Friday, 13 August 2010

Project 1 - Getting to know your camera

I own a Canon 400d and as I have been using it for 3 or 4 years now I like to think I know my camera quite well. I have in the past read the camera manual but I have re-read it for this project and am surprised at the amount of advanced setting details and menu options that I had forgotten about or were too advanced for me to pay much attention to when I first started using the camera. I would recommend to everyone to re-read their camera manual even if you think you already know it.

I usually use Aperture Priority as I like to be in control of  the depth of field in an image and have dabbled with the Manual setting but that is still a bit more hit and miss. I only ever use an auto setting if there is a photo opportunity happening so quickly in front of my eyes that I don't have time to think about the settings. I guess this means I have to keep practising until changing camera settings becomes automatic depending on the setting and effect I want to achieve.

Exercise 1 (1-3 Photographs)

The objective of this exercise is to understand the relationship between the focal length of a lens and the angle of view and to establish what the "standard" focal length is for my camera.

For this exercise I chose to photograph the St Andrews Cathedral and Priory ruins and mounted my camera on a tripod. I chose to take the pictures in portrait format to accommodate the full stature of the ruins. The first photograph was taken with both eyes open as instructed and viewing the scene, one eye through the camera viewfinder and the other viewing the scene directly. The lens was adjusted until both views appeared to be equal in size to give the "standard view". In this instance it appeared to be approx 27mm.
f/22-ISO100 - 1/50 at 27mm
Standard View
f22 - ISO100 - 1/13 at 10mm
Wide Angle View
The second image is the wide angle view taken on a Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm. You can see that the perspective has totally changed and there is much greater distance between the foreground and the distant tower, also the field of view is much greater with the cathedral wall and the tree now visible at the edge of view.

 The final image is the telephoto image taken with a Canon 55-250mm lens at 250mm.
f/22 -ISO100 - 1/13 at 250mm
Telephoto View
The telephoto view gives much less depth of field with the background being out of focus and gives a much closer view than your eye would normally see.

When I printed off the images and returned to the same spot the standard view needed to be held at about an arms length away from my eyes in order to appear the same size as the actual view. The wide angle view had to be held so close to my eyes it was impossible to focus on the scene and the telephoto scene needed to be held so far away it wasn't possible to reach.

So what did I learn?
I now know that the "standard" view for my camera is approx 27mm and that this view of an image is as the eye would normally see a scene. There is no distortion in the perspective or size of objects.

With a telephoto lens at longer focal lengths the field of view is much narrower and depth of focus shallower.

When shooting with a smaller focal length or wide angle lens perspective is altered and there is a wider field of view. Objects appear smaller and the distance between foreground and background is increased.


  1. very interesting, this very first exrecise I've been skipping sofar proves to be quite interesting. I must say your blog is well made and I love St Andrews

  2. Yes, St Andrews is a lovely place - well worth a visit if you've never been.

  3. Great blog and a wonderful learning tool for the beginner on TAoP. As you can probably tell, I am just starting out.