What is Wide-Angle Lens

  • As the name implies, wide-angle lenses enable you to take a broader look at the landscape than the standard lens permits. Some find this a more natural and convenient way to look at the world: many photographers keep a 28mm or 35mm lens on the camera most of the time, relegating the 50mm lens to the same role as the telephoto - a means of cropping in on detail.
  • Using a wide-angle lens perhaps requires a little more thought than a telephoto lens. Its most noticeable feature is the ability to cram more of the landscape into the frame, but paradoxically "more" can sometimes mean "less". Often pictures taken on a wide-angle lens come out as a mass of busy detail, lacking a center of interest. The reason lies in the way we look at the landscape with our eyes: we scan across it, often turning to follow the horizon from left to right. The camera, of course, doesn't scan the scene, and although a wide-angle lens may take in the same sweep of horizon, it also includes much of the sky above the horizon, and the land in the foreground. Unless there's interest in these areas, the picture as a whole will be disappointing. To avoid this problem, look at the subject very carefully when you've got a wide-angle lens on the camera. Scan the sky and the foreground, and move the camera around so that each and every area of the frame contributes to the overall image.
  • Because wide-angle lenses take in a broader view, they sometimes appear to distort the landscape image. The most conspicuous distortion is the convergence of parallel vertical lines: trees, for example, may appear to lean together at the top.
  • Lenses with focal lengths shorter than about 28mm may introduce another distortion, smearing and elongating objects at the corners of the frame. The only solution here is to keep objects with familiar shapes near the middle, where they are least affected.

More about telephotos lenses