Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Wide Angle Lenses?

Many newcomers ask why wide angle lenses are used so often in AP. My thinking is:

Question......for what purpose are the architecture photographs? My opinion is that for commercial architectural photography lenses of 24mm for full frame DSLR (a bit wider than 90MM for 4x5) and wider are the norm. The rule of thumb I have expressed and heard my whole career when we were shooting film in $x5 view cameras is that you will take 90% of your images with a 90mm lens. Why? Four reasons really, for example the 90mm gets you close to a building so you can avoid all the crap like telephone poles that surround buildings. Second your eye doesn't remain fixed when you view a large building or interior. You pan the interior or exterior and the wide lens mimics that panning. Third on interiors there is allot of need for very inclusive space in the images, Fourth the perspective distortion that a wide lens introduces creates dynamic forms in an image considered an aesthetic plus in advertising intended images.

If however your interest is art or documentary, like for my personal b&w work, I prefer less wide angle distortion, which screams "I used a wide angle lens". In that case I prefer a 120 on 4x5 (about a 35mm on FF DSLR). My favorite being the Nikkor 120 SW (on 4x5), which will cover an 8x10 offering significant movement potential and doesn't scream wide angle.

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