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Choosing Correct Focal Length

Tips on Choosing correct focal length for your photography project

In previous article we discussed the Lens Focal Length. Here I am going to share some tips about choosing the correct focal length for different types of photography.

Choosing the correct focal length is the key for creating that stunning photo that you have visualized. For instance, what lens focal length should you use for portrait, or landscape, etc. is the main part of this article.

There are several ways to explain the characteristics of different focal lengths, and here I am going to discuss the angle of view and how focal length can affect the Depth of Field.

Lenses for Landscape Photography

The wide angles are the best lenses for landscape, cityscape, architectural, and interior  photography. As we discussed it before, any focal length smaller than standard lens (e.g. 30mm in APSC format, and 50mm in full frame cameras) are wide angle lenses. They have larger angle of view and cover more of the scene.

Comparing Wide angle and normal lenses

Comparing Wide angle and normal lenses. Notice how wide angle covered moe of the scene
Comparing Wide angle and normal lenses. Notice how wide angle covered moe of the scene

On the other hand wide angle lenses provide more Depth of Field, which means you get more focusing range by using the same aperture. In below picture I cropped the wide angle shot and the picture from a normal focal length to the same subject. Notice how focusing range is shallower in the normal lens

Comparing Depth of Field in wide angle Vs Normal lenses

I shot both images at f8. Notice that in 50mm lens the depth of field is very shallower
I shot both images at f8. Notice that in 50mm lens the depth of field is very shallower

Super wide angle lenses are very artistic but controlling the lens distortion is a big challenge.

super Wide Angle lens

Super wide angle lenses have larger angle of view that adds lens distortion
Super wide angle lenses have larger angle of view that adds lens distortion

Lenses for Portrait Photography

We don’t need a larger angle of view for portraits as we try to reduce the distracting elements. On the other note, the wide angle distortion changes the shape of the face, the closer part of the body to the lens looks bigger. Who wants to have bigger nose or head?

And photographers usually use a very shallow depth of field to separate the model from the background and or avoiding distracting elements.

Longer Focal length for Portrait

By knowing the above facts we conclude that the best focal length for portrait photography is 50mm or higher. The longer focal length the more out of focus background and foreground. In photos below you can see how the shallow depth of field added pleasant effect to pictures.

Portrait using Wide angle lens lens

A wide angle lens was used for this portrait. Notice the distortion of the face and how the nose looks longer and head is bigger.
A wide angle lens was used for this portrait. Notice the distortion of the face and how the nose looks longer and head is bigger.

Portrait using Telephoto lens lens

By using a telephoto for portrait, you make the background out of focus and compress the scene
By using a telephoto for portrait, you make the background out of focus and compress the scene

Comparing shallow depth of field in 200 mm and 300mm lenses

Notice the shallower depth of fields in longer telephoto
Notice the shallower depth of fields in longer telephoto

Lenses for Sport or Wildlife Photography

Longer focal lengths are the best lenses for sport or wildlife photography, as you can not or should not be close to the subjects. The best focal length for these types of photography is 200mm or higher. These telephotos provide safer distance yet larger magnification.

Long Telephoto for Sport or wildlife photography

Long telephoto lenses allow you to capture the details in sport
Long telephoto lenses allow you to capture the details in sport

Omnilargess Photography Rental

Pro camera gear and lenses for rent

We have a wide selection of different pro lenses in stock for rental. Check our rental page for more information and make sure that you use the correct focal length in your next project.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for more tips and tutorials. As always feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for upcoming tutorials and tips.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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