Smartphone photography basics: What is an ultra-wide angle lens and when to use one

Smartphone photography basics: What is an ultra-wide angle lens and when to use one

Apple is making a lot of big deal about an ultra-wide-angle lens on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, a trio of new smartphones it launched earlier this week in Cupertino, California. For the first time on the iPhone, Apple is adding an ultra-wide-angle lens that has a 13nm equivalent focal length and f/2.4 aperture, providing a 120-degree field of view.

Although the iPhone 11 is now getting an ultra-wide-angle lens, most high-end Android smartphones (Galaxy S10, P30 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro, among others) already come the ultra-wide camera. In fact, a lot of mid-range smartphones these days offer an ultra-wide-angle lens. The Realme XT has an ultrawide camera, a phone with a 64MP camera. Motorola One Action, too, offers an ultra-wide-angle lens.

With the iPhone 11 getting a new ultra-wide-angle lens, don’t be surprised to see if the ultra-wide camera become mainstream, appearing in dozens of smartphones (both low and premium end) in 2019. Now that the ultrawide camera is on the cusp of becoming popular among smartphone users, we try to explain why it is important to use the ultra-wide camera and when to use it to take excellent landscape or group shots.

What is an ultra-wide-angle lens?

An ultra-wide-angle lens is any lens with an angle of view greater than 90 degrees. Simply put, you can capture more of your surroundings with the ultra-wide-angle camera than you would with the regular camera available on most smartphones. A lens with a focal length of less than 24mm is considered to be an ultra-wide-angle lens. The iPhone 11’s 12MP ultra-wide lens has a focal length of 13mm and an f/2.4 aperture. Because of their large field of view (the iPhone 11’s ultra-wide camera has a 120-degree of view), an ultra-wide-angle lens takes captures a large part of the scene that you otherwise miss when you take the same shot with a smartphone with any ordinary lens.

What does an ultra-wide-angle lens do?

Professional photographers love to take photographs using an ultra-wide-angle lens and there is a reason behind it. An ultra-wide-angle lens is used to exaggerate perspective in photography and make objects closer to the lens look larger than they are. The fundamental is straightforward: the farther away from the subject, the smaller it looks. The nearer an object, the larger it looks.

Take a look at the following sample shot taken using an ultra-wide-angle lens.

An Ultra-wide angle lens is often considered when taking a shot of a tall building. This lens allows you to fit a skyscraper into the frame without sacrificing perspective

Here’s a shot of a tall building captured with an ultra-wide-angle lens from an upcoming smartphone.

An ultra-wide-angle lens takes in more view than normal, and this image of an outdoor mall proves why. That’s exactly what an ultra-wide camera do.

Now, look at the image of the metro platform. There is no clear subject in the image below – still it stands out.

One more example:

An ultra-wide-angle lens is useful for capturing stunning landscapes or architectures. Hope you understand how to capture spectacular photos using an ultra-wide-angle lens on a smartphone.