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Author Topic: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...  (Read 10135 times)

stamper

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2014, 12:29:34 pm »

I totally disagree. My experience is the complete opposite.

Personally I agree with melchiorpavone. I use mostly a 14-150 Tamron lens optimized for M4/3 which gives a field of view equivalent 28-300 in FF terms. The two cameras I am using are the Olympus EM5 and the Panasonic Lumix GX7. Both have tilting LCDs and can be shot at stomach level. Because it isn't always possible to walk right into someone's space, which has the potential of alerting them to myself thus destroying the vision I had of the scene. If someone is happy to stand back and latterly crop an image then it is less of an issue. Today I shot street with a 12-50 which meant if I had got any keepers - only one or two - then cropping will be needed. If I use the longer focal length lens I still have the ability to restrict my shooting to 35 or 50mm in order to conform to the dictum that these focal lengths should be used. I sometimes shoot at the top of buildings to capture images of statues and similar carvings. To sum up flexibility is what I work to and not restrictive focal lengths. The Tamron lens is imo sharp at all focal lengths. It is a lens that has only been on the market a couple of months. Compact and a joy to use. :)

Nick Walt

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2014, 01:33:45 pm »

@Jim, Alan, Hans, and others. Thank you all for such insightful comments and supporting each other towards consensus even while maintaining a difference of preference.

@Hans:  Thank you, Hans, for such a succinct and insightful post about how you approach your use of lenses. After reading your comment, and the responses by Alan, Jim, and others, I have come to understand much more clearly my preferred approach to the selection and use of lenses.

From your comments I can see that my preference is for the method, as Alan so well puts it, "...to see the shot and then pick the lens that best captures it", rather than the other approach of first choosing the lens and then going in search of the shot that best fits it (if I understand you correctly, Jim).

So, to answer my original question about finding a focal length to fit one's vision:  I think that this discussion has expanded on this to conclude that it is a focal length that best captures the vision in that moment.

So, in conclusion, yes, use the focal length that matches how I see. Whether that is choosing a telephoto to pick out particularly pleasing patterns on a hillside, or a wide-angle to capture beautiful folding foothills approaching a mountain side.

@Hans:  Hans, you mentioned that, for landscapes, you only use full-frame cameras. I think this is an interesting point to make and I reflected on this in light of my recent concerns about the resolution and image quality of m43. Particularly as I contemplate committing myself further to the m43 system through the purchase of additional expensive lenses.

Perhaps I should continue to utilise the image quality of the E-M1 as best I can until I have a need to go full-frame, and not worry about over investing in m43 lenses. Certainly, by all accounts, the top lenses available for the E-M1 (from the 43 and m43 range) are far better than anything available from Canon or Nikon for their APS-C cameras, and possibly comparable to some of the top lenses for full-frame. By the time I come up against the limits of m43 there might be a new sensor that could allow me to continue with my investment in m43.

The other option is to buy something like the Sony A7/A7R and excellent second-hand manual focus lenses - specifically for landscape, and keep the Olympus kit for everything else.

BTW, Hans, your images are absolutely wonderfully beautiful.

Thank you all, again.

Cheers,
Nick
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 01:40:36 pm by Nick Walt »
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #42 on: September 17, 2014, 03:50:47 am »

Nick - one last thing.  Do listen to all the views here - but as you have probably realised there is no 'right' way.  You have to experiment yourself and my advice would be not to try and replicate other photographers but try to be different and find your own message in your photography.  The biggest challenge is not the technical, but the seeing and conveying of your vision.

Jim
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MarkL

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #43 on: September 17, 2014, 08:08:21 am »

Agree - this is why I'm using longer focal lengths - to isolate the most interesting/meaningful part of the scene.

It can work both ways. 'De-cluttering' certainly is important to a photograph but so is context and relationship between different elements. A tight frame-filled shot had little depth or place for your eye to go.

Have a look at better wedding photography (and even wildlife photography). Rather than tight shots of each 'thing' (bride, cake etc.) showing them in context with other things or layering things in front usually makes for a much more compelling and visually interesting image. A bride getting ready framed by a doorframe is a totally different feeling shot to a frame filling tight shot. This is why you see a shift towards horizontal compositions and wider lenses.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 06:25:08 pm by MarkL »
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Nick Walt

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #44 on: September 17, 2014, 08:36:27 am »

Thanks, Jim. I think I am going through the process that every photographer will likely go through to learn to understand how to accommodate their way of seeing. As you suspect I had been heavily influenced by the "pick a lens and make it work" approach that works for many. Typically, these photographers like to work with the 28, 35 and 50mm focal lengths. I do, too. For the past year I have enjoyed using my 26mm equivalent Nokia Lumia 920, and I'm tempted to get the Ricoh GR (28mm equivalent).

As I began to look at longer lenses, like the Olympus 75mm f1.8, I read many say that the focal length just didn't work for them. This kind of comment caused me some confusion and made me ask the question in this thread. All of you have answered it and helped me to recognise and let go the preconceptions I've been hanging on to.

Jim, even though you have a preference for the single lens discipline you have been particularly affirmative of other approaches and I take note of your latest comment.

I was thinking that in the medium term I was going to get one or the other (75mm or the upcoming 40-150mm f2.8 PRO) but getting both fits the logic of this discussion. The PRO won't be available before I return to India so I'll go with the 75mm.

Cheers,
Nick
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Nick Walt

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #45 on: September 17, 2014, 08:45:52 am »

@Mark:  I agree and can also attest to this problem from my own experience. Going by what Hans said, which was summarized by Alan's comment to pick the right lens to capture your vision, those overly tight compositions were me not seeing correctly and not choosing the right focal length.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 08:50:31 am by Nick Walt »
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jjj

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #46 on: September 17, 2014, 09:02:17 am »

It can work both ways. 'De-cluttering' certainly is important to a photograph but so is context and relationship between different elements. A tight frame-filled shot had little depth or place for your eye to go.
I find 'conventional' portraits mostly boring for that reason. They tend to be flattering mugshots and little else.
Which is probably why I tend to use wide angles for photographing people.

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Nick Walt

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #47 on: September 17, 2014, 09:08:09 am »

@Stamper:  Hi Stamper, it is interesting to see the almost polarized preferences for wide and long focal lengths. There are a few m43 photographers who use the 75mm extensively for both standard portraiture and environmental portraiture, as well as for regular street. Check out Sohail Karmani's great work:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sohailkarmani/14960744276/in/photostream/

Actually, he is pretty flexible. Using anything from a Panasonic 100-300 to a Voigtlander 17.5, and the Olympus 75.
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melchiorpavone

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #48 on: September 17, 2014, 09:43:27 am »

It can work both ways. 'De-cluttering' certainly is important to a photograph but so is context and relationship between different elements. A tight frame-filled shot had little depth or place for your eye to go.

Have a look at better wedding photography (and even wildlife photography). Rather than tight shots of each 'thing' (bride, cake etc.) showing them in context with other things or layering things in front usually makes for a much more compelling an visually interesting image.

No, it doesn't.

Quote

A bide getting ready framed by a doorframe is a totally different feeling shot to a frame filling tight shot. This is why you see a shift towards horizontal compositions and wider lenses.

No, it depends on the package and what you are trying to accomplish. You need some of both.

You see a shift towards "horizontal compositions and wider lenses" because of the large number of rank amateurs with no training joining the ranks of 'professional' wedding photography.
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jjj

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #49 on: September 17, 2014, 12:10:36 pm »

No, it doesn't.
In your opinion maybe. But a bunch of images of people with no sense of location or place are of little interest to most people who do not know them.


Quote
You see a shift towards "horizontal compositions and wider lenses" because of the large number of rank amateurs with no training joining the ranks of 'professional' wedding photography.
So what training is there available for wedding photographers? Other than working as an assistant?
There's the old fashioned style of shooting which is what you seem to prefer and there's those of us who prefer less dull photos.  :P

.

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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #50 on: September 17, 2014, 07:35:39 pm »

In your opinion maybe. But a bunch of images of people with no sense of location or place are of little interest to most people who do not know them.

So what training is there available for wedding photographers? Other than working as an assistant?
There's the old fashioned style of shooting which is what you seem to prefer and there's those of us who prefer less dull photos.  :P

.



Quite, it's relatively easy to shoot a competent portrait with a long lens, much harder when shooting wider and having to control the background elements too. Of course each to their own - there is no right or wrong here.

Jim
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melchiorpavone

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #51 on: September 17, 2014, 08:47:22 pm »

In your opinion maybe. But a bunch of images of people with no sense of location or place are of little interest to most people who do not know them.

This is false. Look:

http://supermodelicons.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/veruschka_smi_0005.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_T8jmzzBIK-Y/TJpf5TbK_rI/AAAAAAAAJN0/SLklVzaP--Y/s1600/Veruschka+1960s.jpg

http://spgspgspg.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/V1.jpg

Do you really give a damn about the context or what's behind Verushka? Do you?

Quote

So what training is there available for wedding photographers? Other than working as an assistant?
There's the old fashioned style of shooting which is what you seem to prefer and there's those of us who prefer less dull photos.  :P


How about authentic, moving slices of reality?

« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 08:59:53 pm by melchiorpavone »
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jjj

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #52 on: September 17, 2014, 09:14:57 pm »

This is false. Look:

http://supermodelicons.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/veruschka_smi_0005.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_T8jmzzBIK-Y/TJpf5TbK_rI/AAAAAAAAJN0/SLklVzaP--Y/s1600/Veruschka+1960s.jpg

http://spgspgspg.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/V1.jpg

Do you really give a damn about the context or what's behind Verushka? Do you?
I don't particularly give a damn about those photos that's for sure.  ;D   I'm not saying there aren't good portrait shots done with a 85mm-ish lens, but most are boring mugshots. In my view.

Quote
Quote
So what training is there available for wedding photographers? Other than working as an assistant?
There's the old fashioned style of shooting which is what you seem to prefer and there's those of us who prefer less dull photos  :P
How about authentic, moving slices of reality?
Is that really meant to be a reply to my question or is it just some random text?
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stamper

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #53 on: September 18, 2014, 03:08:38 am »

A similar related topic is that the two M4/3 cameras I own have aspect ratio modes that can be configured using Raw. These certainly make a difference when shooting street. I find the 1.1 particularly appealing. and for wider shots the 16.9 is useful.

jjj

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2014, 07:54:42 am »

A similar related topic is that the two M4/3 cameras I own have aspect ratio modes that can be configured using Raw. These certainly make a difference when shooting street. I find the 1.1 particularly appealing. and for wider shots the 16.9 is useful.
Why not shoot with entire m4/3 sensor and crop afterwards? Particularly with street work, as if something interesting happens and you have the wrong crop mode, then chances are you may miss it whilst swapping aspect ratios.
I've had cameras that offer an in camera crop and all it does is crop pixels. Now if a camera had a square sensor and offered alternative crops within the entire circle, now that would indeed be useful as very different shapes would not simply be less MPs. Though I have some very vague recollection that some m4/3 sensors are slightly bigger than the official size which may be used by alternative aspect ratios

Further on this - I wish MFDSLRs had square sensors like they did with 6x6 film. Using such cameras in portrait is less than ergonomic shall we say and shooting square for commercial work is great because you can get a horizontal and vertical crop from same frame. So art editor can use same shot for different layouts in magazines/ads etc saves time shooting and with PP work compared to doing two versions of each image or just framing much wider to allow a vertical crop of a horizontal sensor, losing MPs again for both variations.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 07:59:44 am by jjj »
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2014, 09:04:27 am »

This is false. Look:

http://supermodelicons.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/veruschka_smi_0005.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_T8jmzzBIK-Y/TJpf5TbK_rI/AAAAAAAAJN0/SLklVzaP--Y/s1600/Veruschka+1960s.jpg

http://spgspgspg.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/V1.jpg

Do you really give a damn about the context or what's behind Verushka? Do you?

How about authentic, moving slices of reality?



The first of those is reasonable - but the other two do absolutely nothing for me.  The last one looks like the worst type of 1970's pin-ups.  But each to their own, both in pictures and the gear used to make them....

Jim
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stamper

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #56 on: September 18, 2014, 09:28:41 am »

Why not shoot with entire m4/3 sensor and crop afterwards? Particularly with street work, as if something interesting happens and you have the wrong crop mode, then chances are you may miss it whilst swapping aspect ratios.
I've had cameras that offer an in camera crop and all it does is crop pixels. Now if a camera had a square sensor and offered alternative crops within the entire circle, now that would indeed be useful as very different shapes would not simply be less MPs. Though I have some very vague recollection that some m4/3 sensors are slightly bigger than the official size which may be used by alternative aspect ratios

Further on this - I wish MFDSLRs had square sensors like they did with 6x6 film. Using such cameras in portrait is less than ergonomic shall we say and shooting square for commercial work is great because you can get a horizontal and vertical crop from same frame. So art editor can use same shot for different layouts in magazines/ads etc saves time shooting and with PP work compared to doing two versions of each image or just framing much wider to allow a vertical crop of a horizontal sensor, losing MPs again for both variations.

JJJ they invented zoom lenses so that you don't have to do that. I'm not against cropping but some sort of framing should be attempted in order to get a reasonable composition. Is that what you do? Shoot everything wide and crop afterwards?

melchiorpavone

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #57 on: September 18, 2014, 10:34:32 am »

I don't particularly give a damn about those photos that's for sure.  ;D   I'm not saying there aren't good portrait shots done with a 85mm-ish lens, but most are boring mugshots. In my view.
How about authentic, moving slices of reality?Is that really meant to be a reply to my question or is it just some random text?

Most attempts to be "creative" in wedding photography are cringeworthy. Most especially odious are the "Dutch angle" shots.
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allegretto

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #58 on: September 18, 2014, 10:48:23 am »

could probably take just about all my photos with my 24-105 f4 IS-II

But love the Zeiss f 2.8 21mm for some things. No substitute. Of course the 24 and 50mm for T/S... and 135mm (+/- 1.4 tele-extender) is nice for the skaters... uh, oh...!

Have 70-200 but only need it rarely for outdoors.
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jjj

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Re: Getting the right focal length for the way you see...
« Reply #59 on: September 18, 2014, 10:50:48 am »

JJJ they invented zoom lenses so that you don't have to do that.
Except zooming has no bearing on aspect ratio which is what was actually being discussed.

Quote
I'm not against cropping but some sort of framing should be attempted in order to get a reasonable composition. Is that what you do? Shoot everything wide and crop afterwards?
Missed point entirely and managed to get a sly insult in too. I frame with the whole sensor, then if need be I then crop to a different aspect ratio later. Much better than faffing around with it in camera, which is a waste of time and pixels. Nothing to do with focal length or shooting randomly.

Do you even bother to read posts before replying snarkily, as there's no evidence here that you do or in other recent threads?
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