by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Many people recommend a focal length of 35mm, 50mm, and sometimes even 85mm and upwards for those interested in purchasing a prime lens. I, however, would like to figure out what focal length(s) I use most often, and then purchase a prime with that approximate focal length.

Is there a piece of software that will analyze thousands of photos and then tell me how many times I used a certain focal length?

share|improve this question
What operating system(s) are you using? – Rowland Shaw Jan 19 '11 at 19:09
Windows 7, which does have some compatibility options – AskQuestionsLater Jan 19 '11 at 19:10
This question is substantially like . – whuber Jan 19 '11 at 19:59
I think you're right - should they be merged? I'm sorry about the duplicate question, but I think the title of that question wasn't very clear. – AskQuestionsLater Jan 19 '11 at 20:05
One thing to keep in mind: when I borrowed a friend's 24-70mm zoom for a while, my most frequently-used focal lengths were 24mm and 70mm. That doesn't mean that those were really the focal lengths I wanted most, just that for whatever reason I found it most natural to go to the zoom extremes. If I had shot for a while with a selection of zooms, I suspect that the data would be highly biased towards whatever focal lengths happened to be at the ends of those lenses' ranges. – mattdm Dec 30 '11 at 3:23
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Someone referred me once to Exposure Plot. This is a free Windows utility which is very simple. It shows you graphs of different parameters, one of them being focal-length.

If you already use image management application like Lightroom or Bibble Pro, then you can also usually see that data in the filter interface.

For Lightroom for example, you need to activate the filter bar (/), select Metadata and change one of the columns to show Focal-Length. You'll get to see all the focal-lengths used and the number of photos taken at each focal-length. What's neat is that you can combine things like rating and focal-length, to find out which focal-length is used in your best images.

share|improve this answer
This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks! – AskQuestionsLater Jan 19 '11 at 19:48
FYI, new site link for Exposure Plot: – dbreaux Mar 15 '14 at 3:28

I believe ExifTool can be used to produce this kind of analysis, but it requires some technical command-line knowledge.

For example, see this:

share|improve this answer
Well, it's a start, but not quite as user-friendly as I had in mind. Thanks, though. – AskQuestionsLater Jan 19 '11 at 19:45
Itai's answer (exposure plot) looks much more user friendly, but I think it may be jpeg only? I may try both later. If I do, I can write up a short guide on how to get exiftool working. – rm999 Jan 19 '11 at 19:50
If you want to go the exiftool route, I have a script that may help; see – Reid Jan 20 '11 at 1:34

For Lightroom users, Jeffrey Friedl's Data Plot plugin is great...

What's nice about that is being able to filter your photos in Lightroom, keepers, 5 star rated, certain lenses, whatever, then seeing the focal lengths for just those photos.

share|improve this answer

If you're using Lightroom, then Lightroom Analytics is a tremendously useful tool to analyse your settings in camera and lightroom. It's all exported as a spreadsheet and can also be viewed in the included web browser based viewer.

share|improve this answer

Assuming that:

  • The focal length has been recorded in the file metadata
  • You are running a Unix-like OS such as Linux or OS X (or Cygwin in Windows)
  • You have installed the exif command line tool

Run this on the command line:

exif /path/to/your/photos/* | grep "Focal Length [^A-Za-z]*|" \ 
 | awk -F "|" '{print $2}' | awk '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr

Example output:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Note that this may need to be tailored to your particular install. A few things which helped me: 1) The default tool command is 'exiftool' not 'exif 2) If you have a set of nested directories, you can have exiftool recursively process them using the -r option 3) If there are multiple fields which include 'Focal Length', you will need to specify. For example, this worked for me: $ exiftool -r /Users/myuser/Pictures/iPhoto\ Library.photolibrary/Masters/2016* | grep "^Focal Length In 35mm Format" | awk -F ": " '{print $2}' | awk '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c – emunsing Jun 17 at 0:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.