Normal lenses

A normal, or standard, lens features a focal range where images look very true to life — what your eyes actually perceive. Neither wide-angle nor telephoto, these lenses are the most common type used for portraits, head shots, events, and general shooting to achieve natural-looking images with limited or no distortion (see 6-17). I use these lenses for taking sports event photos of medal ceremonies and general people shots; wedding photographers use them for receptions and formals; school and portrait photographers use them for virtually all their images. A normal lens, whether zoom or prime, is an essential component of any dSLR photographer’s set of equipment.

I used a normal lens for this image of the French, Russian, and U.S. women's team sabre medalists from a 2007 fencing world cup in Las Vegas. Taken with a 1D Mark IIn using an EF24-70mm f/2.8L lens, ISO 640, 1/160 second at f/2.8.

While the focal range of normal lenses can extend from a wide setting of 35mm to a narrow one of 70mm or larger, the most common normal setting and lens size is in the 50-55mm range. While a lens such as Canon’s 24-70mm zoom extends from a reasonably wide to a near-tele-photo range, its mean is (about) 50mm, which closely reproduces what the eye sees in terms of balance and proportion, as well as expanded/collapsed distance.



Wide-angle lenses expand the perceived distance in a photo, while telephoto lenses collapse the perceived distance.

Category: Science of Lenses

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