What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

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pascal b
pascal b Regular Member • Posts: 267
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking.. The reference.

And what about the impact of different aspect ratios at the same focal length (2:3 vs 4:3 vs 4:5 vs 6:7 vs 1:1) in terms of "visual sensation"?

Pascal

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Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,517
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking.. The reference.

pascal b wrote:

And what about the impact of different aspect ratios at the same focal length (2:3 vs 4:3 vs 4:5 vs 6:7 vs 1:1) in terms of "visual sensation"?

Pascal

Refer to the Cambridge colour article on  Field of View. Human Field of view varies between individuals and is quite different to the vision of many other species. Proportions, line length and arrangement however do influence our subjective response to the image and this has been known and used by artists since Greek times. These factors are relevant to the proportion chosen. Short zig zag diagonals suggest movement. Long, especially repeating horizontal lines create calm. And so on. Many non figurative modern artists have experimented with using such things to communicate responses with no subject matter at all.

Try this yourself. Have a look at a scene in real life. Note that at any obe time you are only seeing quite a small section of the total field of view in sharp detail. Our eye moves around all over the scene and we build up an impression/interpretation that is actually the sum of many images. Various factors such as sharpness/line/bright and dark and colour can be used by photographers/artists to influence that eye movement and interpretation. Arguably, a computer compilation image is more accurate (if we think of accuracy in terms of copying the human eye and its perception) than an image made with one exposure.

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Mike Fewster
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MiamiDolphin Contributing Member • Posts: 637
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Old jungle saying: the best camera is the one you have with you.

New jungle saying: the best focal length is the one you have with you.

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Trollmannx wrote:

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 recognisable?

Natural size! And 3D.

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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 4,148
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.

Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking and the answer.

Mike Fewster wrote:

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.

We don't even see the picture as projected by the eye. Seeing is a learned process, and all our bodily senses are part of what we see. A lot of the information that is projected onto the cones and rods in the back of out pupils are filtered away before we are aware of what is in front of our eyes, and a lot of memories are added to what we "see" ...

And most important. Seeing is not a static process with a fixed field of view. We don't perceive the world as a series of still images.

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.

The discussion is about "how real are the representation made with photography as a technique? Color? Other aspects that affects the differences between outer reality and the photograph as an object?

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.

Sure. The impression painters tried to represent some aspects about how we perceive - how we "feel" the outer world. I find their approach impressive! So with later development, like Pablo Picasso, that added different moments and perspectives in one and the same frame. And others before and after those, exploring how we experience the world.

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

fferreres wrote:

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).

May great painters make work with distorted perspective intentionally. It is not wrong, it is just different from what we are used with.

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.

Sure, for triggering emotions. But in this respect focus length is NOT used for realism, but to strengthen the story that is told.

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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 4,148
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Magnar W wrote:

fferreres wrote:

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).

May great painters make work with distorted perspective intentionally. It is not wrong, it is just different from what we are used with.

You asked what's natural. Then deviated into the artistic.

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.

Sure, for triggering emotions. But in this respect focus length is NOT used for realism, but to strengthen the story that is told.

It is used for realism. If you are very close, you'd have a perspective of needing a wider FOV. In the first comment you deviate into artistry. And in this second, forget the factual point, that FL communicates distance to subject.

Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

fferreres wrote:

Magnar W wrote:

fferreres wrote:

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).

May great painters make work with distorted perspective intentionally. It is not wrong, it is just different from what we are used with.

You asked what's natural. Then deviated into the artistic.

I am questioning: what is realistic? The perspective of a fisheye lens with correct scale everywhere in the frame, or a reticular lens with straight lines and distorted corners? Even the perspective of objects on the corners of a normal lens is somewhat distorted.

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.

Sure, for triggering emotions. But in this respect focus length is NOT used for realism, but to strengthen the story that is told.

It is used for realism. If you are very close, you'd have a perspective of needing a wider FOV. In the first comment you deviate into artistry. And in this second, you focus on the implications of the factual comment that FL often communicates distance to subject.

There is no simpe or a single true answer to the questions I raised in my OP.

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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 4,148
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

True. What are you expecting out of this?

Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

fferreres wrote:

True. What are you expecting out of this?

To find out how photographers relate to image content, and to question or challenge this "real" or "true" photograph belief.

In discussions, we see how one or a few aspects are discussed to death (like: resolution, noise, color, etc.), without judging the synthesis that make the images.

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Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,517
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking and the answer.
1

Magnar W wrote:

Mike Fewster wrote:

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.

We don't even see the picture as projected by the eye. Seeing is a learned process, and all our bodily senses are part of what we see. A lot of the information that is projected onto the cones and rods in the back of out pupils are filtered away before we are aware of what is in front of our eyes, and a lot of memories are added to what we "see" ...

And most important. Seeing is not a static process with a fixed field of view. We don't perceive the world as a series of still images.

Exactly. That is the point I was making when you asked "what is natural"? It needs more definition. Natural in terms of some objective reality or natural in terms of what an eye sees or in terms of what the brain perceives and in any case, what kind of eye are we talking about?

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.

The discussion is about "how real are the representation made with photography as a technique? Color? Other aspects that affects the differences between outer reality and the photograph as an object?

And the point I was making is that there is no objective reality that is shown in images. images. Images are perceived and therefore subjective. Ref the Cambridge article about what we actually see. Images collected by a lens are not statements of objective reality.

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.

Sure. The impression painters tried to represent some aspects about how we perceive - how we "feel" the outer world. I find their approach impressive! So with later development, like Pablo Picasso, that added different moments and perspectives in one and the same frame. And others before and after those, exploring how we experience the world.

IMHO. not quite. The impressionists tried to show what we actually see rather than what happens once our brain has got to work PP ing the image. It was a direct response to the challenge of photography and photographers who tried to include lots of detail and thought this was "natural" or reality.

I agree with your statements on the post impressionist moderns- they tried to go beyond the impressionists and what the eye sees, or the constructs the brain puts on what the eye has captured.

It's an interesting discussion that goes back to the dawn of photography and also is essential if trying to get one's head around movements in painting.

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Mike Fewster
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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What I think Magnar is actually asking and the answer.

Mike Fewster wrote:

It's an interesting discussion that goes back to the dawn of photography and also is essential if trying to get one's head around movements in painting.

Great, thanks a lot!

I find awareness of photography as a medium so much more enriching than discussions on gear and technique. I am aware that this is a gear site, but since we use out gear for making photographs, why not also discuss the medium we are using?

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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 4,148
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Magnar W wrote:

fferreres wrote:

True. What are you expecting out of this?

To find out how photographers relate to image content, and to question or challenge this "real" or "true" photograph belief.

In discussions, we see how one or a few aspects are discussed to death (like: resolution, noise, color, etc.), without judging the synthesis that make the images.

Ok. But the site is mainly about photographic equipment. Even though there is some, other places would maybe focus more on photography than gear reviews

Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 7,517
I couldn't agree more Magnar (and fferreres)
1

Magnar W wrote:

Mike Fewster wrote:

It's an interesting discussion that goes back to the dawn of photography and also is essential if trying to get one's head around movements in painting.

Great, thanks a lot!

I find awareness of photography as a medium so much more enriching than discussions on gear and technique. I am aware that this is a gear site, but since we use out gear for making photographs, why not also discuss the medium we are using?

Some years ago now I was making similar mumbles on the old Sony pre FF mirrorless forum and out of nowhere I received an invite from Belgium to look at a small forum over in the Oly dpr world. The weekly discussions on that forum are now one of the joys of my photographic life. Equipment is almost never mentioned. It's all about consideration of how an image, or series of images, work. Discussion can go off at many tangents.

If you are interested, drop by.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63406766

Things have slowed right down in the festive season build up so this week's offerings are a bit thin on the ground.

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Mike Fewster
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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

fferreres wrote:

Magnar W wrote:

fferreres wrote:

True. What are you expecting out of this?

To find out how photographers relate to image content, and to question or challenge this "real" or "true" photograph belief.

In discussions, we see how one or a few aspects are discussed to death (like: resolution, noise, color, etc.), without judging the synthesis that make the images.

Ok. But the site is mainly about photographic equipment. Even though there is some, other places would maybe focus more on photography than gear reviews

So the topics should be limited to gear discussions?

Even the news section is sometimes about photographs.

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Magnar W
OP Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 4,456
Re: I couldn't agree more Magnar (and fferreres)

Mike Fewster wrote:

Magnar W wrote:

Mike Fewster wrote:

It's an interesting discussion that goes back to the dawn of photography and also is essential if trying to get one's head around movements in painting.

Great, thanks a lot!

I find awareness of photography as a medium so much more enriching than discussions on gear and technique. I am aware that this is a gear site, but since we use out gear for making photographs, why not also discuss the medium we are using?

Some years ago now I was making similar mumbles on the old Sony pre FF mirrorless forum and out of nowhere I received an invite from Belgium to look at a small forum over in the Oly dpr world. The weekly discussions on that forum are now one of the joys of my photographic life. Equipment is almost never mentioned. It's all about consideration of how an image, or series of images, work. Discussion can go off at many tangents.

If you are interested, drop by.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63406766

I saw this link earlier in your postings here! Thanks a lot!

Things have slowed right down in the festive season build up so this week's offerings are a bit thin on the ground.

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zoomo
zoomo Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Thank you Paul

Mike Fewster wrote:

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?

I'll join the right-club, love my Batis 40 

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goldiethedog Regular Member • Posts: 108
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?
1

Magnar W wrote:

juanmaasecas wrote:

I think it’s been said that around 43mm (as the diagonal of the ff sensor) is the focal lenght that gives the most similar field of view to human vision (not taking into account peripherical vision).

That's how it was explained earlier. But vision is not a static process. So how might focal length relate to perceptual and cognitive experience?

40mm for actual as it looks images, ie raise camera to eye and everything looks just the same distance away.

28mm for the peripheral view.

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Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard Veteran Member • Posts: 3,379
Re: What focal length for the most realistic pictures?

Magnar W wrote:

Trollmannx wrote:

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 recognisable?

Natural size! And 3D.

Did you miss an 8 out in that size?

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