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
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
Super wide angle lenses are very artistic but controlling the lens distortion is a big challenge.
super Wide Angle lens
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
Portrait using Telephoto lens lens
Comparing shallow depth of field in 200 mm and 300mm lenses
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.