digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

Get Inspired · Find Creativity · Seek Adventure

5 Mistakes Beginners Make Using a Wide Angle Lens and How to Avoid Them

Wide angle lenses are often used incorrectly or selected for the wrong reasons. Many beginners get a really nice wide lens, a 50mm lens (because someone said they should) and a longer zoom lens, then assume they have everything covered because they have focal lengths from 10mm (for a cropped or APS-C sensor camera) to 300mm. But the biggest mistake is not understanding how lenses work, and why you want each of those.

In this article we're going to look at wide angle lenses. What they do, how to use them, and how to avoid the five most common mistakes beginners make using them.

The biggest mistake many beginner photographers make is simply from not understanding how lenses workClick To Tweet

Wide angle lens

Are you making these mistakes with your wide angle lens?

  1. Everything in the image is equal distance from the lens
  2. Having no clear subject in the image
  3. Using a wide angle lens just to be able to fit more “stuff” in the image
  4. Taking unflattering photos of people
  5. Shooting wide for no reason

What is a wide angle lens?

Let's start by defining what is wide angle anyway. Technically it is any lens that has a wider field of view than what the human eye sees.

Back in the days of film a 50mm lens was considered “normal” because it is closest to what you see with your eye normally. Now with digital it's a bit more complicated – 50mm is considered normal for full frame cameras, which equates to about 35mm for APS-C or cropped sensors (to have the same field of view).

Wide angle lenses 750px 02

So anything wider than 50mm (full frame) or 35mm (APS-C) is considered a wide angle lens. The smaller the number for focal length, the wider it will be, such as; 15mm which is super wide (full frame) or 10mm (specialty lens made for APS-C cameras only).

If you go any wider than that it's considered a fish-eye lens and the image becomes almost round or even a full circle.

What does a wide angle lens do?

Wide angle lenses distort things and enhance perspective.

What that means is that objects closer to the camera appear larger than ones farther away, even if they are the same size in reality.

Look at the image of the subway sign above; notice how much larger the end closest to the camera appears compared to the end farther away. This is wide angle lens optics at work. Same with the image of the Brooklyn Bridge (top) and the buildings in the images below.

Any subject with straight lines will appear to converge faster than the eye perceives normally. Buildings come to a peak as you look up, railway tracks disappear into the distance quickly, and so on. Learn to use this to your advantage when shooting with a wide lens.

Wide angle lenses 750px 03Wide angle lenses 750px 04

Adding depth and a sense of inclusion also occurs when using a wide angle lens. You feel like you're more part of the scene, in the image, than those shot with longer telephoto lenses.

Let's compare the images below taken with a wide and long lens respectively.

Wide angle lenses 750px 06
17mm lens on a full frame camera (to get this angle of view you need to use an 11mm on APS-C)
Wide angle lenses 750px 05
75mm lens on full frame (a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera will give you approximately the same angle of view).

Look at the size of the tractor in the two images. Notice how large the tractor looks compared to the grain elevator. See how the size relationship has changed in the second image? The tractor did not move from one shot to the other, nor did the distance between them change. The only things that changed were the lens I used, and the subject to camera distance.

How do you use a wide angle correctly?

Knowing when and how to use a wide angle lens is the key to creating successful images that draw your viewers in, making photos that get the “wow” response you seek.

So how DO YOU get the WOW wide angle photos?

Let's look at the four mistakes beginners make using a wide angle and how you can correct each of them for more powerful images.

Everything in the image is equal distance from the lens
Read the description of what a wide angle lens does (above) one more time. Notice that they are designed to distort and stretch perspective.

So to use a wide angle correctly, to its advantage, you need to have something close to the lens.

Really close!

Most of my favorite wide angle shots were taken within inches of the subject; right in the action.

Wide angle lenses 750px 30
This was shot with a 24mm lens. There is a lack of subject here because all the elements are the same distance from the camera. Compare to the images of the tractor above, especially the wide angle one. Notice how the tractor comes to life when it's larger in the frame.

Now, look at the two images of the bike below. In the one on the left nothing really stands out in the image. By getting even closer the bike is made more of the focus in the image. I'm mere inches from the front tire in the second shot.

Wide angle lenses 750px 07Wide angle lenses 750px 08

That may seem intimidating, but you can't be anonymous or invisible when you're shooting wide.

In order to make your shots more interesting, have more depth and perspective – you have to get closer. Try and get a subject really close to your lens, something else a medium distance away, and the background even farther.

This will give your image layers of depth and make people want to look at it closer, to really explore what's going on in your photographs.

Wide angle lenses 750px 10

This image (above) was shot from the hip (literally) as I crossed the street in NYC. I wanted the feel of the people coming at me. The finished image was cropped and processed like this:

Wide angle lenses 750px 09

To me it says true New York City. Busy, bustling, center of activity – and the wide angle lenses perspective puts the viewer right in the middle of it. Can you feel the chaos?

One more example:

Wide angle lenses 750px 27
Beautiful sunrise, but it feels like it needs something to me.
Wide angle lenses 750px 28
Better – adding a human element, closer to the camera adds depth that the first image is missing.
No clear subject in the image
This one is closely related to mistake #1 above. When everything is equal distance from the lens it all looks small and insignificant.

As soon as you get close enough to make the subject larger – it will start to stand out. So part of getting a clear subject is getting in tight.

In this example series I started off with a 17mm again and a super low camera angle (down on my elbows on the deck of the train trestle). I wanted to emphasize the perspective with the converging lines of the tracks.

Wide angle lenses 750px 14

This first shot (above) wasn't doing it for me, there is no clear subject for the viewer to land on. Then I found a nail sticking out and focused on that.

Again remember I'm literally inches from the nail to get this angle and viewpoint.

Wide angle lenses 750px 13

It's better, but then I noticed a yellow leaf sticking out of the rotten boards. Even better it was backlit by the sun so it really stood out.

See how it becomes the focal point of the image?

Not just because it's large in the frame, but it's also off-centered, has dramatic light on it, and is a bright warm color that draws the eye. All things working in my favour.

Wide angle lenses 750px 15

Please keep in mind this is how photographers shoot!

Even professionals do not take one shot and it's perfect.

We take one, review it, look at our options, and if we decide it's a worthwhile subject – take a few more until we get it just right.

Photography is a journey. Do not expect to get your best shot on the first image you take.

Work the scene, and shoot until it feels right. Composition is partly about rules and elements of composing, but also about your gut instinct and intuition. Get in touch with yours.

You also need to consider what story do you want to tell with your image.

Wide angle lenses are great at helping tell stories – remember they are inclusive.

Think about what you want the viewer to see in your image, where do you want their eyes to land.

Use all your senses to feel what's going on around you as you take the photo – how can you relate that in your image?

Wide angle lenses 750px 11

The image above is inside Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.

I have many images of the altar shot straight on, but this is one of my favourites. I used a wide lens to put the focus on the statues and pulpit and less on the main altar.

The viewer's eye goes to them because they are large in the frame; their gaze takes you into the church for more.

Lastly use good composition and lighting.

Put the subject off-center a little, it will add interest to your image. Make sure the subject has good light and that the background isn't distracting.

Because you see so much going on behind the subject using a wide lens you need the background to complement the subject, add to the story – but not take your attention away too much. Composition a tricky balance< and it takes practice.My 3 tips to help you compose photos that don't suck might be of help in that area.

Mistake #3 – Trying to fit too much stuff in your image
Notice how each mistake flows into the next? They are all mostly related. So if you can solve one issue you're well on your way to taking better wide angle images.

I see this mistake a lot – trying to cram too much into the image.

Say you're traveling and wander into a little market or small shop and find it interesting. So you decide to take out the wide angle and get the entire shop into one shot.

That may be a good record of what the shop looks like – but remember to use the tips above to make a stronger image.

Wide angle lenses 750px 12
Street vendor in Havana, Cuba 17mm lens (full frame)

Get close to one object and make it a clearly defined subject.

Pick something interesting on the counter to focus on, letting the shop be the background, setting the scene. Maybe it could even be the shop keeper you decide to photograph (you might have to get permission first).

Whatever it is, pick one thing – not the entire room, or market, or wherever you are at the moment. The message will be diluted if you try and pack in too much stuff.

Simplify – simplify – simplify.

Often times in photography, less is more. Say more with less stuff in your images. See how simple, yet graphic, the images below are?

Wide angle lenses 750px 16

Wide angle lenses 750px 17

Taking unflattering photos of people
That leads us right to this next one, photos of people.

Little point and shoot cameras usually have fairly wide lenses and the people using them get right in your face to take your photo.

Is it the best photo of you ever? Probably not.

Why? Because wide angles distort things, remember? So your nose gets elongated, your jaw looks like it's protruding, and your head looks ginormous! Sound familiar?

Wide angle lenses 750px 18
17mm lens – not so flattering for the model in this image.

This is generally not a good look for most people. If you want to photograph a person and flatter them, simply do not use a wide angle lens, period. But that doesn't mean you can use it for any people photography. You just need to understand the effect it will produce and use is wisely.

Wide angle lenses 750px 19
35mm – a little better, she's starting to look “normal”.
Wide angle lenses 750px 20
70mm – now we're talking. 85mm is a common focal length for portrait photographers. You can see why in these examples – the face looks much more pleasing, and there is less background showing, making her more of the focus in the image.
Wide angle lenses 750px 21
160mm – great for head shots. Try this experiment for yourself with all the lenses you own and you decide which one you'd most like to be photographed with – then use that when you want to flatter people.

Use a wide lens to take photos of people that show their environment (think the shop keeper in the example above), add a sense of fun or even humour, or tell a story. But know it will likely not be flattering to the subject.

If your intent is to flatter them and make a nice portrait – chose a slightly longer than normal lens in the short telephoto range (85-135mm full frame, 60-90mm APS-C). If you want to learn more about taking portraits you can check out our online portrait photography class here.

Wide angle lenses 750px 22
This wide angle view shows the entire scene which is important to the image. This was our guide and shaman in Peru playing for us at Machu Picchu. The background is important here; it tells part of the story.
Wide angle lenses 750px 23
Using humour – his image wouldn't have the same impact without the effects from the wide angle lens.
Wide angle lenses 750px 24
My friend and photographer Renee Robyn speaking at WPPI in March. The 8mm super wide (used on the Fuji XT-1 which is APS-C so it's like a 12mm angle of view). She's prominent in the frame but you can still see the environment, her audience and the trade show floor that set the scene.
Wide angle lenses 750px 25
The Man himself, Mr. Frederick Van Johnson – we recorded a This Week in Photo podcast episode in Vegas in March. Great fun, again a good use of a wide angle for humour. Love the look! That's Joseph Linaschke (another amazing photography and podcast co-host) in the background).

Kids are another subject that you can use a wide angle on and have some fun with. Let them explore and get close to the lens. It will adds a sense of playfulness and fun to your images.

Wide angle lens mistakes. I learned a ton from this article about how to use this lens properly.Click To Tweet
Shooting wide just because
The last mistake beginners make is to use a wide angle lens just because it's cool, or funky, or different.

Often I see people get a new lens and that's all they use for a while – which can be a good thing too – but they have no reason for doing so. The resulting images tend to reflect that lack of vision.

Or you shoot something wide because that's the lens you had on at the time and you didn't feel like changing it. Can you relate?

Success with a wide lens

Be more intentional when you photograph. Choose your lens based on the feeling or effect you want to add to your image. Consciously look for subjects that will look great shot with a wide lens, and follow the tips above.

Wide angle lenses 750px 26
Converging lines of a long hallway lead the viewer into the scene.
Wide angle lenses 750px 29
Iconic Bally's entrance in Vegas, which is now gone! I'm really glad I took this shot now.

Get closer, have a well defined and clear subject, include less “stuff”, take wide angle people photos properly, and make conscious decisions about using your wide, or selecting another lens.

A wide angle lens is like any tool or gadget. You will have more success using it if you do so sparingly, and when appropriate. Now get out there and have some fun with it.

Wide-angle lens suggestions

If you're in the market to buy a wide angle lens, here are a few suggestions for you.









Note from Darlene – for more on taking better images check out Mastering Lenses by Andrew S. Gibson.

I have the privilege of working with Andrew as a writer over at dPS, so I'm very familiar with his quality of writing, and his teaching skills. Being a good photographer, and being able to teach and explain things so others can understand are two different things. Andrew is good at both!

Mastering Lenses

Buying a new lens can be one of the most difficult choices you make as a photographer. How do you know which lenses are a good buy if you can’t try them out beforehand? Why do some lenses cost so much and others so little? Should you buy a wide angle lens or a prime? Is that fisheye lens as good a deal as it seems?

Mastering Lenses is a 151 page, 38,000 word book about creating beautiful photos with any lens. Wide, zoom, fisheye or anything else.

I highly recommend this eBook bundle by Andrew S Gibson which explains lenses and composition.

Mastering Lenses - a photographers guide to creating beautiful photos with any lens

mastering compositionHis newest eBook is a topic I get many request for here on Digital Photo Mentor – composition. It's the key to creating more interesting and engaging images. Inside the book there are 147 pages covering many different compositional elements. He shows how to use them effectively and provides excellent image examples. At a price of only $14 USD this is a great deal and could be a  valuable resource for moving your photography forward.

Grab them both here now – Mastering Lenses & Composition

You are here: Beginner Photography » 5 Mistakes Beginners Make Using a Wide Angle Lens and How to Avoid Them

lightroom alternative photo editing software

  • Gregg Hasenjaeger

    I think something was lost in translation or in processing. The below paragraph is from the article and seems to leave the reader hanging. It doesn’t include the cropping – process proceedure as expected.

    This image (above) was shot from the
    hip (literally) as I crossed the street in NYC. I wanted the feel of the people
    coming at me. The finished image was cropped and processed like this:

    • Hi Gregg – sorry I don’t follow. There are two versions of the image – the one above and the one below that paragraph. The one below shows the final crop and processing just as is mentioned in the text. What am I missing here?

      • Gregg Hasenjaeger

        It must have been the secondary image of the bike sticking out from under the primary image of the people crossing the street that threw everything out of perspective for me. Your web pages are usually so nice, why this one turned out jumbled I have no idea.

        • jumbled? This is so odd – someone else said that too and I can’t see the same thing. The bike image is way up above those. Can you post a screen shot? What device are you viewing it on? Computer, tablet or mobile? Thanks for helping me solve this.

          • Gregg Hasenjaeger

            I did include a screen shot.

          • Very strange! The screen shot is showing now, sometimes images take a while to appear in Disqus. I have done some recoding – see if it’s better now after doing a page refresh?

          • We’re not able to duplicate this problem in any browsers. Not sure what’s happening or why

          • Brenda Gramson

            Hey Darlene, I am using an iPad and most of the images don’t match the description. I thought maybe it was because of viewing on the iPad but it seems someone else was using a computer and having the same problems.

          • Is it STILL doing it Brenda? Can you reload the page and see and let me know? I can’t for the life of me figure out why and it’s not doing it for me. I’ve tried 3 different browsers and it doesn’t do that.

          • Brenda Gramson

            They are good now Darlene. It seems like they got all jumbled up before and some were missing and some in the wrong spot. Thanks it makes more sense now.

          • Okay whew! I’m not sure what I did to fix it but glad it is now. Thanks.

  • Terry Rawcliffe

    Great article on the use of Wide Angle lenses Darlene. Slowly starting to make sense and come together. I know for myself I am always quickly taking the shot and hoping for the Wow factor. Usually ending up in disappointment. I just need to slow down and compose my shots more. Thanks again.

  • Lenie

    Somehow, the correct photos are not showing up in the descriptions!

  • Lynda Olsen

    Super Darlene! so easy to understand these concepts with your writing style and accompanied by example photos, both good and bad. thank you

  • lee kivi

    Wonderful article Darlene, it explains a lot of what I see (or don’t see) in my work and just in time for the summer

    photo season. Thanks

  • AB

    Great analysis, thanks for the tools!

  • Folake Abass

    A great article that puts many things into perspective for me. I bought my wide angle lens a few months ago and I bought it as months previously, I had visited a Canon shop in Dubai and got to have a “practice run” with it. I liked how a lot more “stuff” was included in the photograph but after reading your article, I see that’s not neccesarily the best use of a wide angle lens.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • kerri

    Awesome article Darlene thanks!! Very informative and inspiring. In your example photo of the sunrise I liked the one without the guy in it; I thought the sky was prettier in the first one. I’m a true sucker for skies, especially sunrises and sets!! I loooooved the elevator pics! And the dramatic example, wow I learned a lot on that one now I want to get out and look at that myself! I see how I have been putting too much stuff in the photo with wide angle as you say, I’d like to try to take some with more interest like your examples especially the tractor/elevator one.

  • Cinnara

    I’ve been experimenting with a wide angle lens, a Sigma 10-20mm on an APS-c camera. But it is always a matter of trial and error.
    Should I have used a higher f number here?

    Darlene, I find all your instructions very helpful! Thanks!

    • Cinnara – when you say “higher” do you mean more like f/11 for more depth of field? If so I’d say no. Having the background out of focus is a good thing.

      But did you use a filter here? One that is a graduated neutral density that gets darker towards the edge to darken the sky? It’s doing that but it’s also darkening the flowers and doesn’t look natural. I tend not to use those kinds of filters for that reason, The horizon has to be perfectly straight and nothing poking into the sky.

      • Cinnara

        Darlene, yes I meant something linke f/11. No, I did not use a filter. The photo is heavily “lightroomed”, using the radial filter; but I didn’t manage to brighten all the flowers.

        • Okay so the same thing can happen using filters in LR as well. Instead of using the radial filter try the graduated one coming from the top of the image – but instead of adjusting exposure pull the highlights slider all the way left. Adjustments need to be subtle so as the viewer can’t tell something has been done to it – whether in camera filter or processing. Does that help?

          • Cinnara

            Yes yes yes! I shall work on the picture again from scratch and follow your advice. Many thanks !

  • I must say this was such an informative article for me…I immediately went out and tried it! My Wide angle lens only goes down to 17mm but I now know what I can do with it…great perspective! Keeping this article on file for future reference! Thanks Darlene!!!

  • Kristin

    Hi Darlene, Thank you for the great article and sum up of how to use a wide angle lens. I am thinking of getting one and it will be very helpful for getting a better composition. I have sign up for your newsletter a while back and find all of your articles and tutorials very good. Thank you for putting so much effort into it. If you ever come to Sydney for a workshop let me know. Cheers, Kristin

    • Thanks Kristin. I’ve been to Melbourne but want to go back and see your city too!

  • J.Davis

    Hi, I wanted some clarification – when you are referring to wide angle lenses in this article are you referring specifically to prime lenses? Also, if I use the widest angle on my 18-135 zoom (18mm), will I get the same effect as if I am using an 18mm prime lense? Great information – I always love reading your articles and advice.

    • Hi J. – no it isn’t just prime lenses, anything wider than “normal” is a wide lens whether it’s a prime or part of a zoom.

      Yes 18mm on your zoom is the same as an 18mm prime. It’s the lens options and angle of view that are the same. Technically 18mm is the focal length meaning literally the distance between the middle of the lens elements and where it focuses the image (the sensor in your camera).

      I hope that helps.

    • Albert

      Hello J. Davis, Yes the 18mm. setting on a zoom lens is the same as that focal length on a prime lens. A prime lens usually has a wider aperture available, and is sharper at the comparative settings, but not always. These days a lot of zoom lenses are so good that they are pretty near as sharp as primes at most settings. However do watch out for how they perform at small apertures and how they perform in poor light. Some may tend to not reproduce colours with as much vibrance.
      Cheers, Albert.

  • J.Davis

    I was inspired, so decided to practice…here’s a couple I shot in the complex where I live. PLEASE be critical, I only want to improve!

    • YES you are getting it! For the bridge one try next time getting down lower almost to the ground. The leaf will look even bigger. Just try different things but you definitely got the idea!

    • Neejan Peddadu

      And if you take it from a lower angle perspective but in the middle of the bridge, you would find the height of the bridge more…

  • Ralston M

    A really great article!! After reading it I started looking closely at the photos in my local newspaper and lo and behold.. more than 90% of the photos taken were using the same principles as outlined by your article and presumably were all taken with wide angle lens. I however have a question do I get physically close to my subject in order to produce the effect and at the same time get the camera focused. I tried it with my 11-16 mm F2.8 wide angle lens on a non-full frame camera and could not get an exposure using aperture priority. The shutter wouldn’t release unless I increased the distance from the subject -is this normal ? Thank you for a great article – I will be using my wide angle lens more than ever before.

    • Ralston – check what is the minimum focusing distance on the lens – you cannot get closer than that, it won’t focus, it can’t. Also check with focus mode you are using – single or continuous. Lastly check if you’re letting the camera pick the focus point or are you on single point putting it right on the subject?

      Oh one other reason cameras can’t focus is it can’t find contrast. If you are so close and the subject is all the same tone the camera can’t “see” it to focus on it. It needs an edge, a contrast area to focus.

      Hope that helps.

  • Galina

    Trying out what I’ve learned from the article.

    • nice great job!

    • elhacedordeluces

      very surreal, nice shot

    • Neejan Peddadu

      Very nice…but it would be nicer if you would not cut the vehicle…

  • Ariel Glaze

    I found this article randomly on the internet and thought, man this guy is good! pffff, Darlene! you’re awesome as usual. Thanks for the insight.

  • Mauie

    Great article. This one really help me. By the way, here’s my shot using Tokina 11-16mm wide angle lens. Temple of Leah here in Cebu, Philippines. Any comments and suggestions of my picture is OK. Thanks a lot guys.

    • Good job keeping things straight for one – I would just watch how elements of the image play together. Like maybe get down lower to the top of the building behind isn’t going through the middle of the statues bodies. Or move over to the left a bit so you get more sky and less of the dark trees. Shooting from lower down may eliminate the people in behind too.

      • Mauie

        Thank you so much Darlene for giving me some tips on how to take good photos using a wide angels lens. I really appreciate that. I really loved Tokina 11-16mm, it’s something that you can capture all the beautiful places in the world. Anyway, I’m not sure if this one is good? Also, I’m looking forward to learn more about photography from you and I hope to meet you soon? Thanks Darlene.

        • There is some nice foreground with the trees and background with the interesting clouds. It’s well balanced, it works.

          • Philip

            Thank you Darlene 🙂

  • ashley tullgren

    What a fantastic article…you have a new fan! I am going to Iceland in June and am searching for a wide angle lens for my Sony a6000 (it’s an APS-C). I was looking at the Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN-Sony E 440965…..but now I’m thinking that maybe I need something more like a 10mm. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Ashley – 19mm isn’t all that wide on APS-C (like about 27mm). I’d say if you want really wide yes the 10-20mm or something in that range will serve you better. OR if you’re doing landscapes you could consider doing multiple shots and stitching them in panos – it will have less distortion that way. Can you borrow or rent a lens before you buy one?

  • wambamthanku

    Amazing article, thank you!

  • Steve Steel

    Is it typical that a wide angle lens will show dust in pictures that is on your sensor more than other lenses?

    • Shouldn’t but if you shoot with a small aperture that will do it, like f/11 or smaller. Are the spots small and black?

      • Steve Steel

        Yes, small and black. They don’t show in any other lens. I cleaned the sensor and was able to get them out but thought it was bizarre they only showed on the WA lens. Saw them at f/22 and 20 after that they disappeared.

        • Yes at small apertures dust will show more than at large ones like f/4.

          • Steve Steel

            Great to know, thanks so much for your insight.

  • Mario Pedemonte

    Nice, learned from it now even when i did not really tried my lens yet 🙂 I have the Samyang 14mm which will be 21mm on my d3200 ( not a prob, it’s better than my 40mm )

    I do Urbex photography and landscape when i can.

    Do you have flickr or instagram so i can follow your awesome photos?

  • Steve Steel

    Would love your feedback on this… It’s my first time using a wide angle lens. Thanks in advanced!

    And thanks for the informative article!

    • Welcome. You’ve got the right idea here but getting down low on the pier and having it get large in the frame. For an added bonus if you had a focal point like a boy sitting in the middle of the pier, a frog, a fisherman, etc – is would give the viewer somewhere to stop. Does that make sense?

      • Steve Steel

        Perfect sense! In fact I can already picture it! Thanks again Darlene.

  • Jorge Curiel

    I just bought a 10-18mm lens that I have wanted since long ago and this is just the kind of advice that I needed! Thank you very much.

    I was already aware (kinda) of some of the mistakes mentioned here, but it’s good to analize them one by one. Will try your recommendations today! 🙂

  • Janis Shetley

    Thanks for a nice article and all the tips. I used my UWA lens this weekend instead of a macro to shoot in a field of flowers and I really liked the results for a change.

    • KillBill

      Brilliant !!

  • Veerendra Sharma

    Thanks for such a nice description. I just ordered 50mm Lens and was confused between wide angle and macro. you cleared it all. Thanks again Darlene.

  • RN Jedi

    I just read in another article a 14mm is ultra wide whereas, the 15mm lens is considered a fisheye lens which may not sound like much of a difference, but is different. The article showed examples of same area taken with each lens at the same height and level. I noticed in one of the pictures in this article was a stream winding through foothills of some area and you said, “it feels like it needs something else” so you put a person taking pictures in the shot. I’m wondering if the camera was set lower to the ground if it would bring more of the golden grain into the lower 1/3-1/2 of the picture which would bring it more to life without adding people. Sometimes I think adding people into a nature shot obstructs the beauty of nature. Then again it could just be location and angle. But, to each his own.

    • You could do either. I personally like people in my photos especially if it’s a footpath as it makes logical sense. As for the classification, I’m not 100% sure how they are defining that but fisheyes typically distort the edges more than “ultra-wide” ones do. The 14th could have rectilinear distortion correction added to correct some of that making it not a fisheye. Does that make sense?

  • Paul Le Roy

    Yep lots to think about and put into practice! I recently photographed a motor sport event using a 24mm on a crop sensor. I was only meters away from the action and it was a challenge to capture the moment as the cars were passing very quickly – I could hear them but not see them com ing!

  • ev

    Is there anyway to adjust photos taken with a wide angle to be a little more flattering? My wedding photographer took all the photos from my wedding day with a wide angle (why!?!?!). I think he was trying to get everyone in the photos taken in front of the church and then maybe forgot to switch lenses. As a result, I look weird, as do others. My nose and chin are sharp and protruding and I look short and wide (I was 110lbs on that day, so I was definitely not wide). Although I can’t go back in time and choose a different photographer, I do have the raw files. Is there anyway they can be manipulated or adjusted so the people in the shots look normal?

  • Ruveem Rox

    Nice article, very informative. I’m still neophyte with my camera lenses. Please be critical with this shot. What needs to improve

  • Sushant Singhal

    Hi Darlene, it is my first occasion to visit this site and enjoy your highly useful series of tutorials and you are already my favourite mentor now onwards. I do not look at myself exactly as a beginner but yes, I find ultra wide angle lenses most difficult to use since there are many more elements in the scene which I have to manage. “Less is not only more but also easier to deal with.”

    I recently got a 10-24 mm Tamron for my Nikon and have yet to come up with really brilliant pictures with it. For the initial 10-15 pics, I stuffed everything in the scene and was soon chastened seeing the boring results. Now I have started using it much more conservatively. This write up will surely help me in improving my wide angle photography. Just one point I request you to clarify – “Isn’t it true that we should be more concerned with what we wish to say / show through our photograph than explicitly showcasing our technique / lens employed? When we write a story, the language is merely a tool for communicating what we wish to communicate in the most effective manner.

  • Nice article 🙂

  • sydoz56

    If I’m travelling and can’t really take more than one lens, should I take the wide angle rather than the telephoto? Lots of landscape I imagine

    • Really depends on what you want to shoot. Do you have a mid-range zoom? Why can’t you take 2 lenses?

  • Soe Thein

    This is such a well-informative article. Thank your sharing

  • Michael Burns

    Can i just say, This is a fantastic article I have been shooting for a while now, and even with all the experience under my belt I learnt a few things. Well written clear examples. This is being Bookmarked for all my friends and up and coming photographers I meet.

  • Charlie Prince

    this is an AWESOME article.. do you have a similar article on how to use 35MM Prime Lens (50mm field of view)? Great writer btw Darlene 🙂

    • Thanks. No but it’s my favorite lens. The only tips I’d give you is to put it on and use it every day for a month.

  • Jay Patel

    LOL!! Love the photo of Fredrick. 😉

    Nice article.

  • Yitz levy

    This is definitely the wrong example but i feel a bit like at a funeral, i have no words. Of course this is the good kind. Or i could go on forever. I learned from this article that i have a real interest in photography or maybe there’s a better word. Im not even a beginner but without any knowledge like for starters anything in this piece, i take pretty good pictures with my phone or reg cheap camera. Anyway, with such a beautiful piece as this it is less frightening to put time into something new & spend money on a more solid piece of equipment . Now i would have what to do with it as opposed to a life of so many years of these mistakes with an expensive toy i have no idea how to use. Weeks or months is more up my alley. Anyway, i tried. Thank you so much for your professionalism and patience. The Lord
    should repay you for sharing your wealth. Ty again.

  • Simona Ventura

    WOW!!!! That was the best article I have read about wide angle lenses!!!!!!! Very sharp and very helpful!! Right to the point!!!!
    THANK YOU!!!

  • Richard

    Hi Darlene,I enjoyed the tips on wide angle.My question though,you said “get close”,,I read somewhere that mentioned 2 inches. I just bought a 17-40 mm and I’ve only been out with it once but focusing was a problem that close. Any suggestions?


  • zzzxtreme

    really good article. bookmarked

  • Hardik Dhrangdhariya

    I want capture interior photo so please suggest lense it can capture without curve

Next Post:

Previous Post:

Featured Photography Special

4 Weeks to Better Photography

An online
photography class for beginners

Join the Photo Community

10 Photography Challenges

Participate in monthly photography challenges. Join our very interactive community, participate in challenges each month that help you stretch and grow. Learn new skills and make your photos "pop".

More Articles Here

All my past photography articles here.

We publish regularly, so if you'd like to posts sent directly to your inbox, just put your name and email into the big orange box at the top of this page.

Adobe Training

Learn how to use Lightroom
Learn how to use Photoshop