Focal Lengths

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Sablesword 5 years, 8 months ago.

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    The focal lengths video had me revisiting the spreadsheet I had made up a few years back to chart the focal lengths I used in photoshoots.

    Focal Lengths Graph

    Here’s the latest version. The lenses I’ve used are the 18-105mm “kit” lens, a rented 24-70mm, a rented 24-85mm, and a rented 24-120mm (which I’m just before going ahead and getting my own copy of.) There were also a few shots with 35mm and 50mm primes. Note that I use a Nikon D90, a crop-sensor camera with a 1.5x “crop factor” (vs 1.6x for Canon’s crop-sensor cameras). So everything here needs to be multiplied by 1.5x to the the “full frame equivalent” focal lengths. E.g. my median focal length of 44mm is actually “66mm full frame equivalent.”

    I’ll admit I haven’t been following the “pressed against the wall” rule of thumb mentioned in the video, mostly because I generally don’t have nice flat walls behind me.

    Speaking of walls, as a final, completely off-the-wall comment, I have to say that Hywel’s beard makes him look like a heraldic Savage. All he needs is a wreath of oak leaves.

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by  Sablesword.


    “All he needs is a wreath of oak leaves.” … and possibly a bit more hair on top! 🙂 🙂 🙂 or maybe that’s what the oak wreath is meant to conceal…

    As I usually shoot with primes it is easier for me to compile a comparison of how often I use each focal length.

    50 mm Hasselblad (~38 mm FF equivalent): 30%
    80 mm Hasselblad (~60 mm FF equivalent): 60%
    120 mm Hasselblad (~92 mm FF equivalent): 10%

    I’d use the 120 mm much more if British houses had US-sized rooms; I stick with the 80 mm most of the time as it gives me the full-length shot when pressed against the back wall. Plus it is less of a beast to shoot with, the 120 mm weighs a ton.

    Cheers, Hywel



    So Hywel, how do you shoot downward angles without a high ceiling, use a ladder? What focal lengths?




    I stand on a chair or a short step-ladder. It’s one of the cases where I bend my focal length rules a bit- if I can’t get high enough to get the shot with a 35 mm equivalent lens, I’ll often go really wide (16 mm) but fairly often will end up at 28 mm or so instead.

    How it looks depends on the model’s position. If she’s kneeling up and looking up at camera, so her nose is much closer to camera than the rest of her, I’ll stick pretty religiously to my no-wider-than-35mm rule. If she’s all on a plane, mostly the same distance from camera, like on her back spreadeagled, I’ll allow myself to veer into the focal lengths from hell or into ultra-distortion territory.

    Generally speaking though I find a chair and a 35mm equivalent lens does the trick.

    Cheers, Hywel



    I do much the same thing: Stand on a chair, or stool, or on the hotel-room bed. But I suspect that there are differences in the details. Shooting with a 24-xx zoom lens on a crop sensor D90 makes it easy to avoid going below 35mm 🙂

    Hywel, do you mostly switch to one of the Canon bodies when shooting downward angles? Or have you picked up a wider lens for the Hasselblad?

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