Using Wide Angle Lens for Underwater Photography

Using a wide angle lens can produce beautiful, breath taking photographs. However, not many people use a wide angle lens for underwater photography because there are many tricks involved in order to get those beautiful, breathtaking photographs. The guidelines below will go over the advantages and disadvantages of using a wide angle lens for underwater photography, as well as a couple of tips and tricks.

Advantages of Wide Angle Lens for Underwater Photography

The biggest advantage of a wide angle lens is that it increases the depth of field. That means that the digital camera will be able to reveal a greater angle than what can be seen by the human eye. If you are using external strobe lights, a wide angle lens will allow you to get closer to the subject you are shooting, which increases detail, clarity and color. With a wide angle lens, you will also be able to photograph larger objects, such as shipwrecks, large animals and divers.

Disadvantages of Wide Angle Lens for Underwater Photography

Unfortunately, there are also a few disadvantages of using a wide angle lens for underwater photography. In order to ensure lighting across the entire picture area, dual strobes are often needed. Unless you are shooting large objects, such as shipwrecks, large animals and divers, a wide angle lens may often make smaller objects appear too small in the photo. Due to the greater angle that is revealed by the wide angle lens, unwanted objects may make their way into your photos.

Manual Mode

If you are shooting underwater photography using a wide angle lens, your camera should be in manual mode. Many people use TTL when shooting underwater photography with a wide angle lens, but this can wreak havoc on your pictures. The reasoning behind that is due to the blue color of the water in the frame, the foreground may be exposed or burned out in TTL.

There are a few general guidelines that you can follow. If you are shooting in tropical waters where the visibility is good, a good guideline for ISO 100 is F8 at 1/60. The F8 is a f-stop that determines aperture, which is how much light your lens will let in. If you are shooting an object that does not move, you can use a higher f-stop and slower shutter speed. Doing that will increase the depth of field. If you are trying to shoot an animal that moves fast, you should use a higher shutter speed and a lower f-stop. You will also have to decide whether to shoot horizontally or vertically. That decision is totally up to you, as different marine settings call for different shooting styles.


When using a wide angle lens for underwater photography, you should use dual strobes. While this is a disadvantage in comparison to other lenses, you will be able to place a strobe on the left and right of the subject you're shooting. It is recommended that each strobe be above the camera and slightly pointing downward. You should also use equal lighting ratios for both strobes.

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