Skip to main content

Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 3 of 58

Focal Length: Angle of View


Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 3 of 58

Focal Length: Angle of View


Lesson Info

Focal Length: Angle of View

All right. So that kind of brings us all up to date on the basic. And we're gonna be talking about angle of view, what we see with our lenses, and we all know the basics. Probably about okay, we're going to see this different angle of you, But really, understanding this is important to choosing the right lands and knowing how toe work with it in the field and how to get the most out of it. So, as we mentioned, is our normal ends, and then we're gonna be exploring the world of white angle moderate, wide, pretty wide, ultra wide. And canon has recently brought out an 11 millimeter lens, and I've had a good chance to use it. And so we're gonna have some fun examples with what you could do with an 11 millimeter lands. A lot of great ranges in the telephoto will be going up 102 104 108 100. And I've chosen these numbers because great advice that I heard from a photographer a long time ago. I don't know if it was in a book or somewhere, but if you have a focal length and you want the next f...

ocal length, up or down, it's often good just to double the number. And so if you're at 50 and you want something, that's kind of like noticeably, a step beyond just double the number. And so that's why I've chosen 5100 204 108 100. It gets a little different when you get below 50 because the changes become incrementally greater. And so there's a huge difference between 11 and 16. Way can't cut this one in half, and so it changes a little bit down here. But up here, doubling the numbers is gonna be the next big step. So when it comes to angle of view, there's a number of ways that you will see it measured. One way would be diagonally. What's the most we can see from corner to corner? And I don't think that's very easy to work with. You could do it vertically for me, logically thinking most of us hold cameras up in a horizontal position. What do we see from side to side? And so that's what we want to talk about first and the best place that I have found to really shoot all the different lenses is on this road leading to Monument Valley. And I went down there with a full collection of lenses to shoot it all different focal links to really show you what each of these lenses dio. And so if you were to stand out in the middle of the road like I did, which you can only do for about 10 seconds because there's cars constantly coming by this road. Uh, with the 50 millimeter lens, this is a very normal point of view. Now, just in case you're wondering, there is a sign off to the right of the road and it's exactly where they filmed the scene in Forrest Gump. And so there's a great little movie location for those of you who saw on Enjoyed Forest got so in a case, millimeter lands. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna bring a little bit of help, cause I know a lot of you are using crop sensors, so pay attention to the right hand side if you have a 1.6 crop sensor in your camera, because these are the focal links that you would need in order to get this image. The full frame users are going to use this. Remember their equivalent? They're not exactly the same. But this is basically what you would need in order to get this angle of you. Now, as we go through this, I'm gonna add in some technical information over on the left. So if you want to pay attention to what angle of view are we going to see from side to side? Will have this over here and you can pay attention to that or not. So let's go down the wide angle. So 35 moderately wide lens were seen. Maura. Little bit from side to side. Very good documentary lens. We'll talk more about each of these as we go into further sections. I really love it. 24. Now we're into the heart of wide angle territory. Let's go into the world of ultra wide angle at 16 millimeters. Noticed the foreground. Notice how prominent the foreground is and how quickly the road is falling off and tapering into a very narrow strip in the back. Let's go all the way back to and now the road is even larger for how small the road has got All right, so we have an 11 millimeters. This is This is a new kind of exciting lens. There is no seven millimeter lens that you can get. There is a signal eight millimeter lens that you can get so you can get pretty close to this. So let's just kind of review back where we started from. And so here are the frame lines that I often have in my brain is I'm looking at scenes and photographing. I wish I wish I had glasses that could have a switch, and I could just instantly see. But sometimes they just have to hold my hand out to see what I want in the frame. And so that's 11 to 50. So let's kind of work our way back up and just kind of make our way up to 50 and then we're gonna move on to telephoto. And so each of these kind of has a distinctly different flavor. And chances are that once you get a chance to use thes, you're going to develop favorite focal ings places that you really find match your style of photography. Alright, so back at 50 let's move into the telephoto range. And so we often use the term bringing our subject closer. And obviously we're not paying the subject closer. We're just using a narrower angle of view, and there's multiple reasons that we're going to be doing this. Sometimes it's just very far away, and we need to be able to get. We want to get a closer look and so we're zooming in on our subject. So up here it 401 of the biggest lenses that most people are likely toe, hand hold all the way up at 800. Now, I've been using this Siris in classes for a couple of years ago when I actually went back to reshoot this because I had the 11 and 800. So I had to go back here and reshoot this. And one of the things that I have been talking to students about was Okay, You see this car on here? How far is the car from this Mountain Butte in the background, And I would told people that it was about a mile away, which I thought was a pretty far distance. Well, I actually drove the road and I measured the distance all the way back to the mountains. The car is five miles from the mountains and this is in effect that we call compression. And we're gonna talk more about it later in this class. And as we zoom back to 50 just kind of wanted to our personal note. This series of images took me two days to shoot, and the reason it took me two days to shoot is because this has become a very popular tourist spot for people to come and take photographs in the middle of the road. And I would wait off to the side of the road and it was just the strangest thing because people would drive up and it was the same thing. Every time. Ah couple drives up in the car, the guy gets out, he takes a photo, the girl gets out, she takes a photo. He gets out in the middle of the road, takes a photo, she gets out in the middle of the road. He takes a photo of her, she takes a photo of him and then they have to set up the camera. They do a self timer shot. They do a jumping shot. They do a running shot. He's down in the back to the road and they spend 45 minutes doing this while I'm waiting for them to clear the road so I can get my shot. And that's why it took me two days to get these shots besides that and all the other cars coming down the road. So back here at 50 we can see our 102 104 108 100. And that's the little collection that you kind of need to be looking at the world with. What am I going to see from this point of view? And so I think that's kind of helpful to kind of run through it like that so we can see what it looks like in one place that it's very easy to imagine. All right, so let's talk about the normal lands. millimeter, Lance, What do we see from side to side? Here's our horizontal angle of you. Let's bring them all out together. You know what? We're gonna see this again. Some point we're gonna see this real world at some point, all right? And so let's bring out the tele photos. And so it's good to get very familiar with this. So these numbers on top are for those of you with the full frame sensor. And I know a lot of you have the crop frame sensor, so we're gonna bring the numbers in on the bottom as well. And so if you want this angle of you and you have a crop frame sensor, look at the focal length numbers in blue. Those are the lenses that you would need to do whatever it is that that plans is doing now, let's let's get rid of the camera and talk about the way we see with our own eyes. All right, what focal length is our own eyes? That question has been asked because we can measure the size of right now we can measure the size of our lens, and we can determine what size lens we have on our own. I How do we see the world and why does the camera see things differently? Well, first off, we have a retina that covers the back side of our eyeball, a huge rage. And when light comes in through the front of the lens on her eye, we see this huge angle of view from side to side. And it's the equivalent of a five millimeter lands 150 degrees with one eye when we had two ice, then we get about 100 80 degrees. But with one eye, it's about 150 degrees. Everything now we don't see very well way off to the side, like I couldn't read a book over here. All right, that would be rather difficult. I could see that there's something over there, but that's because the retinas, the retina and our I is not equal in all areas in the back of the eye is a phobia. And this is where the rods and cones on our in our retina are really tightly packed. And this is where we see details. So we focus in on a detail. Look at this little tiny thing here. We're looking at it with our foe via, and this is the equivalent of about a 25 100 millimeter lands, which is a one degree angle of view, and that's what we're gonna be using when we read. When you read, you have to look at the words. You can't look three or four lines above or below. You have to look at the words because that's what we're pointing our foe via at, so that we can get the greatest sharpness and detail in now. These rods and cones on the retina get more and more densely packed as they get closer to this phobia. And there's an area called the Central Retina, and it's where they are pretty highly dense and where we see very, very clearly, and I kind of think of this central retina area as our movie sitting distance. You know, when you go into a movie theater and you choose where you want to sit, most people don't want to sit right up front because they're angle of view is this and they have to look back and forth to see the whole screen, and everyone's eyes were slightly different. Some people feel a bit more comfortable right here because they don't have to scan back and forth to see the movie. And so the central retina area covers an area very similar to a 38 millimeter land. Sounds is gonna vary from person to person, so let's bring our camera back in. So what do we see, we have 38 millimeter lands angle of you. OK, so is in some senses. That's our normal angle of view. One way of determining the normal angle of view is to take a look at the sensor that you have measure it from corner to corner and that, in this case, millimeters is your normal angle of view. And so a lot of people would consider from a technical perspective for a full frame camera. A normal lands is a 43 millimeter lens, and I know there's been a number of manufacturers that have made 45 millimeter lenses. Teoh kind of get as close to this while staying on kind of nice, rounded numbers on it. And that's ah, what we do when we get to 50 millimeters and so you could choose a 27 millimeter lands if you have a crop frame camera. As I said, we tend to like to round things off, have nice even numbers. And so the 50 Millimeter Lands is what is known as the standard lands because it's a nice, even rounded number pretty close to 38 it's technically a short little telephoto lens. So 35 are most common numbers that we're gonna have for our normal lenses, and those are the 1st 2 lenses that we're gonna look more closely at.

Class Description

Working with interchangeable lenses can be both exciting and daunting to all levels of photographers. Canon® Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will prepare you to select the right lens and get the most out of all of your lens investments.

John Greengo is the master of making complex photography concepts easy to understand and in this class, he’ll bring all of your Canon EOS DSLR lens options and operations into focus. 

You’ll learn about: 

  • Focal length and aperture
  • Canon zoom lenses
  • Which lens accessories to buy
  • Third-party lenses
  • Maintaining a lens system

John will cover the full range of Canon lenses, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto, zooms to primes, fisheye to perspective control. You’ll learn how to match the right lens to your needs and get insights on the best ways to use it.

Whether you are thinking about buying a new lens or just want to get the most out of what you already have, Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will help you out.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Canon Lens Basics

    John Greengo gets you up-to-speed on the basics of working with interchangeable Canon® lenses.

  3. Focal Length: Angle of View
  4. Focal Length: Normal Lenses
  5. Focal Length: Wide Angle Lenses
  6. Focal Length: Telephoto Lens
  7. Focal Length Rule of Thumb
  8. Field of View
  9. Aperture Basics
  10. Aperture: Maximum Aperture
  11. Aperture: Equivalent Focal Length
  12. Aperture: Depth of Field
  13. Aperture: Maximum Sharpness
  14. Aperture: Starburst Effect
  15. Aperture: Flare
  16. Aperture: Hyperfocal Distance
  17. Camera Mount System
  18. Canon Lens Compatibility
  19. Canon Lens Design
  20. Canon Lens Composition
  21. Canon Lens Shape
  22. Canon Lens Coating
  23. Canon Lens Focusing
  24. Lens Autofocus
  25. Canon Lens Image Stabilization
  26. Canon L Lenses
  27. Image Quality
  28. Canon Zoom Lenses: Standard
  29. Canon Super Zooms
  30. Canon Wide Zooms
  31. Canon Telephoto Zooms
  32. Prime Lens: Normal Lenses
  33. Prime Lens: Moderate Wide
  34. Prime Lens: Wide Angle
  35. Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide
  36. Prime Lens: Short Telephoto
  37. Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto
  38. Prime Lens: Super Telephoto
  39. 3rd Party Lenses Overview
  40. 3rd Party Prime Lenses
  41. 3rd Party Zoom Lenses
  42. Lens Accessories: Filters
  43. Lens Accessories: Lens Hoods
  44. Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount
  45. Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes
  46. Lens Accessories: Extenders
  47. Macro Lens: Reproduction Ratio
  48. Macro Lens: Technique and Choices
  49. Fisheye: Technique and Choices
  50. Tilt Shift: Techniques and Choices
  51. Make a Lens System Choice
  52. Choosing A Portrait Lens
  53. Choosing A Sports Lens
  54. Choosing A Landscape Lens
  55. Best Lenses for You
  56. Lens Maintenance
  57. Buying and Selling Lens
  58. What is John Greengo's Favorite Lens?



I so appreciate what a good teacher John is. I wish I would have known this much about lenses when I first started out buying my lenses. It was hard finding information about lenses. I didn't want to spend money on a lens I wouldn't use. The better understanding we have about our gear the better photographers we will be. I have never seen a class like this. Invaluable...yes I bought the class! I am really impressed with the high quality photography classes available on Creative Live!

a Creativelive Student

Have loved the other John Greengo classes I've watched & purchased - and this is another winner! Having been a high school/college science teacher, it is refreshing to take a course with someone who not only is extremely experienced, seems to be a computer having stored so much knowledge, but is equally concerned about making the information truly understandable to different levels. And he shares the information using every tool he can: slides, video, interactive presentations, and great quizzes. I learned so much about my Canon lenses - and lenses in general with their many components. I am excited about testing each of mine to see what macro ratio they handle, and especially appreciated the tutorial on testing each for their specific quirk that affects super sharpness. This class is great whether you own Canon lenses or not. Thanks John Greengo!


This was a great class not just about the lenses that Canon offers but also how each lens works. As usual, John's slides are alway informative and entertaining. There is a phrase: John has a slide for that! I am not even a Canon user and found this class to have great information for the use of each specific lens. Great work John! Thank you Creative Live for another great class!