On Why Wide Angle Lenses Fascinate Me


I enjoy extremely high resolutions because I dream of making giant prints. For my photography, the obvious and mundane take on proportions larger than life. And like other photographers, I lust after gear. But whatever I buy needs to be perfect for what I intend to achieve… which is possibly why I have not invested in my ideal camera or lens yet. That says a lot about existing equipment. It also probably says something about me.

So, I turn to my second option. I go wide. I take as much of the mundane as I can and squeeze it into one frame. Wide images are larger than life in their own way because they contain more than the usual. The good bit about this second approach is that the size of the print, and consequently camera resolution, does not matter all that much anymore. Neither does the quality of the lens. What makes a bigger difference is how much sharpness can be produced from the foreground to the background. If I don’t need to focus, all I have to do is to point at life and get the moment.

It may be surprising to know that over 95 percent of all photographic lenses are wide angle, if you include the lenses in cellphone cameras as well. Oddly enough, the normal, easily cognizable, ‘real’ field of view of our eyes is equivalent to about 22mm, in 35mm parlance.

This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Better Photography.