Open wide

Wide angle lenses tend to be under-appreciated by amateur photographers. “Surely to get a good photo you need to have a long lens: the longer the better!”

No, not so. A wide angle lens (say, a 10-20mm lens on a crop camera, or a 16-35mm lens on a full-frame camera) allows for interesting pictures.

Wide lenses are great for creative reasons:

  • You get depth, three-dimensionality – we call that “close-far” technique.
  • You get leading lines, strong diagonals.
  • You can make great “environmental” portraits, with a person surrounded; enveloped, as it were, by their environment.

And for technical reasons:

  • It is easy to focus “everywhere:”: depth of field is extensive.
  • It is easy to use slow shutter speeds without motion blur (rough guideline: a 15mm lens can be used at 1/15th second, while a 200mm lens needs 1/200th second).

If I were to have to choose one lens (admittedly this would have to be with a gun to my head: life is not that simple) – but if I had to choose one lens, then I would choose the wide angle zoom as my lens of choice.

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