When working on a video or photo project, it’s usually important to get a wide variety of shots. One of the best ways to do that is by mixing up the shot type – wide shot, medium shot, close up, extreme close up, etc. This is typically done by changing the focal length of the lens being used.

Focal Length

Focal length is the distance between the optical center of a lens and the camera’s sensor. The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view will be, and the longer the focal length, the more narrow the field of view will be. So, a wide-angle lens will have a short focal length, and a telephoto lens will have a longer focal length. Different types of lenses are useful for different situations, so it’s important to have the right lens for the job!

However, one common misconception about focal length is that it affects perspective. Many people assume using a wide-angle lens will also give a wider perspective, but this isn’t true. In fact, if you were to take a photo using a wide-angle fisheye lens, then crop the image so that it has the same field of view as a telephoto lens, you’ll see that the perspective is exactly the same.

Focal Length And Perspective Example 1

These photos were taken with four different lenses: 85mm, 55mm, 25mm, and 15mm. Cropping in so we have the same magnification in each image, we can see that the perspective does not change at all, even on the wide-angle lens!


Perspective shifts when you change the distance between the subject and the camera, and not when you zoom in and out. This also means that zooming in to take a photo of a subject will not look the same as moving closer to the subject. When you move the camera, the perspective of the image changes, not just the magnification. Different perspectives can drastically change the spatial awareness between objects in the scene, and doing that can have a profound impact on the effect an image has on the viewer.

Focal Length And Perspective Example 2

Here we have two images, one shot at 85mm (left) and one at 25mm (right). When shooting the 25mm, we moved the camera closer so that Uncle Bones would be roughly the same size in the frame. Here you can see the drastic difference in the two perspectives – so much more of the background environment becomes visible by using the closer perspective. This is due entirely to the change in perspective (standing closer to the subject) and NOT because of the lens!

Because of this, it’s important to have the right equipment at your disposal, as well as the understanding of different focal lengths and perspectives in order to ensure your images are communicating exactly what you want them to! At Vervocity, we provide exactly that. Contact us today and let’s chat about your professional photography or videography needs.