Telephoto compression effect

Eldon SheaEldon Shea Registered Users Posts: 145 Major grins
edited October 21, 2016 in Technique
I took this a while ago, but it really shows how dramatically a telephoto lens can compress a scene. The office buildings in the background are more than FIVE MILES away from the observatory building in the foreground. This was taken at 300 mm on a crop sensor camera, so is about equivalent to a 500mm lens on a full frame. I was probably about 1/4 mile from the observatory when I took this.



  • petrochemistpetrochemist Registered Users Posts: 10 Big grins
    That's certainly a great example of compression, though despite the common misconception it's not the telephoto lens that's produced it but instead the relative distances.
    In this shot the office buildings are around 20 times the distance of the observatory, if the same shot was taken with a normal lens you'd be ~1/40 mile to get the same framing on the observatory while the office blocks are still ~4 3/4 miles away a very different ratio.
    Admittedly the framing of the telephoto encourages the more distant viewpoint with greater compression - giving rise to the view that the telephoto is responsible. Taking the shot with a normal lens from the same position would show the same compression, but the image would probably be rather unimpressive!

    I suspect the terrain here has also helped the impression of compression - but in any event it's a great shot!
  • mercphotomercphoto Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins

    Bingo! Great explanation. Its not the lens that causes the compression effect.

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  • cosmicrealitycosmicreality Registered Users Posts: 26 Big grins
    Love the explanation, Petro. I never thought about it that way.

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