Exercise- Focal Length

In this exercise, plan to make exactly the same framing on a face with different focal length. With a zoom lens, use at least three: at either end of the zoom scale and in the middle. Examine the results. Note your own judgement of the differences.

For this exercise I used my 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses. I chose to use my Mum as the model. Due to the fact she was standing for around 5 minutes while I changed lenses she is not providing the best natural smile in the images. However, I chose to overlook this and concentrate on the point of the exercise- to compare the differences in each focal length. I took a variety of shots at different focal lengths, but decided to use the three main ones; wide angle (24mm), Average Portrait length (50mm), and zoom (200mm). Below you will find my comparison between each.

Wide Angle (24mm). The problem with using a wide angle focal length is that the subject can sometimes appear a little distorted. In this shot the results aren’t too bad, however the model’s legs do appear a little small in comparison to her body, which appears rather large. An 18mm focal length would accentuate this further, and the appearance would be a ‘fish eye’ type effect. I have found that anything from 30mm and above gives acceptable results. Another problem with this wide an angle is the proximity to the subject, which can be very awkward, and results in the camera pointing very close to their face; intimidating the subject and resulting in a stiff image.

24mm focal length

Average (40-50mm) This focal length provides an accurate image- showing best the scene as I saw it. The subject is not distorted at all, and the resulting image is pleasing to look at, but not overly spectacular. The distance from the subject is very comfortable at this focal length; far enough away as to not intimidate the subject, yet still close enough to enable the photographer to instruct and communicate with the subject easily.

43mm focal length

Zoom (200mm). Upon reviewing this image at a later date, I noticed there was image blur on the subject’s face. This shows a problem with using a large focal length; the lens is harder to steady and therefore blurring occurs more frequently. This has taught me that a larger ISO and shutter speed are necessary in future whilst using a large zoom lens. In comparison with the other two images, this one does give the most pleasant finished result. The focal length shows off the subject more attractively; and as this is a lot different from how we view the scene, it is more interesting to look at.

200mm focal length

This was an interesting exercise which showed me that a large focal length is the most attractive lens option for a portrait photo. However, a standard 50mm focal length provides a safe option which also gives a good solid result.


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