Wide angle Lenses

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Capture your environement with a wide angle lens

In order to cover the widest possible range of shooting scenarios, photographers usually invest in a variety of lenses. And most photographers like to keep a wide angle lens in their bag in order to capture scenes where the environment plays an important role. For example, most landscape photography will be captured with a wide angle lens, as well as real estate and street photography.

Choosing a wide angle lens

Depending on the camera you shoot with, you will likely have a range of wide angle lenses to choose from. If you are looking for a Canon wide angle lens or a Nikon wide angle lens you will have lots of options to choose from, including prime lenses and zoom lenses. A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length that generally offers great low-light performance and crisp, sharp images. A zoom lens, however, will allow you greater control over your composition without the need to physically move yourself closer to or further from your subject.

Wide angle focal lengths

The thing that distinguishes a wide angle lens from the rest is the short focal length. Focal length is what determines the field of view, so for example a 200mm focal length provides a very narrow field of view and is useful for shooting distant objects. Any lens with a focal length of 35mm or less is generally considered a wide angle lens and this will provide a wider field of view. This can be particularly helpful when space is limited, as is often the case in real estate photography.

Uses for wide angle lenses

As alluded to earlier, wide angle lenses are generally used to capture scenes rather than subjects. They are not typically used to capture portraits because they suffer from barrel distortion which causes a bloating effect on human subjects. This can also be a problem in architectural photography as it causes straight lines to become curved. One of the reasons that professionals are willing to spend significantly more money on high-end lenses is that they cause less distortion. Another limitation of wide angle lenses is the depth of field. Many photographers like to shoot at wide apertures in order to create a narrow depth of field which helps to blur out the backgrounds of their images as much as possible. This is often referred to as the ‘bokeh effect’. Wide angle lenses aren’t as adept at creating this effect as, say, a 50mm lens. Of course this can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the scenario.

Other resources for choosing camera lens:

Photo 101: Sensor size and lens choice 

How to choose the right lens for your camera

Camera lens buying guide