What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 3,748
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Magnar W wrote:

Color is often described and discussed in terms of “good” and “bad”, or lifelike or not. “True color” might be a reasonable goal for some kind of work, like reproduction of artwork or color of products like clothes, makeup and furniture and other products that are advertised. But for most photography, descriptive as well as expressive, the pictures are independent objects that are viewed and interpreted without a direct connection to the scene than was photographed. In photography, color is mainly used to trigger emotions, more than judged against what was the “real” hue or tint. Just look at how people pump up saturation and add yellow to sunset scenes, or reduce saturation or add blue to pictures that are mainly intended to affect emotions.

With this in mind: What is the best focal length to record the “true” or “real” outer world?

All, except maybe rectilinear ultra wides because we experience a field as mapping the image into a sphere (mental representation may not be a rectangular paper, which is why perspective, in drawing, needs to be taught, but you'd immediately know if something is done with a very wrong perspective).

Because we have memory, in a way, we can stitch photos to a sphere of sorts, to simplify, although it may fade fast as an image.

So FL is more about communicating distance to subject, where shorter FL will signal being close, and longer FL would signal not being close to the subject. If it's a beautiful model, a shorter FL may create more intimacy feeling, and if it's a long FL, would create more distance and reduce any effect of perspective.

Another factor, related to the FL, is what is the natural blur. While all could be pleasing or artistic this one has a more real limitation. The DOF and blur that would look more natural would need to be the one expected from the distance to the subject, for a lens not too far from 40mm between what an aperture of 5.6 to f8 would give, for the different distance to subjects. However, since we have an attention mechanism, we can also use slower apertures, since we'd be ignoring what we don't pay attention too. In addition to that, we can mentally "focus stack" to some extent, so focus stacked things may look natural. What aperture are these? These break the mold, right? But anything with a DOF much thinner than what a 40mm lens would give from 5.6 to 8 or a bit more for each distance to the subject, would look less natural.

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