Especially as a beginner in automotive photography, it can quickly happen that the large selection of camera lenses overwhelms you. However, the choice of your lens is crucial for your artistic possibilities. Because there are lenses that go well with car photography and those that don’t go as well.
In this post I show you lenses that I think fit well for the photography of cars.
Crop cameras or full frame for car photography?
To determine the focal lengths, it is important to differentiate between crop and full-frame cameras. Compared to full-frame sensors, the sensors in crop cameras use a reduced image section. For example, Canon’s APS-C sensors have a factor of 1 to 1.6.
Accordingly, keep the difference in the factor in mind when choosing the lens. The same lens will get a slightly different picture on a full-frame or crop camera.
normal lenses / medium wide angle
There is already good news here. The standard lenses (kit lenses), that are often included with new cameras in bundles, are in the medium wide-angle to normal focal length range and are therefore very suitable as lenses for car photography.
The kit lenses are in the focal length ranges from 16-50mm or from 18-55mm. Generally, this category includes lenses, roughly all lenses from 15mm focal length to about 70mm. If your lens covers this focal length range, then you won’t do anything wrong. You will be able to take most photos with lenses in this focal length range – both exterior images of the car and interior images.
The kit lenses of the manufacturers are in a very good focal length range for auto photography, but the lenses are among the more affordable ones. In the comparable focal length range you will find some higher quality lenses with an even better image quality.
For starters, however, the kit lenses still deliver very good quality.
Normal lenses and medium wide angle lenses
High quality Canon L lens • Canon EF • Ø 77mm • Weight: 499g / 1,1 pounds• Model year: 2005 • Max. aperture: F 4,0 • Focal length: 17mm to 40mm
High quality Canon L lens • Canon EF-S • Ø 77mm • Weight: 645g / 22,8 ounces • Model year: 2006 • Max. aperture: F 2,8 • Focal length: 17mm to 55mm
High quality Canon L lens • Image stabilization • Canon EF • Ø 70mm • Weight: 599g / 1,32 pounds • Model year: 2012 • Max. aperture: F 4,0 • Focal length: 24 to 70mm
Nikon AF-S • Ø 70mm • Weight: 755g / 1,66 pounds • Model year: 2006 • Max. aperture: F 2,8 • Focal length: 17 to 55mm
Image stabilization • Nikon AF-S • Ø 67mm • Weight: 485g /1,07 pounds • Model year: 2009 • Max. aperture: F 3,5 • Focal length: 16 to 85mm
Image stabilization • Canon EF / Nikon EF / Sony A • Ø 77mm • Weight: 567g / 1,25 pounds • Model year: 2010 • Max. aperture: F 2,8 • Focal length: 17 to 50mm
Canon EF / Nikon AF-S / Sony A • Ø 67mm • Weight: 440g / 0,97 pounds• Model year: 2010 • Max. aperture F 2,8 • Focal length: 17 to 50mm
wide angle lenses
Wide-angle lenses have a short to very short focal length and therefore a very wide field of view, which makes them very interesting for auto photography in many situations. This brings great opportunities especially for interior pictures that you can only get with this type of lens. With wide-angle lenses, you are the only one really able to get a picture of the entire interior from the back seat or in the area of the doors.
But also for the outside view, some very interesting ideas for can be implemented.
wide angle lenses for car photography
Bajonett: Nikon F • Ø 72mm • Gewicht: 231g • Modelljahr: 2017 • Max. geöffnete Blende: F 4,5 • Brennweitenbereich: 10 bis 22mm
Image stbilization • Canon EF / Nikon AF-S / Sony A • Ø 77mm • Weight: 440g / 0,97 pounds • Model year: 2017 • Max. aperture: F 3,5-4,5 • Focal lenght: 10 to 24mm
Fixed focal lengths are characterized by the fact that you cannot change the focal length, i.e. you cannot change your image area. But what exactly is good for car photography? Now, thanks to the simple construction of a fixed focal length, you can get these lenses at relatively very reasonable prices. At the same time, the fixed focal lengths in the low price segment up to $150 have great image quality and light intensity, which you cannot achieve with zoom lenses in the same price range. Therefore, you can get a lens with excellent image quality for very little money just for getting started in car photography with a cheap prime lens.
I also use the Canon 1.8 50 mm prime lens. It can be used perfectly for detail pictures outside and for the interior. Due to their light intensity, you can display the details in the interior pictures particularly well and play with the background blur. When taking external pictures of the entire car, you should make sure that you have enough space around the car at your location, because at 50m you have to move a few meters away from the car.
Here are some prime lenses for car photography.