16 February 2010

Focal lengths

Someone over on a Flickr group I'm part of was asking us to post some wide angle portraits and pet shots. I didn't have any to share, but I did post this:

The widest angle I've got is 28mm. It was interesting that you asked this question, because that led me to discover a feature in ACDSee, the photo organizing software I use, that lets me search for photos by focal length. I was surprised to find out how seldom I used the 28mm focal length. (I have 28-70mm and 70-200mm zoom lenses.) I tend to do portraits and pet photos somewhere between 60-100mm.

I did a breakdown of what focal length I've used on all my photos since I switched to digital:
28mm - 491 shots
29-39mm - 3382
40-49mm - 4239
50-59mm - 3898
60-69mm - 2508
--> 70mm - 7288 *
71-100mm - 697
101-130mm - 564
131-160mm - 377
161-199mm - 347
200mm - 1879

By far my favorite focal length is 70. Not surprising, since that's the highest I can go on my short lens and the lowest I can go on my long lens, so when I'm stretching the limits and wish I had the other lens with me, that's where I'll gravitate.

It's also interesting that I prefer the 200mm extreme to the 28mm extreme, but the larger majority of my non extreme (including 70mm as an "extreme" because it's the end of the range on both lenses) shooting is done on the shorter lens. That's probably mostly a matter of practicality. It's lighter and smaller, and it lives on the camera (it's the only one that it fits in the case with on it), so if I'm going out and only want to bring one lens, that's usually the one that comes with me.

Wide angles lenses (smaller focal lengths; 35 and below) are best when you want to fit a lot into your photo, either a wide landscape scene, or an entire subject from close up (this was shot at 28mm):

Medium length lenses (about 60-90mm) are good for portraits (this was done at 70mm, from fairly close to the subject):

Long lenses (aka telephoto; about 135 and up) are good for close-ups from a bit of a distance (this was done at 200mm):

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