The different Angle-of-View measurements

Look at any lens spec, and they will normally talk about the angle-of-view (AOV), sometimes used interchangeably (and incorectly) with field-of-view (FOV). But there are three forms of AOV, and they can be somewhat confusing. The first form is the diagonal AOV. It is one of the most common ones found in lens literature, but it isn’t very easy to comprehend without viewing the picture across the diagonal. Next is the vertical AOV, which makes the least sense, because we generally don’t take pictures, or even visualize the vertical. Lastly is the horizontal AOV, which makes the most sense, because of how humans perceive the world in front of them.

Showing the diagonal AOV of a lens is hard to conceptualize. It’s a bit like the way TV’s are described as being, say 50″, which is the diagonal measurement. In reality through, the TV is only 43.6″ wide. Horizontal is how people generally conceptualize things. As an example of a lens, consider a 24mm full-frame lens – it has a diagonal AOV of 84°, and a horizontal AOV of 74°. This isn’t really a lot, but enough to get a little confusing. A 16mm lens that has a AOV of 180° in the vertical, may only have a horizontal AOV of 140° An example of this is shown below.

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