What Is Focus Breathing (Everything You Need to Know)

| Last Updated On: June 14, 2022
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what is lens breathing

Photography is a lot of fun, to be honest. The ability to use different lenses and to be able to take pictures from various perspectives is something that not many people are aware of, but the good news is that if you are resilient, you will be more than easily able to learn all the nooks and crannies of photography.

Speaking of lenses, you might have run into something such as focus breathing. If you are wondering what is focus breathing, then in this article, we are going to help you figure out everything that you need to know.

Simply put, focus breathing is something that almost all of us have experienced, and in most cases, we have little to no control over it or why it happens.


How Does Focus Breathing Work?


Before we begin, we have to understand what focus breathing is. Simply put, it is a phenomenon that is also known as lens breathing, and it has to do with how the lens magnifies images at various focusing distances.

This means that the focus breathing refers to the process when a lens’ focal length changes with the change in the focus distance. You would think that this only occurs in zoom lenses there is a precedence of prime lenses showing a similar behavior.

How Does Focus Breathing Work

One more thing that you need to understand here is that as we are moving forward with better and better lenses, focus breathing is something that is becoming a much small issue. Thanks to better optics, as well as better construction overall.

Needless to say, if your lens is focus breathing, there is not a lot to worry about, and in most cases, you will not even notice it. Therefore, keeping this in mind is important.


What Causes Focus Breathing To Occur?


Now that you know what focus breathing is and how it works, the next step is to know about the issues that can cause focus breathing to happen in the first place. Honestly, there are a lot of reasons as to why it can happen.

Sure, we all know that it normally happens when you are adjusting the focusing distance of the lens, and it exists as an issue in both prime and zoom lenses.

I have noticed this happening in most of the more affordable lenses, but at the same time, the expensive lenses are not really free from this.

In most cases, it has a lot to do with the quality of the optics or glass that is used in the lens, along with the camera’s software as well as the way the lens was constructed. In most cases, the existence of focus breathing is entirely random.


How Can You Eliminate Focus Breathing?


Moving forward, our next step is to start talking about eliminating focus breathing. Now, the process of elimination is not at all the same for every lens there is.

The first thing that you can do is you can go ahead and use the infinity focus, and while that might work for some, it is not something that will work for everyone.

Whenever you are focusing on close subjects, the way you can do it is use extension tubes. Sadly, extension tubes are not something that I would consider a proper result, and I remember that not a lot of people have been using it either.

Image of camera extension tubes

Extension tubes bring a number of other issues; for starters, you lose access to autofocusing capabilities of the lens, and considering just how important they are, it is a loss. Then, you would also lose some light, which means that you will have to play around with shutter speed as well as ISO.

Another issue is that you will completely lose the ability to focus on subjects that are at a farther distance, and the last issue, and perhaps the biggest issue, is that you will not be able to get the sharper images that you are used to since there is going to be a lot of lens aberration.

Considering all the disadvantages, it is better to stay away from using extension tubes in the first place because the image quality you are going to get is simply not worth it.


Do You Need To Care About Focus Breathing?


Honestly, I have been taking pictures for as long as I can remember, and not once did I run into issues with focus breathing. It simply is something that is there, and I have to accept it, but considering how advanced lenses and optics have become, focus breathing is more or less an afterthought and never really comes in the way of overall performance.

If you truly are looking for something that works without any issues, then I would highly suggest that you are investing in a good lens, and that should, more or less, take care of the focus breathing that can otherwise come in the way.

Overall, however, one can go onto taking pictures without really caring for focus breathing to begin with. So, no, you really do not have to worry about focus breathing at all.


Do You Believe That Focus Breathing Is A Big Issue?


Honestly, when I started photography, I found focus breathing to be one of the worst issues that could come in the way, but over time, I have realized that it is not really something that should be creating problems for anyone, to begin with. Why is that?

Well, you see, with focus breathing, you really are not going to get into issues if you have a lens that is actually good. There are a lot of average lenses available in the market, too but having a good lens solves most of the things.

So do I believe that focus breathing is a big issue? Not really/ As a matter of fact, it is the contrary, and if done right, it will never create problems for anyone, and that is exactly how it should be.

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Wrap-Up:

Focus breathing is something that has bothered me for as long as I can remember, but over time, I have come to realize that it really is not that big of an issue, and when handled correctly, it should let you take pictures you want to just fine and that too, without any issues.

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