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An important aspect of basic digital photography -
"What equipment do I need for the style of photos I wish to take?"
Other related basic digital photography articles
photos by Digitpedia, Axel Buhrmann and Armno-old
What type of lens and camera is best suited to a particular photography style or theme?
To answer this question several factors relating to the desired final image must first be asked
Answering these questions fully, could easily form the basis of an entire syllabus of a photography degree! So, in the context of these basic digital photography articles about Focal lengths and f-numbers, here I will only give a brief summary for each.
In truth it is really the physical IMAGE SENSOR size (not to be confused with number of mega pixels - which is in itself a related but separate issue) that determines image quality. In simple terms, the larger the sensor the higher the achievable quality.
However, this gain in achievable quality comes at a high price. Here is a list of the pros and cons to large sensor sizes.
Conclusion - If extremely high quality images are required (e.g. for professional purposes) then more expensive and bulky cameras with large image sensors and the necessarily large expensive lenses that go with them are needed.
But if you are planning to use your camera for a more basic digital photography where you don't need the quality required for professional reproduction nor the degree of creative control over the image, or if you are predominantly shooting a style that needs a large depth of field (e.g.landscape or architectural photography) then a lower cost camera with smaller image sensor size may well be adequate.
The way human eyes actually see and process images is complex and not even the most advanced cameras function in a similar way.
What I am referring to instead are images that appear “natural” with respect to depth of field and magnification. This typically means photos taken with an angle of view from approx. 40 deg to 60 deg. At this angle of view the image will not appear to be more, or less magnified than by someone witnessing the event first hand. For “full frame” sensors (equivalent to 35mm film) this corresponds to a focal length of around 50mm.
Conclusion - If you only want to record simple images with a “natural” appearance , then you will not require equipment with a large range of focal lengths (often referred to as “optical zoom” ) nor the ability to create shallower depths of field (as obtained by larger image sensors in conjunction with large apertures. )
Although photos of this type when carefully composed could still be considered “masterpieces” . More often than not this style of photo is taken simply to record a scene as witnessed. This basic digital photography is what we refer to as a “snapshot” and probably constitutes by far the greatest proportion of all digital images taken.
If however you wish to take a more creative style of digital photo, then you may need a camera and lens that gives you greater control - particularly over depth of field.
Please read taking creative control of your photos for a more detailed explanation.
In addition to the basic equipment requirements of camera and lens, there are a host of additional accessories that can be useful in certain types of photography.
A detailed look at these items is outside the scope of this particular article - however here is a link to an excellent article that discusses and reviews the pros and cons of monopods - an often overlooked accessory.
click here for Monopod Reviews (opens in new window)