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Wide Angle Vs Telephoto, Your Prefrence


Jingtian Wang
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3 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Even with complete freedom, you pick a lens according to how it renders a subject so it depends on the subject and how I want it to look.

I did a job a few weeks ago where I mostly used wider lenses, even for close ups, because we built the set from scratch and it looked good and I wanted to see as much of it as possible in every shot.  I've seen the commercial air a bunch lately and some of those close ups should have been on longer lenses... ya know why...  Live and learn.

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11 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Sometimes you want to compress the space and make a far background object loom larger, and other times you want to stretch and expand the space and make the background recede faster.

For sure.  It's just wider lenses used on close ups to continually show off the set I worked hard on designing, tends to not flatter the actors... ya know.  I remember Adam Frisch talking about getting really far away and shooting wide shots on long lenses, but shooting close ups on wide lenses.  I freaking love that in theory (and have done it).  But in practice it's a little tougher.

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19 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Even with complete freedom, you pick a lens according to how it renders a subject so it depends on the subject and how I want it to look.

That's a fair point and all, but what if you can literally create any set, subject and story as you wish (ignore all limits of physics); imagine you are getting the shot for your reel and your reel only. Like on "Dream Job, Massive Budget, would you Shoot Film or Digital". Would you prefer a wide or tide shot?

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The thing is, I'm less interested in creating images where the lens used is the most interesting aspect of the shot, hence why most fish-eye photography doesn't interest me.  So in an ideal world, I'd be able to create any effect I want within a more "normal" range of focal lengths. But sometimes you need a wide or telephoto lens to create the effect you want.

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I personally find that I gravitate towards the "human eye" field-of-view lenses. A 32mm and 40mm are pretty much the only lenses I need. Twist my arm and add the 50mm, too. That said, I can respect and see the beauty in wide-angle photography at times, it's just not something that I gravitate towards personally. I honestly think that any lens under 30mm is not very flattering on faces. I will use a 25mm or a 27mm for wider vistas, or an establisher, but I tend to avoid them for any closer work. Even the 32mm is on the edge for faces at times - I find the 40mm is the perfect balance. Long lenses I love - I grew up with Tony Scott and Adrian Lyne films after all, so I'm well into that aesthetic. It's kinda out of fashion these days to use telephoto lenses, but I do enjoy that look and will try to work it in when I can. There's something absolutely magical about shooting "wider" images by backing the hell off and using a long lens and just flattening it like a painting.

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I could shoot pretty much everything with a 35mm and a 50mm. I do like the look of long lenses; like Adam, I grew up with Tony Scott movies, but these days I’m more likely to move in on the 50mm than switch to an 85mm.

Wider lenses are essential in small locations, but I use them sparingly.

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