Wide-Angle lenses

A front view of an EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. The bubble-like qualities of the glass provide a 180-degree angle of view giving images a rounded feel.

A wide-angle lens allows you to capture an entire scene, sometimes to the point of distorting elements of the image — which can be used for compositional effect, or it can just make your image look odd. Typically the focal range of wide-angle lenses begins around 24mm (known as superwide lenses, although Canon offers some wide-angle lenses up to 35mm) down to fisheye (shown in 6-12) and ultrawide lenses of 14mm and 15mm.

Wide-angle lenses broaden the angle of view that will be recorded onto your image sensor, and they commonly increase the depth of field and bring more of the image into focus. Furthermore, wide-angle images increase the apparent distance between the foreground and the background (the opposite of what a telephoto lens does), which allows you to create some very interesting compositional effects. Additionally, they tend to be physically smaller lenses, which makes them easy to pack as an extra goody to use for interesting shots at opportune moments.

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Note

The opposite of barrel distortion, by the way, is called pincushion distortion, where instead of the sides of the frame bulging out, they are pinched.


Tip

What about creating multi-image panoramic photographs with a wide-angle lens? While it might seem natural to use a wide-angle lens to create a panoramic image comprising multiple digital shots that have been stitched together, you’ll need to be careful that you’re not shooting too wide. If the image is distorted, such as what happens with a fisheye lens, it will not work correctly. You’re better off shooting with a lens giving you a 1:1 ratio, and taking more photos.

Category: Science of Lenses

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