The best lens for documentary photography.

Find out what kinds of camera lenses you need to shoot realistic documentary photographs in every situation.

Documentary photography straddles the line between art and photojournalism. Photographs in this genre aim to depict reality as it is, with all of its positives and negatives. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the best lens for documentary photography is in different situations.

Use a 50mm lens as your reliable workhorse.

A standard 50mm lens should be in every documentary photographer’s camera bag. It’s a good option for both indoor and outdoor photography and produces little optical distortion. The perspective of a 50mm lens is also close to that of the human eye, which helps keep your photos realistic.

Capture the surroundings with a wide-angle lens.

A wide-angle lens, with a focal length between 28 and 35mm, captures more of your subject’s surroundings. This can help bring context to your documentary photos by showing the environment in which people live or work. Keep in mind that wide-angle lenses distort the perspective, so they’re not great for close-up portraits.

Shoot photos from afar with a telephoto lens.

The problem with the previous lenses is that you have to get close to your subject. Telephoto lenses, with focal lengths of 85mm or more, let you take pictures from a distance. This can help you capture authentic situations, as people often act more naturally without a camera right in their faces. Shooting from farther away can also help keep you out of harm’s way if you’re documenting dangerous situations, like natural disasters or conflicts.

Pick the right lens for the right situation.

Documentary photography is all about using the lens that lets you capture real situations most effectively. With these three lenses in your kit, you’re ready to shoot impactful photos. Get more photography tips and learn when and where to use your lenses.

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