Camera Lenses Explained: how to get sharp photos with any type of lens

Camera Lenses Explained: how to get sharp photos with whatever lens you've got

How to use wide-angle lenses

How to use wide-angle lenses

The widest setting on most standard zooms offers a reasonable wide-angle option, but how can a 10-20mm lens affect your pictures?

At its simplest, a wide-angle lens such as this enables you to include more of the scene in your image. But using a wide-angle lens successfully isn’t just about including the whole scene.

Shooting at the widest focal length, for instance, can easily make everything in the scene appear tiny in your final image, so you need to use a few compositional tricks to maximise the impact of your images.

To make your wide-angle shots really stand out, you need to get in close to exaggerate the perspective. Look for foreground interest or leading lines to give your images a three-dimensional feel, or your wide-angle shots can look empty.

Converging verticals
Getting the whole subject in while keeping it a reasonable size in the frame can lead to a common problem, especially with building and architecture shots: when you angle the camera up slightly to get the best photo composition, the vertical lines in the subject end up pointing inwards, making it look like the subject is falling over.

How to use wide-angle lenses: converging verticals

Camera tilted upwards

The only way to avoid this with a wide-angle lens is to make sure the back of the camera is parallel to the subject, and try to make the most of the composition in this position.

How to use wide-angle lenses: converging verticals

Camera level

Try shooting with the camera very low to the ground to include plenty of foreground if it’s interesting enough. Otherwise, you’ll have to crop the image later on to remove a featureless foreground.

Watch for distortion
It may be tempting to use an extreme wide-angle lens to shoot groups of people, especially if space is limited.

But go too wide and you can end up with loads of unflattering distortion, making the people close to the camera appear much larger than those in the background.

PAGE 1: Why camera lenses are important
PAGE 2: How to use wide-angle lenses
PAGE 3: How to get sharp photos from a wide-angle lens
PAGE 4: Focal length and sensor size

READ MORE

Old Lenses: how to use, choose and adapt old film lenses for your new DSLR
How to find your lens’ sweet spot
Photography tips for beginners: how to change lenses safely
DSLR Lenses: 7 questions photographers must ask about their next piece of glass