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Canon makes a nice little 14/2.8L lens. It isn't really very useful most of
the time. Its exposed half-dome front element will keep you in constant fear of
water, grime, fingers, and the rest of the world. It costs $2,319.00 (B&H
Photo, October 1995). I bought one.
Why? My old girlfriends would tell you "Simple; sexual inadequacy."
Fortunately, they aren't writing my Web pages, so I can add my own explanation:
the world is getting to be a wider and wider place. Magazines and newspapers
regularly run photos taken with 20mm lenses as standard photo illustration. If
you want to really stun people with the drama of wide angle distortion then you
need to go to 18 or 15 or 14.
"Wide angle distortion?"
distortion isn't a lens imperfection. It is what happens when a person views a
print at the "improper distance." People tend to look at pictures from about 12
inches away. If they brought the print right up to their eyes, a picture taken
with a 14mm lens would look normal. Take a moment to blow up the image at the top
of this page and stare at it from different distances. Note that from a standard
typing distance, the woman looks like a space alien. Viewed from up close, her
head doesn't look strange at all.
If you want to go really wide and cheap, you're looking at a fish eye lens.
Fish eye lenses take straight lines in the world and turn them into curved lines
("fish eye distortion"). Canon makes a 15/2.8 fisheye for $700. Except for a few
aerials, I think fisheye images look like refugees from the 1960s.
A great thing about really wide (20) and super wide (14-18) lenses is that you
can take pictures of people without their knowledge. After all, you're pointing
the camera into the middle of the street or at their dog. They don't realize that
they're part of the scene.
Direct comparison: 20mm vs. 14mm
Comparison pictures at 20mm
Comparison pictures at 24mm
Comparison pictures at 28mm
13 elements/10 groups
Angle of view:
0.25 m (0.8 ft)
Rear drop-in gelatin filter holder
Length and diameter:
89 x 77 mm (3-1/2 x 3-5/16 in)
560 g (19.6 oz)
Where to buy the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM Wide Angle Lens
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