Wide Angles

Most people when they start out in photography using interchangeable lens cameras are immediately drawn to long reach telephoto lenses, the idea of ‘reaching out’ into the far distance and capturing images is attractive. Experience though if you take many photos, soon teaches that short zoom and wide angle primes tend to be more useful for most photographers in the normal run of things.

This came to mind quite strongly for me over the past few days as I had to use two of my existing wide angle zooms for a task I had set myself plus, another extreme wide angle lens that I had bought second hand turned up. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a wide angle lens lets you do ‘group’ photographs where you want to get a lot of people in the frame such as a wedding party.

Beyond this, I hope I won’t confuse anybody but when I later talk about ‘crop factors’ it is simply because all three of these lenses belong to different camera systems though there is a way of standardising the field of view based upon a “full frame” equivalent measurement.

The Oddball

I have written previously about me picking up a Panasonic Lumix G7 camera which is a micro four thirds camera. What this means is that the image sensor is smaller than both full frame and even APS C cameras with the result that it has a crop factor of x2 so that a 50mm lens on this system is the full frame equivalent of 100mm. Now whilst this is great if telephoto photography is what you are interested in, it is a real pain when it comes to wide angle lenses which are available but due to the requirements of the optical engineering, decent copies are quite expensive.

When I originally bought the G7, it was really only with a view to using it as a prop for a video I intended to make on the “two most influential cameras…” I had bought. In fact I only bought the body and used an adapted Canon FD lens on it initially. Now bearing in mind that I bought my original G7 seven years ago so that the technology is quite dated by today’s standards, it acting just as a prop seemed to be quite appropriate at that time.

However I suppose if you are into cameras it is inevitable that you will play with it and put it to some use which I did and in doing so reminded me of just why I walked away from the system but also made me aware of what the G7 was good for and how my needs have changed. Back then I was solely into stills photography and what this system is really best at is video and video is the direction I am currently going in so I decided to put it to work as a spare video camera and bought a cheap native kit lens for it, second hand of course. It is ideal for being mounted on a gimbal as I mentioned a few posts back.

Still Available !

One of the things I found amazing was that you can still buy a brand new G7 today and no, it hasn’t been upgraded. The G7 came out in 2015 and late 2016, early 2017 an upgraded follow on model was launched called the G80 which again you can still buy new today and at quite a keen price of around £550 with a decent kit lens.

This was followed in 2019 with a further upgrade in terms of the G90 which unfortunately seems of have clashed with another of their models, the G9 a “flag ship” model which was aimed at still photographers but specs and price wise fell into a similar price bracket to the G90. The consequence of this being that price and availability seem to be uncertain on the G90 model new, though it is available second hand of course.

A Decision

Between my Canon M6 MkII and the Lumix G7, I currently have two 4k capable cameras and that is excellent as a starting point for me developing my video and editing skills. Now whilst it is possible to shoot FHD video on all three of my DSLRs, it’s not something I’m interested in doing, they are not the best tools for the job of shooting video, mirrorless are far superior for that task.

If I wanted to stay with Canon then my next step up would be into their R series range and financially that is not a step that I’m interested in taking so looking down the line it might make better sense to buy later versions of the Lumix G family new or second hand purely for their video bias if that is what I need at that time.

Right now I don’t need to upgrade my G7 body, that would be silly but I do need to overcome the need for a true wide angle lens for it. The cheap kit lens I bought for it is 14-45mm which is useful but in full frame terms is equivalent to 28-90mm which is not really wide enough. So I set out to hunt down a Panasonic 7-14mm lens (14-28mm) and by trading in a couple of Canon lenses that I wasn’t using managed to get one second hand at a price that I could afford.

We all like ‘new toys’ but the reality is that for most people interested in photography, buying a good quality lens instead of that “brand new camera body you fancy” will do a lot more to improve your photography.