Sun always so small - what cameras get realistic shots?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by patent10021, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. patent10021 macrumors 68030


    Apr 23, 2004
    I love the pics I get on my iPhone. When I go jogging I capture so many amazing sunsets. Gorgeous compositions and lighting. Problem is the sun is always so small on P&S cameras and smartphones. And of course zooming in is definitely out of the question. Looks like crap. I can never get the huge soft sun that I see with my own eyes.

    I don't have much experience with a full format or even high-end DSLR for that matter so I was curious to know what cameras some the closest to getting that perspective? What kind of lenses and/or sensors should I be looking for?

  2. spacedcadet macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    optical illusion

    The big sun you see with your eyes is an optical illusion, it's always the same size in the sky whether near the horizon or high at midday.
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    It's not the camera that makes the sun look bigger or smaller, it's the lense focal length relative to the sensor size. Wide angle lenses make everything look smaller, and telephoto lenses make everything look bigger.

    Plus, as spacedcadet points out - what your eye sees and what a camera sees can be very different because the eye sees differently and is connected to the brain that 'interprets' the data. Whereas a camera usually records more than it interprets.

    BTW.... stop looking at the sun... you'll be at an increased risk for cataracts and several other problems.
  4. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2009
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
  6. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Ya, in general if you want a "big sun" in a sunrise/sunset photo, you need to have a long focal length, as this will make distant objects (i.e., the sun) appear larger relative to foreground objects.

    I'm by no means an expert photographer, but here's link to a photo I've taken recently which has a "big sun" effect. This pic was taken at 225mm on a 1.6x crop sensor camera (Canon T3i/600D). So this is equivalent to 360mm focal length on a full-frame sensor - a pretty "long" shot: 2012/_MG_3978.jpg

    I forget the exact stats, but the iPhone's focal lens and sensor size is pretty wide-angle -- you can't get "big sun" effects with a focal length like this. Most smartphone camera and low-end point & shoot camera favor the wide end of the focal length spectrum, as this is more useful for taking quick snapshots of subjects relatively close to the camera.

    To get the "big sun" effect, you need a fixed-lens camera with a long zoom range, or a telephoto lens mounted on an interchangeable lens camera.

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