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Landscape Photography: Wide Angle Lens or Panoramic Using Telephoto

Waddizzle
Legend

Is it better to capture a wide angle shot, or create a panoramic shot using a telephoto lens?

 

Each approach has its' uses.  But, when I want to draw the eye to specific details in the distance, then I almost want to go the panoramic shot using a telephoto lens.  

 

The shot below captures how I remember the view of the new bridge under construction.  No one new about the colored lights before this moment, the same day that one of the spans first opened for traffic.

 

3DDABD3E-19A0-4CC9-A6BB-B69869D07E0A.jpeg

 

The first shot is from a distance of at least two miles from the center span.  I used a 100-400mm lens, instead of wide angle lens.

 

2CDFB23D-43C5-47A9-9B31-B919672233A9.jpeg

 

Notice the resolution of just the center portion of the pano shot.

 

BA5480C7-EC50-4027-8CBE-6D1A71A410FD.jpeg

 

The shot below is from a different vantage point that brings me to about one mile away from the center span.  This vantage point is about a half mile away from the previous shots of the center span.  I used a 35mm lens, and this is heavily cropped.

 

DDE96790-4615-4409-8A48-493E37B7F0BD.jpeg

 

The shot below is of some islands that are about a mile away, captured at 16mm.  Compare the size of the footings of the bridge pylons compared to the small island in the photo below.  They are about the same size.  Shot at 16mm.

 

22EAC5CC-154B-4048-B6BD-316BD9601BFE.jpeg

 

My point is a pretty simple one.  Using a wide angle lens is not an absolute MUST when it comes to landscape photography.  The bridge photos give you a sense of scale.  More times than not, a telephoto lens can tell the story of your landscape shot much better than a wide angle lens.

 

My final comment is that notice how the raw image stack for the pano shot seems to be stair stepped.  This is a result of the camera not being perfectly level.  I use the built-in camera level to double check how level the camera is.  

 

The built-in level in the camera seems pretty good, in camera.  This is true as long as I am shooting in landscape mode.  I rolled the camera to portrait mode.  I had to eyeball the level point on the tripod ring. 

 

In portrait mode, the on-board compass is not very good in portrait mode.  But, no thought seems to have been given to using the level in portrait mode.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
19 REPLIES 19

Tronhard
Authority

Speaking for myself, I have done a fair bit of landscape photography and must say I have not seen a wide-angle lens as being mandatory.   When I was shooting transparency it was pretty obviously easier to use a single wide-angle shot, but with digital, if the camera is put on a levelled tripod and rotated with some care and overlap, I think one gets far more detail from several  longer focal length images stitched together.  It would be useless to post some of the panoramic shots I have created because, by their nature, they have large file sizes!

 

I completely agree that there is no "one" answer to this issue.  Really a lot depends on the content of the scene and what one wants to express or (dare I say) focus on in the scene.

 

One other thing I did, when trying to express what would be considered an obvious wide-angle shot, was to turn the camera to portrait and take a slice of the scene.   In one case I shot huge sand dunes that rolled on for some distance along the coast.  I shot conventially but actually preferred the portrait shot because it was taken with a moderate telephoto and really expressed the towering effect of the dunes - something I realized was their big impact on me.


cheers, TREVOR

Professional photographer, engineer and educator since 1980

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri
Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

Trevor,

 

If I shot the bridge with a wide angle lens, the bridge would look like one of those in-camera "toy mode" photos.  The bridge would be a teeny-tiny thing somewhere in the center of the photo.  The pano shots of the bridge with the telephoto lens most accurately reflect what the bridge looks like to the eye.

 

I can get great landscape shots with either a wide angle lens, or a telephto lens.  The choice of focal length really depends upon where I want to draw the eye into the photo.  Depending on the size of the subject, and my distance to it, I may use either type or lens, or any focal length.

 

Capturing what the eye sees, not what the camera sees, is what drives my choice of focal length.  

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

Exactly!  I completely agree. Smiley Very Happy


cheers, TREVOR

Professional photographer, engineer and educator since 1980

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri
Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

rs-eos
Whiz

I have been wanting to play around with panoramos for a while; even for portraits. There are indeed some very interesting things you can do when using telephoto or even standard lenses to create "wide angle" results.   To include getting some razor thin DOF.

--
Ricky

EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L, 600EX-RT (x6), ST-E3-RT
EOS C70, RF 24-70 f/2.8L IS, EF-EOS R 0.71x

It depends on movement too. In Wadizzles shot, if any of the boats had been moving, a panorama might require a lot of extra work.


@kvbarkley wrote:

It depends on movement too. In Wadizzles shot, if any of the boats had been moving, a panorama might require a lot of extra work.


Buoys, not boats.  

 

The exposure says 15 seconds.  I have had people cross in front of the camera during a long exposure like this, and they do not show up in the final image, at all.

 

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."


@kvbarkley wrote:

It depends on movement too. In Wadizzles shot, if any of the boats had been moving, a panorama might require a lot of extra work.


I shot a panorama of Victoria Harbour, made of 5 shots with a Canon EOS60D and a EF-S 15-85mm lens at 35mm (to give me an equivalent FoV of a 50mm). 

 

Now, accepting the fact that I just reduced this image from 48MB to about 4.9MB, it's not going to hold that much quality of detail but I am posting it to show that there is a moving yacht on the right-hand side of the image.  I avoided getting an overlap on the boat by shooting it from the direction in which it was travelling, thus by the time I had moved my camera to the left the boat had moved further away, not into the image and causing ghosting.

 

By the way, the shape of the walkway on the left is accurate, it does go down, then horizontal and then down again.

 

Victoria Harbour Panorama 03 VLR.jpg


cheers, TREVOR

Professional photographer, engineer and educator since 1980

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri
Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

I have used panos for years. I use them for stuff that you may not think it would work.  One thing I always tell folks that are new to panos is to turn the camera vertical.

 

_OS11784-Pano-Edit-Edit.jpg

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

I have used panos for years. I use them for stuff that you may not think it would work.  One thing I always tell folks that are new to panos is to turn the camera vertical.

 

_OS11784-Pano-Edit-Edit.jpg


Nice work!  Always overlaping the shots by 1/3 seems to work best.  Give the software a nice big bite to chew on.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
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