How to Get the Best Results from Ultra-Wide Lenses - Digital Photography School

How to Get the Best Results from Ultra-Wide Lenses

These days, most kit lenses on consumer DSLRs are wide-angle. 18mm on an APS-C sensor camera (or 27mm in old 35mm speak) is wide enough for most occasions. Ultra-wide angle lenses are those that are shorter than 16mm in focal length. It is here that we’ll strike new creative possibilities and new obstacles.

On cropped sensor lenses, a 30-35mm focal length provides what we call a ‘normal’ Field of View, which is roughly equivalent to what the human eye takes in. At 18mm, the Field of View is almost twice as wide and you can cram lots of things into the frame. At 12mm, you get 50% more FOV again, and now we’re a long way from ‘normal’ – you amost have to turn your head to take in all the detail.

The first thing you notice is the exaggerated perspective, the distorted edges and relationships between foreground and background objects that are ‘stretched’, sometimes unnaturally. Wide-angle scenes can contain many objects at different distances, which helps to draws the viewer into the scene.

There’s plenty of drama in trees and clouds, which are normally innocuous, and there is plenty of distortion as well. With wide-angle lenses, you’ll get a lot of things into the frame, some dark, others light, some near, others far, and all these contrasts push the dynamic range of your DSLR to the limit.

You’ll also get a different perspective from other lenses. As a rule, you’ll find yourself moving much closer to the subject, stepping right into the scene. Think of ultra-wide lenses as the opposite of tele lenses where you tend to back away from objects. Tele lenses tend to flatten depth of field, ultra-wide lenses exaggerate it. This makes background objects appear further from foreground ones than they actually are.

If your camera is even slightly out of the horizontal, verticals will converge. Buildings will develop leans, which adds a sense of drama to otherwise dull scenes like this one:

Sometimes you don’t want this effect, and then it’s best to make sure the horizon is in the centre of the image. You can correct perspective distortions in post-processing but you’ll end up with much smaller images by the time the edges are chopped off.

Because of the exaggerated DOF, sharpness across the whole image is often hard to achieve. Stopping down is the recommended answer but, even at f/11 or f/13, front to back sharpness at 10 or 12mm can remain elusive. In practice, you need to decide on where to focus – infinity, which will make the foreground go slightly soft, or vice versa, which will make infinity go that way. And you need to experiment with aperture to see what works best for your lens and camera.

On ultra-wide lenses, the auto-focus also faces new challenges since objects just a few meters away can be quite small and hard for the AF to lock onto. Beyond the first few meters, ultra-wide lenses tend to take a guess at focus, and that doesn’t help with sharpness – manual focus can often be a better way to go. The main thing is to decide on the visual centre, and focus on that.

Flare is a real pain with ultra-wide lenses, blowing out highlights with little provocation. The broad field of view means you often have a source of bright light not far from the frame, and that’s enough to do the damage. The best times to use these lenses are the magic hours of early morning and late afternoon, outside, or middle of the day inside. They say ultra-wides do better in winter photography where snow cancels out the difference on brightness between sky and ground.

Enter the tripod

By now it’s pretty obvious that point-and-shoot is the wrong technique for ultra-wide photography. Shooting early or late in the day, or inside, and stopping down to f/11 or more, means using a tripod. Add manual focusing and we’re back in the good old days of carefully composing each shot, following a set of rules. Not a bad idea for landscape and architecture photography, but not practical for action or street photography.

When photographing architecture, contrast is more important than resolution, and here it’s important to find and focus on the point on which all those straight lines converge.

Ultra-wides don’t make good portrait lenses unless you’re looking for cartoon-like comic effects. In close-ups, you can get plenty of distortion that exaggerates the bits in the foreground, like noses and foreheads. Ultra-wides are useful though when you want to capture people in their environment, in a shop or office or artist studio, and want to show a lot of their surroundings. Perhaps a bit too much in this case:

I’m reminded here of a friend of a friend I paid a visit to in Nelspruit, South Africa, a faded blonde whose house was full of leopard patterns – leopard skin rugs, leopard cushions, leopard place mats and even leopard coffee cups. Sadly I didn’t have a camera with me, but clearly portraits like these can convey more about the person.

Ultra-wide lenses add drama to your images and can tell stories more forcefully since they exaggerate the perspective. Like good storytellers, they show us scenes in a way we hadn’t seen them before.

8 Rules for Generating Great Results from Ultra-Wide Lenses

Here’s a short list of the basic rules to observe:

  1. Include something(s) of interest in the foreground otherwise you will get vast expanses of nothing. In landscape this can mean going low to include foreground flowers for example or getting really close to rocks so that you can see the rock grain.
  2. Look for strong compositional lines as this will add drama to your shots. This happens naturally with wide lenses anyway so you are just working with the natural perspective of the lens.
  3. Look for interesting skies as ultra-wides capture wide expanses of sky and emphasis the lines in the cloud formations.

  1. Try to keep the camera as level as possible when photographing buildings.
  2. A polarising filter in clear weather can add more colour, and Neutral Density graduation filters can add a lift in cloudy weather.
  3. Move in close: The closer you are to your subject, the more dramatic your images will be. Yes, I mean right up close and personal.
  4. Look out for your feet and other extraneous bits that might intrude, like legs of tripods, due to the much wider FOV
  5. Use a tripod for landscape shots

That’s about the size of it, or the angle. The rest is practice and experimenting to find out what works best for you and your equipment. That’s half the fun.

I’m indebted to the author of this series which provided some of the advice repeated here: http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/How_to/m_Mastering_Wide-Angle/m_Mastering_Wide-Angle.html?page=3

This article is also very useful, and a fair bit shorter

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/how-to-use-ultra-wide-lenses.htm

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Kim Brebach is a marketing professional whose experience spans over 3 decades in the IT industry. His interests include photography, cool technology, great music, theatre and books, wine and food, tennis and chess. You can find his photo blog at Get the Picture.

  • http://microentrys.wordpress.com/ plrang

    I need to buy one first but… it’s first on my list so soon will shoot some angles

  • http://wishfulbohemian.wordpress.com audra

    Thanks for this! I kept having “ah ha!” moments throughout. (Of course, now I really want a super-wide-angle lens to try it all out!)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/51157689@N07/ Brian

    Until I can spare the $500-$700 for a good ultra wide, I’ve been considering a .45 wide angle extension to screw to the end of my 18-55. Has anyone used one of these before? How bad is it?

  • http://creativexposure.biz Ken

    This sentence makes no sense to me:

    “Because of the exaggerated DOF, sharpness across the whole image is often hard to achieve. Stopping down is the recommended answer but, even at f/11 or f/13, front to back sharpness at 10 or 12mm can remain elusive.”

    What do you think “DOF” means if not “zone of acceptable sharpness”?

  • http://www.lightshootedit.com scott

    I have a ton of fun with my 10.5mm wide angle and people! Here is a shot of a local pageant winner dong soe stretching for a fitness company shoot I did. I think it is pretty damn funny :-)

    It is untouched by photoshop.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightshootedit/4585831916/

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bagofarms/ Jacob

    If your lens has DOF markings on it, you can use those to find the “hyperfocal” distance for your given aperture. Also, do some tests for sharpness at different apertures. You might find that sharpness actually decreases if the aperture gets too small. This all depends on your lens, so make sure you do some tests.

  • http://www.cabinfeververmont.com Jen at Cabin Fever

    Great tips! My next lens of choice is going to be a wide angle lens since much of my photography is of landscapes. Reading this makes me think just how much better the photograph’s I’ve already taken would be if I had had a wide angle lens.

    And I agree with Jacob, especially when doing landscapes I find that the smaller the aperture is the more sharpness is lost, especially with landscapes. I generally shoot with a large aperture for landscapes.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photography Blog

  • http://myporttownsend.com/ michael

    There is some useful information in this article. Unfortunately there’s a glaring error when it comes to field of view, “normal” lenses and APS sensors. You state:

    “On cropped sensor lenses, a 30-35mm focal length provides what we call a ‘normal’ Field of View, which is roughly equivalent to what the human eye takes in.”

    This is just flat out wrong.

    First, field of view is the measurement of how wide your view is at a given distance. My binoculars give me a 384 ft. field of view at 1000 yards. No field of view on any camera matches the human eye, even fisheyes. Yes an APS sensor gives a narrower field of view. But a normal lens is still 50mm.

    What you are referring to with a normal lens is angle of view. A normal angle of view is one that matches the human eye and provides the same perspective. That means the objects are are photographed with approximately the same size per distance. A wide angle makes close objects much bigger and distant objects smaller than we normally view them. A telephoto makes objects closer to the same size.

    An APS sensor does not change angle of view. Angle of view is dependent on the lens, not the sensor. A 50mm lens gives the same angle of view on a full frame and APS sensor camera.

    What and APS sensor gives is a crop factor. Images are recorded with the same angle of view, they just record less, 1.5 or 1.6 times less depending on camera make. Field of view is less. Crop factor is more. Angle of view is identical. A normal lens is still about 50mm.

  • http://darsam.spaces.live.com David Stringham

    I’m a little confused by “exaggerated DOF.” This seems to indicate that wider lenses give a narrower DOF, which is just the opposite. Also in response to michael’s comment, a 50mm lens is not ‘normal’ because APS lenses are designed with a smaller image circle to match the sensor.

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason Collin Photography

    Thanks for this information, but after reading the title I was hoping to see a tutorial or tips on how to remove the distortion found when shooting at wide and ultra-wide focal lengths.

  • Arthur

    APS – C sensor cameras (all canon EOS included ) produce an 1.6x focal length magnification effect.

    Famous photographer Ken Rockwell says that

    The focal length magnification of this sensors makes a 24-135mm lens you might already have only as wide as a 40 mm lens.

    Lets do some math
    24mm x 1.6 = 38.4

    However APS – C sensors are good for telephoto lenses
    300mm x 1.6= 400

  • krill

    you dont want to know how close i was to shoot this at 10mm

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/krill82/4353692250/’ title=’044/365′ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4060/4353692250_207a5614c6.jpg’]

  • http://martinsoler.com Martin Soler Photography

    Thanks a lot a bunch of great tips. For reasons which I wont go into here my only lens for along time was the Sigma 10-20mm. There’s quite a lot one can do with such a lens. Cars for example are a great example. Here is one I took from an old Peugot in Paris.
    http://martinsoler.com/2010/05/20/peugot-203-by-hotel-de-ville/

  • http://grantpalin.com Grant Palin

    Some good advice here. I get regular use of my Sigma 10-20mm lens, and have gotten some quite nice photos in the past.

    If you have the latest Photoshop or Lightroom, the software includes lens profiles, which I understand can correct distortions introduced by various lenses.

    I have a UV filter on my Sigma; have thought about getting a polarizer on it instead, but read articles explaining that such wide lenses lose some of the benefits of polarizers.

  • http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/ Kim Brebach

    Good feedback, guys.

    Michael, Thanks for setting us straight on FOV and AOV. And you’re right, the sensor size doesn’t change the angle, but it crops the picture you see. Therefore a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera will show you less than a 50mm on a full frame camera, that was the point I tried to make. And 50mm on a full frame camera is said to be a ‘normal’ lens which presents pictures that are close to what we would would see with the naked eye.

    Jen and Jacob, I’m with you on the aperture issue, and with most lenses you get the best acuity between f/5.6 and 8. Ultra-wides are trickier in my own experience and, despite a lot of testing, I cannot come up with a consistent result (can’t factor out all the other issues, most likely). Best idea is to read the lens tests, which usually tell you which lens is sharp at which end.

    Jason, the fun with these lenses is in the distorted perspectives. I use ACDSee which lets me straighten anything and everything but you end up with a much smaller image after you cut the left-overs off, or you add new post-processing distortions. But it can be done with any good photo editor.

    Kim

  • Diana Mikaels

    Thanks a lot. This article has answered some of my questions about sharpness with Ultra Wide Angle lenses, as well as others.

  • http://stevensys.blogspot.com/ stevensys

    thanks for the tips, now it making me more eager to get UWA lenses.. :(

    World Without Border

  • Juan

    I once found a formula to get the hyperfocal on any lens. It’s as follows:

    H(mm)= (f x f)/(N x C), where H stands for hyperfocal distance, f is the focal lenght, N is the f-stop and C is equal to 0.02 (for cropped sensors) or 0.029 (for full frame sensors).

    So, if you have a lens at 10mm, f11 mounted on an APS-C…

    H= (10 x 10)/(11 x 0.02)= 100/0.22=454mm or 0.45m

    You have to focus at a distance of 0.45 meters to get everything in focus.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwatcher dogwatcher

    Minor issues regarding things like FOV and AOV aside, this is a very good article.

    Why?

    Because a lot of books about photography seem to blend out the specific issues about wide angle lenses almost completely.

    I found everything in your article being true.. I had to learn it the hard way. The first pictures taken with my Tamron 10-24 have been utter crap. The Tamron is not the greatest lens in the world, but I found to be the results inconsistent.. Some images looked like the lens being simply defunct. Same settings later on (just a different view and a different focal distance) it looked at least good with a potential for an even better photo after post-processing. So the lens was not to blame alone (if any), the problem was behind the camera … me.

    If you think “well, I got a 18-55 kit lens already.. 18 is somewhat wide angle.. so everything below is just..
    well.. wider! Nothing can surprise me!” Wrong. These extra millimeters make all the difference.

    Problems (already mentioned in the article, but I like to stress the) are:

    Sharpness:
    Wide angle lenses should provide a rather huge DOF right? Well, yes and no. Remember the fact that field of view starts right in front of your shoes.. at least somewhat like that. Now given a specific aperture and a distance not within the hyperfocal distance and you may come out with something looking like an underperforming, broken lens. Sharp at the main subject, but slightly blurred in other regions. There is nothing like dividing back- and foreground with sharp regions and a nice bokeh… there is something sharp (hopefully) and something less sharp (very ugly). Drives you insane. Add that to the fact that the wide-angle zoom lenses are not the best regarding sharpness in the edges (and there is a lot to see in the edges of a wide angle lens..) and you can count you in for some disappointing experiences.

    Dynamic range:
    A lens with an angle of view catching a big part of the sky? Sounds great.. But wait, what about these overcast midday sky? Welcome to the hell of the “dynamic range problem”… If you were spared from this with all your other lenses, now it’s the day to face it. Burned out skyies or everything underneath too dark.. So get yourself a neutral density graduated filter (.. and with the large front diametre of the wide angle zoom, they are not that cheap). Or take several exporsures and blend them together later on. (… and if the sun is in front of you.. well, you can count on flares or at least a good deal of contrast loss).

    Skewed horizon lines:
    Just tilt your cam a tiiiiiny bit. Zoing! You might barely see it with every other lens, you WILL see it with a wide angle lens. Wait.. you can straighten that horizon later on in Photoshop and co.? Of course you can. But be prepared that there is so much stuff on the wide angle photo that you will always come out with parts of the subject being cut in a half at the image border, a tree which doesn’t fit there anymore after rotating… and so on.

    There is so much in the photo:
    Sounds great uh? Well it IS great. But that means that you will discover things later on which you didn’t see while standing there shooting. A head sticking over a car roof there… some other stuff which calls out for being edited out on the other side of the photo.. Hard to see nowadays with viewfinders which are not too big nowadays (at least in APS-C cameras) . As Mr Brebach said: It’s time again to REALLY compose your shots.

    But of course, these tricky lenses have their strengths:

    The drama! The skies! (Yes, some clouds in the sky, looking peacefully to the bare eye, can turn out dramatically with a wide angle lens!)

    Take a Jaguar E-Type and exaggerate its long engine hood with wide angle lens.. voilà:


    Jaguar E-Type (10mm APS-C)

    In general, cars can turn out very interesting with wide angle lenses.


    Volvo P1800S, low viewpoint (10mm APS-C)

    Summary: I think wide angle lenses are not easy to master.. but worth it. But be prepared that
    you have to play around with them a longer time until you get “it”.

  • http://karenstuebingsdailyshoot.wordpress.com/ Karen Stuebing

    Great article for someone with an 18-250mm lens. And I rarely use the 18mm for all the reasons mentioned above. Composition is really problematic to make such a wide angle photo interesting. The author certainly accomplished this with his.

    Here is a landscape I shot. I’m not happy with it especially but the Daily Shoot assignment was for having elements in the close, medium and far ranges to give the photo depth.

    As you can see from the exif I didn’t stop down. I doubt due to the haze and the sun being on the left it would have given me a clear photo no matter what I did.

    Here is another one I like a little better. I used f11 on this one and it is much sharper. Too bad I didn’t remember that for future reference.

    I think I’m going to try more wide angle shots now armed with this informative article and the comments.

    @Jason, another way to correct distortion in Photoshop is to select all, transform, distort and then move the corners to straighten it. As Kim has pointed out, you do lose part of the photo though. And sometimes the distortion can be interesting.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwatcher dogwatcher

    @Karen:

    Believe me, the 18mm of a 18-250 or 18-55 lens is almost nothing to something like 14, 12 or even 10mm. It sounds just like “so few milimeters can’t have such an impact..” They do.

  • http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/ Kim Brebach

    Love the car pics, guys! old Springs Holler is a beauty, Karen. And Krill, I know how close you were to that creature – his bad breath was a knock-out, wasn’t it?
    Juan, where did you find that formula? Absolutely killer that one.
    Dogwatcher, do you want to write the follow-up piece for this? You’ve done most of the work already.
    :-)
    Kim

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwatcher dogwatcher

    @arthur:

    On a sidenote:

    A cropfactor of 1.6 is canon-only (..not all canons, full-format is of course 1.0, some 1.3). The rest of the APS-C world is 1.5, including the mirrorless Sony NEX and Samsung NX series. MFT and FT (mainly Olympus and Panasonic) have 2.0. Sigma has a crop factor of 1.7 as far as I know.

    @kim:

    I will think about it! ;) But you wrote everything up so nicely already… Good thing. As I said before, the problems of wide-angle photography is not discussed a lot in books and tutorials (besides the usual “how to correct the distortion” stuff…) I hope the readers do appreciate your work!

    Some words about sharpness and wide-angle lenses…

    Lets take this pic… (..yes, one of mine, some traffic for my flickr account..)


    A car, an ultra-wide lens (10mm) and a lot of EXIF data..

    So you aim for a spot on the car lets say one meter (3.28 feet) away. You have an f-stop of 7.1
    (yes, not your typical f-stop, but can happen!) and a crop of 1.5.

    Sounds not like a problem, doesn’t it? I mean.. ultra-wide… quite a decent f-stop.. everything should
    be tack-sharp, at least if there’s enough light……

    According to http://www.dofmaster.com you’ve got a DOF of 0.41 meters to infinity (= 1.35 ft to infinity)

    Sounds great, uh?

    Okay, lets say you aimed for a spot on the car 0.69 meters (2.26 ft) instead.

    Not that much of a change? 1 metre.. 0.69 meters…. Well, everything okay you think?

    Lets see the data:

    Near limit: 0.35 m (1.15 ft)
    Far limit: 22.5 m (73.82 ft)

    Well wait.. WHAT???????

    Yeah, right.

    You may have just screwed your photo.

    The car maybe sharp. But everything a distance away is not. And we’re not talking about a pleasant
    “un-sharpness” here, a nice “bokeh” to separate the foreground from the background, we talk about “slightly unsharp” like in these photos you do sort out so often.. a little bit out of focus, bad enough to turn a “keeper” into a “looser”.

    So everything looks so nice in your viewfinder… and at home at your large screen you think: “Is my lens broken?”

    This is why I do think that contrary to populary belief (at least of the ones not owning such a lens) DOF IS a problem on wide angle lenses.

    Or it’s just me. Who knows.

  • http://community.webshots.com/user/anyoflores Flores

    What is what so called “Ultra-Wide angle Lens” ? Sorry to ask this stupid question. I am a total amateur. My Canon S5Is is 6-72 mm. Is my camera categorized as an ultra wide angle lens?

  • Rob G

    I recently purchased the Sigma 10-20 f3.5 for some getting some landscapes done and i spent a long time going through the hyperfocal theory and to be honest it fried my brain. I managed to find out through a laborious test session going though all the fstops at 10mm at all the focal point combinations to find the ideal settings for front to back sharpness. Was it a slog? Yes! Do I feel more confident on a shoot? Oh yes, and that makes all the difference as I know that lens inside out now. For the curious, its a D300s. 10mm settings were f8 at 1m – 0.6m. for 20mm again f8 (but drifting into poss f11) where the focal point is the line that links to the infinity sign.

  • Nobody

    @ Brian: I have an Opteka 0.35 Macro Fisheye adapter. It was ridiculously cheap, and it’s far from pro. On a kit lens, at 18mm it gives a fisheye-like perspective: about 90º FOV. At 55, it’s a little wider than the bare lens at 18mm.

    If you want to shell out a few dollars and get used to these kinds of things, I do highly recommend it. Just be aware that it won’t be the same quality, and it does effectively slow the lens down a noticeable amount.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/ Adilson Andrade

    Hello All,
    I think that the distorsions created by the wide angle lens add drama to the picture. Since I got my wide angle I´ve been messing around with it and I am surprised to get results such the ones below:

    Vertorama+Digital painting
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4714919255/’ title=’O pão deles de cada dia’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4049/4714919255_691e9de191.jpg’]

    Vertorama+Digital painting and HDR
    Adilson Andrade[eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4717195308/’ title=’Ponte construtor João Alves – Aracaju – Sergipe’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4020/4717195308_38aaed6e56.jpg’]

    I use a Sony Alpha A330 and a Sony DT11-18mm Lens and some very basic knowledge of photoshop to achieve these results. I have as much pleasure in taking the pictures as I have in post-editting them.

    You may check some of my images here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/

    Greetings from Brazil.

  • Srini

    To have a large DOF and have everything in sharp focus, I tend to focus on a nearer target (just few yards in front of me) and lock the focus before recomposing. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7dguy/4728614157/sizes/l/

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwatcher/ dogwatcher

    @Flores:

    No. The 36mm (aka “full frame”) – equivalent of your 6-72mm on your S5is is
    36-432mm. You have to keep in mind the sensor size to learn the “real” focal length.

    in other words: Your canon has somewhat like a very, very mild wide angle at the lower end.. and a rather “long” telelens if you zoom to the max.

    This is quite common in the world of the “super-zoom” bridge cameras, because it’s easier to achieve (and
    cheaper).

  • http://www.quartzimodo.com Stratman

    @ Flores,

    It’s easy to confuse “wide angle lens” on fixed lens, P&S cameras with those belonging to dSLRs. Here’s the thing: all camera manufacturers quote the native (actual) focal length of the lens they fit onto their cameras.

    For the PowerShot S2, S3 and S5 IS (they all share the same 12x optical zoom), their native focal range is 6-72mm. However, when you account for the very small sensor (1/2.5″) which is matched to the small zoom lens, its 35mm equivalent is 36-432mm.

    In other words, divide 36mm by 6mm, you get a “crop factor” of 6x (six times smaller than that of a 35mm, full frame dSLR’s sensor). Or in other words, your S5 IS gives you 6 times magnification compared to a theoretical 6mm lens on a full frame dSLR (I mentioned “theoretical” as a 6mm lens doesn’t exist for a Canon EOS camera).

    Therefore, a true 6mm lens on a film SLR camera is truly an ultra-wide angle, but on the S5 IS, it’s not. It’s effective widest angle is 36mm, which is just not considered a wide angle focal length (however, 28mm equivalent, is wide angle).

    Because camera makers have different sensor sizes when it comes to their P&S cameras, for marketing reasons they often quote the effective focal length in 35mm terms. This makes it easier for consumers to relate the focal range to 24x36mm (35mm) format cameras.

    Hope this helps. :-)

  • http://www.g1mp3r.com mark

    great tip!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/ Adilson Andrade

    I use a Sony Alpha A330 with my Sony DT11-18mm wide angle lens. The alpha has a crop factor of 1,5, that is,when I shoot in the 11mm mode, it actually is 16,5mm and that is still very wide. I´ve been messing around with digital painting and found a very good usage for the skies I shot in the 11mm mode; I revived some of my old shots and painted(blended) them digitally, thus having a complete different picture of what I had.
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4714919255/’ title=’O pão deles de cada dia’ url=’http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4049/4714919255_691e9de191.jpg’]
    The above image has the EXIF of the sky which was shot in the 11mm mode, but the foreground image was shot with a 50mm lens (crop factor 75mm). It turned out to be a VERTORAMA of mixed formats and my once dead shot (I was waiting for the fishermen to throw their net) came out to life again.
    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4723009402/’ title=’Quero minha bola’ url=’http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1102/4723009402_d47a29d0c0.jpg’]
    The same concept I´ve applied to the above picture. The sky is wide angle (11mm = 16,5mm) and the foreground is 18mm(27mm).

    Adilson Andrade
    Greetings from Brazil.

  • Mahadeolalbarai

    Really a interesting topic , Its very help full to those are interest to make super wide angle photography , they easily learn from this article …..what good & what bed ….to go through super wide lenses……

  • Jimmy

    A good article that reminds me of using my wides. I have a 17-85 & 17-40L. Loved them.

  • http://www.primal-nature.com Karl

    I did a week long workshop with David Meunch in the Yosemite area last summer. I bought a Sigma 10-18 DC (note the” DC”!) lens right before I left because I just couldn’t miss any more of the “BIG” shots. I must say it was a lot of fun!
    If you have an APS or 4/3 sensor you MUST buy a lens designed for the small sensor (the “DC”) to shoot ultra wide angle. If you do this, there is no conversion/crop factor as you get the whole image circle. You really need to pay attention to Hyperfocal on these lenses for optimum clarity (this means manual focus). Choking down the aperature (say f14-f22) will give you a much better DOF- with the associated hassles of long exposure and potential fringing, Polarizing filters will be noticable, as they work across about 90 degrees and the FOV on this lens is 102. This is manegable in most situations and can certainly add to the drama. Graduated ND filters can help control large birght areas, especially in a Cokin P mount so you can skew/slide them as needed.

    The effect can be:



    I usually go to to get any wider than this, as the distortion gets out of hand otherwise.

    Hope this Helps!

    Karl

  • Roentgenman

    Many thanks for this great and informative review, which was exactly what I was looking for from DPS. Like ‘Dogwatcher’ my results with a Tokina 12-24 have been poor to bitterly dissapointing. I can know see what I was doing wrong!

  • http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/ Kim

    Thanks for the fascinating insights, people. I’m still testing the Tokina I bought recently, to find out at which aperture it works best.
    http://digital-photography-school.com/tokina-12-24mm-f4-at-x-pro-dx-ii-lens-bargain-ultra-wide

    For big landscape shots, I’m actually getting the most consistent sharpness around f/6.3 and f/7.1. For close objects like cows, cars and motorbikes, wide open is good. On this lens, that is, and I think that’s the secret: get to know your ultra-wide really well.
    Kim

  • Benjamin Hegan

    Hi

    Wonderful arcticle!

    I haven’t even got a DSLR yet (a sony point and shoot), never-mind an ultra-wide lens!

    But, in saying that, I will definately come back to this arcticle when I get a DSLR and ultra-wide lens!

    VERY useful, thanks, Keep up the good work!

  • Pranav

    Hi
    The tip #2 says, “Look for strong compositional lines as this will add drama to your shots”. Could someone explain to me what this exactly means.

    TIA

  • http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/ Kim Brebach

    Pranav, the third image from the top is a good example of what is meant here: strong lines that show perspective and depth of field.
    Kim

  • Jean

    I am taking a trip in October to southern Utah to the Bryce and Zion National Parks. I currently have a Tamron 18-270mm 1:35-6.3 that I use exclusively. Do I need to buy a wide angle lens for the canyon shots that I really am looking forward to taking?

  • http://briard.typepad.com/get_the_picture/ Kim Brebach

    Jean, 18mm is plenty wide for big landscapes. Unless you want crazy, distorted, looking down into or along the canyon shots, the Tamron should be good.
    Kim.

  • Mark

    This is a very helpful article for those new to dslr ultrawide. Upon first use, it’s easy to think the lens is faulty, since most things tended to look out of focus (except by accident) since I was focusing at objects too far in the distance.

    As pointed out above by several others, much better results will be to focus at objects very near right in front, rather than very far when shooting outside landscape. If I focused on the clouds or a distant mountain or even a tree 300 ft away, a lot of the field in front of that was out of focus even at f/18 with annoyingly soft, frustrating results on the foregrounds.

    Thanks for this article, it helped me on learning to use this Tokina 11-16mm, and not to expect everything to be sharp when shooting outside distance landscapes. To achieve everything tack sharp on long distance landscape shots, I found I can use my 55-300mm Nikkor stopped down, and then stitched 4-6 together, then everything was sharp, but not with the creative distortion achieved with a SWA.

  • Michael Owens

    Having just purchased a Sigma 10-20mm – more expensive than my actual camera body lol – this article came at exactly the right time.

    Thank you for sharing, it’s an invaluable (my most used word on dps) insight, and one which I’ve copied word for word into my notes app – so I can access the info outside of 3G.

    I hope you don’t mind hehe.

    Thanks again Kim, appreciate you taking the time for me, for DPS and for the other readers.

  • Bulut Nesim

    This is very useful. Thank you Kim. We have similar careers an interests…

  • Choo Chiaw Ting

    excellent. I use 35mm for ultra wide shooting ;)

  • Samuel Chung

    Brilliant. i just got the Rokinon 14 / Samyang 14 f2.8 this is going to be fun!

  • David Green

    I have the f3,5 version of the Sigma 10-20 lens , and it is AWESOME !!- great for museums , architecture and fun pics of your loved ones !! .
    indispensable for holidays

  • Luis Matias

    “A polarising filter in clear weather can add more colour, and Neutral Density graduation filters can add a lift in cloudy weather.”

    Look out for the filters you use, they might intrude the image and you will need to crop…

  • Michael Owens

    I’m currently in Spain and yes, it’s coming in very handy! Love it!

Some older comments

  • Mark

    August 6, 2013 10:34 pm

    This is a very helpful article for those new to dslr ultrawide. Upon first use, it's easy to think the lens is faulty, since most things tended to look out of focus (except by accident) since I was focusing at objects too far in the distance.

    As pointed out above by several others, much better results will be to focus at objects very near right in front, rather than very far when shooting outside landscape. If I focused on the clouds or a distant mountain or even a tree 300 ft away, a lot of the field in front of that was out of focus even at f/18 with annoyingly soft, frustrating results on the foregrounds.

    Thanks for this article, it helped me on learning to use this Tokina 11-16mm, and not to expect everything to be sharp when shooting outside distance landscapes. To achieve everything tack sharp on long distance landscape shots, I found I can use my 55-300mm Nikkor stopped down, and then stitched 4-6 together, then everything was sharp, but not with the creative distortion achieved with a SWA.

  • Kim Brebach

    June 30, 2010 06:52 am

    Jean, 18mm is plenty wide for big landscapes. Unless you want crazy, distorted, looking down into or along the canyon shots, the Tamron should be good.
    Kim.

  • Jean

    June 30, 2010 01:27 am

    I am taking a trip in October to southern Utah to the Bryce and Zion National Parks. I currently have a Tamron 18-270mm 1:35-6.3 that I use exclusively. Do I need to buy a wide angle lens for the canyon shots that I really am looking forward to taking?

  • Kim Brebach

    June 28, 2010 12:29 pm

    Pranav, the third image from the top is a good example of what is meant here: strong lines that show perspective and depth of field.
    Kim

  • Pranav

    June 27, 2010 03:40 am

    Hi
    The tip #2 says, "Look for strong compositional lines as this will add drama to your shots". Could someone explain to me what this exactly means.

    TIA

  • Benjamin Hegan

    June 26, 2010 08:28 am

    Hi

    Wonderful arcticle!

    I haven't even got a DSLR yet (a sony point and shoot), never-mind an ultra-wide lens!

    But, in saying that, I will definately come back to this arcticle when I get a DSLR and ultra-wide lens!

    VERY useful, thanks, Keep up the good work!

  • Kim

    June 26, 2010 07:55 am

    Thanks for the fascinating insights, people. I'm still testing the Tokina I bought recently, to find out at which aperture it works best.
    http://digital-photography-school.com/tokina-12-24mm-f4-at-x-pro-dx-ii-lens-bargain-ultra-wide

    For big landscape shots, I'm actually getting the most consistent sharpness around f/6.3 and f/7.1. For close objects like cows, cars and motorbikes, wide open is good. On this lens, that is, and I think that's the secret: get to know your ultra-wide really well.
    Kim

  • Roentgenman

    June 25, 2010 11:23 pm

    Many thanks for this great and informative review, which was exactly what I was looking for from DPS. Like 'Dogwatcher' my results with a Tokina 12-24 have been poor to bitterly dissapointing. I can know see what I was doing wrong!

  • Karl

    June 25, 2010 01:32 pm

    I did a week long workshop with David Meunch in the Yosemite area last summer. I bought a Sigma 10-18 DC (note the" DC"!) lens right before I left because I just couldn't miss any more of the "BIG" shots. I must say it was a lot of fun!
    If you have an APS or 4/3 sensor you MUST buy a lens designed for the small sensor (the "DC") to shoot ultra wide angle. If you do this, there is no conversion/crop factor as you get the whole image circle. You really need to pay attention to Hyperfocal on these lenses for optimum clarity (this means manual focus). Choking down the aperature (say f14-f22) will give you a much better DOF- with the associated hassles of long exposure and potential fringing, Polarizing filters will be noticable, as they work across about 90 degrees and the FOV on this lens is 102. This is manegable in most situations and can certainly add to the drama. Graduated ND filters can help control large birght areas, especially in a Cokin P mount so you can skew/slide them as needed.

    The effect can be:



    I usually go to to get any wider than this, as the distortion gets out of hand otherwise.

    Hope this Helps!

    Karl

  • Jimmy

    June 25, 2010 12:42 pm

    A good article that reminds me of using my wides. I have a 17-85 & 17-40L. Loved them.

  • Mahadeolalbarai

    June 25, 2010 11:52 am

    Really a interesting topic , Its very help full to those are interest to make super wide angle photography , they easily learn from this article .....what good & what bed ....to go through super wide lenses......

  • Adilson Andrade

    June 25, 2010 07:52 am

    I use a Sony Alpha A330 with my Sony DT11-18mm wide angle lens. The alpha has a crop factor of 1,5, that is,when I shoot in the 11mm mode, it actually is 16,5mm and that is still very wide. I´ve been messing around with digital painting and found a very good usage for the skies I shot in the 11mm mode; I revived some of my old shots and painted(blended) them digitally, thus having a complete different picture of what I had.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4714919255/' title='O pão deles de cada dia' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4049/4714919255_691e9de191.jpg']
    The above image has the EXIF of the sky which was shot in the 11mm mode, but the foreground image was shot with a 50mm lens (crop factor 75mm). It turned out to be a VERTORAMA of mixed formats and my once dead shot (I was waiting for the fishermen to throw their net) came out to life again.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4723009402/' title='Quero minha bola' url='http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1102/4723009402_d47a29d0c0.jpg']
    The same concept I´ve applied to the above picture. The sky is wide angle (11mm = 16,5mm) and the foreground is 18mm(27mm).

    Adilson Andrade
    Greetings from Brazil.

  • mark

    June 25, 2010 07:43 am

    great tip!

  • Stratman

    June 25, 2010 06:11 am

    @ Flores,

    It's easy to confuse "wide angle lens" on fixed lens, P&S cameras with those belonging to dSLRs. Here's the thing: all camera manufacturers quote the native (actual) focal length of the lens they fit onto their cameras.

    For the PowerShot S2, S3 and S5 IS (they all share the same 12x optical zoom), their native focal range is 6-72mm. However, when you account for the very small sensor (1/2.5") which is matched to the small zoom lens, its 35mm equivalent is 36-432mm.

    In other words, divide 36mm by 6mm, you get a "crop factor" of 6x (six times smaller than that of a 35mm, full frame dSLR's sensor). Or in other words, your S5 IS gives you 6 times magnification compared to a theoretical 6mm lens on a full frame dSLR (I mentioned "theoretical" as a 6mm lens doesn't exist for a Canon EOS camera).

    Therefore, a true 6mm lens on a film SLR camera is truly an ultra-wide angle, but on the S5 IS, it's not. It's effective widest angle is 36mm, which is just not considered a wide angle focal length (however, 28mm equivalent, is wide angle).

    Because camera makers have different sensor sizes when it comes to their P&S cameras, for marketing reasons they often quote the effective focal length in 35mm terms. This makes it easier for consumers to relate the focal range to 24x36mm (35mm) format cameras.

    Hope this helps. :-)

  • dogwatcher

    June 25, 2010 05:48 am

    @Flores:

    No. The 36mm (aka "full frame") - equivalent of your 6-72mm on your S5is is
    36-432mm. You have to keep in mind the sensor size to learn the "real" focal length.

    in other words: Your canon has somewhat like a very, very mild wide angle at the lower end.. and a rather "long" telelens if you zoom to the max.

    This is quite common in the world of the "super-zoom" bridge cameras, because it's easier to achieve (and
    cheaper).

  • Srini

    June 25, 2010 05:34 am

    To have a large DOF and have everything in sharp focus, I tend to focus on a nearer target (just few yards in front of me) and lock the focus before recomposing. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7dguy/4728614157/sizes/l/

  • Adilson Andrade

    June 25, 2010 05:15 am

    Hello All,
    I think that the distorsions created by the wide angle lens add drama to the picture. Since I got my wide angle I´ve been messing around with it and I am surprised to get results such the ones below:

    Vertorama+Digital painting
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4714919255/' title='O pão deles de cada dia' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4049/4714919255_691e9de191.jpg']

    Vertorama+Digital painting and HDR
    Adilson Andrade[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/4717195308/' title='Ponte construtor João Alves - Aracaju - Sergipe' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4020/4717195308_38aaed6e56.jpg']

    I use a Sony Alpha A330 and a Sony DT11-18mm Lens and some very basic knowledge of photoshop to achieve these results. I have as much pleasure in taking the pictures as I have in post-editting them.

    You may check some of my images here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adilson_aracaju/

    Greetings from Brazil.

  • Nobody

    June 25, 2010 05:04 am

    @ Brian: I have an Opteka 0.35 Macro Fisheye adapter. It was ridiculously cheap, and it's far from pro. On a kit lens, at 18mm it gives a fisheye-like perspective: about 90º FOV. At 55, it's a little wider than the bare lens at 18mm.

    If you want to shell out a few dollars and get used to these kinds of things, I do highly recommend it. Just be aware that it won't be the same quality, and it does effectively slow the lens down a noticeable amount.

  • Rob G

    June 25, 2010 04:39 am

    I recently purchased the Sigma 10-20 f3.5 for some getting some landscapes done and i spent a long time going through the hyperfocal theory and to be honest it fried my brain. I managed to find out through a laborious test session going though all the fstops at 10mm at all the focal point combinations to find the ideal settings for front to back sharpness. Was it a slog? Yes! Do I feel more confident on a shoot? Oh yes, and that makes all the difference as I know that lens inside out now. For the curious, its a D300s. 10mm settings were f8 at 1m - 0.6m. for 20mm again f8 (but drifting into poss f11) where the focal point is the line that links to the infinity sign.

  • Flores

    June 25, 2010 12:28 am

    What is what so called "Ultra-Wide angle Lens" ? Sorry to ask this stupid question. I am a total amateur. My Canon S5Is is 6-72 mm. Is my camera categorized as an ultra wide angle lens?

  • dogwatcher

    June 24, 2010 10:45 pm

    @arthur:

    On a sidenote:

    A cropfactor of 1.6 is canon-only (..not all canons, full-format is of course 1.0, some 1.3). The rest of the APS-C world is 1.5, including the mirrorless Sony NEX and Samsung NX series. MFT and FT (mainly Olympus and Panasonic) have 2.0. Sigma has a crop factor of 1.7 as far as I know.

    @kim:

    I will think about it! ;) But you wrote everything up so nicely already... Good thing. As I said before, the problems of wide-angle photography is not discussed a lot in books and tutorials (besides the usual "how to correct the distortion" stuff...) I hope the readers do appreciate your work!

    Some words about sharpness and wide-angle lenses...

    Lets take this pic... (..yes, one of mine, some traffic for my flickr account..)


    A car, an ultra-wide lens (10mm) and a lot of EXIF data..

    So you aim for a spot on the car lets say one meter (3.28 feet) away. You have an f-stop of 7.1
    (yes, not your typical f-stop, but can happen!) and a crop of 1.5.

    Sounds not like a problem, doesn't it? I mean.. ultra-wide... quite a decent f-stop.. everything should
    be tack-sharp, at least if there's enough light......

    According to www.dofmaster.com you've got a DOF of 0.41 meters to infinity (= 1.35 ft to infinity)

    Sounds great, uh?

    Okay, lets say you aimed for a spot on the car 0.69 meters (2.26 ft) instead.

    Not that much of a change? 1 metre.. 0.69 meters.... Well, everything okay you think?

    Lets see the data:

    Near limit: 0.35 m (1.15 ft)
    Far limit: 22.5 m (73.82 ft)

    Well wait.. WHAT???????

    Yeah, right.

    You may have just screwed your photo.

    The car maybe sharp. But everything a distance away is not. And we're not talking about a pleasant
    "un-sharpness" here, a nice "bokeh" to separate the foreground from the background, we talk about "slightly unsharp" like in these photos you do sort out so often.. a little bit out of focus, bad enough to turn a "keeper" into a "looser".

    So everything looks so nice in your viewfinder... and at home at your large screen you think: "Is my lens broken?"

    This is why I do think that contrary to populary belief (at least of the ones not owning such a lens) DOF IS a problem on wide angle lenses.

    Or it's just me. Who knows.

  • Kim Brebach

    June 24, 2010 09:17 pm

    Love the car pics, guys! old Springs Holler is a beauty, Karen. And Krill, I know how close you were to that creature - his bad breath was a knock-out, wasn't it?
    Juan, where did you find that formula? Absolutely killer that one.
    Dogwatcher, do you want to write the follow-up piece for this? You've done most of the work already.
    :-)
    Kim

  • dogwatcher

    June 24, 2010 08:01 pm

    @Karen:

    Believe me, the 18mm of a 18-250 or 18-55 lens is almost nothing to something like 14, 12 or even 10mm. It sounds just like "so few milimeters can't have such an impact.." They do.

  • Karen Stuebing

    June 24, 2010 07:34 pm

    Great article for someone with an 18-250mm lens. And I rarely use the 18mm for all the reasons mentioned above. Composition is really problematic to make such a wide angle photo interesting. The author certainly accomplished this with his.

    Here is a landscape I shot. I'm not happy with it especially but the Daily Shoot assignment was for having elements in the close, medium and far ranges to give the photo depth.

    As you can see from the exif I didn't stop down. I doubt due to the haze and the sun being on the left it would have given me a clear photo no matter what I did.

    Here is another one I like a little better. I used f11 on this one and it is much sharper. Too bad I didn't remember that for future reference.

    I think I'm going to try more wide angle shots now armed with this informative article and the comments.

    @Jason, another way to correct distortion in Photoshop is to select all, transform, distort and then move the corners to straighten it. As Kim has pointed out, you do lose part of the photo though. And sometimes the distortion can be interesting.

  • dogwatcher

    June 24, 2010 04:20 pm

    Minor issues regarding things like FOV and AOV aside, this is a very good article.

    Why?

    Because a lot of books about photography seem to blend out the specific issues about wide angle lenses almost completely.

    I found everything in your article being true.. I had to learn it the hard way. The first pictures taken with my Tamron 10-24 have been utter crap. The Tamron is not the greatest lens in the world, but I found to be the results inconsistent.. Some images looked like the lens being simply defunct. Same settings later on (just a different view and a different focal distance) it looked at least good with a potential for an even better photo after post-processing. So the lens was not to blame alone (if any), the problem was behind the camera ... me.

    If you think "well, I got a 18-55 kit lens already.. 18 is somewhat wide angle.. so everything below is just..
    well.. wider! Nothing can surprise me!" Wrong. These extra millimeters make all the difference.

    Problems (already mentioned in the article, but I like to stress the) are:

    Sharpness:
    Wide angle lenses should provide a rather huge DOF right? Well, yes and no. Remember the fact that field of view starts right in front of your shoes.. at least somewhat like that. Now given a specific aperture and a distance not within the hyperfocal distance and you may come out with something looking like an underperforming, broken lens. Sharp at the main subject, but slightly blurred in other regions. There is nothing like dividing back- and foreground with sharp regions and a nice bokeh... there is something sharp (hopefully) and something less sharp (very ugly). Drives you insane. Add that to the fact that the wide-angle zoom lenses are not the best regarding sharpness in the edges (and there is a lot to see in the edges of a wide angle lens..) and you can count you in for some disappointing experiences.

    Dynamic range:
    A lens with an angle of view catching a big part of the sky? Sounds great.. But wait, what about these overcast midday sky? Welcome to the hell of the "dynamic range problem"... If you were spared from this with all your other lenses, now it's the day to face it. Burned out skyies or everything underneath too dark.. So get yourself a neutral density graduated filter (.. and with the large front diametre of the wide angle zoom, they are not that cheap). Or take several exporsures and blend them together later on. (... and if the sun is in front of you.. well, you can count on flares or at least a good deal of contrast loss).

    Skewed horizon lines:
    Just tilt your cam a tiiiiiny bit. Zoing! You might barely see it with every other lens, you WILL see it with a wide angle lens. Wait.. you can straighten that horizon later on in Photoshop and co.? Of course you can. But be prepared that there is so much stuff on the wide angle photo that you will always come out with parts of the subject being cut in a half at the image border, a tree which doesn't fit there anymore after rotating... and so on.

    There is so much in the photo:
    Sounds great uh? Well it IS great. But that means that you will discover things later on which you didn't see while standing there shooting. A head sticking over a car roof there... some other stuff which calls out for being edited out on the other side of the photo.. Hard to see nowadays with viewfinders which are not too big nowadays (at least in APS-C cameras) . As Mr Brebach said: It's time again to REALLY compose your shots.

    But of course, these tricky lenses have their strengths:

    The drama! The skies! (Yes, some clouds in the sky, looking peacefully to the bare eye, can turn out dramatically with a wide angle lens!)

    Take a Jaguar E-Type and exaggerate its long engine hood with wide angle lens.. voilà:


    Jaguar E-Type (10mm APS-C)

    In general, cars can turn out very interesting with wide angle lenses.


    Volvo P1800S, low viewpoint (10mm APS-C)

    Summary: I think wide angle lenses are not easy to master.. but worth it. But be prepared that
    you have to play around with them a longer time until you get "it".

  • Juan

    June 24, 2010 02:43 pm

    I once found a formula to get the hyperfocal on any lens. It's as follows:

    H(mm)= (f x f)/(N x C), where H stands for hyperfocal distance, f is the focal lenght, N is the f-stop and C is equal to 0.02 (for cropped sensors) or 0.029 (for full frame sensors).

    So, if you have a lens at 10mm, f11 mounted on an APS-C...

    H= (10 x 10)/(11 x 0.02)= 100/0.22=454mm or 0.45m

    You have to focus at a distance of 0.45 meters to get everything in focus.

  • stevensys

    June 24, 2010 02:31 pm

    thanks for the tips, now it making me more eager to get UWA lenses.. :(

    World Without Border

  • Diana Mikaels

    June 24, 2010 09:59 am

    Thanks a lot. This article has answered some of my questions about sharpness with Ultra Wide Angle lenses, as well as others.

  • Kim Brebach

    June 24, 2010 09:41 am

    Good feedback, guys.

    Michael, Thanks for setting us straight on FOV and AOV. And you're right, the sensor size doesn't change the angle, but it crops the picture you see. Therefore a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera will show you less than a 50mm on a full frame camera, that was the point I tried to make. And 50mm on a full frame camera is said to be a 'normal' lens which presents pictures that are close to what we would would see with the naked eye.

    Jen and Jacob, I'm with you on the aperture issue, and with most lenses you get the best acuity between f/5.6 and 8. Ultra-wides are trickier in my own experience and, despite a lot of testing, I cannot come up with a consistent result (can't factor out all the other issues, most likely). Best idea is to read the lens tests, which usually tell you which lens is sharp at which end.

    Jason, the fun with these lenses is in the distorted perspectives. I use ACDSee which lets me straighten anything and everything but you end up with a much smaller image after you cut the left-overs off, or you add new post-processing distortions. But it can be done with any good photo editor.

    Kim

  • Grant Palin

    June 24, 2010 07:32 am

    Some good advice here. I get regular use of my Sigma 10-20mm lens, and have gotten some quite nice photos in the past.

    If you have the latest Photoshop or Lightroom, the software includes lens profiles, which I understand can correct distortions introduced by various lenses.

    I have a UV filter on my Sigma; have thought about getting a polarizer on it instead, but read articles explaining that such wide lenses lose some of the benefits of polarizers.

  • Martin Soler Photography

    June 24, 2010 07:17 am

    Thanks a lot a bunch of great tips. For reasons which I wont go into here my only lens for along time was the Sigma 10-20mm. There's quite a lot one can do with such a lens. Cars for example are a great example. Here is one I took from an old Peugot in Paris.
    http://martinsoler.com/2010/05/20/peugot-203-by-hotel-de-ville/

  • krill

    June 24, 2010 06:30 am

    you dont want to know how close i was to shoot this at 10mm

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/krill82/4353692250/' title='044/365' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4060/4353692250_207a5614c6.jpg']

  • Arthur

    June 24, 2010 05:25 am

    APS - C sensor cameras (all canon EOS included ) produce an 1.6x focal length magnification effect.

    Famous photographer Ken Rockwell says that

    The focal length magnification of this sensors makes a 24-135mm lens you might already have only as wide as a 40 mm lens.

    Lets do some math
    24mm x 1.6 = 38.4

    However APS - C sensors are good for telephoto lenses
    300mm x 1.6= 400

  • Jason Collin Photography

    June 24, 2010 03:39 am

    Thanks for this information, but after reading the title I was hoping to see a tutorial or tips on how to remove the distortion found when shooting at wide and ultra-wide focal lengths.

  • David Stringham

    June 24, 2010 03:08 am

    I'm a little confused by "exaggerated DOF." This seems to indicate that wider lenses give a narrower DOF, which is just the opposite. Also in response to michael's comment, a 50mm lens is not 'normal' because APS lenses are designed with a smaller image circle to match the sensor.

  • michael

    June 24, 2010 01:31 am

    There is some useful information in this article. Unfortunately there's a glaring error when it comes to field of view, "normal" lenses and APS sensors. You state:

    "On cropped sensor lenses, a 30-35mm focal length provides what we call a ‘normal’ Field of View, which is roughly equivalent to what the human eye takes in."

    This is just flat out wrong.

    First, field of view is the measurement of how wide your view is at a given distance. My binoculars give me a 384 ft. field of view at 1000 yards. No field of view on any camera matches the human eye, even fisheyes. Yes an APS sensor gives a narrower field of view. But a normal lens is still 50mm.

    What you are referring to with a normal lens is angle of view. A normal angle of view is one that matches the human eye and provides the same perspective. That means the objects are are photographed with approximately the same size per distance. A wide angle makes close objects much bigger and distant objects smaller than we normally view them. A telephoto makes objects closer to the same size.

    An APS sensor does not change angle of view. Angle of view is dependent on the lens, not the sensor. A 50mm lens gives the same angle of view on a full frame and APS sensor camera.

    What and APS sensor gives is a crop factor. Images are recorded with the same angle of view, they just record less, 1.5 or 1.6 times less depending on camera make. Field of view is less. Crop factor is more. Angle of view is identical. A normal lens is still about 50mm.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever

    June 24, 2010 01:18 am

    Great tips! My next lens of choice is going to be a wide angle lens since much of my photography is of landscapes. Reading this makes me think just how much better the photograph's I've already taken would be if I had had a wide angle lens.

    And I agree with Jacob, especially when doing landscapes I find that the smaller the aperture is the more sharpness is lost, especially with landscapes. I generally shoot with a large aperture for landscapes.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photography Blog

  • Jacob

    June 24, 2010 01:05 am

    If your lens has DOF markings on it, you can use those to find the "hyperfocal" distance for your given aperture. Also, do some tests for sharpness at different apertures. You might find that sharpness actually decreases if the aperture gets too small. This all depends on your lens, so make sure you do some tests.

  • scott

    June 24, 2010 12:42 am

    I have a ton of fun with my 10.5mm wide angle and people! Here is a shot of a local pageant winner dong soe stretching for a fitness company shoot I did. I think it is pretty damn funny :-)

    It is untouched by photoshop.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightshootedit/4585831916/

  • Ken

    June 24, 2010 12:27 am

    This sentence makes no sense to me:

    "Because of the exaggerated DOF, sharpness across the whole image is often hard to achieve. Stopping down is the recommended answer but, even at f/11 or f/13, front to back sharpness at 10 or 12mm can remain elusive."

    What do you think "DOF" means if not "zone of acceptable sharpness"?

  • Brian

    June 24, 2010 12:18 am

    Until I can spare the $500-$700 for a good ultra wide, I've been considering a .45 wide angle extension to screw to the end of my 18-55. Has anyone used one of these before? How bad is it?

  • audra

    June 24, 2010 12:15 am

    Thanks for this! I kept having "ah ha!" moments throughout. (Of course, now I really want a super-wide-angle lens to try it all out!)

  • plrang

    June 24, 2010 12:13 am

    I need to buy one first but... it's first on my list so soon will shoot some angles

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
Today’s Deal: 70% off Photoshop Artistry: Fine Art Grunge Composition courseVIEW DEAL
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed