17-40-70-200mm Angle of view

A bit of an experiment, one of those things that you think might be a good idea but somehow never get round to.  The objective was to show the effects of using different focal lengths on the same subject and thereby demonstrate the compositional options.

I chose the 8 straw bales as the subject, with the tree in the background as the secondary element, ensuring the bales occupied about the same amount of the frame in each case.  As the focal length increased, I increased the distance from the subject.


17 mm
Forgive the shadow!  The bales are the dominant subject in the frame.


40 mm


70 mm

200 mm
The tree becomes starts to dominate.


17 mm – Position as 200 mm

After I took the 200 mm shot I stayed in the same position and replaced that lens with one of 17mm.  A crop to include just the bales shows that from a perspective point of view the 17mm shares the same as the 200 mm at the same position.

The increase in focal length also demonstrates foreshortening – the bringing together the apparent distance between objects .

——Stephen——–

26 thoughts on “17-40-70-200mm Angle of view

  1. Nice reminder… and a nice trick that is often used to make highways, streets, gatherings look more crowded, a room so much more spacious than it is, in hotels for example and many other situations… 🙂
    But I didn’t know it also made some photos unsharp (last one)…??? Or does that have a meaning I don’t get?… 😉

    • It’s just the centre of the jpg of the 17mm picture attempting to show that irrespective of the focal length the perspective is the same as the 200,, We could enlarge the 17mm and create an image the same as the 200mm, thus doing away with the 200mm altogether – it’s just that pixel pitch/grain makes it unworkable. The unsharp would have shown the pixels more clearly, but I chose a bicubic smoothing option in the upscaling stage.

  2. Very interesting. I can see the 200mm is most balanced between the tree and the bales, but unless I was that distance away to begin with I probably wouldn’t have thought to photograph it like that. Good to keep in mind.

  3. An interesting experiment. Thanks for sharing it. It’s notable that several of the viewpoint/lens combinations yield attractive results, so it can be worth going with whatever lens is currently on the camera should you not be carrying the whole arsenal.

  4. Nice experiment. Yes moving closer to an object does not give you the same composition as zooming in, but I think a lot of photographers aren’t aware of this. Zooming tends to compress the image, bringing distant elements together and is quite useful for juxtaposition.

  5. Yes, I studied these illustrations at the time you posted them. This kind of demonstration is worth a zillion words. Photographers have a strong visual sense so it’s logical that a visual representation is the simplest and most effective method of explanation! Perfectly illustrated here, I might add. Thanks, Stephen. When you comment on my blog, it’s always helpful to me. Thanks for that too! 🙂

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