07. Optics & Lenses

Lenses are an essential piece of equipment in any photographers tool kit, but have you ever stopped to think about how your camera’s lens affects your photography?

In this photography class Karl shows you how different lenses change the angle of view and how the resulting change in perspective can absolutely transform your resulting images.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Camera lenses and optics
  • Camera lenses: what’s the difference
  • Telephoto lenses
  • Fisheye lens
  • Super wide angle lens
  • Prime lenses
  • Practical demonstration of different camera lenses

A more in depth demonstration of the effects of different lenses can be found in our Lens choice for studio work class, in our Portrait section.

If you have any questions about this class, please post them in the comments section below.

NOTE: This course is available with subtitles.


  1. Karl, I noticed you used a flash attached to your camera in this outdoor shoot? can I just use this type of camera flash for outdoor shoots instead of buying the more powerful outdoor flashes such as the AD200 AD400 or AD600. Thank you.

    1. Hi, you can but they are not as versatile. If you do though make sure you find a way to get it off camera.

  2. Hi Karl. What lens would you buy to take very close-up portraits of faces, that accentuate wrinkles, lines and are often seen in print journalism? I have a Nikon D3100 DSLR but am on a tight budget. I currently have a kit lens 18-55mm f5.6 and a n 18-70mm f3.5 lens, which is again an older kit lens.

  3. Hi, I’m thinking about buying a camera+lenses, which one would you recommend for portrait photography, Nikon D5600 + 18-105 AF-S VR or Nikon D5600 + AF-P DX 18-55 VR + AF-P DX 70-300 VR. The price of the second set doesn’t differ that much, but I would like to hear yor opinion. Thank You.

    1. Hi Krzysztof, I’m very sorry but I can’t really offer any advice in areas like this as I don’t know these camera models well as I’ve not used them. There is only one rule I’d stick to, Full Frame sensor (medium format even better) 18mp minimum. Good quality lenses.

  4. Karl,
    You dispensed with the fill in flash for the tele photo side lit shots? Yor backlit shots were TTL flash? What focal length do you find gives the natural portrait on a tele-zoom say on a 28 – 300mm lens?I`m thing the manufacturer would try to limit extortion on 85mm length on these.
    My first fill in flash shots on natural side lit shots the highlights overexposed as the speckles of light were dispersed unevenly over the face (light between tree leaves). The shadows were just about right. Again it highlighted the learning curve we go through. Needed to reposition the model or dispense with flash but I wanted some eye sparkle. 🙂

  5. I love it how you can keep the language simple, introduce new terms and concepts clearly! Really enjoying the series

  6. Hi Karl,

    I´m currently using an Sony a7 II with a Sony Macro 90mm (for portraits and macros) and a Rokinon 14mm wide angle for landscape, any recommendation for a new lens, so I can shoot a different style in my photography?

    Thanks you

    1. Hi Gustavo, well you have super-wide angle and portrait focal lengths covered. Really you’d be looking at 28-40mm wide-angle as a less distorted wide-angle option and maybe a telephoto in the 200+ range for the long shots or compression of the perspective.

  7. Hey Karl, im currently using the Nikon D3200 and switching off between 35mm lens and a 70-200 zoom lens. I have been debating picking up a new camera or maybe saving up some money and buying into some nicer lenses. I feel like i have kind of hit a wall with using my D3200 but i keep hearing from every forum i read or person i talk to that its better to stick with my body and get some nicer lenses. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

  8. Thank you Karl! That was kind of my thought too. It’s most likely a better quality glass that comes with the lens and there is this other argument people have mentioned.
    By using a full frame lens on the crop body you will be effectively shooting through the center sweetspot of the lens which reduces vigneting and gives you a sharper image.

  9. Hi Karl,

    I have a question! hopefully you can help me out. I have a crop sensor camera Nikon d7100 which normally uses dx crop lenses but can also use fx full frame lenses.
    i want to buy a new lens which is full frame because in the future I want to get a full frame camera body also.

    will a picture be sharper, less sharp or is there no difference in using a full frame lens on a crop sensor body? Perhaps any other advantage or disadvantages?

    I have tried finding the answer all over the internet but I have not managed to find a satisfying answer. A lot of people have an argument for either side of the debate.

    1. Hi Jacques, there will be no difference in image quality at all, in fact you may find the full frame lenses sharper. The only difference is the size of the image circle which will be bigger to accommodate a full frame sensor.

    1. Hi Ross, lots in fact it is a great all round lens. It can be used for portraits, even landscapes and with a simple extension tube it makes a good macro alternative.

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