Wide Angle Lens
Wide angle lens, as name indicates, covers a wide angle of view as compared to a normal or a telephoto lens. On a full frame DSLR or a 35 mm film camera, any lens that has less then 35 mm focal length is a wide angle. Up to 24 mm, it is considered as a moderate wide angle but a true wide angle is between 24 mm and 17 mm. Extreme wide angle or fish eye lens is less than 17 mm and can go up to 6 mm, which covers 220 degree angle view and it can actually see the subject, which is well behind the camera.
As wide angle covers more of the angular view, object appears far and perspective is exaggerated. This means that if we shoot a regular sized room with a wide lens, it will look like a huge and big room. These lenses up to 21 mm focal length can be corrected for straight lines but beyond that, they will produce barrel distortion and vertical and horizontal straight lines at the edge will be recorded as a curvature.
Wide angle lens is mostly used in landscape and architectural photography, where we want to cover an entire view. It is rarely used in portrait as the distortion produced by the lens is never going to produce a pleasing features of a human face. Nose and lips will look bigger as compared to forehead and chin.
Moderate wide angle is a choice of many photographers, who want to create a depth in a photograph with perspective. However, an 18 mm lens on a small digital image sensor DSLR camera will produce the effect of nearly 28 mm lens and we will cover much less angular view.
Zoom lenses are also available in this category, which may cover 17 mm to 40 mm or 18 mm to 35 mm, depending on the lens construction.
As the lens covers wide angle, we can safely use these lenses at slow shutter speeds up to 1/30th of a second without a tripod or a camera support. However, a camera support is always preferable.
Use this lens when you have a tight place to shoot or if you want to exaggerate perspective. The result of these lenses have more depth of field for given aperture, as compared to a normal and a telephoto lens.
Read about camera lens: Comparison of various types of lens
Tele-photo lens: Use an effects of a tele-photo lens
Lens faults: Different types of fault a lens can have
How to test a camera lens: How and what to check when buying a camera lens
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