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Focus Breathing

Spudnik510

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Hi there,
Just come across the term focus breathing. Somebody told me a 70-200mm , 2.8 lens, that focus breathes is actually closer to a 150mm lens at the long end.
My question is if I fully extend the lens to 200mm and focus on the subject in the distance, would that bring the lens back out to 200mm?
Basically does focus breathing only occur when trying to focus to the nearest extent?
Many thanks
Spudnik510
 

Roger S

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You've posed an interesting question and it's not something that 99.9% of photographers are ever worried about. Focus is achieved by moving one or another of the lens elements closer or further away from the sensor. It changes the angle of view and to some degree, the zoom but that's usually only a concern for cinematographers. As a still 'tog I never give it a second thought and I've never had a photo "not" sell because of it.
 

MikeB

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Except when doing focus stacking, focus breathing is not a significant issue for still photography. Most non-cinema lenses will experience some focus breathing. It may or may not actually have a significant affect on the focal length (the distance from the sensor to the rear nodal point) but this depends on how the lens was designed. When you focus you are actually moving 1 or a group of lens elements within the camera lens (as @Roger S mentions. Focusing can directly change the distance between the sensor and location of the original nodal point or it can change the how the light rays converge thereby changing the nodal point.

For most lenses focus breathing is minor. On some Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses the effect of focus breathing can be rather significant. At 200mm and focused to infinity the angle of view is nearly that expected of 200mm focal length (so you really have a 200mm lens) but changing the focus to near focus reduces the angle of view to something closer to 150mm. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are not as affected by focus breathing but they will also change the angle of view to what a 198mm lens produces.

Most still photographers never notice the focus breathing of their lenses as it has no affect on image quality. I notice focus breathing every time I do focus stacking but Photoshop handles the difference quite well. Focus breathing with cinema lenses can create a significant distraction so they are designed to minimize focus breathing which is one reason cinema lenses are so much more expensive than standard photography lenses.
 

DonS

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I had never heard of this before. I came into the thread wondering if this was something like a sniper controlling their breathing while taking a shot.
 

Phill104

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This is a thing I have seen so many arguments about across the web. It seems to stir up all sorts of emotions, trolls and brand lovers/haters. I hear people say "Brand X only managed that by cheating the customer" and other rubbish. Like Roger says, just enjoy your fantastic lens and what it can do. It is more than capable of producing stunning results.
 

paulmag

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Cant see what all the fuss is about for still camera lens.

If its an issue spend the big money on a cine lens
 

Minor Problem

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In a word the answer to your question is "Yes". The issue isn't one to worry about, if the subject is close then there's always the foot zoom to bring things a little closer if required. As long as you get full focal length on distant subjects then all is well and that is the way it works.

If I recall correctly it's the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII that is the worst culprit at somewhere near 150-160mm at minimum focussing distance and the older and newer versions not so bad. I actually have this version and it doesn't cause me a seconds worry or consideration.

If you want to see an example of what it's capable of close up here's a few images from a shoot I did last week... https://www.photography-forum.org/threads/more-leah-and-more-poppies.150029/#post-1824235
 

Spudnik510

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hi there thanks for all your replies and them photos are absolutely brilliant inspiring style. One question i have though i tested my Nikon 55 - 300 vr kit lens for focus breathing and there was very little if any very minimal which was quite surprising, considering most of the more expensive lenses suffer from it but yeah i don't see it as a problem at all, i think its a silly thing to get picky about was just interested by it .
 
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