A Short Course Book
Using Your Digital Camera
A Guide To Great Photographs

Portraits and Focal Lengths

Click to explore how a wide-angle lens can distort a subject.
A long focal length is ideal for portraits, especially for head-and-shoulders portraits. The focal length lets you keep your distance and still fill the viewfinder frame with the subject. Keeping at a distance eliminates the exaggerated perspective caused by working very close to a subject with a shorter focal length lens. It also helps relax your subjects if they get uneasy, as many people do, when a camera comes close.

A long lens lets you get portraits without crowding in on the subject. This lets you capture more natural expressions.

Using a short focal length lens close to the subject adds some distortion to the portrait but it still works as an image. Perhaps not as flattering as it might be, the image is probably more interesting to others than to the subject.

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