Compression is Real

Started May 26, 2018 | Discussions
jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 5,027
Re: no cropping or stitching
1

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

Donald B wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

Donald B wrote:

You have displayed in the images that the background looks closer to the team using longer focal lenghts.

No, he has shown that when he moves backwards and forwards the proportions between foreground and background changes. The lens and its focal length is only responsible for maintaining framing, i.e. size of the foreground subject.

The proof is easy.

In the position where the 400mm shot was taken, also take a 100mm shot. Crop that last shot to the size of the 400mm shot. You will now see that the cropped image show exactly the same "compression" as the 400mm image.

Regards, Mike

Im only commenting on the images posted . And taken ooc not cropped reducing image quality.

I've been reading photography books for 50 years that talk about the exaggerated perspective created by wide angle lenses and the compressed perspective given by telephoto lenses. My experience in taking pictures confirms what those books have said, and, typically wanting my pictures to have a natural perspective, I shoot almost exclusively with a focal length that is "normal" for the film or sensor size I am using. I dismiss any argument that depends on cropping or stitching to refute the apparent perspective distortion created by wide angle and telephoto lenses because by doing so they negate the differences in field of view that is the primary property of choosing different focal lengths.

The article the OP referred to starts out with, "We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading," and perhaps that is true, but I prefer some of the articles they had in the more distant past. Below is an excerpt from one that was primarily discussing what a normal, or standard, lens is, and explains why I prefer using a normal focal length for most of my shots:

"A telephoto lens, for example, renders distant objects larger in the frame, and has the effect of compressing the apparent spatial relationship between objects. A wideangle does precisely the opposite; in squeezing more content into the image, objects appear smaller and more distant. It's in the happy medium between these two extremes that the standard lens lies; the apparent sizes and spatial relationships between image elements appear natural, and much as they did in real life."

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal. Tamron had some interesting things to say about normal, wideangle, and telephoto lenses, too, though I can no longer find a working link to the article these excerpts came from:

"A focal length approximating the diagonal dimension of the camera’s image plane will render an angle-of-view with negligible magnification—similar to normal human vision. Focal lengths numerically lower than normal will render negative magnification, resulting in wider angles-of-view (wide angle), while those numerically greater than normal render positive magnification, producing narrower angles-of-view (telephoto.)."

"A photographic lens provides a visual effect, making closely located subjects larger while remotely located subjects smaller. As the focal length becomes shorter in a wideangle lens, this perspective difference expands making closely located subjects even bigger and remotely located ones even smaller (exaggerated perspective). In contrast, in a telephoto lens, as focal lengths become longer, less difference is observed between close and distant subjects, making it appear as if they are closer regardless of the distance between them (compressed perspective)."

"Generally speaking, a focal length range that provides a similar perspective to the human eye is considered to be somewhere between 40-60mm."

That last quote referred to pictures made on the 24 X 36mm format. If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm. If not, well, I still see it myself, and so I choose my focal lengths accordingly.

It is an optical illusion.

With both eyes open when zooming out objects that get smaller appear to be getting farther away.

An optical illusion, yes--the items in the real world do not change their size or distance from each other no matter where we stand or what focal length we use.  That's why the quote above uses phrases like "visual effect" and "making it appear as if."  I use a normal lens because it helps make the size and distance of objects in the scene appear in my pictures much as they did to my eyes when I was there taking the shot.  I don't get that effect when using wideangle or telephoto focal lengths.

dmartin92 Senior Member • Posts: 1,919
Re: Saw compression with my eyes

Mike CH wrote:

Did you change any kind of lens or focal length between the observations? Did you even have a lens? I’m guessing you didn’t, at least not every time, right? 😉

No, it was about ten years ago. I didn't even have a smartphone camera with me, those days coming home from work, years ago.

No camera. Nothing, just my eyes.

So what did change? The distance between you, the train and the background, as the train moved closer and closer to you.

I think for people that haven't understood this, they really need to see it with their eyes.

When it was in the distance, the train really did seem short. So short one would wonder how everybody waiting on the platform was ever going to find a place on the train.

But once it was in the station, it was obvious: the train was really long.

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FingerPainter Senior Member • Posts: 7,532
Re: It's worse
3

tbcass wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

It's worse. He tried to show, at least until he deigns to explain otherwise, that it's a function of focal length and not of position.

I didn't interpret it that way because he didn't say anything to clarify.

He called out the different focal length in each shot. He didn't call out the difference in shooting distance.

stevedavidsonphotography Senior Member • Posts: 1,372
Re: no cropping or stitching

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

Donald B wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

Donald B wrote:

You have displayed in the images that the background looks closer to the team using longer focal lenghts.

No, he has shown that when he moves backwards and forwards the proportions between foreground and background changes. The lens and its focal length is only responsible for maintaining framing, i.e. size of the foreground subject.

The proof is easy.

In the position where the 400mm shot was taken, also take a 100mm shot. Crop that last shot to the size of the 400mm shot. You will now see that the cropped image show exactly the same "compression" as the 400mm image.

Regards, Mike

Im only commenting on the images posted . And taken ooc not cropped reducing image quality.

I've been reading photography books for 50 years that talk about the exaggerated perspective created by wide angle lenses and the compressed perspective given by telephoto lenses. My experience in taking pictures confirms what those books have said, and, typically wanting my pictures to have a natural perspective, I shoot almost exclusively with a focal length that is "normal" for the film or sensor size I am using. I dismiss any argument that depends on cropping or stitching to refute the apparent perspective distortion created by wide angle and telephoto lenses because by doing so they negate the differences in field of view that is the primary property of choosing different focal lengths.

The article the OP referred to starts out with, "We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading," and perhaps that is true, but I prefer some of the articles they had in the more distant past. Below is an excerpt from one that was primarily discussing what a normal, or standard, lens is, and explains why I prefer using a normal focal length for most of my shots:

"A telephoto lens, for example, renders distant objects larger in the frame, and has the effect of compressing the apparent spatial relationship between objects. A wideangle does precisely the opposite; in squeezing more content into the image, objects appear smaller and more distant. It's in the happy medium between these two extremes that the standard lens lies; the apparent sizes and spatial relationships between image elements appear natural, and much as they did in real life."

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal. Tamron had some interesting things to say about normal, wideangle, and telephoto lenses, too, though I can no longer find a working link to the article these excerpts came from:

"A focal length approximating the diagonal dimension of the camera’s image plane will render an angle-of-view with negligible magnification—similar to normal human vision. Focal lengths numerically lower than normal will render negative magnification, resulting in wider angles-of-view (wide angle), while those numerically greater than normal render positive magnification, producing narrower angles-of-view (telephoto.)."

"A photographic lens provides a visual effect, making closely located subjects larger while remotely located subjects smaller. As the focal length becomes shorter in a wideangle lens, this perspective difference expands making closely located subjects even bigger and remotely located ones even smaller (exaggerated perspective). In contrast, in a telephoto lens, as focal lengths become longer, less difference is observed between close and distant subjects, making it appear as if they are closer regardless of the distance between them (compressed perspective)."

"Generally speaking, a focal length range that provides a similar perspective to the human eye is considered to be somewhere between 40-60mm."

That last quote referred to pictures made on the 24 X 36mm format. If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm. If not, well, I still see it myself, and so I choose my focal lengths accordingly.

It is an optical illusion.

With both eyes open when zooming out objects that get smaller appear to be getting farther away.

An optical illusion, yes--the items in the real world do not change their size or distance from each other no matter where we stand or what focal length we use. That's why the quote above uses phrases like "visual effect" and "making it appear as if." I use a normal lens because it helps make the size and distance of objects in the scene appear in my pictures much as they did to my eyes when I was there taking the shot. I don't get that effect when using wideangle or telephoto focal lengths.

Like with both eyes open the viewfinder view and the other eye see about the same size objects ?

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stevedavidsonphotography Senior Member • Posts: 1,372
Re: It's worse
1

FingerPainter wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

It's worse. He tried to show, at least until he deigns to explain otherwise, that it's a function of focal length and not of position.

I didn't interpret it that way because he didn't say anything to clarify.

He called out the different focal length in each shot. He didn't call out the difference in shooting distance.

He is trying to confuse the kids ?

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Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 9,631
No, still no

JackM wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

It's worse. He tried to show, at least until he deigns to explain otherwise, that it's a function of focal length and not of position.

He failed.

It's a function of both, obviously.

No, only of the position. Obviously.

Regards, Mike

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jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 5,027
Re: Go out and try it
1

Mike CH wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal.

True, but... Foreground and background change the same in size when you zoom. As long as you remain in place, that is.

Go out and try it out.

So many people refer to old articles they’ve read, things they’ve heard or learned back when. It reminds me of “science” in the dark ages where people would rather interpret yet again what some old Greek has written thousand years ago instead of performing an experiment.

So, go out and try it out, instead.

Going out and trying it is always good advice, and I have done so many times over the years. For example, I once thought of getting the compact package of the Canon SL1 with their 40mm pancake lens, but it would have been a 64mm equivalent focal length.  I used my current camera and a zoom lens to go out and take a lot of different pictures, comparing the 64mm equivalent focal length with my usual 52.5mm equivalent, and concluded that the Canon package would be a little too far outside the bounds of normalcy for me.

How about you? In my previous post I suggested, "If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm."  They don't have to be those exact focal lengths, of course, but have you tried something similar and not seen a difference in how the images look?

When I look at my own pictures, the abnormality of even moderately wide angle and long focal length lenses is easy to see; with other people's pictures, it can be more difficult because I wasn't there when they took the picture and don't know for sure what things actually looked like.  Even so, haven't you looked at a photography exhibit or the challenges here at DPReview and not occasionally been able to say to yourself, "That must have been taken with a wideangle lens," or "I can sure see the compression effect in that photo"?

FingerPainter Senior Member • Posts: 7,532
Re: Longer lens *or* cropping
2

Donald B wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

kiwi2 wrote:

You need the longer 400mm focal length for it to work.

Or you crop. The effect on the so-called “compression” is identical. You loose resolution, yes, but the ‘“compression” is identical.

...

Cant remember. Does the dof stay the same as well ?

If you crop, the DOF gets shallower. That's because to get the same size print from the cropped image you have to enlarge more, and thus blur circles that were just barely small enough to be indistinguishable from points on the print from the uncropped image have been enlarged so they are now distinguishable from points.

Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 9,631
An excellent experiment!
1

dmartin92 wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

So what did change? The distance between you, the train and the background, as the train moved closer and closer to you.

I think for people that haven't understood this, they really need to see it with their eyes.

I fully agree. It’s an excellent experiment and experience.

I wish more people would do an experiment, particularly when it’s as simple as it is in this case, instead of arguing from old books and articles.

Regards, Mike

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jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 5,027
Re: no cropping or stitching
1

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

Donald B wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

Donald B wrote:

You have displayed in the images that the background looks closer to the team using longer focal lenghts.

No, he has shown that when he moves backwards and forwards the proportions between foreground and background changes. The lens and its focal length is only responsible for maintaining framing, i.e. size of the foreground subject.

The proof is easy.

In the position where the 400mm shot was taken, also take a 100mm shot. Crop that last shot to the size of the 400mm shot. You will now see that the cropped image show exactly the same "compression" as the 400mm image.

Regards, Mike

Im only commenting on the images posted . And taken ooc not cropped reducing image quality.

I've been reading photography books for 50 years that talk about the exaggerated perspective created by wide angle lenses and the compressed perspective given by telephoto lenses. My experience in taking pictures confirms what those books have said, and, typically wanting my pictures to have a natural perspective, I shoot almost exclusively with a focal length that is "normal" for the film or sensor size I am using. I dismiss any argument that depends on cropping or stitching to refute the apparent perspective distortion created by wide angle and telephoto lenses because by doing so they negate the differences in field of view that is the primary property of choosing different focal lengths.

The article the OP referred to starts out with, "We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading," and perhaps that is true, but I prefer some of the articles they had in the more distant past. Below is an excerpt from one that was primarily discussing what a normal, or standard, lens is, and explains why I prefer using a normal focal length for most of my shots:

"A telephoto lens, for example, renders distant objects larger in the frame, and has the effect of compressing the apparent spatial relationship between objects. A wideangle does precisely the opposite; in squeezing more content into the image, objects appear smaller and more distant. It's in the happy medium between these two extremes that the standard lens lies; the apparent sizes and spatial relationships between image elements appear natural, and much as they did in real life."

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal. Tamron had some interesting things to say about normal, wideangle, and telephoto lenses, too, though I can no longer find a working link to the article these excerpts came from:

"A focal length approximating the diagonal dimension of the camera’s image plane will render an angle-of-view with negligible magnification—similar to normal human vision. Focal lengths numerically lower than normal will render negative magnification, resulting in wider angles-of-view (wide angle), while those numerically greater than normal render positive magnification, producing narrower angles-of-view (telephoto.)."

"A photographic lens provides a visual effect, making closely located subjects larger while remotely located subjects smaller. As the focal length becomes shorter in a wideangle lens, this perspective difference expands making closely located subjects even bigger and remotely located ones even smaller (exaggerated perspective). In contrast, in a telephoto lens, as focal lengths become longer, less difference is observed between close and distant subjects, making it appear as if they are closer regardless of the distance between them (compressed perspective)."

"Generally speaking, a focal length range that provides a similar perspective to the human eye is considered to be somewhere between 40-60mm."

That last quote referred to pictures made on the 24 X 36mm format. If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm. If not, well, I still see it myself, and so I choose my focal lengths accordingly.

It is an optical illusion.

With both eyes open when zooming out objects that get smaller appear to be getting farther away.

An optical illusion, yes--the items in the real world do not change their size or distance from each other no matter where we stand or what focal length we use. That's why the quote above uses phrases like "visual effect" and "making it appear as if." I use a normal lens because it helps make the size and distance of objects in the scene appear in my pictures much as they did to my eyes when I was there taking the shot. I don't get that effect when using wideangle or telephoto focal lengths.

Like with both eyes open the viewfinder view and the other eye see about the same size objects ?

No, I think that's more a function of the magnification of the viewfinder rather than any relationship to what the pictures will look like.  Besides, my left eye is now cataract damaged to the point that it doesn't see much of anything other indistinct shapes of light and color.

Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 9,631
Of course I have
3

jrtrent wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal.

True, but... Foreground and background change the same in size when you zoom. As long as you remain in place, that is.

Go out and try it out.

So many people refer to old articles they’ve read, things they’ve heard or learned back when. It reminds me of “science” in the dark ages where people would rather interpret yet again what some old Greek has written thousand years ago instead of performing an experiment.

So, go out and try it out, instead.

How about you?

Of course I have.

In my previous post I suggested, "If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm."

Not if I am standing in the same place, I won’t. And I didn’t, in my experiments.

They don't have to be those exact focal lengths, of course, but have you tried something similar and not seen a difference in how the images look?

Correct. As long as I am standing in the same place, and shooting in the same direction, the common parts - there were they overlap - of the images look exactly the same.

It’s first when I start moving around that they start to look distinctly different.

Even so, haven't you looked at a photography exhibit or the challenges here at DPReview and not occasionally been able to say to yourself, "That must have been taken with a wideangle lens," or "I can sure see the compression effect in that photo"?

Of course I have. But my thoughts first go in the direction of “that was too close” or “that was too far away”.

E.g. with many selfies or P&S portraits I can’t immediately tell what focal length was used, but I can tell - because of the big nose, and the small ears - that it was taken far too close for my taste. I have also told people that didn’t like the big nose/small ears that they should try standing a bit further away.

And, lo and behold, what happened? Smaller nose/larger ears. Without any kind of lens or focal length change 😜

And of course I can see what you call “compression” - that change in perspective is very real - I just never attribute it to the focal length, and I am more likely to call it a pleasing perspective  😉

Regards, Mike

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dsjtecserv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,757
Re: It's worse
3

JackM wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

It's worse. He tried to show, at least until he deigns to explain otherwise, that it's a function of focal length and not of position.

He failed.

It's a function of both, obviously.

To be clear, perspective (of which "compression" is one effect) is the size and position relationships among the objects in the field. The framing of the those objects (how wide or narrow a field of view you include them in) is not perspective. Both perspective and framing contribute to the overall look and impression given by a final image. But they are not the same thing, and they are controlled by two independent decisions you make as a photographer.

You choose the perspective of the scene when you choose where to take the picture from. Your choices may be limited -- you may only be able to stand on the sidewalk, or you can't back up without stepping off a cliff, but regardless of how you got there, your position determines the perspective. At that point, your choice of lens cannot alter the perspective.

Once your position is established, you can then make a separate, independent choice as to how to frame the scene, through you choice of focal length. Nothing is dictated -- you can chose short and give a wide view with lots of context, or you chose long and narrow your field of view to just a small part. In either case, the perspective of the scene does not change, just the amount of it that you want to include in the picture.

Now, some people claim that when the choose a long focal length the "have to" move back in order to properly frame their subject, and therefore the focal length determines perspective because it "made me" move to a certain spot. Setting aside the question of why a photographer would feel controlled by his equipment, this argument still misses the point. However you got there, it is the fact that you are at a certain position relative to the subject that determines the perspective; that perspective didn't happen unless and until you actually move to that position. So while you may decide what focal length you want to use first, and then move to the place that gives you the desired framing, it is still the place that gives you the resulting perspective. You are simply giving priority to framing, and accepting whatever perspective results. If that happens to give you "compression" that you like, then you are happy on both counts -- but for different reasons!

Dave

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fatdeeman Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: Saw compression with my eyes
4

dmartin92 wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

Did you change any kind of lens or focal length between the observations? Did you even have a lens? I’m guessing you didn’t, at least not every time, right? 😉

No, it was about ten years ago. I didn't even have a smartphone camera with me, those days coming home from work, years ago.

No camera. Nothing, just my eyes.

So what did change? The distance between you, the train and the background, as the train moved closer and closer to you.

I think for people that haven't understood this, they really need to see it with their eyes.

When it was in the distance, the train really did seem short. So short one would wonder how everybody waiting on the platform was ever going to find a place on the train.

But once it was in the station, it was obvious: the train was really long.

Sums it up perfectly. It's a really good example.
Now, if you want to capture that compressed look in the distance, you would indeed be wise to use a telephoto lens in preference to cropping a wide angle image but the compression was there the whole time. The lens would just enable you to make that part take up the whole picture.
Although people are getting shots that emphasise the compression by taking a tele lens and backing up, they misunderstand what is responsible for that compressed look. The compression was a side effect of moving back far enough to get the framing right. They are basically framing the shot and then the perspective just happens to be what it is.
Understanding it better will enable people to have better control of perspective. Understanding that distance effects the perspective and focal length effects the framing will suddenly give the the power to use the two things in conjunction rather than the perspective just being a consequence of framing.
Again, for a lot of people it might make no difference but the compression they see in the photos will remain merely an observation of something that was coincidental to the framing.

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jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 5,027
Re: Of course I have

Mike CH wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal.

True, but... Foreground and background change the same in size when you zoom. As long as you remain in place, that is.

Go out and try it out.

So many people refer to old articles they’ve read, things they’ve heard or learned back when. It reminds me of “science” in the dark ages where people would rather interpret yet again what some old Greek has written thousand years ago instead of performing an experiment.

So, go out and try it out, instead.

How about you?

Of course I have.

In my previous post I suggested, "If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm."

Not if I am standing in the same place, I won’t. And I didn’t, in my experiments.

They don't have to be those exact focal lengths, of course, but have you tried something similar and not seen a difference in how the images look?

Correct. As long as I am standing in the same place, and shooting in the same direction, the common parts - there were they overlap - of the images look exactly the same.

And I never think in terms of just the common parts, but of the overall effect of everything in the picture.  Do the size and distance of all the objects in the scene look much as they did to my eyes, or don't they?  To my eyes, things only look reasonably normal when I use a lens in the normal focal length range.

A fun thread, but it will likely be filled up before I get back home.

It’s first when I start moving around that they start to look distinctly different.

Even so, haven't you looked at a photography exhibit or the challenges here at DPReview and not occasionally been able to say to yourself, "That must have been taken with a wideangle lens," or "I can sure see the compression effect in that photo"?

Of course I have. But my thoughts first go in the direction of “that was too close” or “that was too far away”.

E.g. with many selfies or P&S portraits I can’t immediately tell what focal length was used, but I can tell - because of the big nose, and the small ears - that it was taken far too close for my taste. I have also told people that didn’t like the big nose/small ears that they should try standing a bit further away.

And, lo and behold, what happened? Smaller nose/larger ears. Without any kind of lens or focal length change 😜

And of course I can see what you call “compression” - that change in perspective is very real - I just never attribute it to the focal length, and I am more likely to call it a pleasing perspective 😉

Regards, Mike

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fatdeeman Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: It's worse
1

dsjtecserv wrote: You are simply giving priority to framing, and accepting whatever perspective results. If that happens to give you "compression" that you like, then you are happy on both counts -- but for different reasons!

Dave

That's what it's all about really.
People are simply observing the perspective that was a consequence of their framing and falsely believing they dictated it with their choice of focal length.
They do end up with a photo with emphasis on the compression but not for the reasons they think.
The same with for example, a telephoto shot of a city skyline with no subject in between. You can take a photo from where you are stood and understand and anticipate that there will be compression but it will be a result of the lens tightly cropping whatever compression is inherent to your distance from the subject. If you want to actively increase or reduce the compression you will have to get moving. If you want to increase or reduce the effect but keep the framing the same you have to alter focal length as a secondary factor and not primary.

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JackM
OP JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,477
You make my point for me.

Great Bustard wrote:

JackM wrote:

The examples of "compression" (or, more appropriately, "perspective") below are due entirely to the position of the camera and positions of elements in the frame. If one had used 100mm from the same position that the 400mm photo was taken from, the "compression" would have been the same, but the framing would have been 4x wider.

Which is a totally impractical, meaningless comparison.

So, for sure, we can say that *for a given framing*, "compression" is a function of the focal length *for a given format*.

There it is. It should go without saying when comparing different approaches to taking a particular kind of picture - a portrait, a group shot, a landscape, etc - that the framing of your subject should remain the same.

The anti-compression camp is only right when you stay the same distance from your subject, and change the focal length. Anyone who thinks it's reasonable to compare a wide landscape with a tight portrait is no longer talking about photography. Anyone who thinks it's reasonable to compare a full resolution image with a tiny crop is no longer talking about photography.

However, the problem with saying that "compression" is due to focal length

Which I didn't say.

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JackM
OP JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,477
Re: No, still no

Do you think an image taken at 100mm and another taken at 400mm, from the same position, are comparable images?

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FingerPainter Senior Member • Posts: 7,532
Re: Go out and try it
1

jrtrent wrote:

Mike CH wrote:

jrtrent wrote:

stevedavidsonphotography wrote:

When you stand in the same spot and zoom in and out everything in the frame will become equally larger and smaller.

And doesn't that echo what the quoted excerpt says? If you zoom wider than normal, then distant things in the scene look smaller and farther away; if you zoom longer than normal, those distant things look bigger and closer than normal.

And yet the relationship of those distant things to the closer things remains the same. Change the distance and the relationship between the closer and distant things changes.

True, but... Foreground and background change the same in size when you zoom. As long as you remain in place, that is.

Go out and try it out.

So many people refer to old articles they’ve read, things they’ve heard or learned back when. It reminds me of “science” in the dark ages where people would rather interpret yet again what some old Greek has written thousand years ago instead of performing an experiment.

Indeed!

So, go out and try it out, instead.

Going out and trying it is always good advice, and I have done so many times over the years. For example, I once thought of getting the compact package of the Canon SL1 with their 40mm pancake lens, but it would have been a 64mm equivalent focal length. I used my current camera and a zoom lens to go out and take a lot of different pictures, comparing the 64mm equivalent focal length with my usual 52.5mm equivalent, and concluded that the Canon package would be a little too far outside the bounds of normalcy for me.

How about you? In my previous post I suggested, "If you take a variety of shots of normal scenes (that is, those with both near and distant items included; not, for example, a brick wall or reproduction of a flat painting) with 24, 50, and 105mm equivalent focal lengths, I think you will clearly see the exaggerated perspective of the 24, the compressed perspective of the 105, and the normal perspective of the 50mm."

Yes, and I use those differences consciously. Always using a normal focal length often makes for boring, un-artistic photography (I know, tell it to HCB).

They don't have to be those exact focal lengths, of course, but have you tried something similar and not seen a difference in how the images look?

I often plan my photos around such differences. In portrait photography I learned to be a liar. I am not often interested in using a normal focal length when I am framing H&S. I want to make the subject look better than that - better than they look in real life. So I take an H&S shot (twice head height in 4:5 aspect ratio portrait orientation) from at least 3m (10') away and use a focal length of around 150mm to 200mm to get the desired framing. If I was interested in accuracy, as for an ID photo, I'd shoot from 1.5-1.8m away (5'-6') and use a focal length of around 100mm. Note that I'm still not using a normal lens. If I used a normal lens (43mm) to get a H&S shot without cropping, I'd have to shoot from about 0.7m (2'3") and I'd get ugly distortion. Note also that the desired effect (compression for flattery, lack of compression for accuracy) drives the distance, and then the distance and desired framing drives the focal length choice. It's a poor portraitist that starts with a focal length and lets it drive the framing or shooting distance.

When shooting landscapes I'll choose the focal length according to the effect I want to achieve. If I want to emphasize the vast expanse of a prairie or desert scene, I'll use a wide or ultra-wide angle lens. If I want to emphasize the height of a distant mountain, I'll use a long telephoto lens.

When I look at my own pictures, the abnormality of even moderately wide angle and long focal length lenses is easy to see;

When I look at tightly framed portraits, the abnormality of using a normal lens is easy for me to see.

with other people's pictures, it can be more difficult because I wasn't there when they took the picture and don't know for sure what things actually looked like. Even so, haven't you looked at a photography exhibit or the challenges here at DPReview and not occasionally been able to say to yourself, "That must have been taken with a wideangle lens," or "I can sure see the compression effect in that photo"?

Yes. But that alone doesn't make them look wrong.

FingerPainter Senior Member • Posts: 7,532
Re: No, still no

JackM wrote:

Do you think an image taken at 100mm and another taken at 400mm, from the same position, are comparable images?

Comparable WRT the relative sizes of objects at diifferent distances, yes. Comparable WRT framing, no.

Mike CH Veteran Member • Posts: 9,631
What were you trying to say?
2

JackM wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

So, for sure, we can say that *for a given framing*, "compression" is a function of the focal length *for a given format*.

There it is. It should go without saying when comparing different approaches to taking a particular kind of picture - a portrait, a group shot, a landscape, etc - that the framing of your subject should remain the same.

And that implies that you have to move your feet, which then changes the perspective.

You can stay in the same place and change lenses the whole day and the perspective wont ever change even the littlest, tiniest bit.

The anti-compression camp is only right when you stay the same distance from your subject, and change the focal length. Anyone who thinks it's reasonable to compare a wide landscape with a tight portrait is no longer talking about photography. Anyone who thinks it's reasonable to compare a full resolution image with a tiny crop is no longer talking about photography.

And anybody who argues geometry and it's consequences - an important part of photography - goes right over your head. So, there. We can insult each other the whole day long, too, if you want...

However, the problem with saying that "compression" is due to focal length

Which I didn't say.

Then what did you say?

Maybe you should try and explain that, again, without being snippish as on your first try.

Nobody - that are clear in their head at least - deny that an effect which you can call "compression" exists. The argument is about what causes it. Hint: It has to do with the position, and not with the lens.

Regards, Mike

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