Have you ever gone on a cruise, tried to take photographs of islands in the distance and been disappointed with the narrow view your camera captured? Realistically, you are limited with a regular camera lens. To capture the breathtaking scene of the beach and homes as your ship approaches and island, a wide-angle lens is better suited to the task. Wide-angle lenses are ideal for broad views of landscape, architecture or just highlighting the distance between objecting in the foreground and background.
When travelling, historical buildings and landscape scenes are the most commonly sought after photographs for memory albums of the vacation. Cameras come equipped with a normal lens (50mm) which sees the view the same way your eyes do. By definition, the wide angle lens covers a wider range than normal lenses, and this is accomplished with a smaller focal length. Wide angles range from 24mm to 35mm. The shorter the focal length, the broader the view, because as the focal length decrease, the angle widens. The angle created from the focal point to the digital sensor determines the width of the view.
If you’re standing on the street and want to photograph a street scene, you can only back up so far when there are buildings directly behind you. The only way to expand the scope of the view in your camera is with a wide-angle lens.
Wide angles are great for landscape and architecture, but when photographing people, the people on the end could get distorted looking, which won’t be very much appreciated. (This will depend on the individual type of lens used. Different lenses by different manufacturers will render varying effects). The widest wide (ultra wide) angles will round out the ends of the photograph, making it appear you are looking through a fish bowl.
The wide-angle lens doesn’t substitute for your normal lens when on vacation, rather you should bring both along. The normal lens works best for photographing people by bringing the main object into focus and blurring out the background. You should consider carrying a camera bag with room enough for the wide angle lens, especially when you know you’re going somewhere scenic.
Once you step into the professional photography world, the equipment gets more expensive. It’s not unusual for a good quality wide angle lens to cost $1600 and up. Nikon recently released the 28mm lens which is much more affordable at $700.