5 reasons why you should try a wide-angle lens

1. Closer.

Robert Capa used to say that: if your photos are not good enough, you’re not close enough. This is very true, particularly so when it comes to street, documentary and travel photography. Being closer to the scene means being part the action and this in turn allows the viewer to feel like they too are part of it all. At a couple of meters away from the story, your photographs transmit much more power and emotion.

2. Even Closer

It is common to think that with street photography, the people we photograph will feel uncomfortable or that we’ll get into trouble if we ‘stick’ our cameras in their faces. For that reason (and particularly amongst beginners) zoom lenses or longer focal lengths become the lenses of choice. However, in doing so we’ll end up doing precisely what we want to avoid: Aiming a telephoto lens or a zoom in someone’s direction, will likely lead to that person thinking that you are sneakily taking a picture of them and that will create instant rejection. On the other hand, with a wide-angle you have to be so close to the subject that, if they do notice you taking the picture, they will more often than not, think that you are photographing something behind them, like a building or something else.

3. More depth of field.

Wide angle lenses, by the very physics of their optical construction, not only give us a great advantage when it comes to focusing (I’ll explain this in the next point) but also allow us to have more of a scene in focus. This means that we can compose in a way that is richer and more complex. By using and including all the elements that are in the scene we can create more dynamic images and thus explain with our photos, more complex and impactful stories.

4. Zone-focusing and Hyperfocals.

One of the most frustrating things for photographers is the cameras autofocus. It can cause you to miss a shot or even worse, capture a great shot only to find that it is out of focus. A great way to avoid these issues is by using focus by areas with hyperfocal distances. This is particularly easy with a good wide-angle and a large depth of field. If you set the aperture at f / 8 or / 11 on a 18mm (APSC) or 28mm (FF) and pre-focus at 3m, you will have, more or less, everything in focus from 2m to infinity (for more on this, check out the article: The fastest “autofocus” in the world). In this way you will not waste time focusing and be able to concentrate on your composition and the decisive moment.

5. Price.

In the era of film photography, wide angles were relatively expensive due to the fact that manufacturing them was a complex task, and as they were wide, they tended to greatly distort the scene or subject. However, modern manufacturing techniques have solved or greatly improved these issues and now, you can find wide-angle lenses for very good prices and for any type of sensor. In addition, they tend to be small and compact which allows you to spend more time on the street photographing, and photographing a lot is what will ultimately make you a better photographer.

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