Guide to Using a Wide Angle Lens with Your Digital Camera

A wide angle lens with a digital camera helps you increase overall depth and helps you capture more of the scene then you normally do. But, there’s more to taking pictures with a wide angle lens than simply pointing your camera and shooting a picture. While it does take some practice, even a novice photographer can efficiently use a wide angle lens. But, you need a good digital SLR and possibly a telescope to do so.

How the Lens Works

A wide angle lens is generally referred to as any lens that is less than 35mm in diameter, which means that it captures about 55 degrees at its widest dimension. To get the most of your wide angle lens, you need to be fully zoomed out from an image. This is because the shorter that the focal length is, the wider the angle of view. When you zoom into an object, you create a smaller angle of view. This diminishes the overall effect of the lens.


When shooting with a wide angle lens, you capture more of the image than you would with a standard or telephoto lens. But, this also means that you need to be closer to your object, which means that you need to move in closer to get your subject in focus.

There are, however, rewards to doing this. You get a unique perspective on the object. This is because your wide angle lens exaggerates both the distance and the size of the object, especially when compared to images far away or right in the foreground of the lens.

For example, if you are taking a picture of a flower, the flower closest to your lens appears gigantic while the rest of the flowers seem smaller or regular sized. To make this perspective effect happen, however, you need to get close to the subject.


Wide angle lenses have a wider expanse when it comes to converging lines. Convergence refers to parallel vertical lines that seem to disappear at a particular point. You always need to take converging vertical lines into consideration when using a wide angle lens.

If your camera is positioned either below or above the horizon, then the convergence seems unnatural. You always need to shoot at your line of sight. But, that doesn’t mean that you can shoot upwards or downwards. Just keep the camera at your natural line of sight.


Experimentation is key with wide angle lenses. For example, you may want to take a sweeping vista with mountains and meadows. But, with a wide angle lens, this can cause the objects in the distance to appear too small. So, you need to have something in the foreground to add perspective. Natural objects like trees, plants, rocks and logs work well as foreground objects.

Another reason for a foreground image is to give the viewer something to focus on. The faraway objects may appear too far away for viewers and the scene too busy. Give them something to draw their attraction to.