How to Buy a Wide Angle Lens

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How to Buy a Wide Angle Lens

Wide angle lenses are used to compress a wide area into the camera frame and for creating various special effects. They are ideal for landscape and architectural photography.

About Wide Angle Lenses

Wide angle lenses give the camera a wider angle of view than other lenses. They are frequently used by landscape and travel photographers to produce stunning pictures. The ability of wide angle lenses to deepen space results in perspectives that are not possible with standard lenses. Deepening space means that distant objects appear further away, or smaller, and nearby objects appear closer, or larger. This perspective enables shots to be taken that emphasise nearby objects, such as small flowers, while still including objects further away, such as trees, in the composition. Wide angle lenses can produce some fantastic effects and are used for far more than producing standard landscapes or for squeezing a larger area into the frame. Their various applications make them attractive lenses for any photographer to purchase and experiment with.

Choosing Wide Angle Lenses

There are many things to think about when buying a wide angle lens. These include compatibility, size, focal length, aperture, and prime or zoom. The way in which the wide angle lens is used has a bearing on all of these.

Compatibility

Wide angle lenses need to be compatible with the camera model. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual or the product description or specification if in doubt.

Size

Size, weight, and portability are often important issues when it comes to lenses, particularly when they need to be carried alongside a bulky digital SLR camera and various accessories. Fortunately, most wide angle lenses are relatively portable, so while it’s always good to check out the specifications, generally the size of a wide angle lens is not a determining factor in its purchase.

Focal Length

Wide angle lenses have a shorter focal length and a wider viewing angle than other lenses. They increase the depth of field, making distant objects appear further away. Standard wide angle lenses have a focal range or value less than 35 mm. This is compared to standard lenses which have a focal range of around 35 mm to 70 mm. Besides standard wide angle lenses there are also ultra wide angle lenses, which have an even lower focal range. The point at which a wide angle lens becomes known as an ultra-wide lens varies slightly, but it is typically at about 24 mm. The shortest focal lengths are about 8 mm. Fisheye lenses are a specific type of ultra wide angle lens. Which focal length is best depends upon individual preference and style of photography. All wide angle lenses emphasise the foreground and allow more information to be included in the shot. The extent to which this can be done depends upon focal length. But consideration of focal length also involves thinking about composition and the kind of effect desired in the final image.

Aperture

The aperture is the lens’ diameter and refers to the quantity of light that can reach the camera’s sensor. Photographers who frequently shoot indoors in low light often prefer lenses with a greater maximum aperture, which can capture more light and do away with the need for a flash. This also creates more natural photographs, without the harshness that using flashes can result in. Lenses with greater maximum apertures can have faster shutter speeds. However, greater apertures also restrict the number of objects that can be focused upon, which has implications for landscape photography and many typical wide angle shots. Having a lower minimum aperture is also preferable. Lenses with lower minimum apertures can have slower shutter speeds. This is great for some shots, like those of streams and waterfalls where the water appears to be flowing.Aperture is usually expressed in f numbers. The lower the number, the greater the aperture. It is sometimes referred to as the f value or the aperture value. Check both the maximum and minimum apertures and compare them across different lenses.

Prime and Zoom

The prime or zoom argument is a common one amongst photographers, and both prime lenses and zoom lenses have their benefits and drawbacks. The advantages of zoom lenses are perhaps easier to see. They offer a range of focal lengths, which means flexibility and convenience. One zoom lens can do the job of three prime lenses, without the need for tricky lens changes on the move or the extra expense of purchasing additional lenses. The advantages of prime lenses, which have a fixed focal length, are perhaps harder to appreciate. They are typically cheaper per lens due to their simpler optics. They are also typically more lightweight, but this is less of an issue with wide angle lenses than with larger lenses such as telephotos. An argument that holds up is that prime lenses have a larger aperture, meaning that more light can be let in and natural looking images can be taken in darker conditions, without using a flash. Prime lenses are generally regarded as producing higher-quality images, and this seems to apply especially for wide angle lenses. Ultimately which is better is a matter of individual taste, depending on how important the convenience of zoom lenses is weighed up against the ability of prime lenses to take clear, precise shots, especially in low light. Reading product reviews can be helpful here, as certain lenses of both types are more highly regarded than others.

Conclusion

Wide angle lenses have a wider viewing angle than other lenses, a property which is frequently employed by travel photographers to take shots of broad landscapes and similar images. Other interesting effects are possible using the ability of wide angle lenses to emphasise nearby objects while still keeping distant objects in focus. Considerations when purchasing a wide angle lens include compatibility with the camera, size and portability, focal length, aperture, and whether to buy a prime or zoom lens. How the wide angle lens is to be used will affect these choices. The manufacturer’s manual or product description should be referred to for compatibility issues. Most wide angle lenses are fairly small, but the specification should be checked if this is an important factor. Wide angle lenses have a focal length or range under 35 mm, with standard wide angle lenses around 24 mm to 35 mm. Ultra wide angle lenses have a focal length under 24 mm, and fisheye lenses are a type of ultra wide angle lens. Aperture is the lens’ diameter and lenses with larger maximum apertures are able to allow in more light, good for shooting in low light. Smaller minimum apertures allow for slower shutter speeds and interesting effects. Prime lenses are fixed with regards to focal length, whereas zoom lenses are variable. This makes wide angle zoom lenses more flexible, but wide angle prime lenses have larger maximum apertures and are typically regarded as producing higher-quality images. Reading product descriptions and reviews is a good way to become familiar with the different features and applications of wide angle lenses. Always compare prices with different sellers to find the best deals.

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