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Lenses Introduction

Lens Hire Information

General lens hire

Digital cameras are continually improving and mostly get the headlines due to their abundance of technology and features. But it's worth mentioning a well known photography saying - 'Garbage in, garbage out'! Simply put, it does not matter how good the camera is, if the lens is no good, the picture won't be great.

Most of the lenses supplied with SLR packages these days can be considered 'starter' lenses and in a great deal of cases, the limitations of the package are blamed on the camera which is unfair. This is where lens hire comes in!

We stock a huge range of lenses for hire for any occasion for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, Fuji, Leica and Panasonic digital cameras. Not all lenses work with all cameras so please do check on compatibility (you will find a paragraph about it below).

If you are finding it hard to justify the cost of a new lens you are rarely going to use, lens rental may well be the way to go. Just a quick mention that we are SIGMA's official lens hirer here in the UK so ensure that at all times we have a comprehensive and up-to-date range available. If you have never tried a Sigma lens, you should try hiring one - they offer incredibly good value for money and are winning more and more people over with their performance, especially since the launch of their new Global Vision product range.

The basics

There are two important factors to take into account with any lens and are important to understand before we go any further.

Also called focal ratio and f-number, amongst other similar terms, the f-stop is a quantative measure of lens speed - the maximum aperture diameter of a lens. A lens with a smaller f-stop (i.e. a larger maximum aperture) will let in more light and is referred to as a fast lens due to the fact it allows a faster shutter speed. Conversely, a larger f-stop will deliver less light intensity and so is referred to as a slow lens, due to it requiring a slow shutter speed. 

Why is this important? Well, lens speed is incredibly important in situations of low light or when you using a telephoto lens. Put simply, the lower the f-stop, the better the lens will perform (and the more expensive the lens will be!).  If you want to create a depth of field however, a lens with higher f-stop will be needed.

Focal length
This is usually measured in millimetres (mm). The size of this figure will determine what type of lens it is. Very wide angle lenses start at around 12mm whilst a super telephoto lens could be 800mm.

There are two things to remember when looking at lenses. The lower the focal length, in general the faster the lens should (simply because there is less for the light to go through).

Different types of lenses

The whole idea of the digital SLR system is give you a wide range of lenses to hire.  The only slight downside with this is that it can be just a bit bewildering knowing which model to rent.

Here we will explain the different types available.

Fixed focal length (Prime) lenses
These lenses generally offer a wider maximum aperture than zoom lenses (i.e. let in more light and so produce better quality shots). They vary from wide angle lenses for indoor shooting up to long telephoto lenses for shooting sports and wildlife.

Zoom lenses
Zoom lenses are very popular for a very good reason - they are incredibly convenient. Rather than carrying around two or three fixed lenses, a zoom lens can cover this whole focal range. There is of course a downside (there always is!) and that is, due to the increase in glass in the lens, it can never be so efficient and so the aperture is usually smaller (sometimes referred to as a slower lens).

Macro lenses
All lenses have a minimum focusing distance - with a normal lens, this would typically be around 30cm or so. Macro lenses allow you to photograph objects so close, you can usually spot things you would normally need a magnifying glass to see! If you're into flowers and insects, one of these is a must.

Extenders (Teleconverters)
These ring like accessories are designed to attach in between the lens and the camera. They increase the focal length of the attached lens (for example a 1.4x lens extender would give a 200mm lens an effective focal length of 280mm). Once again, it isn't all good news - you are making the light go further and through more glass so yes, your maximum aperture will go down. So in lower light situations, they are not always the best solution (although they are usually the best value solution). Please do note that dependant on the lens, the extender might well cause the autofocus to stop functioning so all shooting will need to be done using manual focus).

Tilt and Shift lenses
These are slightly funny looking lenses that allow you to obtain a wide depth of field and still keep the entire subject in focus. By shifting the lens, it possible to correct the trapezoidal effect you often seen in pictures taken of tall buildings. Quite often used by architects and for more creative purposes.

Different focal lengths

The focal lengths tend to fall into four different categories.

Wide angle
These are typically lenses with focal length of less than 28mm. They are ideal for shots where you want to capture everything in front of you. The two main uses for them are landscape and indoor photography. When taking shots of landscapes, the ability to include all of the scenery allows the viewer to really get a feel for the environment. Indoors, where space is tight, wide angle lenses are invaluable and invariably what you will see every estate agent with! One quick note to remember - the wider the lens, the greater the objects to the side of the lens will get distorted.

Standard lens
Standard or normal lenses excel at portrait photography simply because they yield a normal perspective when viewing the print. They can be used for landscapes but don't generally create the same impact.

Telephoto lens
These lenses are significantly longer than a normal lens and are great for getting up close and personal with your subjects. They are quite often used for sporting events allowing to get close up to the players.

Super Telephoto lens
These very long (and expensive) lenses tend to be used by professional sports photographers and wildlife photographers. They tend to be incredibly heavy and bulky so make sure you're feeling fit!

Lens compatibility

It is incredibly important to realise that not all lenses fit on all cameras. Naturally the first check is to ensure that you have the correct manufacturer's mounting.  Canon mount lenses will only fit on Canon cameras and Nikon mount lenses will only fit on Nikon cameras (and Fuji cameras which use a Nikon chassis).  Sony Alpha lenses will work on both Sony and Minolta lenses.  We also stock Micro 4/3rd lenses that can be used on Pansonic Lumix cameras.

Please note we have said Canon mount lenses not Canon lenses - this is important as not only Canon make lenses for their cameras.  Independant companies such as Sigma and Tamron also make lenses for a variety of manufacturers' mounts.

Canon produce two ranges of lenses - EF and EF-S. The EF lens mount was introduced in 1987 and stands for Electro-Focus. The EF-S lens was introduced in 2003 and is strictly for use with the APS-C smaller sensor cameras.   It is important to note that EF-S lenses will not fit on full frame cameras such as the 5D Mk II. However the EF lenses will fit on EF-S bodies (such as EOS 50D and EOS 7D) though you may well experience cropping of the image on rare occasions.  

Nikon produce two ranges of lenses as well - FX and DX. The FX format uses the Nikon F mount first introduced back in 1959. This is designed for using with full frame cameras such as the Nikon D3 and Nikon D700. However they are fully compatible with the smaller sensor cameras such as the Nikon D300 and Nikon D90. We only stock two DX lenses and these are specifically designed for the smaller sensor cameras. However, unlike Canon, the full frame cameras will accept the smaller DX lenses, although cropping (vignetting) will occur.

Sigma produce two ranges of lenses as well. Their DG range is designed for full frame and 35mm cameras. The DC range was introduced for the small sensor digital cameras.  We only stock the DG range of lenses which are fully compatible with all of our current SLR hire stock.

Morning or afternoon collection would be helpful but otherwise great service.
- Rachel Ennis,

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