Lenses for Photojournalism

The Photography Scrum by KKby KK+Photojournalism, is that immensely satisfying, yet sometimes wildly dangerous profession where a photographer goes out into the world and documents it’s goings on. Many of us, as photographers aspire to this profession, yet few have the guts and talent required.

The problem with defining lenses for Photojournalism is that there are so many fields of journalism that there is no real “defining set” of lenses. Each kind of journalism calls for a different set of lenses. Take for example, the sports journalist… He would use lenses that fall into the Sports Photography set. I’m going to go out on a limb now, and ‘guess’ that what all you guys want to read about are the photojournalists who have the ‘real’ journalist’s job. The foreign correspondent… The guy who records wars, drought, floods, changes in government and so on. Let’s cut to the chase.


Photojournalists do pretty much the same things as regular journalists and then some… They end up carrying their gear around almost all the time when they’re on assignment and land up in places that newspaper journalists need never venture. All this makes it hard for him. His choice of lenses, camera body and other accessories depends on the kind of picture that he expects to be taking. Typically they have a very vast range of gear from which they can choose. Gear needs to be usable for multiple purposes, lightweight, fast, and really, really reliable.

Very often, they choose lenses with large apertures. Large apertures help them focus more easily, because they let in more light. It also gives them the flexibility to shoot in low-light scenarios. The trade-off is in weight. Lenses with large apertures usually have very large front elements made of high quality optical glass… This makes it heavy.

They also have an odd assortment of prime and zoom lenses. Primes for clarity and wide apertures, especially at the long focal length range, and zooms for ease of composition in situations that may demand a quick change from telephoto to wide-angle.

Style and Purposes

Of course, the personal style of individual photographers also plays a crucial factor in the choice of equipment… Whether the style of photography at hand is street photography, or war reportage, or whether its something more elaborate which allows you to set up lights and choose your lens in comparative leisure will also determine what lenses the photojournalist will choose.

However, do remember that some photographers may almost always use a 50mm while others may use a 400mm f/4.0 L at one moment and switch to a 24mm wide the very next… Of course, the subject being photographed also determines the kind of lens being used; there’s absolutely no point using a 50mm while photographing a Formula 1 race (unless you’re photographing the crowd) and there’s no point trying to use a 400mm in a mob… you’ll only get their noses…

So now, with no further ado, let’s look at some lenses. The list is easy… Just list out all of the high end lenses you can think of… 😉 The list can also go on and on, so I’m listing here, some of the specialty lenses that you’re likely to find on journalists’ cameras. If you’re interested in any particular type of photojournalism (portraits, for example), do look it up in one of the posts I’ve written in “The Lens Resource.”

Canon Lenses

EF 600mm f/4L IS USM | (Stats)
EF 500mm f/4L IS USM | (Stats)
EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM | (Stats)
EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM | (Stats)
EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM | (Stats)

Nikon Lenses

AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4D IF-ED II | (Stats)
AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4D IF-ED II | (Stats)
AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8D IF-ED II | (Stats)
AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II | (Stats)
AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED | (Stats)
AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED | (Stats)
AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED | (Stats)

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