How To Find The Best Focal Length For Portraits
We’ve all heard the phrase “the camera adds 10 pounds” way too often, but have you wondered why it came about? In 60 seconds we are going to debunk this myth and show you how to avoid that extra weight gain. In this video, we’ll teach you how to find the best focal length for portraits and discuss how focal length affects distortion & perspective
We teamed up with CreativeLive to provide you with these quick & easy tips straight from our Photography 101 Workshop in SLR Lounge Premium to help you master photography one step at a time. Stay tuned for more from this series and watch the rest of our Minute Photography tips here!
Video 1 | How To Find The Best Focal Length For Portraits
Focal length impacts your subject
A lens’ focal length will have a heavy impact on the look of your subject. Zoom lenses like a 24-70mm or a 16-35mm are super versatile but you must be careful when it comes to composition for portraiture. Be sure to frame your subject closer to the center of your frame to avoid any distortion that takes place on the corners of the frame.
Wider angle focal lengths, anywhere from 16-35mm can heavily distort your subject’s appearance. You can see how the above image shows that when subjects are placed towards the edges of the frame there is heavy distortion. Choosing a lens like this for your portraiture can unflatteringly add weight and distort their figure.
What lens should you use for close up portraits?
For close up portraits, a focal length of 85mm and up is ideal, and an 85mm is arguably the most used portrait lens no matter the genre of the industry. Anything beyond 85mm is also acceptable and will do the same job compressing the background with minimal distortion.
Although using wider lenses cause more distortion, they can be used effectively but must be used with purpose. For example, you can use a 35mm lens and shoot bottom up on a subject can give them an appearance of strength in the frame, while shooting vertically using a 24mm elongates the limbs and slenderize figure.
To learn more about how your lens affects your subject, check out Photography 101, where we create consistently incredible images with the most basic of gear. Upgrade to SLRL Premium to stream the entire workshop in full along with our library of invaluable photography education.
Video 2 | How a Lens’ Focal Length Affects Distortion & Perspective
The always educational and entertaining Jay P Morgan is back again with another awesome video on The Slanted Lens. This time, he shows how different focal lengths from 20mm to 200mm will affect how the face will look in a photo and also how the background will change in relation to the subject. It’s really informative and will help you expand your creative choices based on your lens.
So readers, what is your favorite lens for taking photos of people and why?