With the wide-angle lens on your smartphone you can take very special photos. But how do you handle that? Why is this lens often less good quality than the regular camera? And which smartphone has the best wide-angle lens? We update you!
The main camera on your smartphone usually has a focal length of 24 to 26 millimeters. That may not mean anything to you, but this camera takes pictures that we consider ‘normal’. The subject is clearly visible and there is also sufficient background to see where the scene is taking place.
Many smartphones also have a wide-angle lens. It often has a focal length of 12 to 16 millimeters. So that’s a lot wider. As a result, you capture more elements in your photo and the perspective also changes. A wide-angle lens ‘looks’ differently than our eyes. Snapshots that you take with this camera show more than we can see sharply ourselves. Many people find that effect spectacular, especially the first time.
If you use the wide-angle lens like a normal camera, you’ll probably be disappointed with the results. Your subject is lost against the background and there is just too much empty space visible.
A frequently heard advice is therefore to get as close as possible to your subject with a wide-angle lens. That stands out even more, while you can still see a lot of the area. A good example of this is the photo below. The horse seems to fly through the air, but the buildings are still clearly recognizable. If you take this photo with a normal (main) camera, the flying effect would be much less.
Of course, you can also use the wide-angle lens to capture large buildings completely. You can see a variation of this in the photo below. With a normal camera you would never be able to photograph the two corridors of the Pandhof in Utrecht at the same time.
You can do that with the wide-angle lens of your smartphone. That gives a great effect, because our eyes normally cannot see these corridors sharply at the same time. You always look at one or the other.
Why is the wide-angle lens less good?
The quality of the wide-angle lens is almost always less good than that of the main camera. This has several causes. Most manufacturers see this lens, especially on cheaper smartphones, as an extra. As a result, it often has a smaller sensor, a less good lens and a lower resolution.
In addition, there are physical limitations. Because there is so much to see in these photos, the individual elements consist of fewer pixels anyway. So they look a little less sharp. Another property of wide-angle lenses is that they usually show quite a bit of distortion. Because of the wide perspective, the lines on your photos are more curved than in reality.
To counter that, you need a large lens with a lot of glass. That space is not there in a smartphone. Many manufacturers therefore try to solve it with software, but that is at the expense of quality. The corners in particular are therefore sometimes a bit blurry.
Which smartphone has the best wide-angle lens?
As mentioned, the wide-angle lens is often neglected. The Xiaomi 12T Pro, for example, has a 200-megapixel main camera, but the wide-angle lens has to do with only 8 megapixels. The difference in quality is huge.
Fortunately, there are companies that choose a different approach. The Oppo Find X5 Pro uses exactly the same 50-megapixel sensor for the wide-angle lens as for the main camera. Although the lens itself is somewhat less bright, you can see that in the photos. They are almost as detailed as snapshots you take with the normal camera. The Vivo X80 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro also have an excellent wide-angle lens.
What to look out for if you want a good wide-angle lens on your smartphone? The resolution must be at least 12 megapixels. With fewer pixels, your photos simply contain too little detail to be really useful.
In addition, we would opt for a device that has a wide-angle lens with autofocus. You can also use this camera to take close-ups of flowers or insects, for example. A nice extra.
More about photography
on FADVICES we regularly write about smartphone photography. We show you how to get a good composition and even how you can make money online with your photos. We also tell you which smartphones have the best cameras. Do you prefer to look at the work of others? Then check out the snaps of the best smartphone photographers in the world.