Wide-angle lenses are a popular type of lens for photographers, especially those who shoot landscapes, architecture, and interiors. Here are some of the pros and cons of using a wide-angle lens:
Let's start with Pros first!
Wide field of view
Wide-angle lenses have a wider field of view than standard lenses, which makes it easier to capture a large scene or a sweeping vista. Especially when you shoot Architectural Interiors, a wide-angle lens becomes indispensable.
Lok Sabha in the Indian Parliament, photographed by Munish Khanna
Hotel Willow Bank, Shimla photographed by Munish Khanna
Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi photographed by Munish Khanna
Depth of field
Wide-angle lenses have a greater depth of field than longer lenses, which means that more of the scene behind and in front of the subject will be in focus. So, you have the added advantage of covering more area around the subject. Sideways in terms of including it in the frame and back and forward in terms of the Depth of field.
Lisbon | 24mm | Munish Khanna
f8 32mm | Photograph by Munish Khanna
Even though these office executives are not equidistant from the camera, the focal length of 32mm with an aperture of f8 had enough depth of field to cover them all. It's better not to focus at the first person so as to increase the range of Depth of field. Also, the camera has been positioned in such a manner that they are all not parallel to the camera but at the same time the distance between the first and the last person is not all that big as it would have been of the camera was a bit more towards the right. 32mm is wide, yet not wide enough to cause distortion. The perspective is quite natural but if the camera was any closer than this, it would have got exagerated.
Wide-angle lenses can create dramatic and distorted perspectives, which can add interest and impact to a photograph. When used wisely, the effect looks dramatic and when used very close to the subject, especially in portraits, it looks distorted.
Canon EOS 5D f7.1 1/60 | 24mm | Ladakh | Munish Khanna
Cardinal Express Oxmo, Photographed by Munish Khanna
Fisheye lens can be used in one of the several interior shots of a location. Fisheye lens is the one where the curvatures are visible in the frame and not corrected. Since there is nothing really very close to the lens here, the distorted curvature is only visible in the upper part of the frame.
Wide-angle lenses can be used to create unique and creative images that would not be possible with a standard lens. A combination of exaggerated perspective, inclusion of more area, immense Depth of field and Distortion, all contribute to a creative photograph depending upon your vision as a photographer.
17mm on Canon 17-40mm lens | Canon EOS R | Munish Khanna
An extreme wide angle was used intentionally to create a pleasant distortion which is adding to the overall creative aspect of the photograph.
The feeling of being there
Since the angle of view is quite wide and the scene begins almost from where you are shooting from, the viewer gets the feel of being there in the scene as if it is being viewed from his or her viewpoint.
24mm | Barcelona, Spain | Munish Khanna
24mm | Europe | Munish Khanna
Works well in limited space
Canon EOS 5D Mark III f4 1/100 24mm | Munish Khanna
Even though there is some distortion in the photograph above, but 24mm lens opened the possibility of getting the picture at least in the confined space of the elevator. In the absence of a wide-angle lens, it won't have been possible to get anything. When you keep the camera parallel to the subject and as away as possible, the distortion is minimal. It's the hand that is closer to the camera that is appearing bigger as compared to the face.
Photographed by Munish Khanna
The lines of the bricks are actually leading the eye toward the subject allowing the viewer to have an idea of the environment. Since the person is equally distant from the wide-angle lens, there is no distortion.
Let's talk about some Cons as well !
Every lens comes with its share of cons. Most of the negative aspects of a wide angle lens can be well utilised for creative reasons and can be turned into an asset.
Wide-angle lenses can create distortion, especially at the edges of the frame. This can be corrected in post-processing, but it can be time-consuming and may result in some loss of image quality. while shooting interiors for Architectural purposes, go as much wide as is absolutely required. Distortion will only be for elements closer to the camera. Sometimes, you cheat a little bit by shifting the elements too close to the camera a bit away while still retaining the same arrangement.
Wide-angle lenses can be prone to lens flare, especially when shooting into the sun or other bright light sources. This can be minimized with careful composition and the use of a lens hood. In such situations, it's also advisable to remove a UV filter if you have one on the lens. Unless the file is of very good quality, it may actually make the flare more prominent. Moreover, UV filters are not really required for Digital photography and only serve as a safety for the lens.
Sometimes, when you are shooting too close to the strobes being used, there is a higher chance of getting the flare in the lens if using a wide one. Besides using a good lens hood as per the required size, it's also a good idea to use a black flag /sheet between the light and the lens so that any stray light does not make its way into the lens.
Wide-angle lenses can create distortion when shooting close-up subjects, which can make them appear stretched or distorted. This is a big drawback if you need to shoot portraits with a wide-angle lens. Avoid doing so unless it is absolutely necessary and you are working in a confined space with no scope of moving backward. Whenever possible if you are carrying a wide-angle zoom lens, employ the longest focal length within that range to ensure minimum distortion besides of course moving backward.
Many wide-angle lenses are prime lenses, which means that they have a fixed focal length and cannot zoom in or out. This can be limiting in some situations, especially when shooting from a distance. Many photographers either keep two camera bodies, one with wider focal lengths and the other one with a long lens. On the other hand, many experienced photographers are quick enough to change the lens on the go as per their need as they prefer carrying a single camera which is comfortable to carry around.
Also, with experience, you do get an idea as to what kind of focal length would work well for you, even if we talk about focal lengths within the range of wide-angle lenses.
Only the best
Since Wide angle lenses involve superior technology in construction and correction of flaws, these are expensive lenses and only the reputed manufacturers produce the best lenses without any compromise but at a premium. If you intend to use a lot of wide-angle photography in your workflow, it is always suggested to opt for a good lens. However, if it is going to be a once-in-a-while affair, you can add a wide-angle lens from an independent manufacturer to your kit.
Image source - bhphotovideo.com
In summary, wide-angle lenses have a number of benefits, including a wide field of view, depth of field, dramatic perspective, and creative possibilities. However, they also have some drawbacks, including distortion, flare, close-up distortion, and limited zoom. It's important to understand these pros and cons when deciding whether to use a wide-angle lens for a particular photograph or situation.