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Getting the wide "look"
Old 04-13-2007   #1
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Getting the wide "look"

I'm wondering what produces the "wide angle look" I mean not just the increased field of view but the slight distortions and such that make a shot look wide angle? You see it a lot in news photography. I noticed it watching James Nachtwey's "War Photographer" (thanks for the recommendation in an earlier thread).

Is part of it an unintended result of the wide zooms that a lot of press photographers use? (not as well corrected in SLRs and zooms?) Just wondering as I really like that distortion and wanted to get a lens that would give me that effect. Any recommendations, M mount, screw mount or even SLR I guess? Something not too wide (nothing bigger than say 24mm but that looks this way). Maybe an older lens that is otherwise sharp but has this type of distortion.
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Old 04-13-2007   #2
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Tilt it and get close, and see what you get.
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Old 04-13-2007   #3
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well - the distortions become more noticable the wider you go. You won't get much from a 24-28, but anything wider than a 21 will start to become noticable (subjective of course, some people think there is too much distortion in a 28 already).

There are two things at play - one is field curvature (think a very subdued fisheye) - that is a matter of correction and optical design. There is also just a very pronounched near/far relationship which is a matter of field of view. Both of these contribute to varying degrees.

But basically, to get the "wide look" - you need to go wide and get close to your subject. It's not unusual to see reportage photographers with a 12-24mm lens standing right in the middle of the action (provided it's relatively safe to do so).
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Old 04-13-2007   #4
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RML's advice is perfect.

I assume you are talking about perspective distortion (as opposed to barrel distortion or fish-eye lens distortion). Perspective distortion has nothing to do with lens quality, etc. It originates from the physics of optics. For a given angle of view (a combination of lens focal length and film/sensor size), when either the horizontal or vertical plane of the lens is not parallel to the subject, there will be a certain amount of perspective distortion. The wider the field-of view, closer you are and the greater the tilt angle, the more distortion there is. So, all things being equal, perspective distortion increases as lens focal length decreases.

My Nikon 2200 P&S 6mm lens/sensor and my ZI-M 35mm lens/35 film have similar field-of-views. They give produce similar perspective distortions when placed next to each other on tilted tripods. Neither have perspective distortion when the tripods are adjusted so the lens is parallel to the subject. The P&S has obvious barrel distortion no matter what (but then its lens costs much, much less than a Zeiss M lens)

Any 24-25mm lens on a 35mm film camera can readily produce all the perspective distortion you'll ever need.

Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 04-13-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by nightfly
I'm wondering what produces the "wide angle look" I mean not just the increased field of view but the slight distortions and such that make a shot look wide angle?..
This is basically a matter of perspective (i.e. relative differences in distances). The wider a lens, the closer you need to get to the subject to fill the frame. Other objects are then relatively much further away and show correspondingly smaller in the photo. And that doesn't only hold for different objects, but also for different parts of the same subject.

With long lenses you have exactly the same perspective as with wide angles. The difference lies in that you'll step further back to fill the frame to the same extent with your subject. The differences in distance with other objects become relatively smaller, and they show up more the same size in the photo.
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Old 04-13-2007   #6
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The shots here ( http://shardsofphotography2.blogspot...w-46-2004.html ) were taken with the CV 25/4.

This shot ( http://shardsofphotography2.blogspot...threesome.html ) was taken with an 18-55 zoom at about 18mm, just like this one ( http://shardsofphotography2.blogspot...8-2006_03.html ).
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Old 04-13-2007   #7
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And to see the effect of distance, compare the shots here ( http://shardsofphotography.blogspot....phy-again.html ) with the shots here ( http://shardsofphotography.blogspot....some-more.html ).
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Old 04-13-2007   #8
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Thanks everyone.

Tilt and get close seems to be the key.

Though that 25mm CV is mighy tempting. Hard to justify though as I've already got the 28mm. Will try with that first. Use what you got.
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Old 04-13-2007   #9
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Lots of news photos are taken with the 20-21mm effective focal length (14mm when shooting digital or 12-24 zooms at the wide end), which adds more distortion on the edges.

It doesn't really have anything to do with SLR versus RF. Instead, it's the perspective of being in so close and wide.

These lenses have gotten so popular because press photographers usually have to push their way to the front of a crowd, then find themselves working in a very confined space. I think these lenses do have a very "newsy" feel to them. I worked for newspapers for a number of years and made fairly regular use of the 21mm lens. For my own photography, I hard ever use it.

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