perspective w/ 35mm lenses?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by PrincePete01, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. PrincePete01

    PrincePete01 Guest

    sorry if the answer to this is obvious. i've looked high and low and haven't
    been able to get an answer. suppose my digital slr has a 1.5x multiplication
    factor when using 35mm lenses. so a 50mm normal lens for 35mm film, will have
    the coverage of a 75mm lens when used on my digital slr. but what about the
    perspective? the slight compression or flattening effect that i would expect
    with a 75mm lens, would i get the same effect with the 50mm lens when used on
    the digital camera? what i'm really trying to get is this. a 50mm lens is
    generally not a good portrait lens when used on a 35mm camera. a 75mm lens
    might be more acceptable. would a 50mm lens used on a digital body (effective
    75mm coverage) be an acceptable portrait lens?

    PrincePete01, Jul 16, 2004
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  2. PrincePete01

    Charles Guest

    Yes. The flattening effect you see comes from being farther from your
    subject. With the digital camera you will move back to include the
    same area that you would have captured with the film camera while
    being closer. You can do the same thing with film, just move back
    farther, then crop for just the center.
    Charles, Jul 16, 2004
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  3. PrincePete01

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    It depends on how you do it. If you use a fifty on a digital at the
    same distance as you would on a 35 the only difference you will get is the
    area of the picture. If you are too close you will dirtort features.
    If you move it back until you take in the same area as you would with
    an 80mm lens on a 35mm camera you will not get close up distortion. You can,
    in fact do this with 35mm too. I used to shoot everything with a 50. To do a
    portrait I simply moved back and cropped the picture in the darkroom.

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    Tony Spadaro, Jul 16, 2004
  4. The perspective is controlled by the distance between camera and
    subject. The focal length does not influence the perspective in any
    way, shape, or form.

    You can see this in those sequences of photos often printed on
    mats displayed on camera-store counters -- a sequence of photos taken
    from the same location with each of the lenses in some manufacturers
    lineup. Each photo looks like it was just cropped out of the center
    of the previous photo (if the ordering is wideangle to telephoto, as
    it usually is).
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jul 16, 2004
  5. PrincePete01

    dave6431 Guest

    Actually, it will not make any deifference at all. Lens focal length
    has nothing to do with perspective. In fact perspective wasn't even
    invintet until railroads became popular. There is no such thing as a
    telephoto/wide angle look. I just looks like there is a telephoto/
    wideangle look and if you really knew how to look, it wouldn't look
    like there is a telephoto/wideangle to look at in the first place.
    This can be proven by always using a 7mm lens (any format) and adding
    a twelve foot post to your enlarger. You do have to protect your
    wideangle prints from nose gease because the proper viewing distance
    is focal length times magnification. This does mean the proper viewing
    distance for an 8X10inch print from a full from a 35mm camera equiped
    with a 500mm lens is eighty inches. Everyone know all this and in fact
    is a given on at least one news list.

    Objects in the mirror
    are really not closer than they apear
    so always burn out
    when in reverse gear.

    Heh heh heh......
    dave6431, Aug 1, 2004
  6. An over simplified answer. Were it so why would manufactures make so many
    different lens focal lengths?
    The answer is correct from a technical stand point, but like many things
    practical issues invade reason.

    Jack-of-the-Dust, Aug 1, 2004
  7. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest

    That depends on how you use the term "perspective." In the way that most
    people use it, it definitely is related to focal length.

    If it "just LOOKS" that way, then obviously there IS such a thing as a wide
    angle or telephoto look.

    This is the fallacy of that whole argument. People look at photos as they
    are, and any different appearance "if [they] really knew how to look" is

    The way this argument usually goes is something like this: If you take two
    photos of the same subject from the same position they have the same
    perspective, whether you shoot with a wide angle, normal or telephoto lens.

    Anyone who actually does this will see VERY OBVIOUS differences in
    perspective. But the argument goes along these lines: Aha, but if you took
    the central portion of the wide angle shot and enlarged it so that its field
    of view would be exactly the same as that of the normal or tele lens, then
    the perspective would also be exactly the same.

    Yes, that's true, but people DON'T do that. The full shot taken with a wide
    angle lens has a wide-angle perspective, and the shot taken with a telephoto
    lens has a telephoto perspective. If you take a wide-angle shot and crop out
    everything except what would appear in a telephoto shot, all you've done is
    EMULATED the telephoto lens. The original PERSPECTIVE has been destroyed by
    what you removed.

    But no one CARES about "proper viewing distance." If we see a shot taken
    with a very long telephoto, we do not put it at the far end of a room just
    so we can look at it in the "proper perspective." That would, in fact,
    defeat the whole purpose of using a long lens in the first place.

    Similarly, no one puts his nose down on the print just because it was shot
    with an ultra-wide lens.

    This sort of nonsense has been often repeated, that much is true. It's still
    nonsense, no matter how often it's repeated.

    If it were true and/or relevant, no one would ever bother using a 500mm or
    other long tele lens. What would be the point, if the print had to be viewed
    from some unnaturally and inconveniently long distance?
    Nostrobino, Aug 1, 2004
  8. It is important to understand that perspective is only(!) influenced
    by distance from the (front) principal point of the lens to the
    *If* most people use it as a *combination of* distance and
    field-of-view, they are wrong.

    Bart van der Wolf, Aug 1, 2004
  9. PrincePete01

    DSphotog Guest


    perspective, (per-spèk¹tîv) in art, any method employed to represent
    three-dimensional space on a flat or relief surface. Linear perspective, in
    the modern sense, was probably first formulated in 15th-cent. Florence by
    the architects Brunelleschi and Alberti. It depends on a system in which
    objects are foreshortened as they recede into the distance, with lines
    converging to a vanishing point that corresponds to the spectator's
    viewpoint. Used by such Renaissance artists as Donatello, Masaccio, and
    Piero della Francesca, the technique of linear perspective exerted an
    enormous influence on subsequent Western art. Its use declined in the 20th
    cent. Aerial (atmospheric) perspective, which is based on the perception
    that contrasts of color and shade appear greater in near objects than in
    far, and that warm colors appear to advance and cool colors to recede, was
    developed primarily by Leonardo da Vinci, in the West, and was often used in
    East Asian art, where zones of mist were often used to separate near and far
    DSphotog, Aug 2, 2004
  10. That's not the way most people use it. It means (in this context) the
    apparent size of various parts of the scene relative to one another.
    Objects further from the camera are reproduced at smaller magnification
    than those closer to it, but the percentage change varies as the camera
    is moved towards or away from the objects.

    Perspective is determined by position only. Focal length determines
    field of view.

    BTW, there is another apparently different use of "perspective" in
    referring to the convergence of parallel lines which are at an angle to
    the lens axis. However, on closer analysis, this is in fact exactly the
    same phenomenon, i.e. the lines appear to get closer together as they
    get further away from the photographer because the magnification is

    Perspective was well known to artists (well, some artists at any rate)
    long before railways were built.
    The only reason there is a "telephoto look" is because the pictures are
    taken from a great distance.
    No they won't. They will simply see differences in the field of view,
    and probably at different magnifications (and probably some differences
    in grain or pixellation). Otherwise the two will be identical. The fact
    that you think differently suggests that you can never have tried it.
    No it hasn't. The field of view has been changed; the perspective
    remains exactly the same.
    The only point of defining a print viewing distance is that it aims to
    put you in the same relative position as that in which the photograph
    was taken. I agree it's a pretty pointless exercise though, as mostly
    one wants to have the perspective effect created by the original taking
    The reason the contrary view has "been often repeated" is that it is
    true. Most of what you say is totally incorrect; I suggest you try
    looking in some reputable textbooks.
    One uses a long lens to get a bigger magnification without having to use
    excessive enlargement post-taking; this would result in very pronounced
    grain or pixellation, and much lower resolution.
    David Littlewood, Aug 2, 2004
  11. Um, no. If you show people two photos taken from the exact same
    location with widely differing focal lengths and ask them if the
    perspective is the same or different, they'll either have no idea what
    you're talking about, or decide it's the same in the two photos.

    If you're standing on a spot and want to change the perspective of
    your view, changing lenses will not help.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Aug 2, 2004
  12. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest

    You've never heard anyone speak of "wide-angle perspective" for example?

    Yes. However, a wide-angle lens includes more objects and therefore has more
    and different relationships, than a long lens.

    Wide-angle lenses tend to exaggerate differences in distance, while
    telephoto (or more correctly, long-focus lenses whether they are true
    telephotos or not) produce the effect of spatial compression. These are
    clearly differences in perspective, as it is perceived by the viewer.

    If that were true, wide-angle photos and long-lens photos would appear to
    have the same perspective. They do not. I know you know this as well as I

    Wide-angle photos taken from the same distance do not have a "telephoto
    look," do they?

    If I shoot buildings with an ultra-wide lens with the camera tilted upward,
    the sides of those buildings will converge toward the top in a way that
    appears very distorted, very spatially exaggerated. This is clearly a matter
    of perspective, and meets every ordinary definition for perspective. If I
    shoot the same buildings from the same position with a long lens, there will
    be no such effect; on the contrary there will be a flattening and spatial
    compression as verticals are made more parallel and distance differences are
    made to appear less. This too is a perspective.

    Of course I've tried it. Try it yourself, in the example I've given just

    Changing the field of view (from the same position) CHANGES the perspective,
    is what I am saying.

    And focal length, yes.

    I understand perfectly what you and your "reputable textbooks" are claiming.
    I am saying that it's demonstrably wrong, which you can easily prove to

    Just remember that perspective is something that involves THE WHOLE PICTURE.
    Once you accept that, your argument collapses.

    Those things aren't what matters as much as perspective. With 35mm for
    example, why does anyone use a 105mm or so lens for portraiture? Because a
    longish lens gives a more flattering perspective. You could use a 28mm lens
    and move in to fill the frame just the same, couldn't you? But the results
    would be horrid. Perspective is what makes the difference.

    If you used the 28mm from the original 105mm position would the perspective
    be the same (this is what you're claiming, right)? No, it would not. The 28
    would produce not only a smaller image of the subject, but also more
    convergence in parallel lines outside of the subject and, all in all, the
    wide-angle perspective that you claim does not exist--but which anyone can,
    in fact, see with their own eyes. How often do you have to see a certain
    look with your own eyes before you admit that that look does, in fact,
    Nostrobino, Aug 2, 2004
  13. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest

    Yes, there are several definitions for perspective.

    Here are some from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Lanuage,
    Third Edition:

    per·spec·tive (p?r-spek'tiv) noun

    1. The technique of representing three-dimensional objects and depth
    relationships on a two-dimensional surface.

    2. a. A view or vista. b. A mental view or outlook: "It is useful
    occasionally to look at the past to gain a perspective on the present"
    (Fabian Linden).

    3. The appearance of objects in depth as perceived by normal binocular

    4. a. The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole:
    a perspective of history; a need to view the problem in the proper
    perspective. b. Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of
    view: the perspective of the displaced homemaker. c. The ability to perceive
    things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance: tried to
    keep my perspective throughout the crisis.

    These are ordinary, everyday definitions in Standard English., which
    everyone can easily understand. Note that there is NOTHING in them--any of
    them--which declares that distance alone must be the determinant of
    Nostrobino, Aug 2, 2004
  14. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest

    I doubt very much that any ordinary person looking at two photos taken from
    the same position, one with a 17mm lens and the other with a 300mm lens,
    would decide they had the same perspective. Most people would understand
    "perspective" well enough to realize they were looking at pictures with
    radically different perspectives.

    That would be true if you were shooting a perfectly two-dimensional wall
    running perpendicular to your lens axis and filling the frame. But only in
    that unusual circumstance.
    Nostrobino, Aug 2, 2004
  15. Numbers one, three, and four describe an aspect of photographs that is
    determined by camera position relative to the subject and is *not*
    influenced by lens focal length. Number two is a general term, not a
    specific technical term.

    None of those definitions says that in photography it's only
    influenced by camera position, no. So what? That's a general
    dictionary definition, not an art text or a photography text or an
    optics text.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Aug 2, 2004
  16. PrincePete01

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    No; it has more relationships, but the ones it shares are exactly the same.
    Except that the effect is not in any way the result of the focal length of
    the lens, but of the magnification.
    Except that they quite clearly do.
    There is no such thing as a "telephoto look". The "look" you are talking
    about is a product of magnification, and the relationship between objects
    in the picture is exactly the same as it would be from a wide angle lens.
    You can easily prove this to yourself by taking two pictures and comparing
    Except that this just plain won't happen. You will merely see less of the
    buildings, and thus not notice that the parallel lines are doing exactly
    the same thing in both pictures.
    And this is incorrect.
    No, it's not.
    No, that's not why. It's because standing farther away from the subject
    gives a more flattering perspective, and the telephoto lens lets you fill the
    frame with the subject from farther away. The long lens absolutely, clearly,
    provably does *not* flatten anything.
    Yes, and as you said, you've moved in to fill the frame, changing the
    perspective. Try it from the same place, and the perspective will be
    exactly the same as the telephoto shot; the features of the person's
    face will have the same relationship to each other and to their
    Yes, it would.
    It would produce a smaller, but identical image of the subject, and the
    parallel lines would be the same except that you'd see more of them, and
    thus be fooled into thinking there is more convergence when in fact there
    is not.
    The wide-angle look is a product of the larger field of view, not of the
    perspective. The reason things seem to distort at the edges of a wide-
    angle image is because you are projecting a spherical image onto a flat
    plane, and the larger the area of the sphere you use, the more that will
    result in "distortion" from what you expect to see (but in fact it's not
    distorted, it's just one possible projection; a fisheye lens produces
    another, equally valid, projection, but one that differs from the way
    we assemble images in our brain and therefore one that looks weird).
    Jeremy Nixon, Aug 2, 2004
  17. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest

    Actually the only one relevant to this discussion is No. 1, "The technique
    of representing three-dimensional objects and depth relationships on a
    two-dimensional surface."
    Sure, but the crux of this argument is whether "perspective" is properly
    used as ordinary people who understand the word do in fact use it, as
    opposed to some supposedly technically correct definition with restrictions
    invented by someone who does not appear to have fully understood what he was
    talking about. (I agree that the latter has gained wide currency as we see
    here; I read the same nonsense many years ago myself.)

    From the title of this thread and the first quoted post available to me
    here, it seems that the original poster (the original post is not available
    to me here, though I suppose I could search Google for it) was asking about
    perspective with 35mm SLR lenses on a digital SLR which would effectively
    increase the f.l. by a factor of 1.5.

    The first post I have here gives the reply, "Actually, it will not make any
    deifference at all. Lens focal length has nothing to do with perspective. In
    fact perspective wasn't even invintet until railroads became popular. There
    is no such thing as a telephoto/wide angle look. . . ."

    This is what I originally disputed. OF COURSE there IS such a thing as a
    telephoto look or a wide-angle look, that particular look in either case IS
    because of the characteristics of perspective, those characteristics ARE
    related to the focal length of the lens used, and anyone whose eyes and
    brain work together properly is able to see this.

    Can you seriously tell me that if, for example, you walked around a city
    with an SLR and two lenses, a 20mm and a 200mm, taking hundreds of pictures
    and interchanging the lenses frequently, taking no notes about distance or
    which lens was used for which shot, etc., then viewing the photos even
    months or years later you would NOT be able to tell which shots were taken
    with the 20 and which with the 200?

    I don't think you are going to tell me that. Now tell me HOW you could tell
    the difference.

    What I am saying is that people who faithfully repeat "There is no such
    thing as 'wide-angle perspective'--perspective depends solely on shooting
    position" are simply refusing to believe the evidence of their own eyes, and
    refusing to believe it on the basis of some nonsense they have read. Yes, I
    grant you it is widely circulated nonsense, but nonsense all the same.

    Ordinary people who have not had the dubious benefit of such "learned"
    explications can immediately see that most photos taken with a 24mm lens,
    for example, do indeed (when viewed in their entirety) have a wide-angle
    Nostrobino, Aug 2, 2004
  18. PrincePete01

    Nostrobino Guest


    It is the relationships NOT SHARED that make the difference.
    The magnification IS a direct result of the focal length used.

    You are saying that you really cannot see any difference in perspective
    between a shot taken with a 24mm lens and one taken with a 200mm lens?

    You honestly BELIEVE this? Looking at photos taken with 200mm and 300mm
    lenses, you would have no clue from their appearance that they'd be taken
    with long lenses? Remarkable.

    Take a 24mm shot and magnify it all you like, it will never (when viewed in
    its entirety) look like a 300mm shot.

    Of course.

    There is nothing to notice or not notice; many parallel lines in the
    wide-angle shot do not even exist in the long-lens shot.
    Of course it is. This is really the sticking point, as I have indicated
    before. When one speaks of any picture as having perspective, it is the
    whole picture that one is talking about. If you start zeroing in on smaller
    and smaller components of the picture, you not only change the perspective
    as you do so but could eventually reach a point where there is no
    perspective at all.

    "Smaller but identical" is a contradiction in terms.

    Then they would not be "the same."

    The convergence is not really there anyway, i.e. parallel lines do not
    converge in a three-dimensional world. It is only the APPEARANCE of
    convergence that lends any picture its perspective. It is the exaggerated
    convergence of parallels in a wide-angle shot that give it the familiar and
    easily seen (no matter how strenuously denied) wide-angle perspective.

    No, not a spherical image. What is projected onto the flat plane is the
    two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world. That's

    The fisheye lens does project a spherical image (more correctly, an
    inside-the-hemisphere image) onto a flat plane. But I don't believe we have
    any real disagreement about that, and it's really off the subject of
    perspective anyway. Perspective, at least in the classical sense, is only
    obtained with (reasonably) rectilinear lenses.

    We could probably get into a discussion of non-classical perspective with
    fisheye lenses, but it would make my teeth hurt.
    Nostrobino, Aug 2, 2004
  19. PrincePete01

    Don Stauffer Guest

    The relationship between focal length and perspective comes when the
    photographer does not have access to all possible object distances. One
    frequently cannot get close enough to some osubject one wants to shoot,
    hence a telephoto setting is nice.

    Conversely, one cannot always back away far enough from the subject to
    get the perspective one wants, in which case a wide angle setting is
    Don Stauffer, Aug 2, 2004
  20. PrincePete01

    dave6431 Guest

    Don't you realize you are denying the existence of something in one
    sentence and in the next one explaining how it was produced? This is
    tantamount to saying there is no pregnant look because it is a by
    product of sexual intercourse.

    East Englewood
    dave6431, Aug 2, 2004
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