Wide angle lens

Creative usage and Drwabacks



This lens when used closer to the subject or subjects in a scene exaggerates the perspective, making the nearer object look much bigger than the one away. This is more because the lens can be used quite close to the subject and is a natural phenomenon, rather than a characteristic of the wide angle as such. wide-angle lens refers to a lens whose focal length is substantially smaller than the diagonal of the film/sensor format being used or in other words, much less than the focal length of a normal lens for the same film plane. As the name suggests, this lens allows more of the scene to be included in the photograph, more in terms of width, a wider angle of view, which is useful in architectural, interior and landscape photography where the photographer may not be able to move farther from the scene to photograph it.


Wide-angle lenses have some special characteristics that can hold some special pitfalls you want to avoid, but those characteristics offer some creative advantages if you use them properly.

You can use those wide-angle-lens qualities in your photography in these ways: 

  • Increase depth-of-field. Sometimes, you want what cinematographers call deep focus. Some photographers are a master of the technique of having both subjects very close to the camera as well as those that are more distant all in sharp focus. You can do it, too. At any given aperture, wide- angle lenses provide more depth-of-field than a telephoto lens, allowing you to picture a larger range of subject matter without distracting blurriness of objects in the foreground, background, or both. 

  • Emphasize the foreground. If you want to put extra emphasis on subjects in the foreground, such as a lake or meadow, while de emphasizing the mountains in the background, use a wide-angle lens. 

  • In these photographs, shot on the beach of Barcelona, spain, on a sunday morning, it gives a feeling of being present in the scene as the area very close to the camera is also included. The One gets the feeling of just standing there and seeing all the activities going around. Being small in size, compared to a long lens, it does not attract attention and make the people aware or bothered of being photographed. 


    Distort the foreground. Although wide-angle lenses tend to exaggerate the size of objects closest to the lens, you can effectively use this

  • form of perspective distortion to create an interesting viewpoint in your picture.


    Use slow shutter speeds. Although telephoto lenses magnify camera shake, wide-angle lenses tend to minimise it. If you can hand-hold your camera with a normal lens (or zoom setting) at 1/60 of a second, you just might be able to pull off 1/30- second exposures, or longer, with a wide-angle lens. 


    Show more stuff. Indoors or outdoors in tight quarters, you can show more of your scene by using a wide-angle lens. You can fit most of a building or all of a room in the picture, but you can also use this expansive view when photographing people in their environment. 


A wide angle is particularly useful in Industrial photography to show the expanse and to include as much as possible.



35mm 1.4 b35mm 1.4 b

A wide angle lens like any other lens could be a zoom or a prime. Typical wide angle lenses are 16mm, 18mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm- which may be considered almost close to the normal 50mm. Lesser is the number, more is the angle of view and more is the perspective and distortion, when used close to the subject.  


Add a unique angle. When you get down low and shoot up with a wide angle, you can creatively use the combination of perspective distortion and the unusual angle. The same is true when shooting down from high angles. 

Portraits, contrary to the common belief can be shot with a wide angle as well as long as you are not too close to the subject. If the subject is away it will not get distorted. The distortion happens only when you use the lens too close to the subject. In these photographs bellow, the part of the wall closer to the camera is getting distorted but thats in fact looking good as it is leading the eye towards the subject.


A low view point with a wide angle makes the kid larger than life, with no distortion as such. Do not miss the gun in the hand ! 


Wide angles ofcourse are known for landscapes. 24mm focal length has included the foreground area as well in the frame. Subject though smaller in size still gets all the attention but the wide expanse included with the wide angle lens shows his solitude in Nubra valley, Ladakh. 

Its not just the wide angle but its usage from a lower angle which is adding to the overall feel of the photograph.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III 24 mm 1/250 at f/4.5 0 EV Aperture priority ISO 50

24mm has exaggerated the perspective in the photographs above shot after a tiring day in one of the parks of Vesailles. But the change in perspective is so many times very effective to convey a point or a situation. A wide angle lens even with a lens hood, is more prone to getting a flare inside the lens. Though here the flare was intentional but be more cautious about the flare while shooting against the light with a wide angle lens.


Exaggerated perspective of 17mm adds to the impact in the photograph above and creates a feeling of being just there in front of the stage. 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III 17 mm 1/60 at f/5.6 Fired, compulsory mode 0 EV Aperture priority ISO 800

Also check Fish eye lens !


Some Drawbacks of Wide angle lenses

Avoid skewed horizontal and vertical lines. Watch those horizons and the vertical lines of buildings so that they don’t look skewed in your photos. Keep the camera level as much as possible. 

Watch proportions. Because wide angles exaggerate the relative size of objects that are close to the camera, you can end up with weird proportions in your photos. You don’t want your spouse’s nose to appear twice its normal size (even button noses don’t benefit from optical plastic surgery), so keep the possibilities of distortion in mind when framing your photos. 

Don’t let lens defects ruin your photos. Wide-angle lenses may distort an image, changing the shape of vertical and horizontal lines at the edges of the photo. Or such lenses may have chromatic aberrations that add purple or cyan glows around backlit subjects. 

Avoid vignetting. Filters, lens hoods, and other add-ons may actually intrude into the picture area when you use wide-angle lenses. Use thin filters, avoid stacking too many of them together, and use only lens hoods designed for a particular lens.

Watch that flash. Your digital SLR’s built-in electronic flash might not spread wide enough to cover the full frame of a wide-angle lens. Use a diffuser or wide-angle adapter over your flash. Some dedicated flash units actually zoom their coverage to match your lens’ zoom position. Also, make sure that your lens or lens hood doesn’t cast a shadow when you shoot close-up subjects with flash.