A Short Course Book
Using Your Digital Camera
A Guide To Great Photographs

Short Focal Lengths

Click to see how extreme wide-angle lenses can be used to create 360 degree interactive panoramas.
Wide-angle lenses can distort objects near the edge of the frame. This is called "barrel distortion".
To improve image quality Kodak introduced a camera with two lenses, one for wide-angle coverage.
Shooting down on these two girls makes their heads look much larger than they really are since they are much closer to the camera and its wide-angle lens.
Using a short focal length lens or zooming out gives you a wide-angle of view that lets you capture a wide expanse of a scene. This view is ideal for use in tight spaces, such as when photographing landscapes and in small rooms where you can't position the camera a great distance from the subject.

If you don't get too close to your subjects, wide angle zoom is good for indoor portraits where including the setting is important.

A lens zoomed to a wide-angle also has great depth of field. This makes short lenses good for street or action photographs. When out to capture quickly unfolding scenes, keep the lens zoomed out to a wide angle so you'll have maximum depth of field when you respond quickly to a photo opportunity.

Zooming out increases depth of field and widens the angle of view making it ideal for interior shots. The great depth of field also makes focusing less critical so you can capture those fleeting moments you might otherwise miss.

Short lenses also let you focus very close to your subject, and the effect this can have on the perspective in your images can be dramatic. Objects very close to the camera loom much larger than those farther in the background. This distortion in the apparent size of objects can deliberately give emphasis and when carried to an extreme, give an unrealistic appearance to a scene.

If your camera has a fixed lens, you may be able to use a wide-angle lens converter to widen its angle of view even more.

Wide-angle lenses have tremendous depth of field. Here one was used to shoot through a toy space station and make Quinlan look like a giant.

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