Have you encountered the term “Wide Angle lens” in photography ? Most newbies who try a hand in photography, invest in a DSLR camera ,and are quite happy with the kit lens that comes with the camera. It is undoubtedly pretty good , with many excellent features. I have been there as well. After using it for a while , you figure some of the limitations. The kit lens can be compared to “Jack of all ,master of none” category. In other words, it can pretty much do everything a camera should. All types of photography is possible with it, be it portraits, landscape, close-ups and so on. However, there are specific lenses geared for each type of photography for example landscape, food photography ,macro or the like ,which may surpass and excel the image obtained by the kit lens.
The other thing most beginners go for is the powerful zoom and telephoto lens which can be quite expensive .Yes of course , zoom lens is quite impressive and has it’s importance as well. It usually has a large focal length and can capture distant objects with accurate perspective and magnification. But it is not a solution for all types of photography.
When I took a basic photography class many years ago, I learnt about a pretty inexpensive prime lens nifty fifty ,which can take really exceptional close-up photos especially for food , portraits , close-ups , flower and product photography. The images taken using the prime lens surpassed any of the images taken by the kit or zoom lens. So if you are interested in a particular type of photography , it is good to research about the specific lens for it.
One of the forms of photography , that I admire , wish to learn and improvise is landscape photography .I normally use my kit lens or zoom lens for landscapes .Although I did get some really good captures, I was not so impressed with the images I obtained .I always feel there is scope for improvising . That’s when I started researching, and found out about the wide angle lens which is widely used for landscape or street photography. It is also used for photographing architecture , street , travel photography, and cityscapes. The photographs taken with a wide angle lens are simply amazing . The colors, intensity and everything about the subject just stands out .Most importantly, it captures a wide view of the subject and expands the horizontal scope of the camera.
So what is a Wide angle lens?
One look through the viewfinder of a camera with a wide angle lens , and you will be amazed with the view .The display shows a wider field of view than what you see normally with your vision .You can almost see a 180 degree vision of the entire frame. The longer the focal length , narrower the angle of view and higher the magnification. Similarly for a shorter focal length , wider the angle of view , and lower magnification.
|Camera Lens||Focal Length|
|Standard Wide Angle||35 mm to 24 mm|
|Wide Angle||24 mm to 16 mm|
|Ultra Wide Angle||below 16 mm|
You may have also heard of the fisheye lens , it is also a type of ultra wide angle lens with 100 to 180 degrees angle of view .It creates a wide panoramic hemispherical image rather than rectilinear .It is caused by the barrel distortion of the lens. The sides of the images are stretched or bent .It was created for astronomical photography but nowadays used for artistic and creative photography .
In a nut shell, wide angle lens helps to create a photograph with a magnanimous and never ending background including the horizon , dramatic skies , clouds along with a magnified foreground. This gives the image a lot of depth .The objects in the foreground appear closer, disproportionately larger and magnified compared to the objects in the background .It helps get an image that is open and a perspective with extended appearance. This is especially useful in landscape, cityscape, travel , street and architecture photography. One however needs to pay attention to exposure and composition, as it may get a little challenging .For example, most of the times you want everything in the frame, but there may be some distractions that you want to avoid.
How to get a good photograph with Wide angle lens
- Get as much close to the foreground whenever possible .This helps to create depth and intensifies the perspective distortion effect .It is not necessary to always have a foreground , but will help achieve a nice depth and a beautiful composition.
- Try smaller apertures like f/8 , f/11 or f/16 to keep all the objects in the final image have a nice clarity , that is crisp .
- Keep the camera at the right level .Even a slight degree of tilt up or down can make the vertical lines to converge because images using wider angle lens usually have distorted edges. This can cause unappealing end results .However sometimes you want to be creative and tilt the lens for eg . to get an image of a tall bunch of trees or mountains. The distortion may actually help get a good image by making them look larger and better.
- Try as much to fill space in the frame and get a low perspective .
What kind of wide angle lens should one choose zoom or prime ?
Wide Angle lenses can have prime or zoom options. Prime lens have short and fixed focal length. You move closer to the subject by physically moving .It is faster, lighter ,cheaper and produces excellent quality images .
Zoom lens have variable focal length ,and they can be of type wide ,standard kit or telephoto lens .They are heavier due to the lenses and expensive as well. It is a myth that images using prime lenses surpass the ones with zoom lens. These days many latest wide angle zooms are as good or even better .They also have a great flexibility.
I am still in the process of researching to find what suits my requirements for photography and what fits my budget .Finally, it is a personal choice , and all depends on what the photographer prefers. You may find this article on wide angle lens photography useful while making a choice in purchasing the wide angle lens. They have the options for both Canon and Nikon listed .If you have any tips on the choice of wide angle lens , please do share in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Disclaimer: I am not a photography tutor or professional .This is only an effort to share the lessons and tips I learnt and compile my experiences using the digital camera .