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Focal Length: Normal Lenses

Lesson 4 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

Focal Length: Normal Lenses

Lesson 4 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

4. Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Canon Lens Basics


Focal Length: Angle of View


Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Focal Length: Wide Angle Lenses


Focal Length: Telephoto Lens


Focal Length Rule of Thumb


Field of View


Aperture Basics


Aperture: Maximum Aperture


Aperture: Equivalent Focal Length


Aperture: Depth of Field


Aperture: Maximum Sharpness


Aperture: Starburst Effect


Aperture: Flare


Aperture: Hyperfocal Distance


Camera Mount System


Canon Lens Compatibility


Canon Lens Design


Canon Lens Composition


Canon Lens Shape


Canon Lens Coating


Canon Lens Focusing


Lens Autofocus


Canon Lens Image Stabilization


Canon L Lenses


Image Quality


Canon Zoom Lenses: Standard


Canon Super Zooms


Canon Wide Zooms


Canon Telephoto Zooms


Prime Lens: Normal Lenses


Prime Lens: Moderate Wide


Prime Lens: Wide Angle


Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide


Prime Lens: Short Telephoto


Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto


Prime Lens: Super Telephoto


3rd Party Lenses Overview


3rd Party Prime Lenses


3rd Party Zoom Lenses


Lens Accessories: Filters


Lens Accessories: Lens Hoods


Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount


Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes


Lens Accessories: Extenders


Macro Lens: Reproduction Ratio


Macro Lens: Technique and Choices


Fisheye: Technique and Choices


Tilt Shift: Techniques and Choices


Make a Lens System Choice


Choosing A Portrait Lens


Choosing A Sports Lens


Choosing A Landscape Lens


Best Lenses for You


Lens Maintenance


Buying and Selling Lens


What is John Greengo's Favorite Lens?


Lesson Info

Focal Length: Normal Lenses

All right, Let's So let's talk about our normal lenses to start with very useful valuable lenses for photographers doing a wide variety of work. So first off the classic 50 millimeter lance. Now, for those even the crop frame, pay attention to the blue because there you're gonna need about a 30 millimeter lands with cannon. Now, Canon doesn't make a 30 millimeter lens, but they make a 28. They make a 35 and they may. Exum's that air in that range, so you just need to find a number in that range. And so let's start looking at some photos. And so here's a good example of wary 50 millimeter lens works out quite well. There's a doorway, there's an anchor in front of it, and if you wanted to, you could take 34 steps closer. You could probably take 34 steps back, and so a normal lens is going to yield a normal perspective on things very much the same that we see with our own eyes. And if you have a very simple subject like this and you're not trying to play optical games with it, it works ou...

t very, very well nice, simple lens. One of the advantages of these 50 millimeter lens and we're going to get into it more in the next section is that they're often very fast lenses. They're able to be shot at with very shallow depth of field, so I could photograph these hand towels, keep them and focus, while the ones in the background are a little bit softer. And this also was beneficial having this faster lens because this was a lower light environment and I could have taken a few steps closer and used a wide angle lens. I could have been back a few steps, but I wanted this to be a very natural seen, and so a natural normal lens is an obvious choice for that. Here's an even better example of that shallow depth of field We'll talk a little bit about in the apple tree section, and it's very easy to get the shallow depth of field shots with the 50 millimeter lands. And so I love having a 50 millimeter lens along because it's so easy to get the shallow depth of field shots, especially when you're shooting fairly close up like this. You can blur that background, and it really draws the eye of your viewer exactly where you want it to. In the frame. I find 50 millimeter a really great lands for doing street photography. So for traveling around, it's a very comfortable distance for me being a little bit apart from somebody but not too terribly far away. And once again, when you have a good subject, a normal lens is all you need. Once again, the fast aperture on it could be really valuable when you were shooting under low light situations could be a big benefit there. We'll talk a lot about portrait lenses, and they're classically in the 85 to 1 35 range. But one of the things that I would love to make is a strong re occurring point in this glass is that it doesn't matter what the standards are. Doesn't matter what other people use. You can choose the lenses in using in your own way to have and develop your own style. And so will I use a 50 millimeter lens for portrait work. Absolutely sometimes it's just the right less, and I think you can take beautiful portrait with a 50 millimeter lance I especially think they're really good. If you're shooting head to toe type shots. I think 50 millimeter lens is perfect for me. If I'm gonna do a head to toe type shot on somebody, can you shoot up close with a 50? Some people don't like it. Sometimes it's the lens you have on your camera. You got to go with it when you have it ready to go. And so I don't have a problem with shooting relatively close up with 50 in certain situations. So that was the 50. Let's move down to the 35 subtle difference. Just a little bit wider, moderate or slightly wide angle lens. This lands is the most popular lens in the world. There has been more photographs taken with this focal length lands van, all the other lenses combined, and I'm totally guessing on this. But the reason I say it is because this or approximately this slightly wide angle lens is what people have in their phones is a slightly wide angle lens. And so all these selfies that have been taken over the last three years have eclipsed all the photos we've taken up to that point. It seems like. And so this is that lens that you see. And so in some ways you could call it a boring lands because it's a very normal angle of you. It's not playing any exciting, exotic games, but it's one of the favorite lenses for photojournalists or somebody who wants to document something in their environment and really be faithful and honest to the way that their own. I sees it. In many ways, this is as close to our eyes as we can get. And so if you don't want to play optical games, you need just that slightly wide documentary look. The 35 is a perfect lens for that, and so these are gonna look very natural scenes. You could put yourself right in the place of where the camera was, and things would feel very natural and normal. Often used for what are called environmental Portrait's a subject in their environment. You will not have people look at your photos and say, Wow, what lens did you use? Because this appears very normal and standards that it's is what they kind of expect to see also could be very good for architectural photography because it's not stretching the lines of the building out in any way. And so if you have really good content, you don't need to play games with lenses. And so I'll be happy to stick with a fairly normal lens if I have really good subject material. So those who are normal lenses are 35 are 50. So some tips on using these lenses is that first off, it's very similar to our own eyes. And so if it looks good to your own eyes, it's probably gonna look good in that range. Nice Nandor natural or standard perspective, And this is nice when you have subject to have a good working space. So just for instance, let's say I'm photographing this table here. I could move back a little bit and I could move forward a little bit. And so a 50 millimeter lens is kind of nice. Now, if there's a barrier here, that's when the telephoto might be nice. But when you have something that you have a lot of freedom to move around, the 50 millimeter lens works out very well for that, and it emphasises the subject and not the process. Now I love playing games with lenses. I love using wide angle lenses and stretching and doing all sorts of goofy things, like taking long telephoto lenses. But sometimes you have content that is just so strong and compelling. You don't need to add any of your own extra flair on top of it. Let the contents speak for itself, and this is where you could do it Very, very naturally is in that 35 to 50 normal range. So maybe I'll check in now just to see if there's any questions specifically related to the 35 50 or the normal lenses. Yeah, I think that, um, this question came from our card ist. Who said A lot of times people think that the 1.6 crop factor that they get less distortion as a wider lens when doing portrait. It's so people are still wrapping their head around the full frame versus the crop sensors. With regard Teoh, a portrait lens is there. Does that question make sense were different and we're gonna get into distortion and we get into the white angle here, and I guess we'll address a lot more of it when we get to the portrait, but it's just it's just a different number that you would be choosing. And so, if you like the way Ah, 50 looks on a full frame, you just simply choose a 30 for your crop frame sensor. And so it's just a slightly different number, and it's a little bit confusing. And I'm sorry, the whole industries kind of wacky. No one's in charge in these numbers all over the place. It's a little like when Americans go to Europe and they need to adjust miles to kilometers, and they got a multiply everything by 0.6. And, you know, that's kind of the same thing that we need to do here when you're using these crop frames and so just kind of try to translate everything I say as quickly as possible, knowing that your normal lenses a 30. So that's your new middle of the road, and then we'll 30 Will, 25 would be a little bit wide, and 20 is gonna be pretty wide, and 15 is going to be quite wide, and 10 is going to be extremely wide. And so if you just think of where's home base for me and if you have a full frame camera, that's 50. If you have a crop frame camera, that's 30. That's your That's your middle number and you kind of go out from there. And so another question that came in and so is the angle of view for an E. F s lends different then f lends at the same focal length on an A P S. C. Center. No, they would be exactly the same if you have two lenses. Doesn't matter what letters they have on him. If it's a 50 a 50 put it on your camera. Doesn't matter if it's any effort GFS lands. It's the number that matters. And I think that's one of the things that people have. Ah, hard time getting over. So it's once it clicks everyone, it will click. One more question for you. Um, Tina Phelan says, I was wondering which 50 millimeter lens John was referring to there, a couple of different ones. So I guess as you were explaining these things here, the focal length angle of view, the aperture doesn't matter, right? 50 millimeters, right? Right now in the class, right? I don't care who the sounds bad I don't care about lenses. I don't care about specific lenses were talking about focal ings. Once we get this straight, then we'll go in without this model versus this model because we're gonna We're gonna do that comparison. I just We just wanna concentrate right now on this angle of view.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

What's in the Frame? HD
What's in the Frame? LOW
Field of View HD
Field of View LOW
Lens Keynote Parts 1-4
Lens Keynote Parts 5-8
Canon® Lens Data

Ratings and Reviews


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!

Tami Miller

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!

Student Work