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Thread: do i need a wideangle lens?

  1. #1
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    do i need a wideangle lens?

    Hi everyone new to the site, i just wondered if i could have a little bit of advice.

    I have just purchased a nikon D90 and im looking to get into landscape photography. At the moment i am just using my kit lens from my old D40.

    I have been looking at the Tokina 12-24mm or the Sigma 10-20mm. Are the majority of good landscape shots taken with a wide angle or is it possible to get good results from say an 18-55 lens? i definitely want a new lens to improve the quality of my images optically but i was just wondering if a wide angle is the best option?

    if anyone could reccomend an alternative lens that would be great, i should probably mention at this point that my budget is around 400.

    Thanks for any help its much appreciated as this is a decision i want to get wright.

    Ian

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Hi Ian,

    Welcome to the CiC forums.

    Cue Colin (our landscape expert).

    I could paraphrase what he'll tell you, but best to get it from the horse's mouth

    However, he's Canon, so may not be able to advise on good Nikon glass and although I'm Nikon, I don't know which would be the next best for you, as I only have the one lens (an 18-200mm at > 1.5 times your budget).

    Unfortunately, 400 GBP doesn't sound like it'll get much, but I maybe wrong

    Hopefully some other Nikon shooters will join this thread.

    Cheers,

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Hi Ian,

    Sorry I'm late!

    By co-incidence, I wrote an article for Singh-Ray about this very topic not too long ago ... you might like to start by having a read of this.

    Perhaps have a read first, and then come back to us with more questions?

  4. #4

    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    i definitely want a new lens to improve the quality of my images optically but i was just wondering if a wide angle is the best option?

    If you want to improve the image quality of your pictures, I suggest getting a good tripod if you don't have one already. A good tripod allows you to use the optimium aperature and base ISO of the camera thus giving you the best image quality. Moreover, you can do panaromas, HDR bracketing, long exposures etc which are important in landscape photography IMO.

    I suspect that getting a good tripod would improve your IQ more so than getting a good lens.

    Are the majority of good landscape shots taken with a wide angle or is it possible to get good results from say an 18-55 lens?
    I believe it's possible to get a good lenscape photo with a telephoto lens. If you do need a greater AOV, then do a panaroma! Take for instance Colin's Haula shore revisted photo. It's one of my favourite landscape photos from him. If you don't believe it was shot using a telephoto lens, just look at the sky. It appears compressed and this is the tell tale sign of a long lens.

    do i need a wideangle lens?
    Last edited by Blazing fire; 3rd January 2010 at 06:11 AM.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Thanks for the replies guys. Colin that was a good read thanks for sharing.

    In my situation at the moment i dont have alot of money saved so i kind of want to get this purcahse wright do avoid any extra expense. I do have a decent tripod now so i might concentrate on getting the best from nd filters and long exposures before i look to get better glass.

    Is there any Nikon or 3rd party glass that anyone can reccomend, doesnt have to be wide angle?

    I think im starting to realise that a wide angle wont neccesarily give me the image i want and it might detract from the scene. It might be more of a lens to use when the situation requires it.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    To some extent it depends on the type of landscape that you want to photograph. Wide sweeping panoramas or zoom in on the more interesting areas.

    I have a friend who specialises on extra large stitched panoramas which are measured in feet and printed from roll paper. But many of these scenes look lost when printed on A4, so I usually prefer to use something around the 50 mm lens range and concentrate on 'the best' parts of the overall landscape.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Just remember to multiply the focal length of whatever lens you choose by 1.5x for Nikon because of the smaller sensor. The focal length mm's that you see printed on lenses (whether it's Fx or Dx mount) are set to the standards of 35 mm film or the larger sensor cameras like the D700 on up.

    So for example if you mount a 24 mm prime on your D90, you're actually looking at and getting the equivalent of 36 mm instead. So if you want something close to 24 mm, you would need something around a 14 mm which will bring you up to 21 mm.

    Lenses for landscape is all about personal preferences but the mm range is any were between 10 mm to 200 mm. For Nikon, you have the following choices for zooms that would work well for landscape. I narrowed the selection down to the tightest budget for you.

    For Wide angle zooms:

    AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
    AF Zoom-NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED

    For Standard zooms:
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II
    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
    AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED
    AF Zoom-NIKKOR 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF
    AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED

    For High Powered zooms:
    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED
    AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED
    AF Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D ED

    For Prime wide and standard lenses:

    AF DX Fisheye-NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED
    AF NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED
    AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D
    AF NIKKOR 20mm f/2.8D
    AF NIKKOR 24mm f/2.8D
    AF NIKKOR 28mm f/2.8D
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
    AF NIKKOR 35mm f/2D
    AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
    AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4D
    AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

    I'm primarily a Nikon user and I never used 3rd party lenses after a bad experience with them. Decades ago, 3rd party lenses were not all the great with quality control though they have improved immensely over the years. Tamron actually has a better rating over the Sigmas if you get a good copy. Just do your research and test your copy before hand; make sure you go to a reputable camera house that has a good return/exchange policy before you buy.

    How to test your lens for sharpness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS0hlQ9lSps

    The beauty of owning a Nikon (D90 on up) is the "backwards technology" where you can mount older Nikon film lenses onto your digital mount. Since you will be using a tripod, VR is not necessary. So you can save a lot of money on second hand lenses or older lenses than buying new. In fact, some of Nikon's older wide angle primes are better performers than their latest reincarnation. To be spot on, many landscape photographers (old school) prefers using the manual focus primes over their AF counter parts.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Thanks amberglass, theres alot of good information there. lots for me to think about!

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by ianc View Post
    Thanks amberglass, theres alot of good information there. lots for me to think about!
    You're welcome. There are ways to get around the costs of gear when starting out, Ian. Going second hand with lenses is one option, and it can also be done with costly filters. Look around your area for vintage camera expos/shows or local photography clubs. Often times you will find awesome deals on various ND and effects filters for a fraction of the cost. Don't worry about filter brackets if you're not planning on doing panoramas, just setup your camera settings, use the self timer, and hand hold the filter (while feathering it up and down) in front of lens. Viola! Photography is also a craft besides and art form.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 3rd January 2010 at 05:28 PM.

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    IMO wide angle lenses are over used on landscapes...

    Many photographers facing a landscape opportunity automatically slap a wide angle lens on their camera. I guess that the philosophy is that "If I shoot everything out there - hopefully there may be something interesting in my image". Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The photographer often gets a vast expanse of uninteresting sky and an equally vast expanse of relatively uninteresting foreground.

    Sure, there are times when a wide angle lens can produce an attractive landscape image but, this usually happens when an interesting foreground object is accentuated by the natural distortion of the wide focal length lens.

    I suggest that quite often, panoramas make more interesting shots that images with native wide focal length lenses. As an example, please see:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17572474

    Panos are easy to shoot and can even be shot hand-held as evidenced by this pano of Seward harbor, Alaska shot hand held with a 17-55mm lens.

    seward-panorama-1024-wide.jpg
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    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 15th January 2010 at 05:34 PM. Reason: add pano inline

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    Re: IMO wide angle lenses are over used on landscapes...

    You certainly make a good point! im starting to wonder if i should get something in the 24-70mm 2.8 range instead, and if i ever need to go wide angle then i can stitch a pano together as you have suggested



    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Many photographers facing a landscape opportunity automatically slap a wide angle lens on their camera. I guess that the philosophy is that "If I shoot everything out there - hopefully there may be something interesting in my image". Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The photographer often gets a vast expanse of uninteresting sky and an equally vast expanse of relatively uninteresting foreground.

    Sure, there are times when a wide angle lens can produce an attractive landscape image but, this usually happens when an interesting foreground object is accentuated by the natural distortion of the wide focal length lens.

    I suggest that quite often, panoramas make more interesting shots that images with native wide focal length lenses. As an example, please see:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17572474

    Panos are easy to shoot and can even be shot hand-held as evidenced by this pano of Seward harbor, Alaska shot hand held with a 17-55mm lens.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    A wide angle lens provides a lot more DOF and is therefore a favorite with many landscape photographers. This image was taken with a D700 and a 14-24 f/2.8 lens @14mm:

    maine-smugmug_001.jpg
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    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 21st January 2010 at 06:49 PM. Reason: add image inline

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    I think it can be more challenging to take landscape shots with wide angle lenses because you always have to make sure you have something interesting in the foreground. Otherwise the shot will have little or no impact. Also, if you're shooting architecture, a wide-angle lens will let you get closer but that can lead to significant keystoning because you'll be pointing the camera upwards a significant amount.

    You mentioned the Tokina 12-24mm lens. I had one on my Canon 30D and it was sharp and barrel distortion wasn't too bad above about 14mm. However it suffered from chromatic aberration but that was fairly easy to correct in PP, albeit an additional step in the workflow.

    Roger

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogerb View Post
    I think it can be more challenging to take landscape shots with wide angle lenses because you always have to make sure you have something interesting in the foreground.
    I agree!

    My approach is to ignore the foreground initially - zoom the lens to capture the required amount of background - tilt the lens to get the sky 1/3 from the top (or bottom) and then lower the camera elevation to get the right relationship with whatever you want in the foreground (I also change the distance from the camera to the foreground objects).

    The beauty of WA langes is that you can get some extremely agressive perspectives.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Im starting to lean more towards a zoom with a range of something like 17-70 and if i want to go wider i will stitch a couple of images together in photoshop.

    does this seem like a good idea? and if so can anyone reccomend a decent lens in that zoom range?

    regards

    Ian

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Please ignore this failed attempt!
    Last edited by rogerb; 23rd January 2010 at 12:50 AM.

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    My approach is to ignore the foreground initially - zoom the lens to capture the required amount of background - tilt the lens to get the sky 1/3 from the top (or bottom) and then lower the camera elevation to get the right relationship with whatever you want in the foreground (I also change the distance from the camera to the foreground objects).
    I really had to think about what you were saying here. I think a lot of people think that "perspective" is determined by the lens, rather than the position of the camera relative to the objects in the field of view.

    As you stated, not only should you use your feet to get you to the right shooting location but you should also use your knees to get you to the right height above the foreground.

    Roger

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    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogerb View Post
    I really had to think about what you were saying here. I think a lot of people think that "perspective" is determined by the lens, rather than the position of the camera relative to the objects in the field of view.

    As you stated, not only should you use your feet to get you to the right shooting location but you should also use your knees to get you to the right height above the foreground.

    Roger
    Perspective seems to be frowned upon when photographing buildings.

  19. #19

    Re: do i need a wideangle lens?

    Hi check out this free video tutorial that shows transformation of the object when using wide angle lens at different opening width: all the way to 10mm http://www.learnmyshot.com/How-to-photograph-using-Wide-Angle-Lens
    I hope this helped.
    -
    LearnMyShot.com - learn how to photograph anything

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