Debrief of Section 1 – The Lens Matters

OK. I hope you’ve figured out the difference between the 2 photos.


Picture 1


There are a few differences, which I will point out.

First is the background….

In Picture 1, you can see more of the background (the fan, the roof, more wall). Contrast that with Picture 2 where the background view is limited.

Second are the facial features….

In Picture 1, all of Stevie’s facial features are distorted. The nose looks big and appears to be jutting out. The shape of the face is unnatural. The earls looks like its been stapled to the head and the forehead is more prominent.

In Picture 1, Stevie’s facial features are more pleasant and appear more realistic.

Remember, there was no cropping done to either image. How is this possible?

Well, this is one of the most common mistakes people make when taking pictures of people and it’s due to that thing called the zoom lens which almost all digital compacts and all dSLRs comes with in terms of the kit lens. I see my friends take the pictures and make this mistake all the time. So what is the mistake and how do we rectify it?

The answer is simple. If we go back to the 2 pictures, Picture 1 was taken with my kit lens zoom set at 18mm and I went really close (about 1 meter) to ensure Stevie would fill the entire frame. Picture 2 was taken with the kit lens set at 55mm and I had to move back about 3 meters to fill the frame in the same proportions as the first Picture. So, the mistake people make is instead of taking pictures at the 55mm end of their kit lens (or the equivalent in digital compacts), they get lazy and just zoom out to take the picture. The better way if you want to reduce distortion is to use the best zoom available, which is to keep the zoom at the longest end and USE YOUR FEET.

Not convinced? I’ve taken a series of pictures to show you the effect….


Kit lens at 18mm


Kit lens at 24mm


Kit lens at 35mm


Kit lens at 55mm

And for good measure, I’m also including pictures taken with a longer lens…


Longer zoom at 70mm


Longer zoom 95mm


Longer zoom at 135mm


Longer zoom at 200mm

You could say that I am obsessed about having the longest (lens that is) and this is exactly the reason why. My favourite lens when taking portraits of people is the 85mm f/1.2 L but I only allow myself to take half body shots with them. If I wanted to take shoulders and face or even face only I will whip out my long zoom and go to the 200mm end. Even as we write I am considering getting an even longer lens for portraits focusing on the face. If you use this tip, your portrait will look better and you’ll be able to capture your loves ones better…….

Click here to go back to Section 1 – The Lens Matters


One response to “Debrief of Section 1 – The Lens Matters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: