All photographers should own at least one wide angle lens, and with so many different brands and models of wide angle lenses choosing the best one can be a bit of a mind field. There is always the temptation to read reviews published by professional photographers and buy the wide angle lens they use, but this is a risky strategy and you could end up wasting a lot of money.
The best lens for one photographer may not necessarily be the best lens for another photographer, and before you take the plunge and get your credit card out there are certain things you must consider when buying a wide angle lens.
There are many considerations buying a wide angle lens, however there are a few key considerations that are crucial to your decision, and you should not disregard these. The key considerations include:-
When buying a wide angle lens you must consider how wide you want to go, i.e. what focal length is required to give you a sufficient field of view, and the subject matter will have an effect on this. For example, if you want to capture photos of sweeping landscapes or seascapes a lens with a 16mm focal length is considered the best since this provides the wide field of view to get as much in to the frame as possible. If you want to capture outdoor portraits a lens with a 16mm focal length is too wide, and instead a lens with a focal length of 24mm or 28mm is more suitable.
Maximum widest aperture
When buying a wide angle lens you must consider the maximum widest aperture you need to get the type of wide angle shots you’re after. For example, if you want to capture photos of landscapes and seascapes you will need to shoot at narrow apertures to maximise the depth of field and get the front to back sharpness across the frame. If you want to take outdoor portraits you will want to shoot at wide apertures to artistically blur the background and make the subject pop. If you want to capture outdoor portraits, or indeed any portrait, with a wide angle lens you need to make sure the aperture will open wide enough to get the shallow depth of field you need. If you are not interested in shooting at wide apertures you won’t need to worry about the maximum widest aperture as you will be shooting at narrower apertures that all wide angle lenses will open up to.
Fixed focal length or zoom lens
When buying a wide angle lens you must consider whether a fixed focal length prime lens or a zoom lens is the most suitable to capture the type of wide angle shots you want. Composing the shot with a prime lens is often more of a challenge than composing the shot with a zoom lens, but there are situations when the advantages of a prime lens outweighs the advantages of a zoom lens. Similarly, there are times when the advantages of a zoom lens outweigh the advantages of a prime lens. Consequently, you need to think whether a prime lens or zoom lens is going to suit you the best.
As previously mentioned the above are key considerations you need to think about at the very least. There are, of course, other things to think about such as whether to buy a branded or third party lens and your budget, to name just two.
As you can see the subject or subjects you want the wide angle lens for will determine the best focal length and the maximum widest aperture you need. The subject will have a significant influence on the most suitable wide angle lens, therefore before you take the plunge and order wide angle lens you need to think very carefully about what you want the lens for. Get the subject wrong at the start and you will end up wasting a lot of money on a lens that isn’t suitable for what you want.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.