What is the focal length on your typical cell phone camera?

  • I know cell phone cameras are generally wide angle, which makes sense because people wanna go out to dinner, or a show, or at the park with their kids, and they want to get the whole scene. And even though digital zoom is horrible...if anyone needs to get closer, they zoom.

    I am not in a rush to get a wide angle lens for my DSLR just yet. For now, I believe that I can get away with just using my phone for wide shots. And yes, I know it is not necessarily the same because the available aperture and things like this.

    However, I recently learned that even smartphone pictures may have EXIF metadata in them. For my phone's camera, it gave me a focal length of 5mm. Now I understand the sensor size on the cameras are much smaller, so how do I calculate the 35mm-equivalent?

    Does anyone know what the focal lengths are on cell phones?

    There is an EXIF tag called FocalLengthIn35mmFilm that gives you the equivalent focal length for (naturally) 35 mm film, or a full-frame DSLR. Maybe not all phones populate it, but my iPhone 5 does (33 mm equivalent, from an actual focal length of 4.13 mm). You may need a good EXIF viewer to see this field. I use PhotoME on Windows. http://www.photome.de/

    In case it helps, I think my Huawei P10 Lite camera is fairly typical for general purpose phones released around 2017. The horizontal angles are 65° and 50° in landscape and portrait mode, respectively. (You are asking for the "focal length"; I'm not into photography/lenses so I don't know what this means and the Wikipedia page is full of jargon, but from your mentions of "wide angle" I surmise you're asking what a typical viewing angle is.)

  • John Cavan

    John Cavan Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The actual focal length of the lens is usually measured along with the crop factor of the sensor. Cell phones, needless to say, have a huge crop factor. For example, the Samsung Galaxy SIII and iPhone 4 are a 7.6x crop. So, if you have a 5mm lens on one of those, you're looking at an equivalent full frame focal length of 38mm. That's wide, but not that wide... you could get far wider on any dSLR.

    If you want to play with some comparisons, you can look for a camera sensor size comparison site to match up your phone and dSLR. I would expect the phone lenses to usually fall somewhere around 30-50mm in effective field of view versus a full frame dSLR.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM