Do You Know Your Focal Lengths?


In the following video, photographer David Flores discusses focal length and how choosing the proper lens can have a dramatic effect on your images. He walks us through the basics and then discusses each major type: wide-angle, normal, and telephoto. Following this, Flores quickly addresses the advantages of prime and zoom lenses to help you make an informed decision. We hope you enjoy the video, and invite you to view the wide selection of other instructional and informative videos at




I would suggest that telephotos should be split into short and long. Given the enormous range between 85mm and 800mm, there are widely divergent uses for lenses at those extremes. I would further make the dividing line at about 180mm, which is unmanageable for portraits and close quarters, but is the beginning point for long-range work needed for nature and sports. The applications at the short end don't really overlap with the ranges at the long end.

I am a non-wedding Event Photographer, and I use mostly a 24-105 mm F4. I was using a 24-70 mm F2.8, but found two drawbacks: not enough length for capturing candid photos from across a room; in low-light situations, I was going down to F2.8, but some of the people in small, informally posed groups were not really in focus. With the F4, at least I've got a chance in these fast-changing situations. If I'm photographing speakers at a conference, then it's a 70-200 mm F2.8.