photography = 0. 


So that's it for part one. So what did we learn today? We learnt that you certainly don't want to use a 10mm lens or a 200mm lens to photograph a moisturiser, and the ideal focal length falls between 40mm-70mm. In particular, the  three lenses which performed the best were:

I really hope this post was useful. If i've missed anything out, or I haven't explained something well enough, please do let me know! As I said, I'm not a photography expert, so If there are any mistakes, i'm only human! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post! Let me know in the comments.

Em xxx


  1. Oh,Em! Such a great and useful post for photgraphy begginers like me! Please please please, blog more about this! xoxo

  2. Thanks for this - I usually find things like this a real mine-field because it's so easy to chose the wrong kind of equipment for what you're looking for! Really helpful :)

  3. This is an amazing post! The only thing is, I have a Nikon instead of a Canon so my lens choices are a bit different, but this does give me a good idea of where I want to go with my next purchase :)


  4. Omg I love this post! It's so useful as I've been really confused about which lens to buy & now I feel I understand a bit more!

    L x

  5. Thank you for this post! I have a DSLR camera but never thought about getting a new lens bc I don't know anything about them. So glad I stumbled upon this blog :)

  6. So grateful for this post, especially as I've been looking at lenses but never understood any of it!

    Jenny -

  7. I really want to invest in a new lens... Also, a ring light would be great to get my hands on too! Thanks for the tips!

    Claire // Technicolour Dreamer // Bloglovin'

  8. My arm made it on to your blog! I'M FAMOUS!

    Stop making me want to buy expensive lenses :(

    April xxx

  9. This post is incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it and explain which each lens is useful for. I’m looking to add the 50mm f/1.4 and 40mm lens to my growing collection this year and want to start taking photography a little more seriously! Cant wait for the next instalment!


  10. Is is such an amazing guide! If only I could afford a camera thag you can put different lenses in as well as the lenses aha! Maybe when I am no longer a poor student..,

    The Velvet Black // UK Style, Beauty Blog

  11. I studied film at Uni and learnt a lot about lenses and cameras so the inner geek in me got SO excited about reading this! Amazing post!
    Alice xo

  12. Such a useful post! its nice to actually see the difference in the lenses than read about them! well done :)

  13. its great to see how they actually work and look like!!

    Great post

  14. This post was very helpful! Thank you. It was really awesome seeing actual photos for each lens. =]

  15. This post and series are honestly so helpful! I'm not sure I'll be splashing out any time soon but it's a good introduction to things when I'm just getting interested in photography and may want to upgrade sometime :) xx

    Magpie Jasmine || Palette Giveaway: Urban Decay, Nars, Charlotte Tilbury, Too Faced

  16. Really loved this post - your demos only reconfirmed what I was planning to do - buy a 1.8 50mm lens. Not ready to splurge £200+yet haha. No off to read the rest of your series - new Bloglovin follower xx


  17. Really helpful post, love how the photos spoke for themselves as examples :) Really want to save for that Tamron lens, it's gorgeous, or at least the 40mm!

    The Makeup Directory

  18. Loved this post. It was so helpful! I cannot wait to invest in some more lenses x

  19. This was so incredibly helpful and easy to understand! Thank you so much Em, and I love forward to the rest of your series :)

  20. Thank you for this, this was so helpful. I would love to purchase the Tamron lens... once I have the money

  21. Brilliant post - just bought the pancake lens as a result lol

  22. Em,Thanks for this post. I have been looking for a guide on this topic. great post

  23. Em this post os incredible! So so useful, I'll be showing my bf to improve our photography!

    Katie <3

  24. This post was so helpful! Thank you! I studied photography at A Level, almost 5 years ago and not done anything with it since, so this is a great re-fresher!

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  26. That's an excellent primer, Em; came across this via BBC3 / Trolls ... all good work, thank you!

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