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Photography made simple - the secrets hidden in the numbers

If you use a mobile phone camera you may, understandably, be blissfully unaware of the three little secrets. Three little secrets that can utterly transform any scene you see and want to capture.

The first reason for this is that a mobile phone camera lens cannot be changed other than by adding some kind of 'universal camera lens kit'  on the top of it. Almost all mobile phone lenses have what's called 'a wide field of view' - generally very useful, making it easier to take pictures in most situations. Easier for example than if the phone had a 'zoomed in' lens.

But why? To explain that I'm going back to a simpler time.

The lenses above are around 40 years old. The one on the left would make a picture with a similar look to a mobile phone, the picture taken with it would show a 'wide view'. The one on the right is much more 'zoomed in', so instead of seeing a whole scene, it would show just the centre of it. Like the lens on the left (and any phone lens) fixed lenses can't be zoomed in or out. If you were an aspiring photography 40 years ago and you wanted a wide view - you screwed on the short lens. For a narrower view (zoomed in) you screwed on a longer lens.

In fact, the lens above, on the right, is my favourite lens for taking portraits. But why bother when I can just get nearer using the short lens? The answer is the first of the three secrets: image control. Take your mobile phone and get near to someone and take a picture of them square on. You'll notice their nose is unfairly large you may not even be able to see their ears. Vaguely, or usefully sometimes, scary.


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