What Is A Wide Angle Lens? And How To Utilize Them?

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what is a wide angle lens used for

I believe that having a wide angle lens is one of the most important things whenever you are thinking about getting into photography.

Now, I do understand that this lens might not be something that everyone is going to use, but if you are looking for something genuinely better in almost every way, getting a wide angle lens is the right way.

The reason is simple, to be honest. With this lens, you will be able to take some stunning shots, and if you are wondering what is a wide angle lens, then you are at just the right spot as this article is all about wide angle lenses, and that should help you get some understanding.

This would only ensure that there are no issues that are coming in the way. I will be discussing almost every aspect of these lenses. This means that if you are interested in checking out these lenses, this is the time to do so.

What Is A Wide Angle Lens?

Now, when you are talking about wider lenses, there is always a debate that starts, to be honest. This is not annoying at all. People want to be informed about these things, and the more they know, the better it would be for everyone.

For now, I just want to explain what a wide angle lens is so everyone can feel informed about it.

To start, you are looking at any lens that has a focal length of 35mm or wider. It is considered a wide angle lens. However, within the wider lens category, you are also looking at lenses that are considered ultra-wide.

Those would be the ones that managed to go below 24mm. One of the most popular ultra-wide lenses is a 16mm lens that is good for those who want to get wide shots, but with so much width, you can expect some distortion.

Wide angle lenses have a plethora of applications that make these lenses so much more convenient and better to use as compared to some of the other options, and that is what we are always looking to get.

What Does A Wide Angle Lens Do?

I know it might sound strange to a lot of people, but a lot of the time, people are often looking to get wide angle lenses but have no idea about what these lenses do, to begin with.

Well, to start with, it is important to know that a wide angle lens is no different than other lenses that are available in the market, such as telephoto lenses or zoom lenses.

However, the best thing about a wide angle lens is that it can capture a lot of things in a single picture. This is a lot more than a standard or a telephoto lens.

However, this might not be for everyone, as the wider you go, the more distortion you will see in the images, especially around the edges of the frame.

Image of a bicycle

Now, as far as the distortion is concerned, some people view it as an aesthetic choice while others look at it as something along the lines of ruining the image. Whatever the case might be, this is different for different users, and therefore, has to be handled that way.

Whatever the case might be, a wide angle lens or an ultra-wide angle lens is something that you should be looking into if you are looking to buy something that is going to be good and will serve you well, too. After all, that is what most people want to go with.

Finding a good wide angle lens is not going to be difficult for anyone. These lenses are easy to find, and the best part is that you can even find some of the sharpest wide angle lenses in the market that make the whole process of taking pictures a lot more fun than you might believe. You just have to find the right lens, and you are good to go.

What Are The Three Main Types Of Wide Angle Lenses?

Now that you are moving forward in the article, we are going to start looking at the three main types of wide angle lenses. As I have explained before, wide-angle lenses come in various formats, and they are all different in terms of how you are going to use them, to be honest.

Image of some camera lenses

The first one is a fish eye lens; these are special ultra-wide angle lenses that normally have an angle of 180-degree. Which allows you to see half of a full rotation. These are distinctive and have a hemispherical type of lens distortion, and they never produce straight lines.

The next type of wide angle lens we are looking at is a rectilinear wide angle lens. These lenses are somewhat better than the fisheye lenses, in which they keep the distortion to a little lower, but the lines are somewhat closer to straight.

These lenses range from 8 to 16-mm lenses, but there are some changes in focal lengths based on the manufacturer.

It is important to know that a 16mm rectilinear wide angle lens will not produce the same looking image as a 16mm fisheye lens as the results are going to be drastically different.

The last time of wide angle lenses are tilt shift wide angle lenses, and it is important to know that a tilt-shift lens does not have to be a wide angle lens, but in most cases, they are.

These lenses can project much larger images than the full-frame sensor. You can move the lens on the plane parallel to the sensor both horizontally and vertically. They can make the converging lines parallel.

Tilt-shift lenses give out a distinct look but are not as popular whenever you are talking about the overall usage, but are still a lot of fun to use when you finally get a hold of it.

Related guide: An easy guide to understand all types of cameras

When To Use A Wide Angle Lens

Honestly, the thing that you need to know about using a wide angle lens is that it is not how to use one because these lenses are a lot similar to some of the other lens options available in the market.

However, it is more about the fact that when you are talking about a wide angle lens, you have to know when to use one.

Not every single scenario requires you to have a wide angle lens. This means that there is always a different shot requiring a different lens, and having access to something good for you is the way to go, as it will help you a lot.

For your convenience, I have mentioned some instances where wide angle lenses make a lot of sense because by using these, you are allowing yourself for a much smoother overall experience, and that is how it should be for most of the lenses too. So, let’s not waste time and have a look.

  • Street Photography

The first one that I would suggest you look into is street photography.

Image of Colorful Kyoto City at night

For a lot of people, this might not be that big of a concern, but street photography is great in almost every aspect, and the best part is that whenever you are using a wide angle lens for street photography, you will be able to get things done without any issues that might come in the way.

  • Travel Photography

Being a photographer and someone who love starveling, the one thing I love about travel photography is that it is one of the best things that you can do. You are getting a chance to be able to capture whatever you want. However, you want.

Image of a person taking pictures of a mountain

However, the thing about travel photography is that it requires you to have a good lens, and a wide angle lens can get the job done in the best way.

  • Architecture And Real Estate Photography

If you have seen the pictures of some beautiful architecture and homes, then you should know that those pictures have been taken using wide angle lenses. Simply because these just work fine, and you know that you are getting a great overall experience.

Image of a camera taking pictures of a building

Again, this might not be for everyone, but hey, if this is the field you are working in, then getting access to such a lens is always good and should get you started.

  • Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is one of my favorites, to be honest. Sure, in the start, I had some issues getting started with it as I did not know what I was doing, but the more I got used to it, the better it got and easier it became.

Image of a cam on tripod

So, if you are looking to get started with landscape photography, a wide angle lens would be a great way to do it as it takes some amazing photos.

  • Event Photography And Photojournalism

Event photography and photojournalism are both very taxing and can be very complicated if you are not being careful enough with how the pictures are going to end up like.

However, the good news is that if you do have a good wide angle lens at your disposal, you will be able to take some amazing pictures to begin with.

Image of a Photojournalist

Sure, these events are not to everyone’s liking and preferences, but hey, we all have choices.

But I would always recommend a good wide angle lens for such instances so you know what you are looking into and how to get it done because that is very, very important, and you cannot miss out on that.

  • Night Photography

Moving further, it is also important to know that whenever you are looking to get started with some good pictures of the night sky or the landscapes at night, in general. Then using a wide angle lens is always a great thing to get started with as this is going to help you a lot.

Image of the stars in sky at night

Just use the right lens that you have, and you will have a great overall time taking some great pictures, this I can guarantee you.

Mistakes Beginners Make With Wide Angle Lenses

I know it might sound like a strange thing, but wide angle lenses are generally a bit more difficult to handle as opposed to standard lenses because the distortion can be overwhelming for a lot of people.

But that is not all, there are a lot of other things about wide angle lenses that set people off, too, and they end up making mistakes.

Well, I am here to ensure that these mistakes are never made, and you can take the shots that you want without really getting into any issue. Avoiding these mistakes should help you take better pictures every single time without really having any problems.

Keeping Everything at the Same Distance: The first mistake that most people make is that they decide to keep everything at the same distance, and while this might look like it is going to work just fine, it ends up creating issues.

The thing that you must know is that not all the scenes are suited for a wide angle lens. This means that you have to determine the distance between you and the subject.

  • Wide Angle Everything: One more mistake that I see people making all the time is that they are under the impression that everything has to be wide angle.

    Well, if you are shooting scenarios that require the lens to be in a wide angle, then sure. But that does not mean that you go ahead and shoot everything that way. As that will just result in weird pictures coming.
  • Not Having Any Clear Subject in the Image: Another thing that I notice all the time is that whenever people are trying to take good pictures with a wide angle lens, they never really have a clear subject in the image.

    While it might seem like a good idea, this is not something that would result in your pictures looking good, and therefore, you must avoid it at all costs.
  • Too Many Subjects: With wide angle users, I see this happening all the time. What happens is that people just end up putting too many subjects in a single photo. It might look like something that is good but results in average looking pictures.
  • Wide Angle for Portraits: Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that people make is that they end up using wide angle for portraits, and that is never the right thing to get done because it will only result in more and more issues coming your way.

    Why? Well, wide angle lenses end up distorting the image, and if you take a portrait, you would do the same to the subject’s face, and that is not flattering to look at.
  • Not Knowing When to Stop: Sure, I get it. The looks that you get from wide angle are some of the best looks that you can get in photography, but that does not mean that you go ahead and shove wide angle everywhere and not stopping at all.

    You will end up taking some of the worst photos that way, and it will only hurt your portfolio.

The Pros And Cons Of Wide Angle Lenses

I have talked a lot about wide angle lenses here, and it is only fair that we are exploring as much as we can.

After all, the goal here is to ensure that my readers know as much about these lenses as possible. Only then I will be able to say that I have proved a point.

black and white picture of a person with camera

With that said, wide angle lenses, although are great, but do come with their pros and cons, and that can be an issue for many people.

You see, these lenses are not made for all the purposes, and the same is the case with other lenses. So, there is always some sort of discrepancy that gets in the way of taking pictures.

With that said, below are some of the pros of wide angle lenses.

  • Wide angle lenses are great because they allow one to easily photograph really large subjects and that too, with ease. You can photograph buildings, landscapes, and other similar aspects without having to face any issues.
  • Another thing that I love about these lenses is how they are available in some of the widest apertures that one can think about. These lenses are convenient and work just well and that too, without too many hassles.
  • Wide angle lenses are also great when you are talking about creating perspectives that look creative and interesting. Something that is not easily available in other lenses because you simply cannot go ahead and take shots like that with that.

With all the pros aside, there are a few downsides to wide angle lenses, too. We are going to take a look at them below.

  • The biggest issue with the wide angle lenses is that they are often creating distortion and that never really is a good idea because it can create issues for a lot of people.
  • Wide angle lenses cannot be and should not be used for portraits as they make the faces look unflattering.
  • The higher quality options in wide angle lenses are always on the more expensive side.

I will never deny that wide angle lenses are great. However, at the same time, you have to understand that these lenses are not for everyone.

If you are looking for something that is good and something that just gets the job done, you will need to find a good wide angle lens.

Understandably, such a perspective is not for everyone, and that is the reason some people stay away from these lenses, but once you do get a hold of it, there are not a lot of things that can go wrong with a wide angle lens.

Just be sure that you are constantly practicing with the lens as that would make your overall experience and life with a wide angle a lot better, and you would not have any problems that would be coming your way.

Always be sure that you are using the lens that would be good for your requirements, and I can assure you that you are not going to run into any problems.

What Are Some Good Wide Angle Lens For Nikon Cameras?

If you are looking into Nikon cameras, you will find some excellent wide angle lenses to begin with.

The best thing about all the modern cameras is that they can use 3rd party lenses as well as long as the lens mount corresponds; in this case, you can easily find a good lens for your Nikon.

Below, I have listed some of my favorite wide angle lenses for Nikon cameras.

  • Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM
  • Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM

These lenses on their makeup for one of the best photography experiences that you can go through.

What Are Some Good Wide Angle Lens For Canon Cameras?

Moving onto the Canon cameras, there is no denying that these cameras have seen massive improvements over the past couple of years to the point that the lenses that you get in the market are excellent, to say the least.

Canon lenses are no slouch, to be honest, and you are going to get a great overall experience with these lenses, too.

With that said, let’s look at the best wide angle lenses for Canon cameras.

  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
  • Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens.

These two lenses are among my favorite every time you are talking about excellent lenses that will give you a great overall experience as well.

So, why not go ahead and spend money on these lenses, and I can guarantee you are going to get a great experience.

What Are Some Good Wide Angle Lens For Sony Cameras?

On last, we have Sony cameras that have come a long, long way, and for all the right reasons, too. If you are wondering what are some good wide angle lenses for Sony cameras, you are at the right spot as I am going to take care of that for you.

Below are some of my favorite lenses for Sony.

  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens
  • Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens.
  • Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens.

Although expenses, if you are in professional photography, these lenses will be worth every penny and a great investment at that.


I can understand that the whole process of using a wide-angle lens might not be for everyone, but the thing that you must understand is that getting a hold of this lens and the way you shoot with it might not be for everyone, and that is fine.

The purpose of this article was to clear out any confusion for those who are looking to invest in a good lens and want to try their hands at wide-angle photography, as we have understood that this is not something that is for everyone. Rest assured, you will do just fine whenever you have your hands on a new wide-angle lens.

If you have any questions, I am always here to assist you in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1- What is considered a wide angle lens?

Answer: A wide angle lens is generally a lens that has a focal length of 35mm or lower. The lower the focal length you go in terms of the number, the wider the lens will become and the more distortion it will introduce in the photos that you are taking.

Q2- Is a 24mm lens a wide angle?

Answer: Yes, generally, the 24mm is considered to be one of the best lenses in the market as it will get things sorted for you, and you will also not have any problems with a good lens like that at all.

Q3- What do you use a wide angle lens for?

Answer: Wide angle lenses can be used for countless reasons, including street photography, urban photography, landscape, real estate, and architectural photography. These lenses are convenient, and they work great, as well.

Q4- Is 18-55mm a wide angle lens?

Answer: 18-55mm lens is one of the most common kit lenses in the market, and while it might be a good beginner lens, and at 18mm, it also works as a good wide-angle lens. But it largely depends on the quality of the glass that is used, and in most cases, that is average at best.

Q5- What is the difference between a fisheye and a wide angle lens?

Answer: A fisheye lens normally gives you a 180-degree field of view, and the image is distorted to the point that there are no straight lines. Whereas a wide-angle lens does give you a wider field of view, but the results are not always the same in terms of how the picture looks, and there is also some distortion but not on the same level.

Q6- What are fisheye lenses good for?

Answer: Fisheye lenses are good when you are trying to create a hemispherical or panoramic image, or your photography style revolves around the use of the fisheye effect a lot.

Q7- Is a wide angle lens good for portraits?

Answer: Although these lenses can be used for portraits, the results are never good because there is a lot of distortion, and this often leads to some sort of warping happening on the face, and that makes the subjects look unflattering.

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