The difference between a “normal” lens and wide-angle lens in practise


Here, I’ve attempted to effectively take the same picture twice, in that I tried to get the top-left segment of the bedpost in the same spot in the viewfinder. Generally, photographers will tell you that a wide-angle lens will get more of the background in your shot. I don’t understand how it works; personally I think it’s some sort of warlock or the X-Men what’s doing it. I’ve taken my picture to prove that it holds true even in really small environments, such as my horrendously untidy bedroom.

You can also see the same effect all over the net, such as here:

You can find the source for that photo and some bonus explanation text here:

You’d think that “getting more in” would always be a good thing. Well, not necessarily. Look at the photo above. While the picture of the woman is fine in itself in all three, the buildings in the background of the first one look a lot more… epic and angular and… scary or something. Which is fine when you’re taking wankery shots of buildings or anything where you want something to almost feel 3D, but it’s not so good on, y’know, humans. It has a tendency to make them look like a grotesque painting that verges on caricature at times. In fact, now that you’ve read this, you’ll start to notice that this is the reason why you get a feeling when you go on Facebook and see something that was taken on a little handy digicam thing, and you’re able to count the individual hairs sticking out of grandad’s gigantic nose, while his ears look like they’ve been removed and hung on the wall at the back of the room for a laugh. While you might technically “lose” some of what’s in the background when using a normal or telephoto lens, you flatten out (KEYWORD ALERT: compression) your subject (apparently human brains like 2D photos to look 2D and not like an episode of Spitting Image – thus the flatter you are, the sexier you are) and can end up with a softer, more abstract, “suggestive” backdrop. Not everything needs to be photojournalism; it’s OK to not capture everything within a mile behind whichever rubbish local metal band wants a few awkward-looking snaps taken in the park.

If you’ve got a few more minutes, you can see this in action here:


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