When going on a nature photography trip, it’s good to take along a variety of equipment so that you’re prepared for on-the-fly situations. You never know what types of landscapes you’ll encounter, and it’s a shame to miss out on a good shot because you left the proper lens in the car or back at home.
So when I took a weekend trek into Yosemite National Park, I made sure to pack both my Samsung 18-55mm and 50-200mm lenses in my bag along with my NX20. I figured the 55mm lens would be great for landscape shots where I want to capture a truly serene moment, while the 200mm Tele Zoom would be great to focus on faraway elements of a landscape scene that are normally out of bounds. While many camera kits come with a 18-55mm lens, by investing in an additional lens you are just adding to your toolkit, and by doing so you’ll realize just how much of a difference a change in focal lengths can make.
You can see the difference between a 50mm and 200mm in the shots of Half Dome above. I almost felt like I was pulling a macro shot of Half Dome when I used the zoom capability on the Samsung NX20 coupled with the 200m lens. Who needs binoculars when you’ve got this duo? I found myself attempting to find miniature rock climbers ascending the dome’s face in my own game of Eye Spy, while waiting for the sun to set for my next shot…
Unknowingly, I had arrived to Yosemite on the night that marked its largest moon in 65 years.
I liked using both of the lenses for this shot because they provided a completely different perspective on the scene. The first shot really emphasizes the moon’s size, while the second allows you to appreciate the scene as a whole.
Here are some other examples of shots taken using a 55mm lens:
Here are some shots taken with a 200mm lens:
Above are two examples of a 200mm lens coming in handy when you’re trying to take close-up shots of things that are far away. Typically one of the most difficult challenges in taking wildlife shots–besides getting the animal to show up in the first place–is to not scare it away once it makes its appearance. With a 200mm lens, you can be more than a (safe!) couple feet away from your subject and get a shot that makes you feel like you’re crouched on the ground right next to them.
Also, you would never know from seeing the image above, but that patch of flowers was actually hanging on a cliff below me that I would have been near impossible for me to get to (unless I decided to become a free climber).
Of course, when you should use a 200mm lens over a 50mm one really depends on your aesthetic. If you like sweeping panoramas with everything in focus, you might want to give a 55mm a whirl. If you’re more into isolating and maximizing natural elements like mountaintops, treeline silhouettes, or wildlife, then try out a 200mm. Either way, you should practice using both in similar situations and see which outcome you prefer. While swapping lenses all the time may seem tiresome, it can actually get kind of addicting once you get the hang of it and start to feel how certain scenes fit particular lenses.