Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Wide, normal, and telephoto focal lengths, part of Exploring Photography: Finding the Perfect Portrait Lens.
In our pursuit to find the perfect portrait lens. The next topic that I want to talk about is focal length, you know, it comes to trying to find the right lens or the right focal length. It can be really confusing, because there are so many different options. So, what we're going to do in this course is group things together. We have one group, which is wide angle, another one which is normal and then last but not least we have telephoto. Now each of these different groups of lenses allow us to see the world in different ways, and these lenses are referred to differently, for example wide angle lenses tend to be something between 16 to say 40 millimeters.
Normal is more of a 50 millimeter focal length and then anything above that tends to be telephoto. Now one of the ways that these lenses allow us to see the world differently is by their angle of view, you can think of angle of view kind of like putting your arms out in front of you. Wider angle lenses are going to show you more of the scene. You know ultra wide lenses can get close to 180 degrees. Then as we step up the ladder the angle of view is going to become narrower and narrower.
All the way up say to a 200 millimeter focal length lens that's going to show us a 12 degree slice of what's in front of us. Now its not just angle of view, it's also the characteristic of the lens which shows us the scene in different ways. With wide angle lenses, yes we're going to see more, but sometimes that can introduce unwanted distortion with the portrait, that's going to be a problem. We'll talk about that. Then with telephoto lenses, it's important to know that the word tele is a Greek word which means something which is far off or distant, it makes things which are far-off closer and it adds some compression and again, we'll talk more about that later.
And when it comes to making a decision in regards to what lens to use. Really, there are things which are practical and also creative to consider and here, I want to try on a metaphor for size. It's kind of like a carpenter reaching for a tool. If he's going to work on a bigger project, maybe he'll use a bigger tool or if he's going to do some finish work, maybe he's going to use something which works in a smaller way. And so it is with our lenses, sometimes we have to make a decision just for the sake of practicality. Maybe we want to include more in the scene, well, then we need to use a wide-angle lens.
It isn't only about practicality, it's also about creativity. For that I like to think of how a guitarist might use a guitar, a mandolin, or a ukulele because each of those instruments, well they have different voice. And so it is with our lenses and our focal lengths that we'll use. So as we seek to look at how we can use different focal lengths in this course, keep this in mind that we have these different groups, wide-angle, normal and telephoto. And as we progress through this course we'll look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of each of these groups.
- How sensor size affects focal length
- Shooting with different focal lengths
- Shooting at the best angle for your lens
- Understanding how f-stop, focal length, and camera distance affect depth of field
- Finding a great lens at an affordable price