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What Does 'Fast Lens' Mean?

Want to know what the word 'fast' means when used before the word lens? Have a read of this.

| General Photography
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What Is A 'Fast' Lens?

When you hear the term 'fast lens' it means that the lens in question has a large maximum aperture (the bigger the aperture, the faster the lens will be). The aperture is often displayed as an f followed by a number but do remember that a large maximum aperture will actually be a small number such as f/1.8. A fast prime lens would be considered fast when it has a maximum aperture under f/2.8. However, if the lens is 300mm or longer, an aperture of f/2.8 would be considered to be fast and the same goes for zoom lenses.


Let's Talk Apertures

A bigger aperture (small f-number) will allow more light to reach the camera's sensor which means faster shutter speeds can be used even in low light situations. They're useful in various shooting situations including places where flash can't be used, at concerts where there's not much ambient light, indoors when you're trying to capture movement such as dancers on stage and for subjects such as sports photography where fast shutter speeds are essential.


Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Lens - Different AperturesNikon 50mm f/1.4D lens, Different apertures: f/1.4, f/4, f/16. More on exposure and camera settings here.


You Can Work Hand-Held

Another advantage to fast lenses is that you won't always be forced to use a tripod as the faster shutter speeds allow for hand-held shooting in more situations. This is something that's particularly useful in places where tripods aren't allowed such as in cathedrals or in busy locations where light can be an issue such as in a museum.

The Negatives

A downside to fast lenses is that they can be expensive and they tend to be heavier and bigger than other lenses. Care needs to be paid to focus when using autofocus as you may find it tries to focus on the wrong part of the shot, leaving focus on an area of the image that wasn't your intended subject. It's also worth investing in a good quality lens so images don't appear soft when viewed on-screen.


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deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:39PM
deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:41PM
deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:47PM
deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:50PM
deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:55PM
deant 11 3.9k United Kingdom
8 Aug 2017 2:59PM


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