What does “focal length” mean in photography?
Hello and welcome to the second of my “Creative Christmas” videos.
Today, we’re going to cover the first of our basic skills which is lens choice and what does “focal length” mean in photography. The focal length is usually stated on the side of your camera lens. If you got a lens bundled in with your camera, it’s probably going to be something like an 18-55mm or a 24-105mm. The numbers refer to the distance between the lens and the image sensor when your subject is in focus.
The shorter your focal length, the wider your angle of view will be – so an 18mm lens will give you a wider image than the same lens zoomed to 55mm.
As a basic rule of thumb, most landscape images are shot on a wide angle lens, as this allows you fit the most of the scene in. When you move into taking portraits of people, they tend to be around 50mm as this replicates most the view of the human eye. If you’re into shooting sports photography or wildlife, you’ll be looking at getting what’s called a telephoto lens, which will be closer to 200mm or even longer.
Now, this can get complicated again, depending on which sensor your camera has, often referred to as full frame or cropped sensor. In the most basic sense, a cropped sensor is usually cropped 1.5-1.6x in from the size of a full frame sensor, so an 18mm lens on a full frame sensor becomes a 27-28mm lens.
If you’re starting out, don’t get too hung up on feeling the need to get a full frame camera. There are plenty of great lenses made for cropped sensor cameras which will give you a wider field of view.
That’s it for today’s Creative Christmas, check back in tomorrow to learn a little bit about shutter speed and how it affects your images – and remember, if you want these video tips delivered directly to your inbox each day then you can either subscribe to our Youtube channel or sign up to the blog to get all the newest content here and we’ll handle the rest.
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