Lens Terms That You Should Know!

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There are many photo editing terms that can make you scratch your head. It may have happened many times that you had to search through Google when you came across these alien terms. You might even wish for a Photography to English dictionary! 

We figure out and decided that it’s our responsibility to shed some light on all this.

So let’s discuss some of the most popular photographer terminologies. 

Fair warning! There are a lot of them. 

You can even bookmark this article, and use it as a dictionary.

Lens Terms

#1 Aperture

A very significant part of any lens is the aperture. It works on the iris (Part of our eye) mechanism, which controls the amount of light that gets through the lens. It also affects the depth of field.

The relative size of the aperture is understood by the f-number. The f-number (or f-stop) denotes the ratio of the length of the lens opening and the focal length. 

With the number decreasing, the aperture physically gets wider. Hence, More light passes, and the depth of field gets thinner.

#2 Focal Length

The focal length is one of the most significant photography, as well as physics terminologies you will need. It is the distance between the center of the lens and its focal point inside the lens ( i.e the point where all the parallel light converges)

The associated number is expressed in mm and written outside the lens. A 35mm lens has a distance of 3.5cm between the focus and the curved mirror or center of the lens.

#3 Zoom Lens

There are two types of lenses. A-Zoom and a Prime Lens. 

A zoom lens is of variable-length, which allows you to change the perspective easily.

They often have limited sharpness due to more complex mechanisms inside the lens.

Lens Terms

#4 Prime Lense

As we told above, you can choose between two different lenses. 

Unlike the Zoom lens, a prime lens is a fixed lens where you cannot zoom in or out, consequently forcing you to adjust zooming with your feet.

#5 Macro Lens

This type of lens is designed especially for close focusing.

One of the most common, and a bit higher-end macro lenses is Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM. 

If you are looking to photograph flowers, insects, or something like that which is more abstract, then this is one of the most essential and important camera terms to know.

#6 Fish Eye Lens

A fisheye lens is specifically for images with a strong visual distortion. This happens because the view angle becomes wider than the sensor or film format, which as a result squeezes the edges to fit.

They vary from 4.5mm to 24mm and have a range of angles of view from 100° to 180°.

You might have heard this before, but did not know what it meant. Now you have the idea about one of the basic photography terms.

#7 Wide-Angle Lens

A camera lens has a wider view than a normal standard lens. The total focal length of the wide-angle lens is smaller than the diagonal size of the film format.

Wide-angle lenses generally have a focal length of 24mm-35mm and an angle of view of 64° and 84°. 

In terms of photography, it is one of the most important camera terms.

#8 Standard Lens

A standard lens probably could be the first lens you bought when you had no idea about lenses. Thanks to us, you now know what it is now!

A standard lens has a focal length which is approximately equal to the diagonal of the negative. 

It has a field of view almost similar to the naked eye’s.

#9 Telephoto Lens

Telephoto lenses are lenses which have their focal lengths longer than standard. All together with a narrow field of view, in layman’s language, this means a “zoomed-in” image.

These lenses usually have a focal length equivalent from 70mm to 200mm and an angle of view between 30° and 10°.

#10 Super Telephoto Lens

As the name suggests, a super-telephoto lens is larger than a standard telephoto lens. Knowing the difference is really important, especially if you are shooting subjects which are very far away.

These generally have a focal length of at least (equivalent) 200mm and a field of view from 8° to 1°. 

#11 Tilt-Shift Lens

Tilt-shift lenses give you exclusive perspective and focal control. They are generally a bit high end and expensive.

As the name suggests, the position and angle of some lens elements can be individually changed in such lenses. This allows them to be moved and tilted relative to the sensor and requirements

You can modify the plane of focus. It is often used to create a ‘miniature effect’, where the scene looks tiny. You can also correct perspective. It is of great help in architectural photography.

All the effects are possible to be re-created with Photoshop as well, but less precisely.

#12 Image Stabilisation

Image stabilization of lenses came into existence in the late ’90s and to camera bodies a few years ago.

Such lenses have a built-in gyroscope and advanced moving lens element(s). In image-stabilized camera bodies, the sensor moves according to the gyroscope of the body.

This cuts down motion blur and destabilization by adjusting pan and tilt movements. Handholding your camera for a longer time is thus possible at longer shutter speeds and retain stability.

Lens Terms


By now, you must have come across many familiar/unfamiliar terminologies. Well, you have the exact definitions and the importance, work functions, scientific details of it. 

I hope you will benefit a lot from it. 

Happy Editing!

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