Windlight Contributor, Myra Wildmist is back with new art and photography tips! this time she explores how you can simulate a 85 mm lens:

In my previous post, I mentioned some lenses are better suited for specific types of photos than others. For instance, if you’re taking a landscape or close-up or portrait, it’s best to choose a lens best suited for the task.

One of the most popular lenses used in real life photography is the 85mm lens. In particular, it’s a popular choice for portrait photography.

An 85mm lens can cost between $500 and $1500. Yes, photography is an expensive hobby; I certainly can’t afford all the lenses I want. Great news, though. Lenses don’t cost a dime in Second Life and we can use any one we want whenever we want. So why not take advantage of that?

Today, I’m going to show you how to use Phototools to simulate the lens specifications of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm  f/1.4G lens.

Getting the lens specifications

You can simulate almost any type of lens you want in Phototools. The first thing you do is look up the specifications for the lens you’re interested in using. You can get these from online photo stores, such as B&H Photo, or from the manufacturer itself.

In this case, I found the specs for the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm  f/1.4G lens on the Nikon site, here.

Most of the specs you won’t need. We’re not creating an exact, virtual replica of the lens; we’re just using it as a baseline. Here’s what we need:

Focal length – 85mm
Maximum Aperture – f/1.4 (f-number 1.4)
Minimum Aperture – f/16 (f-number 16)
Angle of View – 28 degrees 30 minutes or 28.5 degrees. (60 minutes = 1 degree)

Setting up your 85mm lens in Phototools

With this information in hand, let’s set up our 85mm lens in Phototools.

  1. Open up your Phototools (Alt+P).
  2. Select the DoF/Light tab.
  3. Check Enable Depth of Field (DoF).
  4. Check Show the Current FOV of the Viewer Screen
  5. Set Foc Length to 85.
  6. Set the View Angle to .4974 (28.5 degrees).
    Note: Unfortunately, the View  Angle in Phototools is in radians so you have to convert it. 28.5 degrees = .4974 radians. If math makes your head hurt, too, RapidTables has a degrees to radians converter.
  7. Set the FOV to the FOV number on your screen (Step 4 turned this on.).
    Look in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. It should be 28.5. Sound familiar?! Unfortunately, the FOV doesn’t change the View Angle in Phototools, so you still need a little math. *
  8. Set your focus point (Alt+Left Mouse Button).
  9. Adjust your f-number for desired DoF effects.
    Stay within the f-number specifications of the Nikon lens – 1.4 to 16. This isn’t absolutely required, but it’s a good guide for getting DoF effects similar to an 85mm lens.
  10. Snap your photo.

Just to summarize, use these settings to simulate an 85mm lens in Phototools:

Foc Length = 85
View Angle = .4974
FOV = 28.5
Adjust the f-number to your taste, but somewhere in the range of 1.4- 16 (The range of the real life lens.) will probably be the best choice.

*Tech Note: It’s unclear to me why there are two different settings. I think the Phototools Angle View defines the horizontal FOV and Phototools FOV defines the vertical FOV. Yes, the terminology is confusing and probably mixed up, because view angle and field of view are often used interchangeably.

Style thoughts

In real life, you would normally use certain lenses for specific tasks, if you can afford it. While it isn’t absolutely required to use certain “lenses” for taking your SL photos, in a way you are: The default, Phototool settings are for a 50mm lens.

If you don’t change those settings, you’re always shooting with the default lens that came with your SL camera – a 50mm lens.

Why do that when you can easily change the lens and use a lens that might be better for the job at hand?

Tech Note: The SL 50mm lens that every SL snapshot uses is actually an unusual 50mm lens, because the Angle View is set to 60 degrees (1.047 radians). That’s actually slightly wider than most 50mm lens which usually have a view angle of 46 degrees. It’s probably set to 60 because 60 degrees is more comfortable to the human eye.

Author’s Promise: No good at math or don’t want to use the tables? I’m drawing up a chart of lenses and their appropriate Phototool settings. I hope to have it done, soon.

A portrait of me taken with my 85mm settings.



Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G

B&H Lenses

Degrees to radians




One thought on “SL Photography: Simulating a 85mm lens

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