If you recently purchased a wide-angle lens, you know it can capture a wide, expansive scene. It is ideal for different types of photography because it enhances your perspective. But if you are clueless about its proper usage, it also creates a distorted and unflattering image.
To use a wide-angle lens properly, you must choose a subject to emphasize. Get closer to that person or object to capture a dynamic photo. Also, consider using leading lines, foreground, and background elements for visually striking images.
However, learning how to use a wide-angle lens is just one step toward taking great photos. You must also understand when to use a wide-angle lens to take full advantage of it. This article will teach you this information and other tips on using this camera equipment.
What Is a Wide-Angle Lens?
A wide-angle lens is any lens with a wide field of view or perspective. It also has a shorter focal length than a standard or telephoto lens. Hence, it allows you to capture more elements within a scene.
Plus, a wide-angle lens features a deep depth of field. The DoF is the area that appears sharp in the image. The deeper the depth of field, the larger field of view in focus. A wide-angle lens can keep the foreground and background sharp. It is ideal for several photography genres.
Wide-angle lenses are available in prime or zoom versions. They even have different focal lengths. Models with 24mm focal lengths and shorter are ultra-wide lenses. Those with even shorter focal lengths of 15mm are called fisheye lenses.
How Wide Is a Wide-Angle Lens?
A wide-angle lens typically covers an angle of view ranging from 64 degrees to 84 degrees. It is equivalent to a lens with a 35 to 24mm focal length in a full-frame camera.
However, wide-angle lenses can also offer a wider field of view down to 6 to 8mm. Lenses with such focal lengths are either rectilinear or fisheye designs. They capture almost all of the scene in front of you, which is ideal for wide-angle photography. However, they result in a very distorted photo that affects the overall image quality. This distortion may be desirable or not, depending on the type of photography that you do.
When to Use A Wide-Angle Lens?
A wide-angle lens captures a very wide scene. It can exaggerate the relative depth and size of the subject within the frame. It is suitable for different types of photography.
Below, we will cover when to use a wide-angle lens and what makes it great for that instance.
Architecture and Real Estate Photography
These photography genres require you to take pictures of the whole building or room. Doing this task is challenging with a standard lens. That is why many architecture and real estate photographers use wide-angle lenses.
As previously mentioned, wide-angle lenses have a broad field of view or perspective. They can easily fit the entire building structure or room in the frame. Wide focal lengths also give the illusion of a larger space, which looks appealing to prospective buyers.
The ideal focal length for architecture and real estate photography depends on the subject size. Choose a 24mm lens for little to no distortion in the image. However, consider an 18mm ultra wide-angle lens if the building is too tall or the room is too large.
Taking pictures of vast landscapes is another instance of using an ultra wide-angle lens. This type of lens can capture more of the scene in front of you, which is ideal for landscape photography. It can also keep everything in focus if you use a deep depth of field or DoF.
Other wide-angle lenses, such as the fisheye lenses, offer 180 degrees of view. They make it possible to take breathtaking landscape panoramas.
Street and Travel Photography
You can also use a wide-angle lens for street and travel photography. Stick with common focal lengths, such as 24mm and 35mm. These wide-angle lenses can take photos of buildings and streets without distorting straight lines.
Wide-angle lenses also come in versatile zoom versions. They can capture wide angle shots for travel at 24mm. At the same time, they can take landscape shots with an 18mm focal length. Zoom wide-angle lenses are ideal for travelers who do not want to bring multiple lenses during their trips.
Another instance when to use a wide-angle lens is event photography. This type of photography usually involves taking pictures of groups of people. A wide-angle lens with its broad perspective can fit almost every element in the frame.
A wide-angle lens can also capture numerous situations during an event. For example, it can photograph the bride walking the aisle and the audience’s reaction to her entrance. A normal lens is unable to do this due to its limited focal length.
Night Sky Photography
An ultra wide-angle lens is also suitable for astrophotography and night sky photography. It offers a wide field of view that can take pictures of the vast sky.
Choose a wide-angle lens with a large maximum aperture for low-light situations. It allows more light to enter the image sensor, which gives you sharp and clear images.
How to Use a Wide-Angle Lens? 6 Essential Tips to Know
Below are our tips on using a wide-angle lens to capture great photos.
Use Leading Lines
Wide-angle lenses give you an expansive angle of view. It can exaggerate the scale of subjects in the scene. You can make this effect more dramatic by using leading lines.
Leading lines are lines that take your eyes from the foreground (bottom of the frame) toward the background. They are almost everywhere, which makes them easy to find if you train your eye. Popular leading lines include roads, tunnels, caves, bridges, and rivers. They can pull you straight into the image.
Get Close to the Subject
Contrary to popular belief, you can still get close to the subject when using a wide lens. A wide-angle lens can give you a broad perspective that makes it easier to include everything in the frame. But with the right technique, it can emphasize a particular element within a scene.
Feel free to put the subject near the wide-angle lens so it fills the entire frame. Doing so makes the image more dramatic compared to a shot using a standard lens.
Use a Narrow Aperture to Ensure Everything is in Focus
Set a narrow aperture if you want to capture wide-angle shots that are sharp from front to back. Use a higher f-stop number, such as f/11 or f/16, to make the aperture as narrow as possible. Doing so gives you a deep depth of field that enlarges the focus area within an image.
However, note that a narrow aperture (high f-stop number) limits the amount of light entering the sensor. Ensure you are shooting in an area with optimal lighting or using a relatively slow shutter speed for proper exposure.
Put Foreground Interest
Most photographers keep the foreground empty when using wide-angle lenses. Although this technique is fine, it does nothing to make the image stand out.
If you want to add visual interest to your photos, place one foreground element in the scene. Juxtapose it with a distinct background element. Let the foreground guide your eye through the frame toward the horizon.
You can use this technique for different kinds of photography. For example, you can use the dirt as a foreground and contrast it with background trees in landscape photography. You can also juxtapose a building with background structures in architectural photography.
Consider Shooting from a Low-Angle Perspective
If you want to highlight the foreground more than the background, you can shoot from below. Get down on your knees and point the wide-angle lens toward the sky or ceiling. You will get a unique perspective that captures the attention of viewers. Shooting from a low angle also makes objects look bigger than they are in real life.
Capture a Panorama Shot
Wide-angle lenses can capture vast, sweeping images. However, even the widest lenses can only offer a limited angle of view. Consider using panorama mode to photograph the entire scene in front of you.
Ensure you have a tripod to capture a panorama shot successfully. Press the shutter button to take several shots of the scene while slowly panning the camera.
A wide-angle lens can broaden your perspective to capture more of the scene in front of you. However, it creates a distorted image if you are not careful.
To use a wide-angle lens properly, emphasize leading lines or foreground elements for a dynamic composition. You can also get close to the subject to exaggerate its size. Finally, learn the best times to use a wide-angle lens for stunning images.
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