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Old December 22nd, 2016, 10:47 PM
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Your Feet are not a Zoom Lens

It's often said that the best zoom lens is the "foot zoom," the idea being that you are better off sticking with a fixed focal length lens and moving closer with your feet to zoom in. Baloney....

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Old December 23rd, 2016, 02:44 AM
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Re: Your Feet are not a Zoom Lens

One other concept not mentioned is distance compression. Longer focal lengths compress distance of the subject to its relative background. A foot zoom with a shorter focal length will not produce the same effect no matter how much closer you get to your subject.
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Old February 11th, 2017, 06:35 AM
moltogordo moltogordo is offline
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Re: Your Feet are not a Zoom Lens

Can't totally agree. I get much better shots with single focal length lenses and a bit of walking to get better angles, especially on landscape shots. People, not necessarily so.

I selected 100 random landscape photographs of mine, all taken with my Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 lens, the only one of two zooms I've ever adopted as standard equipment. The average focal length used for the 100 pictures was 40mm, roughly 60mm in 35mm land. I could easily have used a long standard lens for all of them.

Of 100 portraits, my average focal length used on the same lens was 55mm, or roughly 85mm in 35mm.

The greatest variation of focal lengths was found in my "in situ" people shots, which would be expected as the environments change constantly in this type of shooting. Here is where I really prefer a zoom lens.

I shoot a lot of landscapes and portraits, on film in both medium format and 4x5 and 5x7. Comparable focal lengths here, as well. Usually a 105 or even a 135 on my Mamiya C330, and a 210 or 240 on 4x5. If nothing else, it shows that my vision of the final picture is constant. I seldom crop much. I also seldom use wide angle lenses. I just seem to prefer the selectivity of a slightly long normal perspective.

As far as compression is concerned, here is a landscape I took with my Pentax K10 and a 400mm f5.6 Tokina lens, from almost 1/4 mile away. I'd be very interested to see anybody duplicate this perspective "flattening" with a wide angle of any type from any distance. Yeah, yeah, I know the arguments, but bumblebees don't fly, right?


Last edited by moltogordo; February 11th, 2017 at 06:49 AM.
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