How to Choose a Video Wide Angle Lens

A video wide angle lens can be a saviour when you're shooting in tiny locations. It allows you to see an area that is larger than what's possible with your naked eyes. However, the major drawback to shooting with a wide angle lens is that it can cause distortion. The wider the lens, the more apparent the distortion. So, how do you choose a video wide angle lens?

Step 1: Determine What the Camera Can Handle

The first factor that goes into choosing a wide angle lens is determining if your camera can support it; if it can't, then you're not using it. There are two types of ways that lenses can be supported on a camera. On most consumer and prosumer cameras, the wide angle lens gets screwed over the permanent fixed lens. For these cameras, there is usually just one type of wide angle lens that can be used.

On professional and some prosumer cameras, the lenses are easily interchangeable because they are held in place by a mounting bracket. You also need to keep in mind that most companies have designed their lenses to only work with their cameras, which limits the choices you have. There are third party companies that make adapters and brackets that allow you to employ lenses on your cameras that would otherwise be impossible to mount. If these products are available for your camera, then they are worth buying because they can be very useful tools.

Step 2: Select a Wide Angle Lens Based on Depth of Field

Lenses are constructed based on the science of optics, and tiny differences between lens constructions will have a huge influence on the image they produce. For example, two 15mm lenses created by two different manufacturers will have very similar frame sizes but they could have different depth of fields based on the aperture setting you're using. These different depth of fields will make the two images look quite different from each other in terms of quality, and this should be a factor in your lens selection. 

Step 3: Consider Acceptable Levels of Distortion

Sometimes you have to pick a 15mm lens over a 10mm because the distortion differences between the two is too great. This is especially true when the rest of your shots in your scene are not distorted because the wide shot will not perfectly match with the other ones and might call attention to itself.

At the other side of this is choosing wide angle lenses deliberately for the fact that they are distorting. This can be seen in some of the medium and close shots of the Coen Brothers movies.

Sometimes you will be shooting in a very small area where the only choice is to use the widest angle lens you have, or else you won't be able to include all of the action in your frame.