Telephoto lens compression

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by tom beard, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    In the old days of film, I had a 70-210mm zoom on my Canon F-1. At f-22 I could get great DOF, but an anamorphic distortion of compression. If you shot a long road with telephone poles, even though the poles were quite far apart from each other, they would compress and appear as close as a picket fence (like the famous shot from San Francisco's Nob hill with a tower of the Bay Bridge which although miles away, looked close enough to touch). I can't test this as I live in the mountains where there are no straight long shots. My question is, is a lens a lens and it doesn't matter whether it's on a full frame film camera or a DX digital format? I've been frustrated lately using a 18-105 lens (say) shooting a flower in the foreground with some tall trees about 40 feet away. It's all in focus, but the flower looks like a dot and the shot falls apart. Should I try using a longer lens? (I have a 70-300mm zoom). Would the compression factor come into play here? I will test this, but it's going to be about a week before I can, and I'd like to get into the ball park. Sorry for all the Noob verbiage, but thanks as always. Tom Beard
     
  2. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    If I understand what you're asking (and I'm not sure that I am), wouldn't you have better luck with a wider lens and get right up on top of that flower?

    Compression from telephoto:

    [​IMG]

    Ultrawide angle close to main subject:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    I looked at your photos and the one with the yellow and blue flowers with the mountains in the bkgd is what I was talking about. Although the flowers in the fgrnd were a little oof (on my laptop screen), that is what I'm going for. What lens did you use? Nice shot. Thanks, TB
     
  4. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, that was actually the image I was looking for when I posted these. That was with a Sigma 10-20mm at 10mm on my Canon 30D.
     
  5. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Two points:

    1. What you are describing is not "anamorphic distortion". It is a perceived perspective alteration and is actually not a distortion at all.

    2. What you describe it not caused, at least directly, by the lens, so moving the lens to bodies with differing formats is not directly part of the issue.

    What you are seeing in the telephone pole shot you describe is a result of the relative distances from the camera's postiion and that of each pole. It looks "odd" because a cropped portion of the view is enlarged significantly beyond what is seen with the eye. If you take the same shot with a wide angle from the same position and crop to get the same field of view you will see the same compression of distances.

    Your issue with the flower shot is not directely with the lens, but instead is with your choice of shooting position. To get the result you want you need to ignore the lens, at first, and choose a shooting position that produces the desired relative sizes of flower and mountain. Then, and only then, choose a lens that gives you the desired field of view from that position.

    The only effect the lens has directly is in luring the photographer to shot a subject from a particular postion in order to get the desired framing. It is the shooting postion, and only the shooting position, that controls the perspective (either the "telephoto compression" or the "wide angle expansion").
     

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