Civil Rights Acts and the 35mm Crop Factor


Welcome back to Changing Optics

Seeing Life Through Different Lenses

My name is Scott Roth. I am an area NJ Professional Photographer

This was a big week in America as we celebrated the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and the Declaration of Independence and we'll come back to this

I come to you here from the laboratory of Thomas Edison who with the help of his employee William Dickson is credited with the establishment of 35mm film as an industry standard. The two of them worked to invent what was called the Kinetoscope and Kinetograph

Thomas Edison wanted to create a device that would do for the visual eye what his phonograph did for the ear

Photography was already created and cameras existed but Edison and Dickson looked to use a collection of images in rotation so as to create the illusion motion. To do this in a way that was more practical Dickson worked with a guy named George Eastman (the guy behind Kodak) to create a gelatin film to be split from 70 mm to 35 mm. 35 mm film became the industry standard and it was the size used for both motion picture and still photography

Fast Forward to present day.

I shoot with a Canon 6D Full Frame camera. If we open it up and look inside we would see something called an image sensor. That sensor is 35 mm to allow digital photography to replicate the industry standard 35mm film. All the measurements that you see on lenses is based on the 35mm standard. This is different than a 35 mm focal range such as a 35 mm lens

So what about consumer cameras such as this the Canon TI series that are crop sensor cameras?

What does all that mean?

Well whenever there is an inventor creating an invention, there is another inventor looking to make it more affordable and cost effective

Thus we have Birt Acres who took 35 mm film and cropped even further. Now remember....all the math on lenses such as focal range, and aperture is based on the Thomas Edison full frame size so even lenses created just for crop sensor cameras have full frame measurements.

This brings us to something called the "crop factor" or "crop equivalent"

Imagine a window with the blinds open where you can see the sky. With it closed you couldn't see the sky anymore. You would then have to lean in closer to the window to see the sky again. The same concept applies here.

You don't want to move yourself closer to a subject or further cause that changes the resulting image no matter what you do. What you want to is to tell the camera to record the image at a closer or further distance.

So this is a Canon which crops down at 1.6. On Nikon it crops down 1.5

To best show this I have here a 4x6 print marked up and a 6x9 print. If you were to take a full frame image at 50mm and take the same focal length image on a crop what you would have is a cropped image. To get the same resulting image you have to record the image at different focal lengths so a 50mm photo on a crop would need to be a 75-80 mm shot on full frame and a 50 mm photo on a full frame would need to be a 32-33 mm on a crop sensor.

Here I show you by moving the 4x6 print (our cropped sensor) closer to the lens and because of this change in distance, the further from a subject you are, the larger the distance between the focal ranges will behave.

This visual aspect is what a lot of the photography lessons out there I believe fails to get across so hopefully this visual exercise will help.

Now what does this have to do with Changing Optics? Remember how we mentioned the signing of the Civil Rights act? Well unfortunately but factually Black Americans have had a smaller imprint on our history (much like our Crop Sensor images) The area around on the larger full frame is what some might refer to as White Privilege. Now does that mean that myself as a white person or you is to blame, no but its an unfortunate history that we should still acknowledge and one of the things we can do about our history since we can't go back in time is apply the very same crop factors and crop equivalents and bring Civil Rights closer to our lenses.

one of the things we can do about our history since we can't go back in time is apply the very same crop factors and crop equivalents and bring Civil Rights closer to our lenses.

This is the main arguments behind the #blacklivesmatter movement and Affirmative Action laws while movements like the alt-right want you to focus on the distances between white and black history and making people look at it as unfair but remember that the result is to have an imprint on society that is equal.

The same can be said for Womens Rights in the workforce and LGBTQ Rights for marriage equality.

The more images we have for a our children with equal imprints... the faster we can get to a true "May the best man win" society and a smaller distance in focal range needed

Changing Optics is about Seeing Life Through Different Lenses

Which lens

are you?