The Digital Photo Guy

Macro, Wide Angle & Ultra Wide Angle Lenses

by on Apr.11, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips

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Macro, Wide Angle & Ultra Wide Lenses

Here are some more student photos from the Spring Desert Wildflower Workshop in March. The workshop concentrated on macro, wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses and these four photos demonstrate the concepts we learned and practiced.

The first two photo use a wide angle 28mm lens to incorporate flowers as foreground anchors in a lndscape. By getting low, the first photo makes the small patch of desert daisys appear to be much larger than it really was. In the second photo (also 28mm), careful composition hides the fact that this was taken at the visitors’ center amid a clutter of lights, sidewalks, cars and people.



The next two photos demonstrate the power of macros. On the left is the detested Saharan Mustard, an invasive species that has choked off many native wildflowers. Yet, as a carefully composed macro using the Canon 100/2.8, the flower takes on a different dimension. The desert primrose (4th photo) was also taken with a Canon 100/2.8 macro while we practiced using an external flash for fill. Needless to say, the students were amazed to see the results of their macro efforts.


The last two photos are from a Sigma 10-20 on a Canon 40D. The barrel cactus flowers were taken at 20mm to get inclose and fill the entire frame while keeping the background in focus. The same concept allowed me to crop out the support struts to the left of the bird sculpture while including the background.

Expanding to Your Basic 3 Lens Kit

As all my students know, I recommend a basic 3-lens kit for most new dSLR owners. The next lens acquisition is usually a longer telephoto in the 300mm to 400mm range but, in my opinion, a macro is a better investment.

A recent comment on this site bemoans the fact the reader can’t afford to buy or rent a super telephoto (400mm to 800mm) lens and certainly can’t afford a photography vacation. In thinking about that, I realized most people go on vacations with family and friends. Any attempt to make art while imaptient family and friends stand around is an exercise in fultility. Macro subjects, on the other hand, abound in our daily lives. It would take a lifetime to cover all the possible subjects in a tiny apartment with a macro lens.

While a dedicated macro lens is more convenient, a good Plastic Fantastic (Canon 50/1.8) or Nifty Fifty (Nikon 50/1.8) combined with a set of Kenko extension tubes (~$180) will get you extremely good macro results.

To learn all about your options from macros to wide/ultra-wide to telephotos and super teles, register for the free Gear Webinar by Roger Cicala, CEO of He’ll give you the straight scoop about what’s hot and what’s not in all things gear. Click here to register.

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