A Perspective on Different Lenses

Some time ago, I got into a discussion on the different looks of wide angle vs telephoto lenses. There is a lot of misconception with focal length of lenses. If you talk to some people about lenses, especially with regard to different size sensors in your camera (medium format, full frame, crop frame, etc) you can get all kinds of opinions. I was always taught two images would look the same if you cropped the wide shot to show the same field of view as a telephoto image.

This is not a rigorous scientific test, but a real world experiment[1] that should be good enough for what I do. In fact it is so simple, you can do the same thing to prove for yourself that perspective depends ONLY on camera position and not lens choice or camera type.


First I took a wide angle shot:

24mm at f5.6
24mm at f5.6

Then the telephoto shot

85mm f5.6

Then I cropped the wide angle shot to include approximately the same field of view as the telephoto image.

Cropped 24mm at f5.6
Cropped 24mm at f5.6

Other than the traffic on the road, I don’t see much difference… Objects are all the same relative size in each image.  At web sizes, there is not even any apparent difference in sharpness or grain.

I guess the next step will be to shoot something with less depth of field, i.e. close-ups, but I suspect the difference will be just as little….

for the record, I tried to do extreme crops of details from each of the telephoto and cropped wide angle, but my focus on the wide angle was a bit off. I may have to go back and redo this. or just go with my initial conclusion…

close crops from within the telephoto shot and the wide angle crop.
close crops from within the telephoto shot and the wide angle crop.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I simply used a 24-85 zoom lens set at f5.6. I stood in the same spot, focused on (close to) the same spot, and shot one frame at 24mm and one at 85mm. I imported the images into Lightroom, made a copy of the wide angle shot and cropped it close to the field of view of the telephoto image.

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