Getting to know your camera can be a little daunting. You will be confronted with a whole new host of technical terms and abbreviations, and can at times feel a little lost.
However, a basic understanding of a few of the more common ones will not only help you make a decision when buying a lens, but will also go a long way towards helping you capture great wildlife shots.
So, whatt does “MM” actually mean?
‘MM’ is the focal length of the lens. All lenses have a “mm” number printed on them; some have a range of focal lengths. These numbers can vary hugely, from 8mm (a fisheye lens), all the way up to 1000mm and even beyond.
Different focal lengths and what they are used for.
Wide angle lenses have smaller focal lengths than telephoto lenses. The majority of wide angle lenses are 35mm or smaller whilst telephoto lenses start at 70mm and go up from there. Wide angle lenses include more of a scene, while telephoto lenses generally include only a small part of a scene.
There are different purposes for different focal lengths. If you are shooting a group of people having some sundowners next to the game viewer, you would want to use a wide angle lens. You would then be able to include all of your subject in a single shot and not need to move further away. If you are shooting wildlife however, you would need a longer focal length lens, because there is often a limit to how physically close you can get to the animal.
How does the focal length affect the perspective of the photograph?
In order to illustrate this, I have taken different photographs of the same subject matter at different focal lengths. Take a look at the shots below with their accompanying mm values. Note that I was using a Canon 7D mkii, which has a crop sensor, which I will explain further in another blog post.
All photos were taken from a fixed point, roughly 20m from the Land Rover.
As you can see, varying focal lengths have a huge affect on the type of photograph that you are going to capture. Based on what your subject is and your distance from it, it is up to you to decide what photograph you want and make a decision as to what lens you will need accordingly.