Camera lens question
November 30, 2008 1:25 PM   Subscribe

What kind of camera lens would have been used to get such dramatic angles and straight lines on this photo of an office?

I don't know much about photography, but I know what I like. And I like this effect. The stark, bold geometry is very appealing. Is it a conventional wide angle? Something unconventional? Or is it more likely a post-process photoshop effect? If it is photoshop, what kind of lens would do this in-camera?
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Absolutely nothing magical about this - just the application of a wide-angle lens that is not a fish-eye. The colors, lines, etc, are purely a matter of subject choice and framing. Judging by the shadow of the lamp on the ceiling, I'd guess an on-camera flash was used, but that's far from unconventional.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:33 PM on November 30, 2008


Seconding Tomorrowful. Not too terribly wide either. Wide angle will distort at short range, but this picture is not an example of that.
posted by captainsohler at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2008


Yeah, just a wide-angle lens, but held (possibly on a tripod) perfectly level, so that the vertical lines are parallel. If the camera is tilted up or down, the vertical lines will converge.

It looks like a more-than-normal wide-angle to me. The original shot could have indeed shown distortion or convergence, but that is easily corrected in Photoshop.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:44 PM on November 30, 2008


That looks like a moderate wide, something between 24mm and 28mm.

The Panasonic LX-3 can make images like this all day long.

If you want to shoot with a dSLR, consider the Tokina 12-24.

I own both, and the faster and smaller LX-3 goes with me everywhere.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:46 PM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yep, just wide angle. Check out Canon's 14mm. My guess is it's something in that range.
posted by luckypozzo at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2008


Don't forget that the lens focal length is only half the story. For a wider field of view for a given lens in a DSLR you'll want a larger sensor, not one of the smaller, cropped ones.
posted by jfrancis at 2:28 PM on November 30, 2008


Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L. My $0.02.

For a wider field of view than you'll get in a regular DSLR, buy an EOS Rebel film SLR for something ridiculous like $40 on eBay like I did. Then use this lens with it. It's hilarious shooting with a lens that's worth over 30x the price of the camera.
posted by mullingitover at 2:51 PM on November 30, 2008


I would guess it was a 16mm or 17mm lens, which can get pretty wide and they're fairly standard.
posted by mathowie at 2:56 PM on November 30, 2008


Thanks folks. Everyone's a winner in this thread, except my bank account. $3k for the 14mm?? Yowzer. It's a shame that nice things are so expensive.
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2008


The 14mm is horribly expensive, but the widest end of the Canon Rebel kit lens is 18mm. Not as wide, not as fast (eg, max aperture), but cheap - like $100. Not available if you get a film body, though.

Even by 35mm photography standards, where shiny toys can get very pricey, $3k's still pretty high, and there are much, much cheaper ways of getting there - or almost there - if you don't demand pro-level badassitude.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:51 PM on November 30, 2008


FWIW it was probably photographed with a 5x7 studio view camera or bellows camera with a tilt/swivel/shift raise or lower two point body. like this.
posted by Gungho at 7:17 PM on November 30, 2008


I strongly agree with Gungho. It's a view camera in which the back is made non-parallel to the front in architectural work.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:27 PM on November 30, 2008


You could ask the real estate agent responsible for that listing. He probably didn't take it, but could put you in touch with the photographer he hired. hey that photo looks mighty familiar
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:47 PM on November 30, 2008


I strongly agree with Gungho. It's a view camera in which the back is made non-parallel to the front in architectural work.

Why? Because the verticals are parallel? That probably just means the camera was level; not tilted up or down. I added a purple line through the center of the image. You can see from where the vanishing points would be that it's close to being the horizon. This supports the idea of an ordinary level camera.
posted by jfrancis at 8:52 PM on November 30, 2008


I would guess it was a 16mm or 17mm lens, which can get pretty wide and they're fairly standard.

I think Matt is suggesting 16mm or 17mm on an dSLR with an APS sized sensor. Now way is that 16mm on a 35mm body.

FWIW it was probably photographed with a 5x7 studio view camera or bellows camera with a tilt/swivel/shift raise or lower two point body.

The photo certainly could have been taken with a large format view camera, but doing so would be completely unnecessary. I could probably handhold that shot with my LX-3. The tilting and shifting that a view camera can provide is useful when you would otherwise have to tilt the camera to get the entire subject into view. Doing so is clearly not the case in this image (unless you are under two feet tall).
posted by b1tr0t at 9:30 PM on November 30, 2008


I have to agree with jfrancis here - nothing exotic going on at all. You might even be able to take this picture with a Canon SD800/850/870, or anything else recent that shoots as wide as a 28mm lens would be on a 35mm camera.

Save your money, you can do a lot of photography for little money!
posted by b1tr0t at 9:31 PM on November 30, 2008


jfrancis: I assume they have come to that conclusion because there is no distortion. Which may be true, or like others have said, the distortion may have been fixed in photoshop.
posted by meta87 at 9:50 PM on November 30, 2008


In photography, a rectilinear lens is a photographic lens that yields images where straight features, such as the walls of buildings, appear with straight lines, as opposed to being curved. In other words, it is a lens with little barrel or pincushion distortion.

The vast majority of video and still cameras use lenses that produce nearly rectilinear images. A popular alternative type of lens is a fisheye lens which produces a distinctly curvilinear, wide-angled result.

wikipedia

examples
posted by jfrancis at 1:24 AM on December 1, 2008


Sure that's true, but you'll still see some distortion at wide angles on most lenses.
posted by meta87 at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2008


Wide angle tilt-shift lens. I'm afraid all of the answers that say it is solely a wide angle lens are dead wrong. A standard wide angle will not give you the straight, parallel verticals.
posted by JJ86 at 6:08 AM on December 5, 2008


Wide angle tilt-shift lens. I'm afraid all of the answers that say it is solely a wide angle lens are dead wrong. A standard wide angle will not give you the straight, parallel verticals.

Of course it will if the camera is level, and as I have demonstrated, it was pretty much level.

The purple horizon line I added is in the center of the frame, which indicates a level camera, tilted neither up nor down.
posted by jfrancis at 6:26 PM on December 5, 2008


Wide angle tilt-shift lens. I'm afraid all of the answers that say it is solely a wide angle lens are dead wrong. A standard wide angle will not give you the straight, parallel verticals.

Could I have some of what you are smoking?
posted by b1tr0t at 10:00 PM on December 5, 2008


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