The best reasons to own a wide angle lens

Don Orkoskey | April 3, 2023

Best Reasons To Own A Wide Angle Lens

What is the best reason to own a wide angle lens you ask? To answer that question we need to first look at what lenses most people use when they begin taking photos. It used to be that most photographers would start with a 50mm lens which is considered the standard focal length because it doesn't cause any distortion. It's the absolute middle between wide angle and telephoto. These days the first lenses that many of us get are zoom lenses that come with our cameras. While these lenses usually do feature a wide to telephoto zoom most of us start out using the telephoto end of the lens first.

Why is this?

Why Most People Start With Telephoto

The truth is, most people start with telephoto for a variety of reasons. First, we can feel self-conscious and being slightly farther away helps us feel safer, like nobody is watching. Second, while we're just getting used to our camera we tend to stand normally and aim at things with our camera rather than move towards them. Additionally, we might back up to fit everything into our photo, believing that we need to capture more just to be safe. Finally, we often start with a telephoto lens because we don't yet know of the awesome power that wide angle lenses possess.

Wide Angle Lens Power

The power of wide angle lenses is in the way they place our viewer in the action. These lenses make people feel like they were there when they look at photos created with them. Take a look at this photo of a hibiscus flower. We can see the pollen on the lower petals, we feel like we're sticking our face right into it.

The best wide angle flower photo

This is the power of wide angle lenses. We feel like we're there. This works because our eyes see nearly 180 degrees from left to right so we're used to a wide peripheral view. Telephoto and normal focal length lens lack that extra space that helps us feel more comfortable by mimicking how our eyes work. By the way, this is also why we prefer wide screen TVs.

Harness The Power of Wide Angle Lenses

Knowing that they work this way how can you harness the power of your wide angle lenses? The best reason to own a wide angle lens is the ability to use this power of immersion. That said, it's not the easiest thing to do.

We need to be willing to get closer to our subject than we're going to initially be comfortable being.. Being in close is important but that's not all. You'll also need to find or create some leading lines to create effective photos. This can often require us to place our camera lower or higher or in a weirder place than we usually would. We're also still going to need to eliminate things that don't help or enhance our photo. This becomes an even bigger challenge with wide angle lenses.

Be A Part or Be Apart

One other huge benefit to wide angle lenses is how they can help the viewer feel like they're a part of or apart from our scene. Take the following two images as a great example of how to do both.

Best wide angle uses

In the first photo we feel like we're at the table. There is a sense that we're listening to this toast. In the lower photo there is a sense that our subject is isolated. The empty seat and the head turn of the man on the left gives him enough visual space to feel removed from or apart from the rest of the scene. However, because the wide angle we do still feel like we're there, like we're a part of the event.

The Best Reason To Own A Wide Angle Lens

This brings us back to the question, what is the best reason to own a wide angle lens. Do you feel that I've answered that? Do you see the power of the wide angle lens? Are you going to run out and buy a wide angle lens or at least begin to use the wider setting on your existing lenses?

Let us know in the comments or through our social media accounts what you think. Are you ready to jump in there with your wide angle? If so tag us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with your wide angle photos.

Don Orkoskey Headshot PhotographerAuthor: Don Orkoskey is the founder of LearnToTake.Pictures and the owner of WDO Photography in Pittsburgh. Don teaches photography classes and works full time as an event and portrait photographer. When not taking photos or teaching he can be found playing soccer or having adventures with his amazing wife.
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