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Best wide angle lens to shoot indoor and outdoor architecture

edited July 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I am going to India next year and want to purchase a wide angle lens that is great for indoors and outdoors. Some of the places will have very low lighting and I will not be able to use a flash. I am looking at the sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. Is there a better lens choice around the same cost that you would recommend or love?


  • edited July 2016
    The speed is nice. The little I've read suggests that it's good and sharp.

    18mm is not exceptionally wide. If you have the 18-55mm kit lens, experiment with interior and exterior shots and shooting distances that you think you might encounter. Is that wide enough? If you are shooting buildings in or out and unable to put the camera level, you will get considerable perspective distortion. If you need to correct that, you can in post processing, but when you do so, the picture will be cropped. Therefore you must insure that your initial image is wider than you'll need at the end.

    As an alternative to a super wide lens, these days with advances in post processing, you might consider stitching, and for that the given lens range may be all right. A stitched panorama can get you a good bit of extra width without a super wide lens. If you go very wide in a freehand swinging stitch, the resulting view will tend to be an arc, which is of little consequence up to a point but can get odd if you do a very wide sweep.

    I have not gone wider than 18mm myself, preferring to stitch wide scenic shots, but if you want to get your width in one go, I think you might want to look at something wider than 18mm. However, when you get to very wide very fast lenses, you may find not only that they're very expensive, but even bulkier than the one you're considering.

    Very wide lenses can be very dramatic and of course very inclusive, but also a little difficult to use well, because they include so much foreground. You can, of course, crop the image, but a panorama can be the cheapest way to get a wide image with plenty of density, if you don't mind keeping track of things and doing the post processing.

    If you have time before going, I suggest you experiment a good deal now with perspective correction and panning. Go out and shoot some buildings and figure out how to get pleasing results now.

    If you have a Microsoft operating system, you might check out the Microsoft "ICE" free panorama program. It requires files to be in JPG form, but it works very well and can stitch a very large number of pictures together to form even a gigantic panorama of awesome pixel count. The latest versions include some decent correction options for distortion, and a moderately successful option for filling non-linear edges with digitally generated guesswork (works OK on sky and ocean and the like).

    In the mean time, if you have any option for trying the lens you're considering, I suggest you do so, and get a feel for its size and convenience in real life. A heavy lens can be fine to use, but a bit of a nuisance to carry.
  • Thank you for this and I will go try a few different lens before I go.
  • edited July 2016
    Just a little addition on panoramic shots. I've done many that looked pretty good, but when there is a lot of foreground, the effect can be pretty odd. Here is a very drastically reduced pan of about 180 degrees. I was standing on a straight stretch of road, and you can see how the swinging pan has distorted it.

    However, if you took just the central portion, maybe two or three times the width of the lens, it would not be so bad.

    Note that the image is pretty fuzzy, having been reduced to 700 pixels wide from what began as an enormous number.
  • edited July 2016
    Here's another example, in this case taken on a tripod with an 85mm shifting lens. This was done with five shots side by side, the middle three done with the shifting lens, and the outer two by panning the tripod only a small amount. Because this is a mild telephoto view, there is essentially no foreground. The result, as you can see, is quite rectilinear.
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