Essence of Photography: Wide Angle

How does a wide-angle lens change the look of your photos?

August 02, 2021

Before we look at some examples, what do we mean by "wide angle"?

You may recall that different lenses are characterized by their focal length. This is a number like 70mm or 50mm or 35mm. Zoom lenses have a range of focal lengths such as 28-75mm, and you can zoom in or out to choose one.

Before digital cameras in the days of film, the standard focal length for what we see with our eyes was 35mm.

This is still generally true with digital cameras, even if it is not an exact comparison.

For most purposes, consider that focal lengths that are less than 35mm, like 30mm or lower, are considered "wide angle". The lower the number, the wider the view.

But what does that actually mean?

Put simply, you can include more of the scene in the photo frame with a wider focal length.

Notice how with a wide angle, objects that are closer to the camera seem larger than usual, but objects further away, like the sun, will appear very small.

As you experiment with wide angle lenses, you will notice that you can get some strange effects depending on how close the camera is to your subject, and the focal length that you use. Lenses with a focal length less than 15mm are sometimes called ultra wide angle because they start to create even more distortion than a standard wide angle lens.

You can use this for comedic effect, like making a person or animal look like they have a very large nose.

Here are more examples of wide angle photography for inspiration and ideas.




Essence of Photography is a series of tips, tutorials, and visual inspiration on a variety of photography skills and techniques.

You can practice these skills and more by purchasing a deck of Photo Cards from Zoom In Reach Out, a non-profit with a mission of teaching to see the world from a different perspective.

All photos in this article were posted to the Aminus3 Photography Community and are copyrighted by their respective photographers.

Click on any photo to see a larger version or to leave a comment for the photographer.

Want to share your own photography experiments with wide-angle photography?

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TOPICS: essence of photography

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