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Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 4 of 58

Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 4 of 58

Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Lesson Info

Focal Length: Normal Lenses

All right, Let's So let's talk about our normal lenses to start with very useful valuable lenses for photographers doing a wide variety of work. So first off the classic 50 millimeter lance. Now, for those even the crop frame, pay attention to the blue because there you're gonna need about a 30 millimeter lands with cannon. Now, Canon doesn't make a 30 millimeter lens, but they make a 28. They make a 35 and they may. Exum's that air in that range, so you just need to find a number in that range. And so let's start looking at some photos. And so here's a good example of wary 50 millimeter lens works out quite well. There's a doorway, there's an anchor in front of it, and if you wanted to, you could take 34 steps closer. You could probably take 34 steps back, and so a normal lens is going to yield a normal perspective on things very much the same that we see with our own eyes. And if you have a very simple subject like this and you're not trying to play optical games with it, it works ou...

t very, very well nice, simple lens. One of the advantages of these 50 millimeter lens and we're going to get into it more in the next section is that they're often very fast lenses. They're able to be shot at with very shallow depth of field, so I could photograph these hand towels, keep them and focus, while the ones in the background are a little bit softer. And this also was beneficial having this faster lens because this was a lower light environment and I could have taken a few steps closer and used a wide angle lens. I could have been back a few steps, but I wanted this to be a very natural seen, and so a natural normal lens is an obvious choice for that. Here's an even better example of that shallow depth of field We'll talk a little bit about in the apple tree section, and it's very easy to get the shallow depth of field shots with the 50 millimeter lands. And so I love having a 50 millimeter lens along because it's so easy to get the shallow depth of field shots, especially when you're shooting fairly close up like this. You can blur that background, and it really draws the eye of your viewer exactly where you want it to. In the frame. I find 50 millimeter a really great lands for doing street photography. So for traveling around, it's a very comfortable distance for me being a little bit apart from somebody but not too terribly far away. And once again, when you have a good subject, a normal lens is all you need. Once again, the fast aperture on it could be really valuable when you were shooting under low light situations could be a big benefit there. We'll talk a lot about portrait lenses, and they're classically in the 85 to 1 35 range. But one of the things that I would love to make is a strong re occurring point in this glass is that it doesn't matter what the standards are. Doesn't matter what other people use. You can choose the lenses in using in your own way to have and develop your own style. And so will I use a 50 millimeter lens for portrait work. Absolutely sometimes it's just the right less, and I think you can take beautiful portrait with a 50 millimeter lance I especially think they're really good. If you're shooting head to toe type shots. I think 50 millimeter lens is perfect for me. If I'm gonna do a head to toe type shot on somebody, can you shoot up close with a 50? Some people don't like it. Sometimes it's the lens you have on your camera. You got to go with it when you have it ready to go. And so I don't have a problem with shooting relatively close up with 50 in certain situations. So that was the 50. Let's move down to the 35 subtle difference. Just a little bit wider, moderate or slightly wide angle lens. This lands is the most popular lens in the world. There has been more photographs taken with this focal length lands van, all the other lenses combined, and I'm totally guessing on this. But the reason I say it is because this or approximately this slightly wide angle lens is what people have in their phones is a slightly wide angle lens. And so all these selfies that have been taken over the last three years have eclipsed all the photos we've taken up to that point. It seems like. And so this is that lens that you see. And so in some ways you could call it a boring lands because it's a very normal angle of you. It's not playing any exciting, exotic games, but it's one of the favorite lenses for photojournalists or somebody who wants to document something in their environment and really be faithful and honest to the way that their own. I sees it. In many ways, this is as close to our eyes as we can get. And so if you don't want to play optical games, you need just that slightly wide documentary look. The 35 is a perfect lens for that, and so these are gonna look very natural scenes. You could put yourself right in the place of where the camera was, and things would feel very natural and normal. Often used for what are called environmental Portrait's a subject in their environment. You will not have people look at your photos and say, Wow, what lens did you use? Because this appears very normal and standards that it's is what they kind of expect to see also could be very good for architectural photography because it's not stretching the lines of the building out in any way. And so if you have really good content, you don't need to play games with lenses. And so I'll be happy to stick with a fairly normal lens if I have really good subject material. So those who are normal lenses are 35 are 50. So some tips on using these lenses is that first off, it's very similar to our own eyes. And so if it looks good to your own eyes, it's probably gonna look good in that range. Nice Nandor natural or standard perspective, And this is nice when you have subject to have a good working space. So just for instance, let's say I'm photographing this table here. I could move back a little bit and I could move forward a little bit. And so a 50 millimeter lens is kind of nice. Now, if there's a barrier here, that's when the telephoto might be nice. But when you have something that you have a lot of freedom to move around, the 50 millimeter lens works out very well for that, and it emphasises the subject and not the process. Now I love playing games with lenses. I love using wide angle lenses and stretching and doing all sorts of goofy things, like taking long telephoto lenses. But sometimes you have content that is just so strong and compelling. You don't need to add any of your own extra flair on top of it. Let the contents speak for itself, and this is where you could do it Very, very naturally is in that 35 to 50 normal range. So maybe I'll check in now just to see if there's any questions specifically related to the 35 50 or the normal lenses. Yeah, I think that, um, this question came from our card ist. Who said A lot of times people think that the 1.6 crop factor that they get less distortion as a wider lens when doing portrait. It's so people are still wrapping their head around the full frame versus the crop sensors. With regard Teoh, a portrait lens is there. Does that question make sense were different and we're gonna get into distortion and we get into the white angle here, and I guess we'll address a lot more of it when we get to the portrait, but it's just it's just a different number that you would be choosing. And so, if you like the way Ah, 50 looks on a full frame, you just simply choose a 30 for your crop frame sensor. And so it's just a slightly different number, and it's a little bit confusing. And I'm sorry, the whole industries kind of wacky. No one's in charge in these numbers all over the place. It's a little like when Americans go to Europe and they need to adjust miles to kilometers, and they got a multiply everything by 0.6. And, you know, that's kind of the same thing that we need to do here when you're using these crop frames and so just kind of try to translate everything I say as quickly as possible, knowing that your normal lenses a 30. So that's your new middle of the road, and then we'll 30 Will, 25 would be a little bit wide, and 20 is gonna be pretty wide, and 15 is going to be quite wide, and 10 is going to be extremely wide. And so if you just think of where's home base for me and if you have a full frame camera, that's 50. If you have a crop frame camera, that's 30. That's your That's your middle number and you kind of go out from there. And so another question that came in and so is the angle of view for an E. F s lends different then f lends at the same focal length on an A P S. C. Center. No, they would be exactly the same if you have two lenses. Doesn't matter what letters they have on him. If it's a 50 a 50 put it on your camera. Doesn't matter if it's any effort GFS lands. It's the number that matters. And I think that's one of the things that people have. Ah, hard time getting over. So it's once it clicks everyone, it will click. One more question for you. Um, Tina Phelan says, I was wondering which 50 millimeter lens John was referring to there, a couple of different ones. So I guess as you were explaining these things here, the focal length angle of view, the aperture doesn't matter, right? 50 millimeters, right? Right now in the class, right? I don't care who the sounds bad I don't care about lenses. I don't care about specific lenses were talking about focal ings. Once we get this straight, then we'll go in without this model versus this model because we're gonna We're gonna do that comparison. I just We just wanna concentrate right now on this angle of view.

Class Description

Working with interchangeable lenses can be both exciting and daunting to all levels of photographers. Canon® Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will prepare you to select the right lens and get the most out of all of your lens investments.

John Greengo is the master of making complex photography concepts easy to understand and in this class, he’ll bring all of your Canon EOS DSLR lens options and operations into focus. 

You’ll learn about: 

  • Focal length and aperture
  • Canon zoom lenses
  • Which lens accessories to buy
  • Third-party lenses
  • Maintaining a lens system

John will cover the full range of Canon lenses, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto, zooms to primes, fisheye to perspective control. You’ll learn how to match the right lens to your needs and get insights on the best ways to use it.

Whether you are thinking about buying a new lens or just want to get the most out of what you already have, Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will help you out.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Canon Lens Basics

    John Greengo gets you up-to-speed on the basics of working with interchangeable Canon® lenses.

  3. Focal Length: Angle of View
  4. Focal Length: Normal Lenses
  5. Focal Length: Wide Angle Lenses
  6. Focal Length: Telephoto Lens
  7. Focal Length Rule of Thumb
  8. Field of View
  9. Aperture Basics
  10. Aperture: Maximum Aperture
  11. Aperture: Equivalent Focal Length
  12. Aperture: Depth of Field
  13. Aperture: Maximum Sharpness
  14. Aperture: Starburst Effect
  15. Aperture: Flare
  16. Aperture: Hyperfocal Distance
  17. Camera Mount System
  18. Canon Lens Compatibility
  19. Canon Lens Design
  20. Canon Lens Composition
  21. Canon Lens Shape
  22. Canon Lens Coating
  23. Canon Lens Focusing
  24. Lens Autofocus
  25. Canon Lens Image Stabilization
  26. Canon L Lenses
  27. Image Quality
  28. Canon Zoom Lenses: Standard
  29. Canon Super Zooms
  30. Canon Wide Zooms
  31. Canon Telephoto Zooms
  32. Prime Lens: Normal Lenses
  33. Prime Lens: Moderate Wide
  34. Prime Lens: Wide Angle
  35. Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide
  36. Prime Lens: Short Telephoto
  37. Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto
  38. Prime Lens: Super Telephoto
  39. 3rd Party Lenses Overview
  40. 3rd Party Prime Lenses
  41. 3rd Party Zoom Lenses
  42. Lens Accessories: Filters
  43. Lens Accessories: Lens Hoods
  44. Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount
  45. Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes
  46. Lens Accessories: Extenders
  47. Macro Lens: Reproduction Ratio
  48. Macro Lens: Technique and Choices
  49. Fisheye: Technique and Choices
  50. Tilt Shift: Techniques and Choices
  51. Make a Lens System Choice
  52. Choosing A Portrait Lens
  53. Choosing A Sports Lens
  54. Choosing A Landscape Lens
  55. Best Lenses for You
  56. Lens Maintenance
  57. Buying and Selling Lens
  58. What is John Greengo's Favorite Lens?



I so appreciate what a good teacher John is. I wish I would have known this much about lenses when I first started out buying my lenses. It was hard finding information about lenses. I didn't want to spend money on a lens I wouldn't use. The better understanding we have about our gear the better photographers we will be. I have never seen a class like this. Invaluable...yes I bought the class! I am really impressed with the high quality photography classes available on Creative Live!

a Creativelive Student

Have loved the other John Greengo classes I've watched & purchased - and this is another winner! Having been a high school/college science teacher, it is refreshing to take a course with someone who not only is extremely experienced, seems to be a computer having stored so much knowledge, but is equally concerned about making the information truly understandable to different levels. And he shares the information using every tool he can: slides, video, interactive presentations, and great quizzes. I learned so much about my Canon lenses - and lenses in general with their many components. I am excited about testing each of mine to see what macro ratio they handle, and especially appreciated the tutorial on testing each for their specific quirk that affects super sharpness. This class is great whether you own Canon lenses or not. Thanks John Greengo!


This was a great class not just about the lenses that Canon offers but also how each lens works. As usual, John's slides are alway informative and entertaining. There is a phrase: John has a slide for that! I am not even a Canon user and found this class to have great information for the use of each specific lens. Great work John! Thank you Creative Live for another great class!