Telephoto vs Wide Angle Lens for Architecture Photography

 In LEARN, Lenses

The impact of different lens choices has come up a few times on my photo walks recently, so here’s a handy illustration of how lens choice affects the aesthetics of an architectural photo.

Wide Angle Lenses expand space. Telephoto Lenses compress space.

  • Walls become taller than reality with a wide angle – objects become stretched (taller for vertical shots and wider for horizontal shots).
  • The spaces between the lanterns and archways becomes larger with a wide angle. Space expands.

Wide Angle Lenses exaggerate differences in relative size between elements in the foreground versus elements in the distance.

  • When using a Wide Angle Lens, elements closer to the lens appear significantly larger than those in the distance. Notice how the far end archway is much smaller in the wide angle photo (below right) than the end archway in a photo taken with a telephoto lens (below left).

The other difference you’ll see with Wide Angle Lenses is Distortion.

Notice on this next photo how the wide angle (photo on bottom right) causes slight barrel distortion (a curving of the lines, particularly noticeable on the first arch) . Cheaper lenses produce more optical distortions such as barrel distortion, fringing and vignetting.

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