Focal length primer: Treat your zoom lens as a series of prime lenses to improve your photography


posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 5:59 AM EST


A few years ago, photographer and educator Mike Browne published a pair of videos explaining focal length and the different impacts it has on your photos. They may be slightly dated, but the advice within them never gets old.

The first video is focused on Browne's tip that you should move your feet rather than zoom in or out with your lens. Instead of considering your zoom lens as a single lens, he says that you should instead think of it as a series of prime lenses. For example, consider an 18-120mm lens as being comprised of 18, 24, 35, 50, 85, 105 and 120mm prime lenses.

That's all well and good, but you still need to determine the right focal length for the shot you want to take. Suppose you're shooting a portrait: Rather than changing your lens' focal length to get the desired composition, select the best focal length for the kind of portrait you want to capture and then move your feet. Check out the video below to see how much of an impact your selected focal length can have on your final image. The shot can change dramatically depending on the focal length even when the overall composition is maintained.

On a similar note, Browne's second video regarding focal length explains that understanding how it changes the way that an image looks will result in you capturing better images. Changing focal length alters three things: perspective, depth of field and field of view. I'm sure that this isn't news to many of you, but Browne's video does an excellent job of illustrating the lesson.

To see more lessons from Mike Browne, visit his website and YouTube channel.

(Seen via Reddit