July 13, 2015

This Video Will Show You the Basics of Focal Length in Under 5 Minutes

Don't know squat about lenses and focal length? This video will help.

In this episode of FocusEd. the folks over at B&H have put together some helpful information for beginners (most likely) who haven't yet learned that those little numbers on the side of a lens are in fact a focal length value that can tell you a lot about what your image is going to look like. If that's you, here's a primer on focal length:

Okay, the video is a little bit -- goofy -- however, the information is still solid and important to know before you go off choosing lenses for your projects at random. Lenses are one of the most important creative tools you'll ever use in a film, because it carries so much of the aesthetic burden during capture.

Different focal lengths will render light and depth in various ways depending on aperture, the distance between your subject and your camera, light, and more. But one of the bigger contributions focal length gives to the final look of your image is depth-of-field; long lenses (usually above 120mm) will give you super shallow DoF, while short lenses (usually below 50mm) will keep a lot more in focus.

If you have more tips for beginners who may not know a lot about focal lengths, feel free to share them down in the comments!      

Your Comment

4 Comments

I kept repeating to myself: "Thanks Cap' Obvious" but then I realized that this video is probably aimed at very amateur photographer... I would add a few things that help choosing the right focal lengh.

1) Move your feet. Don't simply zoom in and out. Distance between the camera and your subject, foreground, middle ground and background in your composition is a key. A long lense maybe nice to get the compression feeling but you won't get much of the scene unless you are faw away. Instead look at the factors that influence your depth of field and choose wisely. You can get great DOF with a 24mm and 35mm as long as you take in consideration the background distance and your distance to your subject.

2)Minimum focus distance. A close up with a 24mm can be very interesting. We often hear that everything is in focus on a wide angle lens. But that always depends on the distance between the foreground and the background and where your subject is placed.

3)Always pay attention to what's behind your subject... Are you taking a portrait in street? Does your subject has a telephone pole coming of his head?

4)Think about what's is in focus as a big prism that move around depending on what setting you are using: (f-Stop, focal length, distance) even if you are using a lower f-stop doesn't mean that you can't focus on a group of people, they just have to be well aligned with your camera.

July 13, 2015 at 3:10PM

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Danny T
Photographer
507

An interesting enough video, although as Danny says, even a film thickie like me knew most of what he was saying. It also explains why my EF-M 22mm lens stubbornly insists on being in focus as much as possible.

A good looking video as you would expect, anything else and B&H would be making fools of themselves and their business but I found the jumps in filming after every sentence highly distracting.

July 14, 2015 at 8:03AM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1154

On my NFS "homepage", my post above shows up as a double post but it isn't on this page. Is this a way of beating the problems that we have been having?

July 14, 2015 at 9:34AM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1154

...Also as the video progresses, it has a secret hidden message about how important focus is to a video

July 14, 2015 at 12:01PM

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Arun Meegada
Moviemaker in the Making
522