What Camera Lens is Closest to the Human Eye?

What Camera Lens is Closest to the Human Eye featured photo

Do you ever wonder what camera lens is closest to what the human eye can see? That makes the two of us. As someone who likes to capture images as close as possible to my vision, I often wonder what equipment I should use.

The camera lens closest to the human eye is the 50mm lens used on an SLR or full-frame camera. It offers the same 46-degree angle of vision that our eyes are capable of seeing. 

However, several factors affect the angle of view in lenses, including the sensor size. For example, on an APS-C crop-frame camera, you must use a 35mm lens to get perspective close to what the eyes can see. This article will cover the reasons why you use this focal length. We will also show you how a camera lens can replicate human vision. 

What Camera Lens Is Closest To The Human Eye?

The camera lens closest to the human eye

The camera lens closest to the human eye is the 50mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera. This lens offers a field of view and focal length that are the most accurate from the perspective given by human vision.

However, if you are using an APS-C camera body, the 50mm lens will not give you the same viewing angle. That is because the APS-C sensor introduces a crop factor of 1.5x or 1.6x. It results in a closer or narrower field of vision. 

To put that into perspective, a 50mm lens on a crop camera sensor is equivalent to a 75mm or 80mm lens. These focal lengths do not offer a field of view closest to the human eye. Instead, use a 35mm lens on a crop-sensor camera to capture images at the same focal length as our eyes.

The Eye as a Camera Lens

The human eye is basically like a camera lens. It can focus incoming light rays onto a surface. In the case of the eye, it is the retina. Meanwhile, for the camera, the lens focuses light onto an image sensor.

In humans, the brain processes the information from the light and turns it into an image, which we can interpret. However, in the camera, the sensor converts the incoming light into an electrical signal. The built-in image processor comprehends these electrical signals and transforms them into a digital image. After photo processing, it can be stored on a memory card or displayed on a screen or computer for viewing.

What Is The Resolution Of The Human Eye?

It is difficult to determine the resolution of the retina in the human eye because it involves various factors.

First, the retina has a curved shape compared to the flat surface of an image sensor, regardless if it is a crop or full-frame sensor. The former has more cells (or pixels) in the middle, where the curvature is strong. Meanwhile, the sensor has an even pixel density.

The lighting condition and contrast perception can also affect the resolution of the human eye. For example, in dim lighting or low-contrast situations, the resolution may be lower than in bright and high-contrast settings.

Age is another factor that impacts the resolution of the human eye. As we grow older, we lose some cells sensitive to light, leading to blurry vision. However, the brain adapts to the deterioration of vision and still produces an image.

At the end of the day, it is not recommended to compare the resolution of the human eye to those of digital cameras and displays. They work differently and have distinct measurement methods. If you need to make a comparison, it is better to consider the video camera than a single image.

However, a photographer and scientist, Dr. Roger Clark, managed to calculate the resolution of the human eye. He said that the eye is equivalent to 576 megapixels, given that only a 120 degrees field of view is used rather than the full 180 degrees.

Human Eye’s Focal Length

The focal length of our eyes refers to the distance between the retina and the eye lens. Like the resolution, this factor is difficult to calculate because it varies depending on the person. Different people have distinct eye power, which affects the human eye’s focal length. Additionally, the eye can change the focus plane to view subjects at different distances clearly.

The nominal focal length of the human eye is around 22mm. However, this figure does not determine the angle of view of the human eye. Note that only a portion of our vision is processed by the macula or main retina. The other parts that the eye can see (but the macula cannot process) are called peripheral vision.

The center of our vision has around 40 to 60 degrees angle of view. It is close to the perspective that the 50mm standard lens offers, which is 46 degrees.

What Is The Aperture of the Human Eye?

What Is The Aperture of the Human Eye

Unlike a camera system, the human eye lacks a physical aperture. Instead, it has a pupil that expands or contracts depending on the lighting conditions. It acts as the variable aperture of our eyes.

In bright light, the pupil (aperture) of the eye constricts or becomes smaller to limit the light entering the retina. It can narrow down to 1/16th of an inch or around 2mm in diameter. That roughly translates to f/8-f/11 in camera terms.

In contrast, the aperture of the eye expands to allow more light in dim conditions. It can become as large as 1/3rd of an inch or 8mm. That converts to between f/2.1 and f/3.8.

Note that the aperture of the eye is not the same for everyone. And since it is a living organ, the figures can change over time due to old age or health conditions.

Does the Human Eye Have an ISO Range?

ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light. The human eye does not have an ISO speed range like the camera. That is because it can quickly adjust to different lighting environments. It allows you to see in bright and dim light conditions with ease.

While it is hard to directly compare the camera’s ISO sensitivity to the human eye, it is said to have ISO 800 in low-light conditions. However, in a bright and sunny setting, the ISO value of the eye is 1. 

Remember that these are merely estimated values. In reality, our own eyes can discern contrast ranges from 1 to 10,000. 

Dynamic Range Defined

This term describes the ability of our eyes to distinguish between varying brightness levels in a given scene. Like ISO, the dynamic range of the human eye is difficult to calculate. It largely depends on the person’s age and eye health.

Our eyes also act more like a video camera. They constantly adjust to various lighting conditions.

As such, the human eye is said to have a dynamic range of more than 24 stops. It exceeds the average dynamic range of most cameras, which is around 12 to 15 stops. 

“Stops” simply describe the brightness difference between different parts of an image. Since the eye has 24 stops of dynamic range, it can identify 24 times the difference between the darkest and brightest areas in a scene.

How Shutter Speed Compares to How Humans Perceive Light

The human eye works differently from a camera’s mechanical shutter. It can detect movements and moments with remarkable speed and clarity. That allows us to perceive events that happen in a fraction of a second.

However, it is unable to capture all the details because of the time it takes for the photoreceptor cells in the retina to function.

In general, the human eye can handle light flashes as fast as 1/100th of a second. It can be faster, depending on the lighting conditions. But it can also be slower, which is usually a result of old age or poor eye health.

Is The Human Eye Concave Or Convex?

The human eye comprises different parts, which lead to a complex structure. The component mainly contributing to vision is the lens.

The lens is convex in shape, meaning it bulges outward. It is thicker in the center and thinner at the edges. The lens helps bend and focus light on the retina to create an image our brains can comprehend.


If you want to take pictures as accurately as possible, you might want a lens that feels most like your own eye when framing a shot. A 50mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera is great because it offers a 46-degree angle of vision. However, on an APS-C crop-frame camera, you must use a 35mm lens to achieve the same perspective as the human eye.

Do you have other questions about the lens closest to our eyes? Send your message via our contact page, and we will respond right away!