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Photographing Using f/1.4 Camera Lenses

You may notice that the photos you capture with the kit lens that came with your digital SLR are good but don't compare to those of professional photographers. Kit zoom lenses, often 18-55 mm or 70-200 mm, are versatile and you can use them in a range of lighting situations and zoom distances, but they often have a greater depth of field that can make your photos appear quite flat. Lenses with a wider aperture, such as a Tamron f/1.4 at 50 mm, can beautifully blur out the background of your images and help focus on the subject at the forefront of the picture.

What Are the Advantages of a Wide Aperture Lens?

Wide aperture lenses boast a number of features that enable you to capture aesthetically pleasing and professional-looking images, as well as vibration compensation (VC) and auto focus (AF) capabilities.

  • The shallow depth of field of larger apertures means that the background of your image blurs out of focus, which is often a favorable aesthetic in professional photography.
  • A wider aperture lens allows your camera to take in more light, which is helpful when you're shooting in low-light situations, such as dimly-lit church weddings or sunset portrait sessions.

Why Should You Buy a Prime Lens?

While zoom lenses, such as an 18-55 mm, are incredibly versatile and allow you to photograph a range of different settings and situations, they do compromise to some extent when it comes to image quality. Prime lenses are usually capable of sharper images with less distortion and vignetting, and are much faster.

  • The large apertures often found on prime lenses means they can achieve quicker shutter speeds and a faster lens, which means a reduction in camera shake or the freezing of action in low-light conditions.
  • Because you can't just zoom in and out, a prime lens often requires you to be more creative as you have to think outside the box when it comes to composition and lighting.
  • Prime lenses have fewer moving parts than zoom lenses, which means they're lighter and make a great addition to your travel photography kit.

What Should You Look for When Buying a Wide Aperture Prime?

Before you purchase a wide aperture prime lens, consider the focal length you use most commonly and look for lenses that match this.

  • A 50 mm prime at f/1.4 or f/1.8 works beautifully for portraiture, allowing you to blur the background and focus the viewer's attention on your subject much more effectively than with an 18-55mm zoom lens.
  • Look for Tamron lenses with VC image stabilization to reduce camera shake and auto focus (AF) capabilities in addition to manual functioning.

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