Field of view (FoV) is an important concept to understand whether you're a photographer or a filmmaker. When it comes to shooting, there's not only a question of what we're seeing in our image but how much of the scene we're seeing. That's where Field of View comes in.
What is Field of View?
Field of view is simply the observable area that you can see either through your eyes or an optical device, such as a camera lens or telescope. The official definition according to Wikipedia is "the extent of the observable world that is seen at any given moment".
Don't confuse field of view with depth of field, which has to do with how much of your observable scene is actually in focus. When we talk about view, it could be seen through your eyes, through the camera's viewfinder, or on a viewing screen. The term refers to the whole coverage of a scene, rather than one fixed focal point.
What is the angle of view in photography?
The angle of view is the maximum view a camera is capable of ‘seeing’ through a lens, expressed in degrees. The choice of focal length is key, with longer lenses offering a narrower angle of view. We've put together another guide to help you understand the relationship between focal length and angle of view.
You need to consider sensor size, too. The angle of view can be measured horizontally, vertically and diagonally, but lens manufacturers often list just the diagonal, corner-to-corner angle. Focal length and sensor size affect the maximum angle of view possible – and the angles of view illustrated here are for lenses attached to a full-frame camera.
Field of View takeaways
- FoV is expressed in degrees.
- FoV is determined by the camera lens and sensor size.
- The human eye has an average field of view of about 170-180 degrees.
- In photography, you can change the field of view by changing our lens.
- A wide-angle lens will allow you to capture more of a scene, while using a telephoto lens or moving the camera will decrease the field of view.
Use the handy cheat sheet above to see this all for yourself. And make sure to keep us bookmarked for more great photography cheat sheets.
You might also like to read: the exposure triangle explained, how to understand f-stops and our general Photography tips and tricks.