Wide angle

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How much does your lens see

Wide angles lenses have a focal length less than 28mm (20mm in APS-C) and a very wide field of view. While you see a lot, it is not easy to make use of them

Not what I thought it would be

I like taking landscape pictures. My first lens was the kit lens Nikon 18-105, and I really liked the wide end of it (18mm, 27mm in full frame) for that. I thought if I had a wider lens, I could make better pictures. Then when I finally had a really wide lens (Nikon 10-24), I realized, this does not really work like I thought it would.

It is true that you get more in the view, but it also pushes everything in front of you away, creating a big space between what you want to photograph and you. See the following picture Bosphorus annotated.jpg

Sometimes that can be a good thing, you may want to show how far something stretched. I like the following shot from Ladakh, India, but then again, this is Ladakh, all pictures are great no matter what you do there. Nubra.jpg

You need to come close

If you think you are close, come closer and then a bit more. Cook close setup.jpg

You need consistent light

There will be distortion

For long lenses, the problem is to hold the lens steady and you fight with exposure time. For wide angle, the issue is to hold the camera straight. The wider you get the more things go crazy. What you need to learn is to keep the interest away from things that are no longer that straight. See the picture below Wall annotated.jpg

This is a relatively close shot of the wall, and I believe for the most part it works well. However, look closely on the edge of the frames you see how much skew there is. I highlighted some with cyan lines.


Have something in the foreground

Ladakh2.jpg The problem of the wide angle is that it pushes things away, so you need things to fill the foreground. This is a good example. All of a sudden it is not endless lake, the stones on the left fill the space. Their irregular shape also hides away how much distortion you have on the side of the frame.

Elevation helps

Zanskar.jpg This shot is again from Ladakh, and it is helped by the greatness of the scenery. However, what also helps is that I can keep the camera straight, as I am about 100-150 meters above where the rivers join. Notice how nicely the flags again fill the space.

Interior with distance

Hagiasophia.jpg I wish the scaffolding was not there, but still it gives a bit of perspective of how high the ceiling is in the Hagia Sophia (55m). This is one of those shots where the wide angle works quite good. However, it is important to keep everything aligned. If you are not centered correctly things go very wonky very fast.

Some tips

  • Come close, really close.
  • Keep your camera straight and level. Especially for scenery things work best, if the camera points straight to the horizon. Problem are shots of city where you are at the ground level. Ideally you want to be in the middle of the frame, so balconies are your friend.
  • Keep your subjects in the center (vertically or horizontally) as much as possible.
  • The outside of your frame will get more distorted, try to keep the disturbing lines away in those
  • Circular, round shapes do not distort so much. If your object is round (like the cook I use in example shots) latch on to that.


These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.