Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses: 5 Reasons to Use Them

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Getting a new lens is always exciting for a photographer. Whichever one you get, it’s likely going to open up new areas of creative possibility. For those of you thinking about getting some new glass, DigitalRev TV has some good reasons why an ultra-wide angle is the way to go. If you’ve dismissed ultra-wide angles in the past, thinking that they’re the domain of landscape and architectural photographers, watch this video and think again:

Five Reasons You Need an Ultra-Wide Angle Lens

1. The presenter in this video, Kai, quotes photojournalist Robert Capa as saying, “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you aren’t close enough.” The immense field of view with an ultra-wide practically forces you to get in close—if you’re shooting street scenes, or candids, or even portraits with these lenses, the only way to differentiate your subject from the background is to get right up to it.

2. Once you’ve gotten up close, you’ll notice that the background seems to get pushed further away. This combination can make for some really interesting composition, and will get you thinking about creative ways to frame your shot.

3. The ultra-wide’s ability to take in so much of what’s right in front of you makes it possible to create drama using elements of the scene itself. Kai demonstrates how to do that with lines, here with the thoughtful framing of streetcar tracks. By getting up close to the tracks and positioning his camera near them, they start right at the bottom of his photo and extend back into the distance before disappearing. The tracks, though not the subject of the picture, define the space that’s being captured and help to create perspective in a dramatic way.

photography wide angle lens

4.  Ultra-wide angle lenses are perfect for small, tight spaces—you’ll  miss few details whether you’re shooting in a small apartment or even an elevator.

5. The image you get with an ultra-wide is similar to the field of view of our eyes, but our eyes have limitations the lenses don’t. If you’re looking at something close to you, your eyes can still see a lot of what’s in the background, though you can’t focus on it. The reverse is true for far away subjects. But when you close the aperture down on your ultra-wide, the combination of a wide field of view with a long depth of field creates a view of things we’re not used to seeing. This distortion of how we really see makes for a more interesting picture.

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2 Comments

  1. Jacques says:

    Still love my 16-35mm on my 5D Mk III. Took photo’s of a tractor and a horse with it, and made them look so super imposed being close up and then going back to add some scenery in just for the different feel.

  2. Mel Snyder says:

    One economical way to enter the superwide world is the Samyang/Rokinon 8mm. Theoretically a fisheye, it is really a cleverly designed lens with sufficiently predictable optical performance to have enabled Image Trends to apply its “Hemi” Photoshop plugin – and to turn carefully shot images into 180 degree superwide images.

    Check https://plus.google.com/photos/112030639630947309972/albums/5883401039563666289?banner=pwa for examples

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