Fun With Statistics

During my “digital years” I have gone from a Canon 350D, to a 20D and now a 5D2. I cannot see that I will change camera for a long time, the 5D2 is truly fantastic.  I like to think that also my photographic skills have improved during the years, in certain aspects I am certain of this. There are more “keepers” when I get back and I also have taught myself “self-restrain” i.e. not to subject to compulsive shooting. It is much more rewarding to think before taking the shot – and much less work sorting the good from the bad when I get back home.

I recently downloaded the free evaluation copy of ApertureInspectorFree. The software crunches through the entire Aperture library and collects some interesting statistics. Well, interesting for some anyway.

Below I concentrate on each camera and focal length used. The software can also show aperture and shutter data amongst other things, but I find these are more governed by the technical side of a picture rather than the compositional aspects, so they are not interesting for now.

For the 350D the focal lengths used are collected from 3500 photos:

The large peak is at 28-32 mm, let’s call it 30 mm. Given that the 350D is a crop camera this number converts to 30*1.6=48 mm on full frame. Some reasons for this high count is the EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 lens I used most of the time. In fact it indicates I used the lens mostly at the widest setting. To the 350D I also used a EF 10-22 mm lens which accounts for the even lower focal lengths used.

For the 20D the statistics, collected from 3350 pictures, are:

By now the EF 24-105/4L was on almost all of the time, which clearly shows in the stats. There is a definitive peak at 24-28 mm with about 22 % of all shots. Next comes 105 mm and then there are remnants of the EF 28-105 also in this diagram. To the far right are a lump of shots with the EF 200/2.8, some even with a 1.4x extender I borrowed for an airshow (yes, many shots during that airshow…). Translated to full-frame the left peak represents again a focal length of 26*1.6=42 mm. Apparently I used it at the wide open end most of the time. Perhaps I really wanted something even wider?

But there was the EF 10-22, what happened to that? I found that constantly changing lenses was a pain, both for the trouble of swapping lenses and for the trouble of carrying the extra lens. In fact I didn’t use it as much as I had expected. And being that wide it also demands careful composition or the perspective of the pictures goes completely whacky. For more serious shots most often the narrow 17-22 mm end was used(*). In the end I sold it. It is a very sharp and light lens, and I can heartily recommend it, but it does not fit my kind of photography. Anyway, I could not use the lens on the new body, the 5D mark II.

On the 5D, finally, the statistics for 2700 shots are:

One would think (I did anyway) that with such a good zoom as the EF 24-105/4L one would use it through its entire range. Apparently not so! There is a peak at 24 mm (no conversion factor here as we are dealing with a full frame sensor), another at 50 mm and a final peak at 105 mm. So I mainly use only three focal lengths, with a peak at 50 mm.

The latter surprised me, I would have assumed the peak at 24 mm, but at 50? Looking at the stats for the 350D and the 20D, some 40 mm would have been expected. Perhaps my photo style have changed?

Where does all this lead then? Two things: 1)The 24-105/4L stays! It really is practical and much good in a rather small package. 2) But perhaps a prime in the range 35-45 mm would be useful? Aaaaah, the lure of another lens…

(*): At we learn that the EF 10-22 has best resolution at 17 mm. Perhaps that has something to do with my preference for the longer end of that lens?

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