Namibian Dune (from 280 ft)

The Effect of Subject Distance and Focal Length on Perspective (Podcast 568)

Today I explain the effect that changing your subject distance and focal length has on the perspective of the visual elements in your photographs. This is often confused with a change in perspective due to your lenses focal length alone, but that really isn't the case. Let me explain why. I'm...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Oscar.mainframe
    Posted at 05:18h, 16 April Reply

    I always listen to Martin’s podcasts, he explains things in a way that is easy to understand. On top of that he has plenty of pictures to illustrate the topic.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:47h, 16 April Reply

      Thanks Oscar! I’m pleased you found this easy to understand. It took me quite some time to figure this out.

  • Héctor Mario Romero
    Posted at 09:27h, 24 September Reply

    And, which one of the (Tree and plant) photos looks like the real life? At 50mm, 24 or?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:01h, 28 September Reply

      Hi Héctor,

      Generally, people consider 50mm to be the most natural focal length, closes to our eyesight, but it depends on the sensor size as well. The best thing to do is to attach a mid-range zoom, like a 24-70, and start at 50mm, then look through the viewfinder, then move the camera away so that you can see the scene directly. Adjust the focal length until the magnification is the same, and you will be able to see the exact focal length on the barrel of the lens, or take a photo and check the EXIF data.

      I hope that helps!


  • Viraj
    Posted at 14:27h, 26 September Reply

    Hey nice explanation… but one question… can u also explain why subject magnification changes while shooting different subjects at different distance with same normal focal length as observed in your other post…68mm focal length…closer ones appear more magnified…
    And to shoot closer ones at same normal magnification we need lower focal lengths…(varies with distance from 35 to 68mm)
    So our normal view focal length changes with subject distance…

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:51h, 01 October Reply

      Hi Viraj,

      Sorry, but you’re going to have to help me out here. Which “other post” are you referring to?


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