Monday, October 22, 2012

Shooting Tip: Prime Focal Lengths (Basic)

Part of the gang. 28mm
Do you want to be able to look at a shot and have a good idea of the focal length used without looking at the EXIF?  More importantly, do you want to be able to imagine the shot in your head and use focal length as part of your intended design?  Then here's a tip: become familiar with the prime focal lengths, such as 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, etc.

Instead of zooming for convenience, pick a focal length and shoot with that focal length until you become familiar with its 'look'.  If you don't have primes that's fine - just look at your zoom barrel which has these focal lengths marked on it.  Some point-and-shoot cameras such as the LX5 also have a "step zoom" function which zooms to the typical prime focal lengths.

I suggest first getting familiar with the equivalent of 50mm, then try the extremes - the widest angle you have, then the longest focal length you have, then work your way through the intermediate steps, becoming more familiar with increasingly subtle changes.  For example: 50mm, 24mm, 200mm, 35mm, 105mm, etc.


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