Photography; Wide Angle Lens Attachment
I have spent the last three days testing a couple of new purchases. These were a wide angle lens attachment that fits on to the end of an existing lens that cuts the focal length by just over half and the other was again a set of attachments that turn an existing lens into a macro, i.e. they let the lens focus closer to the camera thereby making things appear bigger. In this piece I will focus on the wide angle attachment and, as a bonus, throw in a Zen rant at the end. You don’t see one of those every day.
Fun With a Wide Angle lens Attachment
The following is for the technically inclined and can be skipped by everyone else!
The wide angle lens attachment consists of two parts, a macro part, that can be used on it’s own, and a wide angle part. I used this on my 18-55mm kit lens that came with the Nikon d40x. It vignettes at the 18mm but this stops being a problem at around 21mm. Now for a little math to work out exactly how wide angled this is: 21mm X 1.5 (Nikon small sensor cropping effect) = 31.5 x 0.45 (effect of the attachment) = approx 14mm equivalent focal length to a full 35mm.
Now to return to English, 14mm is well into wide angle territory and allowed me to do exactly what I wanted to do – experiment with the wider field of view as this part of my photography is underdeveloped and I do want to be a good all rounder. Additionally some of the best minimalist photography out there was done with very wide angled lenses.
Wide Angle Lens - Great for Curved Edges and Big Skies
One thing that this lens did was force me to work closer to subjects, and the first thing that I learned first hand was that the conventional wisdom that portraits should always be done with a telephoto lens is crap. If you want a striking portrait get in close, i.e. about a foot away from your subjects face with the camera in its normal orientation not on its side and snap away. The added drama is incredible. I tend to be detached as a photographer and this lens will cure that, it will make me work much closer physically to the subject, whether human or inanimate object. I am determined to do more work involving people this year and I suspect that this will become my walking around lens arrangement. Unfortunately I haven’t got any examples that I can post yet but will as soon as I practise on someone that doesn’t mind having their mug spread across the interweb tubes.
Light, Utility Pole and Clouds
Now for the Zen rant starting with the rant part. This wide angle lens attachment only costs around $10. This gives not only the wide angle stuff shown here but also a perfectly acceptable macro lens into the bargain. Now if you acted the writings of large chunks of the photography community, especially those trying to hawk product either directly or indirectly, you wouldn’t insult your camera by putting this lens attachment within a country mile of it. You’d read all about the ‘softness around the edges, the distortion, how it is optically just not right etc and would would carry on stressing about how you are going to get the $1,000 (no exaggeration) together to buy the wide angle lens that they are heavily invested in you purchasing. Well, at least some are heavily invested in you spending $1,000 and not $10, the majority have just bought in to the bullshit with no gain for themselves. I can at least understand the former – the latter just leave me scratching my head.
Now for the Zen. The idea that we have to force a tool to do what we want is a very Western one. A much more logical approach is to let the tool teach us, see what the tool is comfortable with and run with it. Think about it, if we are forever forcing our will on our tools we won’t learn anything new. The three shots that I’ve included with this piece were all taken with the kit described and edited in Adobe Lightroom. No changes have been made other than color adjustments and a little sharpening and noise reduction. All acceptable practices even by strict newspaper industry standards. The images also look good at full magnification i.e. 1:1 , a little softer than an expensive lens but in my opinion this doesn’t detract from the final photograph.
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