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Breaking the MMA Lens – 6 reasons to use a wide-angle lens

Drama, drama, drama. That’s what I think of with the wide-angle lens.

In the last issue, we discussed why a 50mm prime lens is so useful. Just as with the 50mm, we’ll be talking about prime lenses, not zooms. So, the focal length stays the same.  This time, let’s talk about the wide-angle lens. To be clear, I love the wide-angle lens.

What is a wide-angle? It’s anything less than 35mm in length.I generally use two wide-angle lenses when shooting combat sports, the 23mm and the 18mm. The 23mm is perfect for outside the cage and the non-combat shots. It has a newsy look to it. It’s wide, but not too wide. You can get the subject and the surroundings or background in too. I like that. The photo does not look like a portrait, but it gives the feeling of actually being there. You certainly can use it for the fight itself too.

I use the 18mm for many combat shots inside the cage, particularly if the action is close to the camera. It’s wide enough to get everything into the shot and it has just the right distortion to make the photo look exciting. If the picture is taken from a close distance it feels like you’re actually there.

With a wide-angle, to get the subject to fill the frame you have to get close, really close. No long telephoto zoom to hide behind and stay away from the subject. You have to get right in there with them.

Reasons for the wide-angle:

  • Easier to focus. The wider the angle (the lower the mm length) the easier to focus and therefore, the more is in focus when you take the shot.
  • It takes in so much around it. The angle of view is large.
  • The lens is usually shorter and smaller, so it’s easier to carry and handle.
  • It pushes the background further away. (a telephoto pulls the background closer to you)
  • Creates drama, due to the distortion. What is close to you seems bigger and all powerful, while the background seems further away. This distortion can be quite dramatic.
  • Very creative. You have to be creative with the lens or it will look like a snapshot taken at the beach when you were five. It makes you try things. We’ve said it before…that’s what it’s all about.

All the photos you see here are shot with a wide-angle lens.

In future columns, we’ll talk about other lenses and how they can fit into your photo uses.


Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco writes the photography column Breaking the MMA Lens for MMA Crossfire. New columns on the 1st and 15th of each month.

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