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Focal length is the distance (measured in mm) between the surface of a lens and the focal point. Smaller focal lengths indicate wide-angle lenses, larger focal lengths indicate a telephoto lens.

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38
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6answers
2k views

Is crop-factor a bad thing?

It seems to me that there is a preference for full-frame sensors rather than cropped sensors, and I'm curious as to why. It seems to me, that the cropped sensor means that I get more bang for my buck ...
37
votes
4answers
9k views

What is “angle of view” in photography?

I read on the Lens Buying Guide @ neocamera: Focal-length determines the angle-of-view seen through a lens for a given sensor-size. With a full-frame sensor a lens gives the same angle-of-view ...
35
votes
10answers
3k views

What is crop factor and how does it relate to focal length?

I'm reading that a 50mm lens is recommended as a first prime lens for DSLR owners as it's supposed to give a 'natural' perspective, but when used on (most) DSLRs, the view is cropped, as if you were ...
31
votes
10answers
7k views

Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why?

What focal length or range of focal lengths are usually used for portraits? What is used by professionals? Why would one select a certain focal length? What are the advantages and disadvantages of ...
29
votes
4answers
5k views

What software can show my most frequently used focal length?

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 ...
28
votes
5answers
61k views

How do I convert lens focal length (mm) to x-times optical zoom?

What is the rule to convert the 'mm' notation to the 'optical zoom' notation? I searched a bit and found this one: optical zoom = maximum focal length / minimum focal length For example a 18-55mm ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

What does it really mean that telephoto lenses “flatten” scenes?

This is another perspective distortion question. I understand that perspective distortion is primarily a function of capture and viewing distance, but I am still working on fully understanding the ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

Does my crop sensor camera actually turn my lenses into a longer focal length?

So, I mount a 200mm lens on my Canon 450D. It effectively becomes a 320mm lens. Is this the equivalent of 320mm on a full frame camera? That is, from what I've figured out I get an equivalent field of ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Does changing the focal length change focus?

When using manual focus or back focus on D60, I sometimes zoom in the lens, set the focus, and then zoom out. Does changing the focal length (zooming out), also change the focus? In case the answer ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

Estimating focal length range required for shooting scenario

Is it possible to estimate (or calculate), in advance, the range of focal lengths you might need for shooting in a given scenario? For instance, suppose you will be going to the zoo (with your APS-C ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

How to capture the scene exactly as my eyes can see?

What settings of my DSLR camera will emulate the scene exactly as I can see through my naked eyes? I think it's not possible to get the contrast and colors exactly as my eyes can see, and it may vary ...
21
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3answers
5k views

How can a 18-55mm lens focus on objects beyond 55mm?

I guess this is a total noob question, but doesn't 18-55mm mean that it can focus only up to 55mm?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

What is focal length and how does it affect my photos?

What is focal-length? Are focal-length and zoom synonymous? How does the focal length of a photo affect it?
19
votes
2answers
25k views

How do I calculate the distance of an object in a photo?

If I took a picture of a windmill on the horizon — given that I know the sensor size and the focal length of the lens and other factors to do with the shot — could I calculate how far away an object ...
18
votes
5answers
789 views

What else changes with zoom?

Let me start with the general question: Consider the following situation. I want to take a picture of a particular object (that is, not a scenic shot). I can alter my distance from the subject ...
18
votes
4answers
478 views

Is there construction-agnostic term for a lens with a long focal length?

Turns out that telephoto refers to a specific construction of a long-focal-length lens, i.e., one where the lens is physically shorter than the focal length. Is there a generic term for referring to ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

How to test actual focal length?

From Matt Grum's comment to my previous question, I learned that manufacturers may casually "round" actual focal length of a lens to some nice number that gets printed on the box and stored into EXIF. ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

What focal length gives a “normal” field-of-view on APS-C cameras?

I wish to purchase a "standard angle-of-view" prime lens for my Canon Rebel, which has an APS-C sized sensor. Various articles note that the popular "nifty 50mm" lenses are a little too much of a ...
15
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1answer
1k views

Why does a 50mm lens appear to give a human perspective, rather than a normal lens?

I grew accustomed to the notion that what one sees through a normal lens equates (or is close to) what can be seen with the naked eye (although that is not the "pure" definition of a normal lens, ...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

Can I use my APS-C kit lens as a reference for choosing between 50mm or 35mm prime lenses?

I'm looking at getting a second lens in addition to my Nikon D7000's kit lens. I want to know if it's possible to use my 18m-105mm kit lens to get an idea of the focal length for a 35mm lens vs. a 50 ...
14
votes
2answers
5k views

How do people shoot very large moon views?

I see pictures of the moon that looks like it is very close to the earth; I am wondering whether they are real or is there a trick to show the moon that big? Here is an example: ...
14
votes
11answers
4k views

Will a 50mm f/1.8 work for general outdoor photography?

I want to know if it's advisable to use 50mm lens for general outdoor photography. I'm torn between 35mm and 50mm primes, and have read all the pros and cons. I understand that 50mm could be tight in ...
13
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5answers
1k views

Why do we talk about focal-length when frame sizes are different?

I keep seeing people talking about focal-length of lenses without saying how large the frame is. Is there a more sensible way to talk about how much a lens “zooms”? (I have seen so many adverts ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

How does changing focal length affect depth of field?

I'm curious about how my "area of acceptable focus" changes when the focal length of the lens I'm using changes as I zoom (or switch lenses). In particular, I'd like to know how the front & back ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

How can a lens like a 18-55mm have more than one focal length?

How can a lens have a range of focal lengths? Shouldn't it be a single number? Isn't focal length supposed to be fixed for a lens of a particular shape and geometry? What am I missing? How many ...
12
votes
5answers
483 views

What are the different focal lengths of macro lenses and their advantages?

I am interested in macro-photography. I see there are macro telephoto (zoom?) lenses (e.g. 200mm), or smaller macro lenses (e.g. 40mm) ... What are the different types of macro lenses and their ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a parfocal lens and how beneficial is it to photography?

I heard someone say that after using a parfocal lens for the first time, they would never switch back. What is a parfocal lens, how is it different from any other lens, and what are the advantages and ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a normal lens?

I've heard people call 50mm lenses "normal lenses". For a lens to be considered normal, does it have to be exactly 50mm or is there some leeway? Does the normal focal length depend on crop factor of ...
12
votes
2answers
698 views

Does a crop sensor affect closest focusing distance? Why does it not affect focal length in EXIF data?

Since I am considering to buy the Nikkor 105mm micro VR, I wondered if the cropped sensor does affect the closest focusing distance of 0.31m? Thinking about this, the following additional (and ...
12
votes
4answers
342 views

What is it called when an object appears to be the same size with the eye and through the camera viewfinder?

I have a Canon 18-135 lens. I am looking into the camera viewfinder with my right eye and not through the viewfinder with my left. I start from 18mm and keep zooming in till I see a particular object ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

What differences between point and shoot zoom versus DSLR zoom cause the price disparity?

I'm just getting into the world of photography, stepping up from a point-and-shoot. I've just purchased a Nikon D3100 and it should be here in a couple of days. I've done lots of research, but ...
11
votes
9answers
2k views

How useful is image stabilisation below 200mm, really?

Image stabilisation is all the rage, and hardly a new lens from Nikon or Canon is missing this "crucial" feature. To me this seems to be the new megapixel race (like when the manufacturers tried to ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the reference point that the focal length of a lens is calculated from?

I understand the idea of a focal length for a single lens, i e the distance from the lens to the point at which parallel rays of light converge. However, in the case of a photographic lens with ...
11
votes
4answers
808 views

What does 'Equivalent to 1.6x the focal length of the lens' mean?

In the specifications of Canon 550D, about the lens the following is mentioned LENS Lens Mount EF/EF-S Focal Length Equivalent to 1.6x the focal length of the lens Now this is really ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

When I use FX lenses on a DX camera, does the focal length or minimum aperture change?

If I put a Nikkor 35mm f/2 FX lens on a DX camera, is it still 35mm f/2, or has the effective focal length or minimum aperture changed, because it is being used on a smaller format than what it was ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is depth of field affected by focal length?

As the focal length decreases, the depth of field increases as well. Why is this? I'm not so much interested in a physics lesson as I am interested in a simple, down-to-earth explanation.
10
votes
1answer
735 views

Does focal length affect diffraction, in addition to aperture?

The reason I ask is that f/18 on a 24mm lens = 1.5mm, and f/18 on a 180mm lens = 10mm. I thought diffraction is due to the small physical size of the aperture, rather than the f-ratio, yet I only ever ...
9
votes
2answers
650 views

Does the size of the front glass mean anything?

Considering the Nikon lenses: Prime lenses: AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D ED has a huge front glass (●₃), AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G has a tiny little front glass, deep inside the body (∙₁), AF-S VR Nikkor ...
8
votes
6answers
795 views

Why is focal length measured in millimeters?

Why is focal length measured in millimeters?
8
votes
5answers
655 views

Does crop factor still apply to a vintage film SLR lens?

My friend has a Tamron 24mm lens on his Nikon D5000 and he says that because of its age and the fact it is manual focus, it is still actually a 24mm on his crop sensored camera. Is this right? If so, ...
8
votes
4answers
746 views

Is it the same if you take a picture by setting 50mm in a 18-55mm lens and by using a 50mm prime lens?

Is it the same if you take a picture setting 50mm with a 18-55mm lens and a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens? Assuming that ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are the same, will both the lens give same results? I ...
8
votes
4answers
582 views

How much does 1 mm get you in a wide-angle lens?

I'm looking at a Canon 17-40 mm wide angle lens, and I don't understand why anyone would buy it. EFS18-55mm II is the standard Canon 18-55 mm lens that DSLRs come with, and it seems almost as ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

How do I get the 'equivalent' focal length for a DSLR lens for my camera?

On my Nikon D3000, how do I figure the focal length equivalence? In other words, if I want a lens that is just like a 50mm lens on a 35mm film SLR, I need to multiply by a factor. What is the factor, ...
8
votes
3answers
792 views

How can a 24-70mm and a 10-22mm both be “wide angle” lenses?

I've been looking at a 10-22mm lens for my Canon T2i. I've also come across some other "wide angle" lenses, like the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8. I don't understand how a wide angle lens can have such high ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Does a Nikon DX lens on a FX camera get subjected to the 1.5X crop factor?

My friend has a Nikon 35mm DX lens that I want to use on my FX camera. If I use his lens on my camera in DX mode, does the effective focal length of the lens become 35mm * 1.5 = 52.5mm, or does it ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does the maximum aperture change with focal length? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do zoom lenses and compact cameras have varied maximum aperture across the zoom range? It is rather common with zooms that the maximum aperture changes (in fact, ...
7
votes
4answers
11k views

What lens focal length most closely resembles the human eye perspective?

For example, if I have a lens that is 16mm-50mm, which focal length would be the closest to the human eye view? (I don't have a camera yet, so I'm just curious). Would 50mm be more zoomed in than ...
7
votes
4answers
840 views

Do bigger focal lengths capture more light?

I never understood what the f really stands for in the f-stop values, like f/1.8. Wikipedia explains it in various articles, but I still find it very confusing. What I understand, though, is that it ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

How can a prime lens focus on more than one plane?

By definition, a prime lens is a fixed lens system with a fixed focal length. Then, simple physics tells us that it should be able to focus only on one plane (at a fixed distance) in front of it. But ...
7
votes
2answers
455 views

Do lenses with the same f-stop but different focal length gather the same amount of light? [duplicate]

I'm taking images of a light source in a scientific labratory, and I thought I had a good grasp on all these things, but now i'm second guessing myself after some results. The most important thing is ...