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Author Topic: What's the big deal about very wide-angle lenses?  (Read 11365 times)
Stuarte
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« on: April 21, 2008, 06:34:16 AM »
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Although I'm a "big picture" type of guy who tends to "zoom out" when thinking, I'm mystified by the buzz around wide-angle lenses and the shots they produce.

If it's about packing a lot of detail into a picture, well, doesn't stitching do the same thing only more so?  

As for the linear and perspective distortions, they're kind of fun occasionally but as a standard approach it gets a big samey after a while - foreground and corners pulled in, background pushed out.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2008, 04:18:24 PM »
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It took me a while to figure it out, and I think the same is true for many photographic hobbyists. Back then you started with a 50 mm lens on your 35 mm SLR, and the first lens you lusted for was something longer. What could be cooler than extra reach, right? Then 100-200 mm wasn't long enough, and you needed 300-400 mm. It just seemed obvious that bringing the subject in closer, with a cleaner & simpler composition, made for a better picture.

It took me a lot longer to appreciate subtle compositions possible with a wide angle lens. Call it context; the main subject in detail, but also enough background to see where it lives. Yeah, the huge flower in your face up front with the mountain in the background may have been done to death by now, but there are lots of subjects and situations where the wide angle perspective really tells a story. I think it takes considerably more visual sophistication to compose successfully with a wide angle, but when it works, it really works.

Stitched panos really have a different aesthetic, at least to my eye. They're about the side-to-side sweep, what it feels like to look out from a certain place and time. Most of mine are shot with longer focal lengths and don't provide a wide angle perspective; as always of course YMMV.
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Justinr
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2008, 05:18:38 PM »
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They can have their uses, see attached.

Justin.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2008, 08:08:55 PM »
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And, stitching with wides is REALLY wide.  And fun.
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Farkled
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2008, 10:16:07 PM »
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FWIW, I asked the same question here: http://flickr.com/groups/ngproinvitation/d...57604559067780/

Stitching isn't much good for long exposures, blurring water, moving clouds, etc.  It's not an OR question.
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Stuarte
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 10:11:46 AM »
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I can see the merit of WA lens for panoramic work at a pinch.  

But I just find it funny that so much effort and attention goes into getting IQ right in terms of sharpness and tonality and dynamic range and colour accuracy etc., yet the perspective distortion of WA is not only tolerated, but apparently welcomed.  It's a bit like having a sound system that cranks up the deep bass and high treble and pushes the rest of the sound image down.

All a matter of taste, I guess.
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Farkled
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2008, 06:29:40 PM »
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Quote
I can see the merit of WA lens for panoramic work at a pinch. 

But I just find it funny that so much effort and attention goes into getting IQ right in terms of sharpness and tonality and dynamic range and colour accuracy etc., yet the perspective distortion of WA is not only tolerated, but apparently welcomed.  It's a bit like having a sound system that cranks up the deep bass and high treble and pushes the rest of the sound image down.

All a matter of taste, I guess.
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Yup.  I'm the choir in this case.
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fnagy
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2008, 07:48:52 PM »
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Quote
Although I'm a "big picture" type of guy who tends to "zoom out" when thinking, I'm mystified by the buzz around wide-angle lenses and the shots they produce.

If it's about packing a lot of detail into a picture, well, doesn't stitching do the same thing only more so? 

As for the linear and perspective distortions, they're kind of fun occasionally but as a standard approach it gets a big samey after a while - foreground and corners pulled in, background pushed out.
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I'm singing in the choir also, a deep bass in my career, but when my shorts are too tight, I can still hit that high C!
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Frank
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2008, 08:04:11 AM »
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I thought the wide angle distortion was the *point* of shooting with very wide lenses. That's why I like them, anyway.
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rustyjaw
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2008, 09:01:00 PM »
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I've seen it suggested (on other forums, not here), perhaps half jokingly, that you could just take a few steps back if you feel you need a wider angle lens. But, of course, it's just not the same. Any dimensional subject will change as the space between the camera and it changes, parallax becomes more profound as you get closer to a subject. Conversely, parallax and perspective become flattened as you move away (and zoom in). I find it very enjoyable to have the ability to shoot a subject closer but still have the ability to "pull in" more of the surroundings.

And then there's the more practical notion that you can use a wide angle lens more effectively in cramped places where there isn't room to frame a shot with a longer lens.

Here's a shot I took last week with Canon's 10-22 (at 10mm - or 16mm on a non-crop body), I'm leaning on the opposite wall to get the framing I want:

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Martin Kristiansen
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2008, 11:28:24 PM »
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Emphasis and what are you trying to say. Perhaps a longer lens will help to isolate the subject and crop out extraneous details but sometimes a wide will allow a slight, or extreme, exaggeration of the size of a foreground object to give it emphasis. imagine trying to draw attention to an interesting flower set against a range of mountains. Get close to the flower and use a wide, you will make the flower huge but still retain the mountain range. If you do the same thing with a longer lens you will get a large dominant flower but not the mountain range, only a dark piece of rock or whatever behind the flower.

Anyway that is why I use wides when I use them. My favorite lenses are usually standards.
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Dale_Cotton2
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2008, 06:45:51 AM »
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Stuarte: The title of the thread refers to very wide angle but in the body of your posts you instead use just the term wide angle, which sounds as if you were questioning everything from 35mm-e on down. This seems to have led to some responses addressing the broader topic of anything wider than normal, which I doubt was your intent.
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