My question is similar to this one, but I don't know how accurate the formula will work with old photos.


If I assume that the runners would be 1m80 (5'11"), would it possible to estimate how far behind the 2 runners to the right in the picture are?

  • \$\begingroup\$ My instant answer is that you'd need to know how far the camera was from the lead runner, but I haven't run (pun not intended) the maths yet. Note that knowing the focal length of the lens used and the format size would be equivalent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    May 21, 2015 at 11:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well that's a good question - but I would say between 4 and 8 metres from the lead runner. Regarding the camera specs I have no clue (Pic. is from Boston Globe 22 May 1904) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom
    May 21, 2015 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


You're missing a key piece of information that is necessary in order to determine the distance and that either is the distance from the camera to the first runner or the focal length of the lens.

Without this you can't estimate distances. Long focal length lenses are known to "compress" depth, this means that objects at different distances appear roughly the same size, wide angle lenses do the opposite.


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