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Insights & Thoughts

You’re Doing It Wrong! Choosing The Right Perspective And FoV For Your Images

By Anthony Thurston on May 27th 2014

We have featured Steve Perry’s wonderful Youtube videos before, and over the holiday weekend he came out with a new one that we thought would be worth sharing. We have all heard the term “Zoom with Your Feet” before, and in this video, Steve shares how to get the right perspective and field of view in your images, and why “Zoom with Your Feet” is a flawed saying.

I have heard photographers talk about “Zooming with Their Feet” so they can use this lens or that lens, because the lens they want to use they don’t have. The fact is though, that really, as Steve demonstrates in his video, it is a very flawed way of thinking. Just look at the image below, a screen grab from the video above, Steve “zoomed with his feet,” yet the shots are wildly different.

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The fact is that different lenses have different fields of view. You are never going to be able to get the same shot with a telephoto lens that you got with your wide angle. You may be able to get close if you are trying to do so with somewhat similar focal lengths, say within 10mm or so, but you will never get the same shot at 400mm that you got with a 35mm – no matter how far you step back.

I don’t know about you, but this video was a little eye opening for me. I was definitely of the “zoom with your feet” mindset, and after watching this video I feel a little silly. The video makes perfect sense, and I had sort of a “Duh!” moment after I got it. If I was thinking this way, then I know that many of you out there were thinking like that as well. Hopefully, you found this video as interesting and informative as I did.

What are your thoughts on this? Was this video eye opening to you? Leave a comment below!

[via Steve Perry’s Youtube]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Barry Cunningham

    “This video does not exist.”

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  2. Yosh

    This is silly, that is not the point of the phrase “zoom with your feet” obviously the perspective is going to change depending on the focal length, the phrase is used by prime shooters that will “zoom with their feet” in order to get closer or further away, no one implied that it would replace the focal length by moving your body.

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  3. Sebastian

    Actually you can create the “60 mm” shot with a 24 mm…. shoot it from the same spot that you used the 60 mm at and crop. You’ll lose resolution though, obviously.

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    • Nick

      Compression is different at 60mm vs 24mm. So even if you crop the two images to the same FOV, they look will be different. This is what the image above, with the cabin and the trees, is trying to demonstrate to you.
      …did you even watch the video?

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  4. Nick

    i thought this was common knowledge.

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  5. Ricky Sharp

    When I first picked up a DSLR a year ago. It came with a kit lens – 18 to 135mm (29 to 216 FF FOV equivalent). I really didn’t understand FOV at all. When creating multiplicity images, I attempted to mix images with different perspective and FOV; bad!

    These days I just a single 50mm prime. While I mostly like the constant FOV, there are indeed times where I do miss a narrower FOV. And sure I will crave an even wider FOV when shooting family vacations.

    For my workflow though with the prime, I’m finding that I only deal with framing since it has a fixed FOV. It does simplify things quite a bit. I mostly shoot still life though, so I have an advantange in that I can move all subjects around.

    For those with zoom lenses, there’s the freedom though of selecting both a good FOV and frame.

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  6. Simi

    Thanks for sharing that was a really great video reminder!

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  7. Matt

    I don’t think that most people who give the “zoom with your feet” advice are ignorant of how focal distance affects perspective. I think they just think that’s a more advanced topic while the “zoom with your feet” advice is more of a beginner trick to get people out of the mindset of taking the picture from where they’re at and just using the camera’s zoom to fill the frame.

    Also, I think it’s worth noting that not everyone has the convenience of always having the “proper” focal length at hand, especially if you’re working with large apertures outside of the range of your typical zoom lenses. So sometimes you just have to make do with the focal length(s) you have with you and find the position that gives you the best shot, even if the perspective isn’t exactly what you wanted it to be.

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