Perspective distortion primer for portraits?

Started Feb 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Re: Perspective distortion primer for portraits?
In reply to gdanmitchell, Feb 26, 2012

I understand the rule of thumbs, but I want to know more details. Essentially from my reading so far, 50mm to 85 (or essentially 85 - 135 on FF), gives good portrait results because of the distance it forces the shooter to be at for the appropriate framing (i.e. body - head/shoulders). In the end its only subject distance that matters, focal length determine how much I can fit into the frame.

So for my standard zoom I figured a quick way to go about this is to zoom at 55, check that I approximately frame only one body, then zoom out...that means at that point I should be at a correct distance and framing for wider-angle. Obviously the danger to avoid is to shoot too close with wider angle which happens a lot across the dinner table or indoor settings, etc.

However I find all this reading quite useful as before it used to be that people with 50mm's on crop would purely foot zoom to get a head portrait instead of swapping focal lengths. I'm glad I'm covered with a 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, and a fast standard zoom for wider lengths. But I definitely still need practice not only on perspective distortion but the effect of subject distance and the background, etc.

Anyways there is a ton to learn. At first you are told to not just stick in one place and 'zoom', but to learn to move around and foot zoom, but then you realize the reality is you need to learn where to position yourself and what focal lengths to use, not just one or the other.

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