Trying Out an Ultra-Wide Angle

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by david_elijasson, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. I'm thinking of trying to expand my photographic horizons in buying an ultra-wide angle lens (probably the 10-24 DX). I've recently dipped my toe in these waters since upgrading from an 18-70 to a 16-85 zoom. My main types of photography to date have been travel, landscape, urban, and macro, with a bit of portrait thrown in for good measure. My current kit consists of the 16-85, a 60/2.8, a 70-210/4-5.6 (all autofocus), a 50/1.4 AIS, a 35/2 AIS, and a Flektogon 50/4. I'm pretty happy with the first two and the AIS ones, and not so happy with the 70-210, though AIS lenses are admittedly cumbersome to use on my D70, especially for quick-reaction shooting.
    Ultra-wides are expensive, so I'd like to know that I can 'see' properly how to use one (or at least learn to) before buying. I'm sure someone will suggest renting the lens first; I do intend to do that. But having rented the lens for a day, where should I take it? What should I shoot? What should I be trying in terms of composition? What else should I keep in mind?
  2. I had lots of fun with the Nikon 10.5mm DX fisheye, it has a great way of seeing. But in the end, I used it so little, that I sold it. My 10-24mm Nikon zoom is much more useful overall, though I still don't shoot at 10mm very often, it is too extreme. Also the quality at 10mm isn't so great at the edges. The Sigma 10-20mm was better at 10mm than the Nikon is. But the Nikon has 24mm which is much more useful than just 20mm, so it's a tradeoff.

    Just shoot whatever you want, I've been shooting ultra wide angle since 1996 and have loved every minute of it.
    Bellingham, WA, 9-2008. Nikon D300 with Sigma 10-20mm at 10mm.
    Since seems to blur images attached to posts, here is a link to the photo without the blur filter -
  3. I have the older Sigma 10-20mm for 'digital only', and if you are looking for an FX lens, they have their 12-24mm and the now-discontinued, but bargain-priced, 15-30mm. I have the 15-30 and find it quite nice and very affordable on the used (read eBay) market.
  4. You can get great pics and deform subjects. Sigma 10-20 on DX 10mm
  5. The pic...
  6. Or stick 5 or 6 together.
  7. i picked up the 15-30 recently for $160 used. i also have the 12-24 tokina (which is only $400 new). both are pretty great lenses. the sigma can't use filters but is FX-capable. it's sharper than the tokina wide open and also focuses closer. stopped down to f/8, tho, the tokina is awesome, very contrasty. i'm not sure the nikon 10-24 is worth the price, but that is a nice range. but the 11-16/2.8 tokina is cheaper and has better IQ. then there's the sigma 8-16, which looks impressive but extreme. so an untrawide doesnt have to be expensive, and there are many to choose from.
  8. I have the Nikon 10-24 DX, and leave it on the camera most of the time. The 10mm fl can be useful in some situations. It's a tool, like any other.
    Here are a couple of shots of the local observatory, at 24mm and 10mm:
    These are both full-frame. The 24mm shot was cropped down to 3" x 8" for use on a brochure after post-processing.
    The 10mm fl is definitely a fisheye, and exhibits geometric distortion characteristic of same. That's why the observatory is centered in that image. Otherwise it has a distinct tilt.
    - Leigh
  9. Why don't you look for a good used Tokina 12-24mm f4 or Nikkor 12-24mm f4 or Sigma 10-20mm. Use it and like it or decide you don't need it and resell it. A cheaper way of checking out for a month or so over renting for one day. If you do buy used get a return option if the lens is not as described. KEH has offered great service to me when buying used.
  10. bms


    Actually, in contrast to Dave Lee, I just got a Nikkor 10.5. I intended to use it mainly for panoramas - it is still a very specialized lens - but it turns out to be quite a nice lens if you like "superwide" and maybe crop a corner or two. The 10-24 or other mentioned wide angle zooms are however more versatile, I'll admit.
  11. The 10.5mm fisheye is useful for some particular subjects...

    Comet 4C cockpit, Nikon D300 with Nikon 10.5mm DX fisheye lens and Nikon SB-800 flash. It is a very very sharp lens. If I had the money I'd buy another one.
    Link to actual photo -
  12. I have the 12-24mm F/4 Nikon and I get a lot of use out of it, it's sharp, good built and I bought it used for 600€ a year ago and could probably resell it today for the same but this one is a keeper...
  13. Here is one shot with the 16mm f/3.5 Nikkor AIS on a NIKON D2X.
  14. David, I have the Sigma 10-30 (old one) and really love it, You can have fun as well as take serious shots, depending on how one lines up to their subject,
    Don't hesitate as this can be a great lens to have in your bag.
    phil b
    benton, ky
  15. So, the actual question was how to learn using a wide angle....
    To echo what many more or less said, having an ultra-wide adds a lot of creative options to your bag, but getting interesting captivating compositions with a wide angle is, in my view, a lot more difficult than with normal angles or telelenses. So, your question is a very good one. Wide angles are not for everyone, so it's good you want to "get it" up front.
    It is tempting to use them to get everything in the picture, and at times, this has merit for sure (large interiors, cloudy skies, such things). But it goes boring easily.
    In my relatively limited experience, the main thing about using a wide angle properly is getting close, and then getting 2 steps closer. Make sure there is substantial foreground, and enough in the background too. Learn to use the perspective distortion you get to emphasise size (like in the pictures of Hans Jansen and Eric Arnold). Wide angles can make you see things in different ways like that, and add a new dimension to your subject.
    The 16mm end of the 16-86VR is already a nice place to start. Not super-wide, but quite wide all the same.
    On the available choices, I'll second the idea of the Tokina 12-24 f/4. Relatively cheap, sharp, sturdy build. I think I'd love the Nikon 10-24, but it is a bit expensive for sure.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    My current kit consists of the 16-85, a 60/2.8, a 70-210/4-5.6 (all autofocus), a 50/1.4 AIS, a 35/2 AIS, and a Flektogon 50/4.​
    After those lenses, the natural progression is to get something wider, and also perhaps a 300mm if you shoot sports or wildlife and a macro lens. I would say just go ahead and get a 10-24 or 12-24 type lens. They are common enough that most serious photographers should have one anyway, although some may use them more frequently than others. I wouldn't even bother to rent a wide lens for a day; I think the rental fee is just a waste of money in this case.
    If you have the funds, the Nikon 10-24 should be a good choice. Otherwise, a lot of people are happy with the Tamron and Sigma alternatives.
    If you were to get a fisheye lens, I would say think that through carefully and maybe rent one for a day or two. A fisheye is exotic, but a 10-24 is quite ppular.
  17. I second Wouter's advice on composition. My first ultra was a 20mm f/2.8 AIS (on film). Many of my early shots with the lens had large expanses of boring sky or foreground. There's a tendency to fixate on the "panoramic horizon" when you first shoot ultrawides, and you end up with a lot of boring wasted space.
    So look for interesting foregrounds, sky with lots of contrast, overhanging branches for "frame", etc.
    One of the exercises I like to suggest to folks who are new to wide or ultra wide lenses is the classic 3/4 angle shot of an automobile from just off the front fender. My suggestion is to go ahead and line up the shot they way your instinct tells you to, and make that capture. Then try moving the camera a foot in each direction (left, right, up, down, closer, further) and make captures anywhere it looks remotely interesting. The exercise really drives home that small changes in perspective drastically change the image at close-in wide-angle ranges.
  18. I recently purchased the Tokina 12-24. An excellent lens and great value for money, it doesn't go as wide as 10mm, but 12mm seems plenty wide to me. I echo what others have said, it is easy to use badly and requires effort to get good results. The temptation is to get everything in, but actually, the more that goes in, the more lost everything gets! It is the foreground that is important and it requires the photographer to move around a lot to get interesting perspectives, grovelling around a few inches from the ground etc. KR has written a good article on using ultra wide angles which should help you. Photonet won't let me give the link, but just do a search on Ken rockwell ultra wide and you will find it. Have fun, it should add a creative boost to your photograph
  19. i've said it before, but i can't say enough about the tokina 12-24. for what i shoot, it's great. 12mm is usually wide enough, and the long end gets used often as well. the build quality is outstanding and colors are nice and robust. i would say that if price is a concern, there's no better deal on a new UWA. i'll second what Erik says as well, that practice makes perfect with these things as far as framing and composition are concerned.
  20. My favorite use for the 10.5mm is getting in really close on action shots. Add in the proper lighting and a fisheye can really add some dimension to your photos. I work in skateboarding and haven't had a day of shooting that I didn't use this lens.
  21. Sorry, upload error. This photo is using the 10.5mm and a SB600 on either side, utilizing Cybersyncs wireless controllers.
  22. Also, curious toddlers are adorable...
  23. John Caradimas , Nov 06, 2010; 04:51 a.m.
    Here is one shot with the 16mm f/3.5 Nikkor AIS on a NIKON D2X.​
    Yes, I've found the 16/3.5 AI fish eye to be the best of the full-frame fish-eye lenses from Nikon. It's sharper wide open than the 16/2.8 (AIS or AF-D) in the borders/edges and corners. Truly stunning. I use this lens on my D300 as a compact wide angle lens that's about equivalent to a 14mm rectilinear on DX. A little bit of distortion correction and you are good to go with this lens.
  24. Thanks to all for their responses, especially Hans Jenssen, Wouter Willemse, Sun Cheung, and Todd Peach. After thinking it over, I'm setting myself an exercise of using the 16mm on my 16-85 to try to capture some shots in an appropriate style following some of the suggestions. If it looks as though I can get the hang of it, I'll just go ahead & get the lens (might try a used Nikon from KEH).
  25. I can recommend the Tokina 11-16 STX Pro on the D300
    This and the next were straight off the CF card with no post whatsoever.
  26. And this...both were taken at Sydney's Bobbin head

Share This Page