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by Erik Fritts, Videomaker Magazine

Lenses are key to making your favorite camera create the images you envision.


Many shooters will stress that investing in good lenses is more important than buying fancy camera bodies. In general, lenses have a longer lifespan than camera bodies, because while new video cameras are being made every year, the technology in optics just doesn’t advance as fast. There are lenses made decades ago that, with proper adapters, can be mounted to modern cameras and still produce stunning results.

So where do you begin in buying lenses? This article will help you understand some of the features that separate lenses as well as get a feel for a sampling of lenses on the market today.

Mount Systems

The mount type is the first thing you need to consider with lenses. Every camera manufacturer has a different system for connecting lenses to their cameras. This connection is known as the mount. When you get a new lens, you need to make sure it will attach to your camera. Some of the most common mount systems for DSLR and mirrorless systems right now are: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E mount, and Micro Four Thirds (MFT).


Sensor Size

Another important factor of your lens purchase is the sensor format of your camera.  The main types of sensors to consider here are, from largest to smallest: Full Frame, Crop Sensor (APS-C) and Micro Four Thirds. MFT is both a sensor size and a mount type. Since full frame sensors are the largest, lenses made to cover a full frame will provide an image large enough to cover a smaller sensor, meaning they’ll work fine.  But, if you use a lens made for a crop sensor on a full frame camera, the image will only cover a portion of the sensor, creating heavy vignetting of your image. Unless you very specifically want this look, avoid using a lens made for a smaller sensor on a larger format camera.

The main types of sensors to consider here are, from largest to smallest: Full Frame, Crop Sensor (APS-C) and Micro Four Thirds.

Some manufacturers use different mount subsystems that represent the sensor size as well. For example, the Canon EF mount is a full-frame mount, while the EF-S is for Canon crop sensors. EF mount lenses will work on an EF-S cameras, but EF-S mount lenses will not even attach to an EF mount system.

More… lots more…