Ultrawide Lens Questions: Artistic Perspective

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Joseph T Lewis III
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Ultrawide Lens Questions: Artistic Perspective
11 months ago

I'm seriously considering buying a wide angle lens for my OMD. I've done a lot of reading on them, and think I understand the primary pros and cons of the Panasonic 7-14 and Olympus 9-18 (the standard items such as flare, size, price, lack of filters etc. that have been discussed in numerous reviews).  However, after all my research I am still left with 2-3 questions I'd really appreciate help with, if someone out there would be willing to share their experiences with me.

As background for what I'm asking about, here's an excerpt from a Ken Rockwell article on wide angle lenses:

Distortion

Ultrawides are not fisheyes. Fisheyes distort and curve everything. Ultrawides keep straight lines straight.

Ultrawides don't distort technically, but they distort artistically. This is why we use them.  Ultrawides exaggerate the relationship between near and far.

Ultrawides stretch out objects on the sides and the corners.

Ultrawides exaggerate any slight misalignment of your subject and camera.

They do all this while keeping straight lines straight.

This is why we love them! We exploit these distortions to our advantage.

So, here's my first question for those of you who have ultrawides: do you use them in the "artistic" manner described above, or do you tend to use the lens more for scenic vistas, wide open spaces, or large buildings where you are simply trying to get as much of the scene as possible into the frame?  Or, do you do both types of shooting pretty much equally?

Second question: due to its wider 114 deg. angle of view, I would think the Panny 7-14 is well suited for "artistic" uses as described in Rockwell's article.  How about the Oly 9-18?  Is its 99 deg. AOV adequate for creative photographs, or do you find yourself wishing you had a wider lens? (Stated another way, is the Oly 9-18 fine for landscapes and sweeping vistas, but not as well suited for the more creative side of things as the Panasonic lens is?)

Third (and probably dumb) question: as you zoom in towards the long end of the wide angle lens, does much of the distortion as described above go away, so that you are left with pretty much the same image and perspective you would get with the Olympus 12-50 lens at 12mm,  or the Olympus 12mm prime?  (I'm thinking the answer to this is "yes" but I'm not sure.)

Finally: how frequently do you find yourself using your wide angle lens?   If you don't use it very much, is it because many shooting environments simply don't require the wide angle treatment / it's really just a "specialty" lens that is useful only now and then?  Or, do you find yourself using it frequently?

Any insight on the above (or wide angle lenses in general) that you would care to share with me would really be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help

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Tom

 Joseph T Lewis III's gear list:Joseph T Lewis III's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ Olympus E-M1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 +6 more
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