Have you stumbled across an amazing landscape photo on Instagram and asked how they took it? Maybe you’ve seen some stylized portrait shots and couldn’t put your finger on how they were able to achieve it. Well, they used a wide angle lens.
In this article we’re going to answer the question: what is a wide angle lens used for. We are then going to dive a bit deeper and define what a wide angle lens is and give some recommendations.
By the end of this article you’ll not only have your answer, but you’ll be prepared with knowledge going forward!
Enough talking, let’s get going!
Let’s define a wide angle lens
Have you heard all of the hype around the Iphone 11 Max Pro’s wide angle lens? I’m sure you have. Most notably, their ultra-wide angle lens.
A lens is defined as a wide angle when it ranges between 24-35mm. An ultra-wide angle is anything below 24mm.
A wide angle lens is somewhat stretching the light, giving you a greater field of view. The wider the lens, the more dramatic this “stretch” becomes.
There are zoom lenses on the market that fall in the ultra-wide and wide angle range. This could benefit you greatly by giving you added field of view (the area you see).
We will discuss actual lenses later, but for now, let’s answer your question!
So, what is a wide angle lens used for?
There isn’t a definite “reason” for a lens or even the “correct” way to use one. You see, art as a whole is subjective. Something that looks great to you, could be viewed as terrible by someone else. The same can be said about photography.
Your lens has a lot to do with the end result. It’s the elements within the lens that bends the light entering it to give you your image. So, saying that a lens is good only for one or a few type of instances in non-sense.
But, certain lens and focal lengths are better at certain types of photography.
A wide angle lens is great for three types of photography (in my honest opinion). These include:
- Real Estate (interior especially)
- Wide-angle portraits
For landscape photography, you want to capture as much of the landscape as you possibly can. You want your fore-ground, midground, and background to all be in the photo.
You want to take a photo that looks as close to what you’re seeing in the moment. A wide angle is the perfect match for this. Landscape’s are great for ultra-wide lenses as well!
For real estate photography, the wider the lens the better. Feel free to step into the ultra-wide space for this.
As mentioned previously, the wide angle lens will “stretch” your image, giving you a greater field of view. This “stretch” will also make a room look a lot larger than it really is.
This is a positive in two ways. You can see more of a room and it makes the room look bigger! Real estate agents love photos taken with an ultra-wide angle lens such as the Laowa 12mm (Sony, Canon, Nikon). It makes all of the rooms in their properties look bigger and wider. You can’t ask for more!
Wide angle portraits
Wide angle portraits is a small niche within photography. This is what I like to call “stylized” portraits. Or portraits that have an edgy feel to them. You can get some incredibly powerful images from a wide angle lens with the right subject.
Music groups, edgy models, and companies wanting product photography love this kind of look.
As you can see, you can get some breathtaking photos with a wide angle lens. There are times where people have been quoted to say they keep a 24mm prime lens on their camera and never take it off. Who knows, this may be your style… you never know…
Let’s discuss some lens recommendations
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits and ways you can use a wide angle lens. Let’s discuss the lenses themselves.
I will say, if you want high quality glass you’re going to pay a high quality price. Most wide angle lenses aren’t cheap and the ones that are don’t produce great results.
What I recommend to you - if you can’t afford a higher quality lens right now, save up. You’ll thank yourself later after seeing the results, I promise you.
One of the best wide angle zoom lenses is the 16-35mm. Hands down. All manufacturers make it as well. Canon, Sony, and Nikon all have their versions. It’s recommended to get the f/2.8 version over the f/4. This will allow you to expose better in low light.
What this lens will allow you to do is get both ultra and regular wide angle shots. They’re all pretty equal when it comes to quality. This will ensure you’re getting the highest quality image as a result (regardless of manufacturer). With the f/2.8 aperture, you’ll be able to take great photos in low light as well (such as indoor real estate photos).
More affordable 12-24mm
A more affordable alternative would be the Sigma 12-24mm (Sony, Canon, Nikon). This is a very solid lens allowing you to achieve very clear and crisp results. The only downside is the variable aperture. This will hinder you in low light situations. But if you can deal with the disadvantage, you’ll get very similar results in quality as the 16-35mm
As far a prime lenses are concerned, you should consider a 24mm 1.4 (Canon, Nikon, Sony). You’ll be able to achieve incredible bokeh and low light performance (great for live performances). I always recommend the Laowa 12mm (Sony, Canon, Nikon) as well. It’s what I currently use. Incredible results, incredibly sharp, incredibly wide, but entirely manual. It’s the trade-off for the price and angle.
With these recommendations, you have somewhere to start when looking for a wide angle lens. It doesn’t mean you have to purchase the exact lenses to achieve the look you want. It only means it’s a place to start. You would get great results with the lenses that are mentioned, but you can achieve great results with other lenses as well.
You’re all set!
Now that the question: what is a wide angle camera lens used for has been answered… you can move forward knowing that information.
I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope it answered your question as well as preparing you for the future, whether it be a purchase or just informative. Let me know in the comments below!
Until the next article, keep shooting and creating!!!