Top myths in photography

Started Feb 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
jrtrent
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Re: 50mm is close to the perspective of the human eye.
In reply to dsjtecserv, Feb 26, 2013

dsjtecserv wrote:

BJN wrote:

The field of view of the human eye exceeds a fisheye lens. What's "normal" about 50mm or so is the perspective.

As has been pointed out several times above, perspective is solely a function of viewing location, and has nothing to do with lens focal length nor the optics of the human eye.

This definition was posted above, and agreed to by our OP:

"A normal lens (i.e. 50mm on FF) covers the field of view of a typical print size at typical viewing distance. Put an 8x10 print to your nose and a 18mm produces natural perspective. Put the 8x10 print across the room and a 400mm produces natural perspective."

If this definition is correct, the natural perspective referred to by BJN is dependent on several variables, including focal length.  A normal focal length lens will most often result in our seeing natural perspective in the image because it is normal for "typical" print sizes at "typical" viewing distances.  Changing the focal length changes the perspective because it is not "typical" to view an 8X10 print at your nose or across the room.  Some research published in the Journal of Vision seems to corroborate this idea:

"Photographers, cinematographers, and computer-graphics engineers create striking pictorial effects. By using different focal length lenses, they can make a scene look compressed or expanded in depth, make a familiar object look natural or distorted . . . We examined the perceptual and geometric bases for why these effects work. We found that people’s preferred field of view when looking at pictures leads them to view long-focal-length pictures from too near and short-focal-length pictures from too far. By following the popular 50mm lens rule of thumb, photographers greatly increase the odds of a viewer looking at a photo from the correct distance, making the percept undistorted. . ." http://www.emilyacooper.org/Emily_A._Cooper/Photographic_Practice_files/cooperpiazzabanks.pdf

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