Photography cheat sheet: What is Field of View (FoV)?

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Here's a cheat sheet that was previously in Digital Camera Magazine. We've put the front and back side by side so that it's ideal for viewing on a phone held sideways. Why not download the image and save it to your phone's camera roll? (Image credit: Future)

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.

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.