Lenses and Angle of View

Everyone is probably familiar with the idea of a wide angle lens showing more in the frame of your image, but do you think about the flip side?

What is a Wide Lens?

Ramona show at 28mm (42mm with CF)

The 50mm lens is generally considered to be the angle the human eye sees. At the very least it is considered to be the standard of what a photograph should take.

Anything less than 50mm in length is considered wide angle. Wide angle means you can see more in your frame, both left to right and top to bottom.

Anything over 50mm is a “narrow” lens. This is the flip side of the wide angle. As you lens gets longer – and there is much more room in the top end – the amount it sees becomes less and less. We often forget you are seeing less of the seen the longer your lens gets.

All of this assumes you are using a full frame sensor. In reality most DSLRs these days have a smaller sensor and hence a “crop factor”. Notice the term is crop factor? They are pointing out that making the lens longer is like cropping in the final image.

In general Nikon’s crop factor is 1.5 and Canon’s is 1.6. This means you take your lenses mm length and multiply it by that amount. So when you are shoot with a Nikon 50mm you are actually shooting with a 75mm lens. It also means 28mm, a fairly wide angle, is actually only 46mm.

How Does this Affect Model Photography?

Since the final image size is the same, but you are seeing more with a wide angle lens you get a stretch factor. For people photography this can make your subject look wider. This is more pronounced the nearer you come to the edge of the image.

Using a longer lens doesn’t exactly have the opposite effect – it doesn’t make your model narrower – but it does shorten things coming toward the camera. So it is generally more flattering. Compression influences this as well.

How do you use lens length to effect the final shot? Show us an example in the forums.