New Video Tutorial On How Sensor Size Affects Focal Length

August 19th, 2013

Simon Maxwell, our man in London, has just released a brand new video tutorial on how sensor size affects the effective focal length of your lens.

This subject is a huge issue when you are getting started in interior photography in that the less expensive DSLRs that a beginner will want to purchase will have a telephoto effect on the focal length on your lens because the sensor size is smaller than a Full Frame sensor.

So if you are just getting into real estate photography you need to watch and understand Simon’s tutorial. Cropped (small) sensors are why 18-55mm kit lenses that come on new low end DSLRs sound like a wide-angle lens, but are effectively 28.8-88mm lenses on Canon bodies and 27-82.5mm lenses on Nikon bodies.

Besides watching don’t forget to click the like button on YouTube, and if you enjoy Simon’s tutorials be sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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9 Responses to “New Video Tutorial On How Sensor Size Affects Focal Length”

  • I know some people are switch to mirrorless cameras in 4/3 and APS size sensor sizes. I understand that without the mirror and the fact that the lens is mounted closer to the sensor that the smaller sensors yield results on par with DSLR until you start to print at very large sizes. Anyone have experience with this?
    BTW, I have been using a Canon 6D as a replacement for the 5D MkII and I am getting better image quality. Anyone else using the 6D?
    Thanks again !
    Ron

  • @Ron

    This is off-topic, but do you use Wowslider on your home page?

    Back to on-topic. For those of you who started on crop frame and upgraded to full frame, what was your deciding factor in making the investment?

  • I’m using a Canon 7D with a sigma 8-16mm Sigma lens. It’s the widest I could find with the least amount of distortion for a crop sensor camera. I’ve never used a full-frame body so maybe someone can help clear this up, but is there inherently more distortion with a 8mm lens on a crop sensor than there would be a 13mm lens on a full-frame? (8mm x 1.6 crop factor = approx 13mm)

  • David : one issue is lens coverage : on that basis the 8mm on cropped sensor should perform as well as the 13mm on full frame: it’s not being stretched beyond what it was designed for. But when it come to distortion, my feeling would be that the manufacturers are going to put their best glass (and R&D) into lenses aimed at the full-frame market which of course caters to many professional shooters. Canon’s L series lenses for example. So on that basis you could see some distortion/ loss of edge detail with a cheaper lens on the small sensor vs a more pro-spec lens on full frame. But in terms of its intended circle of coverage it should be able to cope with the sensor size it is marketed at. Remember that lightroom lens profiles can take care of a lot of distortion/ vignetting issues : it can’t redeem poor image quality though, which would result if using a cropped sensor designed lens on a full frame camera.

  • Jeff: I started out with a Canon APS C sized body and kit lens and realised pretty early on that I wanted access to better pro spec L series lenses, notably Canon’s tilt shift lenses, which at the time were only as wide as 24mm (the 17mm came later) plus the 17-40 L series zoom they offer: neither of these of course were wide enough on the small sensor camera, with its 1.5/1.6 multiplication of effective focal length. Sigma offered a 10-22 zoom which would have taken care of things but at almost the price of the 17-40 canon. So basically a need for better, specialised pro optics with ultra wide options pushed me down the full frame route. In comparison tests I also realised that the bigger full frame sensor produced better quality image files, with more potential to carry out big RAW adjustments, like shadow lightening and highlight retrieval. I should stress that competent RE work certainly does not require a full frame sensor, and full frame in the wrong hands does not make for good interiors shots! It was more a future proofing exercise as I wanted to have two camera bodies to be safe and I knew oneday I’d want to own pro system lenses.

  • David, distortion (at least the stretching that we care about most) is a function of field of view, and not focal length. Field of view is determined by the focal length but also by the distance to the film/sensor. Thus, a 50mm lens would be “normal” on a 35mm SLR camera, but would be ultra-wide (and distorted) on a large-format camera.

    It’s also inherently more difficult to make a quality lens at 8mm than it is to make one at, say, 24mm. The more extreme the focal length, in either direction, the more challenging it is for lens manufacturers. It was the advent of full-frame sensors that really made Dslrs viable for architectural work because we were then able to use “reasonable” focal lengths with excellent quality (like the Canon 24TS) to achieve wide fields of view.

  • Jeff,
    I do not use WowSlider, my website is an HTML 5 site I created using the PhotoBiz.com platform.
    I have, however, used WowSlider in creating two websites recently for interior design clients. If you are creating a website using WordPress I highly recommend the WowSlider.

  • what would be a good recommendation for a wide angle lens to shoot walk through style video tours using a GH3 with its MTF lens format? I would like to be able to emulate the type of wide angle footage perspective Fred Light achieves with his Nashuavideotours. Fred is the master of this style of real estate shooting style as I’m sure many would agree. Anyway, Fred seems to use Cannon full frame cameras so it may not be posable to achieve his same wide angle results with my equipment but I would like to get as close as posable using the right lens with my MTF camera which really does some very nice video.

  • Please forgive my previous post mistake which should have read “my MFT” or micro 4/3rds camera not MTF. I’m afraid my pain killers for my dislocated shoulder had already kicked in last night when I wrote that. ????
    Anyway, if someone has any MTF wide angle lens suggestions and of course experience that they have had with lens aperture when filming interiors please let me know.

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