Optimum magnification and perspective for non-single-lens-reflex camera systems

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The primary purpose of this investigation was to determine how magnification and perspective alter a person's judgements of pleasantness for images recorded in photographic prints. The magnification and perspective of four scenes were varied by recording each scene with each of six camera-lens focal lengths (28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 70 mm, 85 mm, and 105 mm) from each of six distances. The distances revolved around a reference distance depending on scene content. The scenes were selected to be typical of the types of one person or multi-person scenes recorded most often by consumers of non-single-lens-reflex (non-SLR) 35 mm camera systems. The psychophysical scaling technique of magnitude estimation was used to assess each subjects' degree of pleasantness for each print in a single stimulus presentation format. The subjects were actual consumers of non-SLR camera systems.

The results indicate that a wide variety of lens/distance combinations was found to produce pleasing images for each scene. Specifically, the combination of lens/distance which was representative of currently available non-SLR camera systems was almost always among the highest rated images for each scene. This result indicates that these consumers are quite pleased with the images they currently receive. These results are most easily explained using the theory of a compensation mechanism of picture perception. Suggestions for future research include the study of range effects, different methods of assessment, and attempts at understanding the emotional impact of photographs and how it relates to judgements of pleasantness.