6 Mistakes to Avoid with Wide Angle Lenses – Part 2

Continued from 6 Mistakes to Avoid with Wide Angle Lenses – Part 1

Vertical Perspective Distortions

Wide angle lenses work great when you keep them vertically-leveled. However if you point your wide angle lenses either up or down, you get the vertical lines in your image converging at the top or bottom respectively. This can sometimes make the elements in your photo look odd as seen from the shot that I took of this old church building in Nicaragua.

Iglesia Capulin, Nicaragua

This does not mean that you can only shoot straight-on with a wide angle lens. You can either correct this vertical distortion in software or you can use this vertical distortion creatively to come up with some stunning photos as seen in the following images.

  • Maui, Hawaii (HI), USA

    Focal length: 23mm, Wide angle lens pointing down on the waterfall, Maui, Hawaii (HI), USA

  • Northern Lights, Iceland

    Focal length: 23mm, Wide angle lens pointing up towards the sky, Iceland

Not Using the Correct Filters

Filters and wide angles lenses don’t always play well together. One of the most frequently encountered problems is that of vignetting. In extreme cases you can see the edges of the filter in your frame. The easiest way to get rid of this problem is to either zoom in or to use larger filters (which are typically more expensive). Here is a shot from Hawaii’s where you can see the edges of the filter in the frame.

  • Image 1: Filters in the Fame

  • Image 2: Death Valley Uneven polarization

Another frequently encountered problem with wide angle lens is uneven polarization. This is most noticeable in the blue skies on a cloudless day. You can avoid this problem by not using a circular polarizer for blue skies or by taking multiple exposures and blending them together.

Not Knowing the Limitation of the Lens

Make sure you know your lens’ capabilities and limitations. Most wide angle lenses are sharpest in the center and this sharpness decreases when you move toward the corner. So, you may not be able to improve sharpness in the corners by selecting a smaller aperture. Here is an example of the photo I took in Fiji in which you can see the softness of the lens at the corners.

  • Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

  • 200% Crop from Bottom Corner: Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

  • 200% Crop from Bottom Center: Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

Similarly, it is good to know the sweet spot of the lens… the aperture at which the lens performs best. Keeping your shot close to this aperture when possible maximizes the sharpness of your images. It is also important to know at what aperture the lens performance is unacceptable; avoid shooting past this aperture (if possible). I know that my 16-35 mm lens performance degrades quite rapidly when shooting past F16; I rarely shoot past this aperture.

This is exactly the kind of information available in our Wide Angle Lenses Course. This course demonstrates how to make the most out of your wide angle lens to capture stunning photos that makes you feel like you are looking out of a window.

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About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams