Common photography myths


September 5th, 2009 - 08:25:06 PM:

There are a number of general statements about photography passed off as “the truth”. They are repeated again and again in introductory texts about photography and on the Internet. Repetition, however, doesn't make a false statement true. Here are the most common myths I've encountered:

There are a number of general statements about photography passed off as “the truth”. They are repeated again and again in introductory texts about photography and on the Internet. Repetition, however, doesn't make a false statement true. Here are the most common myths I've encountered:

Readers' comments

#1: Comment posted by Rizal on January 28th, 2010 - 10:32:34 AM:
A very good article to read, which many misguided about photography that needs to be learned. I hunt continued in the book or the internet about fotografie, but this is very different from artkel-existing article.

Thank you very much I really enjoyed your article.

Yose Rizal
#2: Comment posted by Madeline on February 10th, 2011 - 10:50:00 PM:
Great clear information. Thank you!
#3: Comment posted by Mario Liedtke on January 12th, 2012 - 05:01:33 AM:
I just want to thank you yor that great article!
It teached me one more time, that there are to many wannabes around that make people confuse by using sloppy terms.
Thank you for helping me back on the right way. With the very most of your words I agreed already before started reading, but now I know more exactly WHY!

Thanks a lot!
#4: Comment posted by Keith Toh on February 4th, 2012 - 03:49:25 AM:
I want to thank you for this epic article! I grappled with these same myths for years. Reading explanations from so-called experts only served to confuse me even more. In the end I had to discard all pre-assumptions and verify everything from first principles, while piecing together facts from various sources. I finally came to the same conclusions as yourself, but how I wish I discovered your article earlier- it would have saved me years of brainwracking!

My view is that photography has a creative side and a technical side. The former requires imagination, aesthetics and an artistic sense. The latter, however, requires razor-sharp analyses, intellectual rigor and a no-nonsense approach. Photographers who don't appreciate these will confuse themselves and mislead others to no end. Your article addresses the technical aspect of photography authoritatively- like a sharp knife slicing apart an entangled web of photography concepts. Massive kudos to you for that!

To other fellow photographers:

If you still have doubts about Michael's statements, please spend the time to re-read the passages, or even test out his suggestions to convince yourself. I assure you it will be worth the effort- because his article is the closest to the truth I have ever read. If you intend to disagree, please take one word of advice from me: in any debate, agreeing on definitions is crucial. Sloppy or conflicting usage of terminology will render the whole discussion pointless. Michael's usage of terminology is logical and consistent within the field of photography. Terms like 'perspective' may mean different things in other fields, but I think it serves little benefit to impose them here.

Well, that's all from me. Congratulations on a great piece of work, I will surely recommend any photography buff to visit this wonderful page!
#5: Comment posted by Richard on June 29th, 2012 - 06:36:37 PM:
Just wanted to say THANKS for a great article - things I was ignorant of or confused about are now clear to me. I really enjoyed reading this.

re: the Perspective vs Focal Length myth - the debate is over, the street scene photos prove the point: focal length has no effect on perspective.

Maybe now the online community of photographers will officially retire the expression "zooming with your feet." I always knew it made no sense, now I understand why.

Thanks again!
#6: Comment posted by Chris on February 28th, 2013 - 03:26:28 PM:
Wow! Epic! Thanks so much for contributing to enlightenment of people! The discussions/replies to some of the myths are so revealing, and just illustrate how much more of this kind of work is needed. Very, very good job, Michael!

I'd enhance #8 a little with some more images to include the same-framing-different-focal length argument, in case you want to invest any more time in this.

Also valid for the shallow-DOF myth #9. It's a long time ago, but I calculated this once and as I recall it, it roughly boils down to the rule which you outlined already: Same framing, same aperture value, same DOF, no matter what focal length. (Limited, but only slightly, by the higher "visibility" at higher differences focal lenghts.)

Thanks again and best regards!
#7: Comment posted by Wilba on February 23rd, 2014 - 01:26:24 PM:
Thanks for a great article. I have linked to it in a mythbusting collection of my own, which you might find interesting (
#8: Comment posted by Tim L on May 13th, 2014 - 11:30:15 PM:
Great article. I have a question about panos. Based on #5 and #8, I would conclude that if I created a panorama using a tripod with a properly positioned nodal plate, the image would overlay more or less perfectly with a single image shot on that same tripod using a lens with an FOV equivalent to the pano.

If true, this suggests that the advice I occasionally read about shooting panos with no wider than an "x"mm lens is incorrect. The resolution of the final image will vary but not the appearance of it.
Michael Hohner answers:
In theory, you're right. In practice, however, you will have problems finding that wide-angle lens that covers the same angle of view of your typical stitched panorama, and your stitching software and wide-angle lens will probably not produce the same distortions.
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