Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?

Started Sep 25, 2013 | Discussions
PaulD1980
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Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
Sep 25, 2013

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a wide angle lens soon to take some landscape photography.

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?...as normally a landscape photo would be shot at something around f/8 to f/22 to get everything in focus.

I assume that the f1.4 would only be used to achieve some good bokeh?

Thanks,

Paul

AlbertInFrance
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

Not all W/A lenses are f:1.4. My most-used 18mm (27mm FF equiv) is an f:2.0, for example and I've got a 28mm f:2.8 on one of my 35mm film cameras.

There are reasons why someone might want the wider aperture (low light shooting, subject separation via shallow DOF ...).

The only reason I can think of for using a very wide aperture lens for landscape work is if you are into using strong neutral densities, especially on a DSLR. A 4 stop ND on an f:1.4 would look like an f:5.6 through the viewfinder, so you'd still have a reasonable chance to see what you're shooting, rather than setting up without the ND and only attaching it just before shooting.

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Leonard Migliore
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a wide angle lens soon to take some landscape photography.

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?...as normally a landscape photo would be shot at something around f/8 to f/22 to get everything in focus.

Well, there are very few occasions where one would want f/1.4 for landscape photography but there are other uses for wide angle lenses such as street photography and photojournalism. Also, top-grade professional lenses tend to be fast because that gives the photographer more flexibility. So, for example, Nikon sells a 24mm f/1.4 for $2600. If you need it, you need it. If you're shooting landscapes, you would most probably be happier with a 16-35 f/4 zoom.

I assume that the f1.4 would only be used to achieve some good bokeh?

Wide angle lenses tend to have poor bokeh; maybe Nikon's 24 f/1.4 is good (it should be for that price). But there may be some occasions where you want shallow depth of field for a wide angle shot and a fast lens allows this. There are some sample photos on the Nikon site showing this lens used to good effect. None of these photos are landscapes. But again, one would not typically purchase a 24mm f/1.4 for landscapes.

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BobSC
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a wide angle lens soon to take some landscape photography.

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?.

If you have a crop sensor camera you might want to consider the Sigma 10-20. I have really enjoyed it for landscapes.

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AnthonyL
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?...as normally a landscape photo would be shot at something around f/8 to f/22 to get everything in focus.

With a wide angle I doubt that you would generally need to step down to smaller than f/11.  Recommendations on my Canon 10-22mm are to stay around f/7 for good DOF and optimal sharpness

I assume that the f1.4 would only be used to achieve some good bokeh?

Low light/indoor photos for instance.  Even then my Canon doesn't open up to any more that f/3.5

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PaulD1980
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to AnthonyL, Sep 25, 2013

Thank you for your answers.

so for low light situations a wide aperture of f1.4 would be good at achieving a low iso but, with having such a wide open aperture at f1.4 this wouldn't be good for a night time landscape shoot due to shallow depth of field.

So the draw back of having a nice wide open aperture is you will have only a small portion of the image in focus?

Thanks,

Paul

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AnthonyL
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Thank you for your answers.

so for low light situations a wide aperture of f1.4 would be good at achieving a low iso but, with having such a wide open aperture at f1.4 this wouldn't be good for a night time landscape shoot due to shallow depth of field.

So the draw back of having a nice wide open aperture is you will have only a small portion of the image in focus?

Have a look at some DOF calculators eg http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

With a 24mm lens on a 1.6 crop camera wide open at f/1.4 if you focus on 24m then acceptable focus is from 12m to infinity (hyperfocal).  If it's night time how much detail are you hoping to see?

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Marty4650
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Paul, you assumption might be wrong
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 25, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a wide angle lens soon to take some landscape photography.

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?...as normally a landscape photo would be shot at something around f/8 to f/22 to get everything in focus.

I assume that the f1.4 would only be used to achieve some good bokeh?

There are other uses for wide angle lenses besides landscape photography.

And you don't always need "good bokeh" or any bokeh at all.

For example, what if you wanted to shoot architectural interiors? For a real estate client or something similar. You would need a wide angle lens to take in more of the room, and you would need a fast lens if you didn't want to use a flash.

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peevee1
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 26, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Thank you for your answers.

so for low light situations a wide aperture of f1.4 would be good at achieving a low iso but, with having such a wide open aperture at f1.4 this wouldn't be good for a night time landscape shoot due to shallow depth of field.

So the draw back of having a nice wide open aperture is you will have only a small portion of the image in focus?

Thanks,

Paul

Well, for night/low-light landscape, you focus 24/1.4 at 45 ft, and everything from 22ft on is in focus. Not so good indoors on in a cave or if you want foreground in focus, but from a high position (a building or a mountain) there is no foreground to worry about. Admittedly limited use, but still useful sometimes. More of the problem is that at f/1.4 these lenses are not sharp across the frame, so you'll need to be in really high-ISO situation not to stop down from there.

Nikon 24/1.4 @1.4

Canon 24/1.4L II USM at 1.4

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Draek
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to PaulD1980, Sep 26, 2013

PaulD1980 wrote:

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a wide angle lens soon to take some landscape photography.

Is there any point in purchasing a lens that has a fast aperture of something like f1.4?

Yup; faster shutter speeds for the same ISO, and of course more limited DOF

...as normally a landscape photo would be shot at something around f/8 to f/22 to get everything in focus.

Correct, which is why it's generally not too useful for landscapes.

I assume that the f1.4 would only be used to achieve some good bokeh?

Bokeh is how pretty the blur is, the aperture per se has little relevance in it. But anyways, main purpose I think is for street photographers who prefer to "get in close" with a wide-angle, and who obviously can't be taking out a flash after 6 PM nor put the camera on a tripod and make a long exposure, the way a landscapist would. Not my particular cup of tea -- I prefer normals, myself -- but I've seen plenty of stunning street work taken with 24mm and 28mm lenses, and some taken with lenses even wider; it's a valuable aesthetic, in my opinion.

Thanks,

Paul

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AndreaV
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Re: Why do wide angle lenses have f1.4?
In reply to Draek, Sep 26, 2013

I agree with all the previous. If you are shooting landscape in most cases you don't need at all a wide aperture. My favorite lens for landscapes is my Canon 17-40 f4L... usually set at f11-16 where is extremely sharp.

Anyway shooting landscape you should always use a tripod and this allow you to use small apertures even when light goes down and during night time.

In general I would suggest, if you're focused on landscapes, to get a high quality wide zoom lens (like the Canon 17-40 f4L) with a moderate aperture. You most likely save some money and get a more flexible lens. Consider also the fact that often very wide lens can't get the same IQ over the full aperture range as a moderate aperture lens, so they make sense only when you need the them.

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