Photographers tend to carry what feels like a metric ton of gear. Whether we’re carrying equipment to shoot in bad weather or different pairs of shoes, we’re always prepared for a variety of situations and shots.
Our heavy packs often mean we leave a lot of gear behind at our offices and studios, however. While it’s always necessary to leave some of our equipment behind, there are two items photographers should always carry: a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens.
The Benefits of a Wide-Angle Lens
Wide-angle and ultra-wide angle lenses are an important piece of gear for landscape, architectural, real estate, and still-life photographers. They “add depth and drama” to a shot and can more easily add background context to a photo.
Wide-angle lenses offer a short focus distance, which allows a photographer to capture the subject of a photo without ignoring the background.
Using a wide-angle lens allows you to capture an entire shot (like a room or building). This is particularly useful in confined spaces, such as those you’d find when photographing real estate.
The edges of a photo can become distorted when shooting a wider shot. Though such distortion isn’t always desired, the effect on a shot’s edges can make for some interesting and exaggerated perspectives.
The Benefits of a Zoom Lens
Zoom lenses bring distant subjects closer. A zoom lens uses variable focal lengths that grant photographers the ability to transition from wide-angle to standard to telephoto focal lengths all in one lens.
It’s best to use a zoom lens for “action” shots of physical activities, like sports or wildlife photography. A zoom lens is also ideal for event photography where it’s important to focus on the subject of your photo, as at a wedding.
Why Photographers Need Both a Wide-Angle and Zoom Lens
With all the gear in your bag, why do I recommend photographers carry a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens?
Both types of lenses fulfill a specific purpose and can help you more effectively take a photo. Using a wide angle lens means you can capture an entire scene — a wide shot. But to truly capture a specific subject within that scene, you’ll be better served with a zoom lens.
Each lens treats the subject, foreground, and background differently, leading to a change in perspective. A wide-angle lens distorts the foreground and subject. A zoom lens brings the subject and background closer together.
Carrying Both Lenses is a Boon to Your Photography
A photographer will only be helped by having a wide-angle and a zoom lens available on shoots. Each lens is ideal for shooting a certain type of photo, so experiment, compare, and contrast during a shoot. Strive to get a feel for which lens you should use when, and up your photography game by having both lenses available to you whenever the need arises for one or the other.