Long time no speak.
Just popped into HWC today to see whats new, and noticed the Off Topic thread saying you were "leaving" and working on new endeavours and no longer able to participate on the forums there.
Are you still in Calgary? few blocks away from me? ;D
Or did you folks move again? LOL
Just thought I would pop in, say "hello" and chime in a little on this thread.
Since I haven't seen anyone answer yet.
I am by no means a pro, but have been an enthusiast and photographing, and taking video for over 2 decades now.
I can help with a VERY BASIC General Overview, by no means a comprehensive guide.
Please feel free to correct me, if anyone sees any glaring errors.
Please also forgive me, if I may mistype a few things, as I just got my flu shot today and my arm is pretty numb and its affecting my motor skills LOL
In regards to your question, some things to consider before blowing your budget on lenses, and the wrong lenses at that.(this is where the largest amount of $$$ is spent in photography).
Its a good thing to consider the subject matter in which you hope to photograph, or record video.
Also good to consider the amount of space that you intend to work within.
Like with any trade, or profession; the lens is just one of many tools you'll use to help you capture and make beautiful photos.
Main purpose of the lens is to help you capture and focus the light toward your camera's sensor, to convert the light signals into digital form.
Various types of lenses are available.
General marketing from each manufacturer will divide them into a few subsets to help people achieve different effects for their photos.
Wide angle zooms
Meant to capture a wide area of view for your photographs. Generally they are classified as the various focal lengths anywhere from 7 - 35mm zooms
Pricing can range from a few hundred dollars, to up over a thousand dollars from the general manufacturers. The more expensive lenses in this range are generally weather sealed, and have much much more sophisticated optics, and are much larger and heavier than the regular mass market versions of the lenses.
These are meant to capture photos at moderate distances from your subject, but also allow the advantage of significantly zoom in closer to your subject. These from various manufacturers will range in focal lengths between 15mm to 300mm.
A word of note, the larger the number for focal length (eg. 300mm) the further away you can be from your subject taking a photo, OR they also allow you a unique benefit of taking some interesting closely zoomed in photos, without using whats called a "Macro" lens.
Among all lenses available, these lenses are in the most affordable ranges, because the general consumer market, does not need anything wider angle (smaller focal length number), or longer focal length.
For general use, these will be your best bet.
They're affordable and can serve a lot of purposes.
These are generally meant for wildlife, or amateur to pro-sports photography… and yes, the paparazzi and intelligence services and local authorities, private investigators will use these for surveillance.. spies.... ehem... :-X
General focal lengths range between 70-300mm
These lenses allow you to be REALLY REALLY far from your subject matter, and still allow you to obtain very sharp and clear images of the subject.
You're in camouflage in the woods, and you are taking pictures of deer, or bears at a distance...
Well if you were using a standard zoom you would have to get pretty darn close to those bears, and I am pretty darn sure they might not take too kindly to someone pointing a camera in their face.
While if you had a longer zoom you could be a few hundred feet away... and hiding. Much safer.
Consumer telephoto zooms are available at decent prices (55mm-250mm) for about $250-$350
They are generally longer narrow black lenses.
Since you're shooting with Canon, you'll see pro versions in some stores, as the huge white lenses known as Canon's L-Lenses... L-glass and any number of assorted names people have given them over the years.
The last few groups of lenses which I wont get much into here are called "Prime Lenses"
They are fixed focal length lenses (meaning absolutely NO zoom), so you will have to learn to zoom with your feet, by walking closer, or further from your subject.
These generally provide the highest possible image quality, and while they start off very cheap at about $100, they can range ALL the way up to and over the $50,000 range for professional glass.
For your purposes, you will probably look more towards 35mm, 50mm, 85mm (most popular portrait lens focal length on digital formats I believe), 100mm, and 135mm.
If you are shooting video of yourself, as I saw you, with the webcam on the ASUS laptop in the review section, you would probably use about a 50mm focal length generally.
They will show just a little bit of background, but frame you and possibly the subject matter nicely.
Another thing is that they introduce more image background blur, known as "bokeh" in the industry. Japanese term... pronounced B-o-keh or B'okay works for most. I digress.
Great for hiding the unmentionable mess behind us... and allowing the image to mostly focus on the foreground.
To read and understand a Lens' specs, lets use this example.
This example, Canon lists the specs as follows.
EF 50mm f/1.8 II
EF is the Lens mounting type to the camera body.
50mm is the focal length
F/1.8 is the Aperture, otherwise known as "F-stop" explanation forth coming.
II is the version number, much like our software, I believe this may be the second iteration of this lens.
Incidentally I believe this is Canon's most affordable Prime Lens, and perfect for learning the basics of photography with…
If you want I can loan you mine, until I sell it. (I have a bunch of old gear I played around with but don't use anymore)
A word of note about the EF/EF-S stuff you see from Canon...
EF & EF-S lenses will both work on your Canon T4i, as it accepts both types.
EF-S lenses sit closer to the sensor, and are generally much less expensive than their EF counterparts.
If you mount an EF-S lens to a Canon EF mount camera, you will often experience something called vignetting (dark colour fringes in the outer edges, specifically in the corners of the photograph, sometimes it is done on purpose... depending on what the artist wants the viewer to see or experience)
In this case 50mm is great for getting in some of the background, but also allowing the subject to be framed nicely.
My opinion of course, yours may differ
Aperture/F-stop this is the maximum aperture your lens is able to open up to, and has to do with the amount of light you allow through the lens in toward the camera sensor.
You are able to modify the aperture in your camera on certain "camera modes"
Modifying this will do a number of things to affect your photos.
I will give a VERY BASIC example...
But one thing aperture affects is to increase, or decrease the "Depth of Field" or DOF or DF... but that's a whole other can of worms we will open another day, in another thread about composing your images.
If you hold your fingers over your eyelids and pry them wide open... what happens to your view?
Well, for one, there may be too much light entering, causing your vision to blur, and causing your eyes only to be able to focus on something directly in front of you.
Same for the camera lens... opening up the aperture (larger aperture has a smaller number going towards ZERO. smaller aperture has a larger number going all the way to F/22) to allow more light in causes the image in the background to blur, and your camera focuses more on the subject matter in the foreground.
Now if you close the aperture down, just as if you were to close your eyelids, and start squinting... what happens?
Well your eyes start to struggle to gather light, to send signals to your brain, as does the camera lens, and thus more of the visible field of view in front of you is brought into focus.
Other things you might see...
Lenses stating they have "STM" "IS" "USM"
This is Canon's specific lens features.
STM stands for Stepper Motor.
This is a "newer" feature for newer Canon lenses.
Main purpose is to eliminate the motor noise during video recording.
If you've used a camcorder or camera for video recording in the past decade you will have noticed during playback of your videos, they may often have a rather irritating motor whine when you zoom in and out.
STM was meant to minimize and or stop this from interfering in your work.
IS is Canon speak for Image Stabilization.
The kit cameras that include a lens from Canon mostly have an IS lens packaged.
This helps immensely when you are hand holding the camera, and taking photos, as it will minimize or eliminate the blur from shaky hands.
I have both IS and non IS lens for you to try if you haven't already splurged on lenses.
USM means that the lens has the Ultrasonic Motor built-in.
Ultra sonic motor allows for faster, and quieter autofocus function than on standard non-USM lenses.
Play around with the settings in "M" manual mode and you will see what I mean.
If you have problems, just throw it into P what most refer to as "professional" mode LOL because it does almost everything automatically for you
Once you start learning about your camera and how to take photos you'll probably get just as hooked as anyone whose been doing it for years.
Don't be afraid to snap the shutter, because you wont know what your pictures look like until you try.
We've come a long long way since the old days of film, no more waiting for your film to get processed at the lab, and wonder if you nailed your shots or not LOL
ps: PM me if you want to borrow some lenses to play around with, to help you decide what you will need.
pps: How'd you get free gear from Canon??
I am looking at some of their Cinema lenses... maybe I will hit them up for a free lens LOL j/k j/k