Lens Compression: Why You Want it & How it Affects Your Photos (VIDEO)

If the term “lens compression” sounds familiar and you know it’s a thing, but you’re not sure what it does, how it works, and why it can be beneficial, the video below is for you. We’re going to clear up all the above and more in this episode of “Booray Explains.”

Instructor Booray Perry is a Florida-based pro known for basic tutorials on important photo concepts and techniques that are helpful for novices and advanced shooters alike. Today’s lesson is a straightforward explainer clarifying all the key factors of this misunderstood photo concept.

Perry insists that every photographer should understand how lens compression works, “because it can make a big difference in the images you capture.” This concept comes into play when shooting with telephoto primes or at the long end of a zoom lens of 200mm or more.

In simple terms, lens compression can be used to make the background of a scene appear bigger and closer to your subject, and the effect is immediately apparent when viewing a photo. Perry makes the same shot using a 50mm lens and a telephoto to illustrate this point. 

Keep in mind that depending upon how you wish to depict a specific scene; a compressed perspective may not be want you want. But when you do, it can be very effective. Perry notes that for a really noticeable effect, “you need your background to be at least twice as far from your subject as you are—the farther the better.”

Perry offers several other simple yet important concepts to understand, for making the most of this technique. So what so special about using this method? Perry says to think of it like this: “Lens compression is just one more tool that we have for manipulating our environment.”

Bottom line: In appropriate situations this tool enables you to create images that don’t exactly mimic what people see with their eyes. And doing this will help you become a better visual storyteller.

If you enjoy Perry’s calm style, infused with a bit of humor, pay a visit to his YouTube channel where there’s much more to see and learn.

And if you missed the story we posted touting the “awesomeness” of affordable f/4 lenses, be sure to check it out.