So confused as to Wide Angle lenses


TPF Noob!
May 1, 2009
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I have a Sony Alpha 200 which I love but I am so confused as to lenses sizes. I know you all can explain this to me in simple terms. Here are the questions in no particular order.
  1. 18mm - 70mm I assume I get "wider" shots with the 18mm than the 70mm?
  2. If a lense is smaller than 18mm then I assume that is even wider?
  3. Is there anything I can do to extend my 300mm lense without buying a new lense? Or How can I zoom in more with what I have?
  4. What lense size should I use for Macro
  5. What lense size should I use for Landscape
  6. Filters. I have a UV and polorizer but what else should I get?
  7. What about those filters that soften? And what does that mean
  8. I'm going on a cruise to Cabo and want to take some sky pictures at dawn/dusk and stars. Can someone explain what I need to do in exact terms?
Thanks for all the help.
1. Yes
2. Yes
3. Yes, teleconverters. Without, you can't extend the reach of your lens.
4. Sorry don't know anything about macro.
5. A lot of landscape photog's use anything from 10mm on out, but most use shorter focal lengths to capture more the scenery.
6. A neutral density filter if you want to do long exposures in areas where you would otherwise blow out the photo (waterfalls in daylight to get that smooth water effect, etc.).
7. Probably not a good investment, you can easily do that with post processing. You could do the old school vaseline on the lens trick, if you wanted that effect (don't).
8. If you taking them at these times, you won't need much, just expose the shot properly. If it's dark, use a larger aperture, and a longer shutter speed (not too long if you don't have a tripod. Wait, I don't know if a tripod will even do you good on a moving boat. ??). Take multiple shots of the same thing at different settings and see what you like best.
Thanks for the info. Now I'm a little more clearer.

Can you explain 3 a little more. For number 5, 10mm and out means 10mm and higher?
Thanks for the info. Now I'm a little more clearer.

Can you explain 3 a little more. For number 5, 10mm and out means 10mm and higher?

Teleconverters are attachments that extend the amount of reach your zoom lens has. For example: the Nikon TC-14E II multiplies your zoom by 1.4, making 100mm of focal length now 140mm.

For 5, yes the 10mm and higher. Under 18mm of focal length gets very pricey though, and you'll have to find good glass that has manageable distortion and clear optics.
1 & 2. Yes, the shorter the focal length (e.g. 18 vs 50) the wider the field of view.

3. Yes and maybe ... Yes, you can add a tele extender. These have multiplying factors (1.4x, 2x, ...) and increase the focal length of the lens. They are mounted between the lens and the body. They also reduce the aperture of the lens, 1.4x extender = 1 stop, 2x = 2 stops. If you have an inexpensive compact zoom with an aperture smaller than f/4 when wide open at the tele end you will find that autofocus either doesn't work, works incorrectly, or works intermittently. These extenderes are not practical on the common "expanded kit" lens like the 70-300 f/3.5-5.6 lenses or similar. These lenses have a rather small maximum aperture at the longer end of the zoom range and reducing the aperture further with an extender results in a nearly useless lens.

4. There are a wide range of "macro" lenses. Your choice of subject matter and style dictate. There is no one answer.

5. Any focal length is good for some type of landscape work. You are the artist and only you can say. Personally, I generally find that wide to super-wide lenses fit my "eye", though occasionally I "see" shots that require a rather long lens. I find the middle focal lengths (30-100mm on APS-c DSLRs, 45-150mm on film or "full frame") the least useful, though I do come across the occasional shot where the best choice is in that range.

6. UV filters are useless. Polarizers are handy at times. Few other filters are of value for digital work. Very, very strong neutral density filters (3-10 stop) are somewhat useful for certain types of landscape shots. Also, some photographers value the split ND filters (half clear) for darkening portions of an image.

7 Soft focus filters strive to create a pleasing blur. Sometimes useful for portraits and such. Most of the less expensive ones are rather poor IMHO. Personally, I prefer to create the effect in post processing, though this requires a degree of skill and experience.

8. Tripod, or other suitable support, and some means of releasing the shutter without touching the camera, either a wired remote release or a wilreless release. You can sometimes use the selftimer to delay the shot allowing the vibration from pressing the release to dampen out before the shutter opens but this won't work for very long exposures that require using the B (Bulb-shutter stays open as long as you hold the release button) or T (Time-shutter locks open when the release is pressed and closes only when the release is pressed a second time) shutter speed settings.

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