What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

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Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard Veteran Member • Posts: 3,378
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
1

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?

After a few beers the lens baby is probably closest.

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,447
A different perspective

Mike Fewster wrote:

Do you mean a human eye or an insect eye, for example. All vision is subjective. You might be able to produce an image that is as close as you can get to what you saw with your eyes on a particular occasion. Whether that is the same as was perceived by another viewer is a different matter.

It might be argued that a pinhole created image is an objective/realistic image but we are in the realms of philosophy.

There are much talk about "true capture", "true color" etc., on photo forums, so I started this tread to see how photographers relate to different criterias for "true capture" than color. A lot of other aspects of representation could have been added to the list, like the effect of "depth of focus", "the effect of shutter speed compared to what we see", image size versus life size, two dimensional view versus real 4D world, etc. etc. etc.

I don't think many relate to photographs as man made artifacts, as sosial and cultural signs that are read and interpreted - but this is how we mostly use photographs in modern society. But then, photography as a medium is probably of less interest for most photographers, compared to gear and camera technique.

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Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard Veteran Member • Posts: 3,378
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

SonyOB wrote:

DenImage wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

My answer is short and simple: Batis 40mm f/2.0 is the Real Reality lens.

You can disagree but you are wrong.

Nobody would ever disagree with you, because you're always right.

If nobody else owns the Batis 40, then they're all wrong 😏

Congratulations for winning the the DPR tool of the week (again).

Den

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.

As it was inevitable the thread would go this way I feel obligated to join in.

given the desire to join to pieces of wood a nail is actually a tool and the hammer nearly the applicator.  I also have a Batis 40 so feel able to point this out without recrimination as I must also alway be right.

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,447
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
2

Paul Barnard wrote:

After a few beers the lens baby is probably closest.

Or you could use the bottom of the beer bottle as your lens ...

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Lisa O
Lisa O Senior Member • Posts: 2,542
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
2

35mm is the most realistic to me. Though that doesn’t mean it is the best. I have been into photography for many decades and have had hundreds of lenses for me I don’t like 28mm or 50mm focal lengths. If I could only have 2 primes I would pick 35mm and 85mm and be pretty happy. You just need to keep the right distance.

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msstudio Regular Member • Posts: 403
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
2

I have a fun observation: put a zoom on your camera preferably something that covers 40-100mm, for full frame, now open both eyes, one looks through the finder the other one just onto the scene and change the focal length until the image in the finder becomes three dimensional, aka you have the same image angle then your eye that’s not looking through the finder. Titling you’re head or camera might help bringing both outlooks in the same height/level. That’s your natural angle how you see the world.

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Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,508
Thank you Paul
2

Paul Barnard wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

DenImage wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

My answer is short and simple: Batis 40mm f/2.0 is the Real Reality lens.

You can disagree but you are wrong.

Nobody would ever disagree with you, because you're always right.

If nobody else owns the Batis 40, then they're all wrong 😏

Congratulations for winning the the DPR tool of the week (again).

Den

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.

As it was inevitable the thread would go this way I feel obligated to join in.

given the desire to join to pieces of wood a nail is actually a tool and the hammer nearly the applicator. I also have a Batis 40 so feel able to point this out without recrimination as I must also alway be right.

You have solved my quest for a Xmas present for my wife. A Batis it is. Then we will both know that she is right. Do I need to get her a camera as well or will just having a Batis suffice?

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Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

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AZHiker Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

50MM and it's a very common focal length to find.

Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,508
Re: A different perspective

Magnar W wrote:

Mike Fewster wrote:

Do you mean a human eye or an insect eye, for example. All vision is subjective. You might be able to produce an image that is as close as you can get to what you saw with your eyes on a particular occasion. Whether that is the same as was perceived by another viewer is a different matter.

It might be argued that a pinhole created image is an objective/realistic image but we are in the realms of philosophy.

There are much talk about "true capture", "true color" etc., on photo forums, so I started this tread to see how photographers relate to different criterias for "true capture" than color. A lot of other aspects of representation could have been added to the list, like the effect of "depth of focus", "the effect of shutter speed compared to what we see", image size versus life size, two dimensional view versus real 4D world, etc. etc. etc.

I don't think many relate to photographs as man made artifacts, as sosial and cultural signs that are read and interpreted - but this is how we mostly use photographs in modern society. But then, photography as a medium is probably of less interest for most photographers, compared to gear and camera technique.

Agreed. If you find that sort of discussion and interpretation of images, rather than gear, to be of interest, you might like a look at https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63406766

Nominally, this is an Oly forum but the inhabitants don't mind what gear you use, they talk images. In particular, check the "Drawing the Line" shot.

Perhaps it is the approaching holiday season as this week the number of shots up for discussion is very small. Each week the contributors post a new series.

Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

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SonyOB Contributing Member • Posts: 999
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

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"Excuses. That's what you are creative with instead of putting your mind on not needing any".

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Trollmannx Veteran Member • Posts: 6,036
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Discussions are about opinions. When we have facts only there is nothing to discuss...

Guess quite a lot judge a photograph a realistic when what was in front of the camera at the moment of exposure is recognizable and kind of looks like the real thing.

A photograph will always be an after image - the real moment is gone and the captured image is a trace from that moment. So realistic a realistic image might be an image corresponding to the memory of that moment - a tiny snip from past reality - and the lens capturing that part might be the focal lenght for the most realistic image.

Or - as they say - maybe not...

SonyOB Contributing Member • Posts: 999
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Trollmannx wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Discussions are about opinions. When we have facts only there is nothing to discuss...

Guess quite a lot judge a photograph a realistic when what was in front of the camera at the moment of exposure is recognizable and kind of looks like the real thing.

A photograph will always be an after image - the real moment is gone and the captured image is a trace from that moment. So realistic a realistic image might be an image corresponding to the memory of that moment - a tiny snip from past reality - and the lens capturing that part might be the focal lenght for the most realistic image.

Or - as they say - maybe not...

I strongly disagree.
Having facts most certainly does not kill discussion.
Your line of thinking presumes that there is just one set of facts that are valid in material reality. This just is not the case. The real world is an infinitely complicated place.
Multiple truths, even contradictory ones, can and do coexist. In quality discussions we acquire new facts and relate the old ones in new ways.

When I say that Batis 40mm is the most realistic lens, it is meant to be taken as a joke.
If I say that 40mm focal length corresponds to the way I see perspective, I am are onto something. If I continue that I have learned to see perspective through the 25mm Batis in a totally new way, I am bringing in an argument that seeing perspective is something that can be affected by learning.
A cultural thing. Which should not surprise you if you knew that t the basics of perspectives were only characterized in the 1435 book for painters by Alberti.

As to 'realism' or 'realistic' pictures, I am sure that Americans and Europeans would select different ones for each pile. Russians would possibly dig in their Soviet archives. Unless you say (or show an example) of what you consider as a 'realistic' picture, the discussion is of little value if any. (An opinion)

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"Excuses. That's what you are creative with instead of putting your mind on not needing any".

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Trollmannx Veteran Member • Posts: 6,036
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
3

SonyOB wrote:

Trollmannx wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Discussions are about opinions. When we have facts only there is nothing to discuss...

Guess quite a lot judge a photograph a realistic when what was in front of the camera at the moment of exposure is recognizable and kind of looks like the real thing.

A photograph will always be an after image - the real moment is gone and the captured image is a trace from that moment. So realistic a realistic image might be an image corresponding to the memory of that moment - a tiny snip from past reality - and the lens capturing that part might be the focal lenght for the most realistic image.

Or - as they say - maybe not...

I strongly disagree.
Having facts most certainly does not kill discussion.
Your line of thinking presumes that there is just one set of facts that are valid in material reality. This just is not the case. The real world is an infinitely complicated place.
Multiple truths, even contradictory ones, can and do coexist. In quality discussions we acquire new facts and relate the old ones in new ways.

Yes - we can have a discussion based on facts. But discussions usually stems from different opinions, not the facts in themselves.

When I say that Batis 40mm is the most realistic lens, it is meant to be taken as a joke.

Ok.

If I say that 40mm focal length corresponds to the way I see perspective, I am are onto something. If I continue that I have learned to see perspective through the 25mm Batis in a totally new way, I am bringing in an argument that seeing perspective is something that can be affected by learning.

Ok. But realistic is not only about perspective (literally), it is also about color or lack of color (we can even perceive black and white images as realistic), image content, presentation and context. When we see images as realistic it is an illusion, the image is not reality.

A cultural thing. Which should not surprise you if you knew that t the basics of perspectives were only characterized in the 1435 book for painters by Alberti.

That is an early printed text, there were some interesting ventures into perspective advancing this. Yupp, have been trough this one...

Happily knowledge about perception have advanced since then.

As to 'realism' or 'realistic' pictures, I am sure that Americans and Europeans would select different ones for each pile.

Obviously! I would say that Americans are not realistic at all (beeing an European).

Russians would possibly dig in their Soviet archives.

Am not so sure about this one, at least not when it comes to the younger generation (Russia is a neighbouring country, interesting neighbours actually).

Unless you say (or show an example) of what you consider as a 'realistic' picture, the discussion is of little value if any. (An opinion)

Did actually say so, see what is written in my previous post above...

In my case most (not all) discussions are of little value if absolute answers are what is expected. But then I find discussing technical stuff is a bit boring...

Seems like we have different opinions on this topic, we will probably never agree fully, and that is fine because that is exactly what stir curiosity and spur variety and new ideas!

Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,447
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Just as with most of those "color science" discussions. You could bring other aspects of "copying reality" on the list of themes for discussion, and every point would be just as serious or silly.

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SonyOB Contributing Member • Posts: 999
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Not only do we have different opinions, we live in different worlds.

And no, you have not presented anything that would give any idea of what you might regard as 'realistic'.

I was referring to 'Socialist Realism' the praise of mediocricy and ugliness.
It was also meant to be taken as a joke.

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"Excuses. That's what you are creative with instead of putting your mind on not needing any".

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SonyOB Contributing Member • Posts: 999
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Magnar W wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Just as with most of those "color science" discussions. You could bring other aspects of "copying reality" on the list of themes for discussion, and every point would be just as serious or silly.

Color science discussions are higly relevant for people who do reproduction work or catalogs where colors have to be displayed faithfully. This is what I have concluded. Other than that, you go with your feelings and personal preferences.
People are funny: The less they have factual data the more emotional they get.

edit: Badly defined concepts and sloppy thinking stir up the emotions as well.

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"Excuses. That's what you are creative with instead of putting your mind on not needing any".

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,447
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

SonyOB wrote:

Magnar W wrote:

SonyOB wrote:

I made the original silly posting only to point out that to a question like this, all the answers will be opinions. Somebody's "realistic" is just plain ugly and cruel to someone else.

Just as with most of those "color science" discussions. You could bring other aspects of "copying reality" on the list of themes for discussion, and every point would be just as serious or silly.

Color science discussions are higly relevant for people who do reproduction work or catalogs where colors have to be displayed faithfully. This is what I have concluded. Other than that, you go with your feelings and personal preferences.
People are funny: The less they have factual data the more emotional they get.

edit: Badly defined concepts and sloppy thinking stir up the emotions as well.

Did you read my OP?

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Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,508
What I think Magnar is actually asking and the answer.

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?

We need you to add a bit more to the definition here. We have to say something like "what focal length is closest to that of human eyes and the way images made by those eyes are perceived by the human brain." Eyes from different species have different focal lengths and brains  do something like post processing to the images that are formed by the eye. So, I think what Magnar is talking about is the image as perceived by the human brain, not the image as formed by the human eye.

The actual focal length may vary from person to person and even from left to right due and probably changes with age.

The answer is complex. The best summary of it that I know is the article "Cameras v the human eye" from Cambridge colour. The actual focal length of the human eye is about 22mm. What we perceive is quite different for a while host of reasons, the main one being that the surface where the image is formed is curved. 42/50mm is about the range as perceived by most human brains. But the brain gets to work on that image with post processing and how it does that is variable.

Then we have to consider what we effectively see and where we want to draw the line in our definition. The Cambridge colour article is very good on explaining this. Actually, computational compiled images such as those used for hdr shots, macro stacked shots and in top range camera phones, are closer to what our brains do pp to the images from the eye.

This is the challenge taken up by the Impressionist painters (and impressionism was a response to the first photographic images) when they tried to paint what the eye actually saw.

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"
Mike Fewster
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Trollmannx Veteran Member • Posts: 6,036
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

SonyOB wrote:

Not only do we have different opinions, we live in different worlds.

And no, you have not presented anything that would give any idea of what you might regard as 'realistic'.

Do not see images as realistic. Images are representations of something else.

Assume one sees the Eiff (just as an example) and take a photograph.

Is the photograph realistic if it is:

- a sharp and well focused color image?

- a sharp and well focused black and white image?

- an unfocused - taken with a wide angle lens?

- taken with a normal lens?

- taken with a telephoto lens?

- an abstraction, showing traces of the Eiffel Tower?

- an abstract image, where the Eiffel Tower is not recogniseable?

So in my mind there is no way to define what a realistic image is. The question can be discussed, but there seems to be no definitive answer...

I was referring to 'Socialist Realism' the praise of mediocricy and ugliness.
It was also meant to be taken as a joke.

Oh - interpreted the entire post as a joke, my bad... 

What do you regard as realistic?

Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,508
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking.. The reference.

Mike Fewster wrote:

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?

We need you to add a bit more to the definition here. We have to say something like "what focal length is closest to that of human eyes and the way images made by those eyes are perceived by the human brain." Eyes from different species have different focal lengths and brains do something like post processing to the images that are formed by the eye. So, I think what Magnar is talking about is the image as perceived by the human brain, not the image as formed by the human eye.

The actual focal length may vary from person to person and even from left to right due and probably changes with age.

The answer is complex. The best summary of it that I know is the article "Cameras v the human eye" from Cambridge colour. The actual focal length of the human eye is about 22mm. What we perceive is quite different for a while host of reasons, the main one being that the surface where the image is formed is curved. 42/50mm is about the range as perceived by most human brains. But the brain gets to work on that image with post processing and how it does that is variable.

Then we have to consider what we effectively see and where we want to draw the line in our definition. The Cambridge colour article is very good on explaining this. Actually, computational compiled images such as those used for hdr shots, macro stacked shots and in top range camera phones, are closer to what our brains do pp to the images from the eye.

This is the challenge taken up by the Impressionist painters (and impressionism was a response to the first photographic images) when they tried to paint what the eye actually saw.

Sorry, I forgot to add this site reference to my previous post

https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/cameras-vs-human-eye.htm

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Mike Fewster
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