Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

3 June 2022

Wide-angle lenses are a popular addition to many photography kits and are often the first addition once a photographer graduates from novice to enthusiast. Just as telephoto lenses are popular amongst sports and wildlife photographers, a wide-angle lens is often thought of as a must-have for landscapes but there's more to wide-angle lenses than that. 

Read on for our complete guide to going wide.


What is a wide-angle lens?

A lens with a focal length of 35mm less is usually considered a wide-angle lens. What this means is that looking through the viewfinder will present you with a wider field of view than what your eye can normally see.

Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your CameraTed’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

The benefits of wide-angle

Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your CameraTed’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

Due to the wider than normal field of view, wide-angle lenses allow you to fit more of what is in front of your camera into the frame of your images. This can be understood as allowing you to cram more detail horizontally, such as an entire mountain range or the side of a building but it should also be noted that a wide-angle lens will increase your foreground, which is the area directly in front of your lens.

Your mind is probably already racing with possibilities but to help you out, here are some instances in which this can be useful:

As well as their field of view, wide-angle lenses offer several other benefits that photographers of various applications can enjoy. For instance, wide-angle lenses provide an increased depth of field; this means more of your image is sharp and in focus, from the foreground to the background.

Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your CameraTed’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

Different wide-angle focal lengths

Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your CameraTed’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

Not all wide-angle lenses are created equally. As is the case with all types of lenses, wide-angle lenses are available in different focal lengths which alters the field of view and subsequently the effect, and they are also available in both prime and zoom formats.

Wide-angle: 24-35mmmm

Ultra wide-angle: 18-24mm

Fish-Eye: 8-16mm


Note: The focal lengths outlined above are for full-frame cameras. Using a smaller format camera, such as a camera with an APS-C sensor or micro four-thirds sensor results in all lenses being magnified by a certain amount, with this amount varying depending on the size of the lens; this is known as crop factor. The good news is manufacturers make different lenses for these cameras, so you can still enjoy wide-angle photography. You can read more about crop-factor in our digital camera lens buying guide.


Take a look at some of our wide angle lens range


When should you avoid a wide-angle lens?

While we firmly believe that no camera bag is truly complete without a wide-angle lens or two, there are certain instances when a wide-angle lens is not particularly useful. Here are some drawbacks that must be considered when using a wide-angle lens:

Distortion - The main drawback of a wide-angle lens is that it can create distortion. This is usually visible in the corners of your frame and on any straight objects.

Ted’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your CameraTed’s Guide to Going Wide – Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Your Camera

Difficulty composing - It can sometimes be hard to compose interesting images due to the increase of space between you and your subject.

Boring foregrounds - As a wide-angle lens inherently increases the amount of foreground in an image, this can be a problem if there is nothing of interest in the foreground. To combat this, photographers should employ composition techniques such as leading lines to guide a viewer’s eye through their photograph.

Unflattering for portraits - Due to the distortion many portrait photographers avoid wide-angle lenses in favour of normal or short-telephoto lenses, as the results are simply less flattering for your model. That being said, wide-angle lenses are sometimes employed by photojournalists to produce situational portraits, in which the goal is to present a model in their environment.


If you'd like to know more about wide-angle lenses, or you want advice on any other type of lens or camera gear, the staff at your local Ted's is always happy to help. In the meantime, keep browsing our photography blog and you are sure to find some useful tips.

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