Top 5 Tips for Better Photographs: Tip #4

Real Estate Agent with Ebby Halliday, REALTORS

Kay:  Here again is my assistant Joseph.....


Joseph: Hi Everyone!  Today we'll start looking at a couple of basic things everyone who uses a camera should know.  This tip is called:  




When you get right down to it, there are only a few things you need to know about cameras and lenses, regardless of whether you are using digital or film. In tip 4 we will look at the first of the two most important things you need to know about camera lenses:  


 Focal Length of Lenses:  

Look at the two photographs below:

Difference in Focal Length


These are not my photos and I thank Bartt Buschotts from Ireland for these.  

Both photos were taken from the same spot using an 18mm-300mm zoom lens.  Whenever you hear the "mm" or  "millimeters" of a lens, it refers to the lens's focal length.  Typically, the longer the focal length of a lens is, the longer the lens physically is.  Have you ever seen the photographers at space shuttle launches or sporting events with the HUGE lenses that need a unipod to support?  The heaviest telephoto lens ever was made by famed lensmaker Karl was a 1700mm lens...and weighed 564 lbs!

The top photo is at 18mm (the same focal length I use for most of my real estate shots.  The bottom photo is at 300 mm, and the red lines show you what part of the 18mm view (called the field of view) you are now looking at.

Lenses under 28mm are often called wide-angle lenses.  Lenses 200mm and above are usually called telephoto lenses.  The area inbetween 28mm and 200mm is the realm of the portrait lenses.


Now take a look at the field of view of a 6mm lens, also known as a Fisheye Lens, because the odd-looking lens looks like a fisheye...

Picture produced by a Fisheye Lens


Now go back and look at the 300mm produced photo and compare it to the fisheye.  Both of them distort what you are looking at, but the 300 mm is very subtle.  The fisheye warps everything around a circle........the 300 mm makes the landscape appear flat with little depth. This is what happens when you use a telephoto get to appear closer to what you are photographing, but it makes everything appear closer to everything else than it really is.  This can be great if you are shooting a portrait of someone, or a bird sitting in a distant tree, but not so good for capturing the spaciousness of a house or a majestic landscape.  

That is why for almost all house shots I do, I use an 18-55 zoom lens and almost always have it set at 18mm, as in these two photos: 

18mm shot





   One of the buildings in McKinney's Historic Downtown Square.











Photo with 18mm lens







Formal Living Room Shot of one of our listings










So remember:


1.  Whether its an SLR or a small point in shoot, all lenses have a focal length, expressed in "millimeters". Under 28mm is called a wide-angle lens.  Over about 200 mm is called a telephoto lens.

2. Most lenses today are zoom lenses so the focal length will say something like "18-55 mm"  meaning it is an 18 to 55 milimeter focal length zoom lens.

3. At the extremes, small focal lengths and large focal lengths distort what you see.

4. You decide what focal length you should use based on what you are shooting.   I think most house exterior and interior photographs look best when shot around 18-30mm.  Scenic landsacapes are captured better by wide-angle lenses.  Nature photography is often done with telephoto lenses.   For my "artsy" work I use a variety of focal lengths.


Next Time:  "Open Wide and Show Me Your Aperture" 


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Diane Daley
Caron's Gateway Real Estate - Northumberland, NH

Good infor.... I can always use photo taking tips.. Thanks

Nov 07, 2008 05:02 AM #1
Kaleb Kunz
Logan, UT

Thanks for the tip....just picked up a new camera and am having fun figuring it out.


Nov 07, 2008 05:22 AM #2
Kathy Fey
Fey & Associates - Dacula, GA

The tips are great, however, as hard as I try, I will never be a great photographer.

Nov 07, 2008 06:53 AM #3
Scott Hendrix
Century 21 Select Properties - Knoxville, TN
Realtor, Historic Home Specialist

Guess I need to udgrade my camera!  Thanks for the info.

Nov 08, 2008 10:28 AM #4
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Kay Carlson

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