Proposing a simple shorthand for writing "35mm equivalent field of view"

Started Feb 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
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rossdoyle
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Proposing a simple shorthand for writing "35mm equivalent field of view"
Feb 6, 2013

We are long overdue for a shorthand way of describing lens/sensor equivalent field of view.

We now have a profusion of sensor sizes and lenses to go with those sensors, and adaptors to cross mounts, and now even Speed Boosters to direct more light to a sensor after the lens. But “What does the camera see?” is the important question to understand how to use these instruments. We have managed to get by, saying “35mm equivalent field of view” in various ways over and over and re-explaining when this question comes up.

On this forum and elsewhere we continually see arguments occur when a commenter or magazine article writer or camera advertisement will assume that everyone knows what they mean and will say, “This 200mm APS-C lens gives you 300mm.” Some people, despite understanding perfectly well the writer’s intent, find this egregious disregard of physics unacceptable, and need to point out the writer or commenter has no idea of what they’re talking about, and that 300mm focal length is always 300mm, and that the sensor crops the image. Whether necessary or not, this discussion is inserted just about everywhere.

There is an easy way to stop the confusion and continual re-explanation – let’ just agree on a simple shorthand convention. My proposal is to write, “[X]mme” to mean “[X]mm equivalent field of view on a 35mm format camera.” Thus in the example above, the writer could day “This 300mm APS-C gives you 450mme.” As another example, we won’t have to get indignant when a small sensor point-and-shoot with a 4.3mm lens is advertised as having a “24mm Wide-Angle Lens,” if they would instead say, “24mme Wide-Angle Lens.” When talking about APS-C cameras, Four Thirds cameras, Pentax Q, large format cameras, point-and-shoots of any sensor size, camera phones, Speed Boosters, and so on, this shorthand will similarly help. Is this something we can do?

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