What’s focal length got to do with it?

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(Hum to the tune of Tina Turner's “What's Love Got to Do with It?” Thanks.)

As soon as you start looking at DSLR cameras and all of the lens options, you might be overwhelmed. 50 mm prime, 24-70 mm zoom, 18-300 mm kit lens. It's all a bunch of gibberish, right?

Photography is a digital medium, so it's easiest to explain it (duh) visually! I plopped myself on my living room couch with all of my lenses and me camera. I set up a cute little vignette across the room,and took pictures with each of my focal lengths. I didn't move, this is just a demonstration of the lens, and what it shows in the frame.

Specs for the photos: These were all shot with my crop-frame D7000. All shot at ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/200 ss with my flash bounced off the ceiling. My lens collection includes a 35-70 mm, 55-200 mm, 24-70 mm, 80-300 mm, and I had a rental 10-24 mm.
Make sense? 🙂

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  1. Awesome post!! Thank you for the pictures. I love seeing the difference in the distance. B bought me an 18-200mm zoom for Christmas. I can’t wait to play with it!

  2. Is the 10-24mm considered “wide angle”? I am far too ignorant of these things. The 10mm photo is the only one that feels as though the room is somehow distorted to me. Did you use a tripod for these shots? Whenever I zoom that much at something that far away, I find nothing is really in clear focus. Or is it some spiffy combination of the other settings that allow you to focus that


    1. Yes, the 10-24 is considered wide angle… the distortion is definitely the most pronouned in the 10mm shot, and you can really see it when you’re zooming with the actual lens.
      As for the focus, with the 1/200 shutter speed I had (thanks to the flash) I was able to get pretty good focus. I was sitting on the couch, camera was hand held… what kind of apertures are you using? (The f/ number) a smaller aperture (bigger number) will give you a larger depth of field, which will allow a larger area where everything will be in focus…

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