Why I love Ultra Wide Angle Lens on a Smartphone

It is 2018 and dual camera smartphones are no longer something reserved for flagship models. Different companies have developed a variety of dual camera options for their smartphone line up. We have seen plenty of them are used to simulate the blurred background effect (bokeh) ala DSLR style. At the same time, we also see popular smartphones like the iPhones and Samsung Note8 & S9+ gets a secondary camera with a telephoto lens (portrait). However, only a handful of the smartphone manufacturer bothered to use an ultra-wide-angle (UWA) lens on their secondary camera. It is such a huge let down since I personally am a huge fan of it. Therefore, allow me to elaborate why smartphones with a UWA lens is genius.

All the shots here are capture using the ASUS ZenFone 5‘s dual camera during our recent trip to Taipei for Computex 2018..

What is an Ultra Wide Angle Lens (UWA)?

ASUS ZenFone 5

In the world of photography, technically speaking, a wide-angle lens would often be something with shorter than 35 mm focal length. Meanwhile, an ultra-wide-angle lens would have shorter than 24 mm focal length. It is perfectly alright if you have no idea what I’m talking about here as I’ll try to keep things as simple as possible.

With that being said, plenty of the currently existing smartphones already have a camera with a wide-angle lens as they are somewhere between 24 mm to 28 mm. So why do we still care about “ultra wide angle“? Does further zooming out actually makes a lot of difference?

Apparently, yes. What you’re seeing here is the comparison between a 24 mm lens and a 12 mm lens.

So… Why?

It makes a great all-purpose camera

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Makes a good portrait lens as well

We know the best camera is the one you have with you. The portable nature of a smartphone and rapid advancement in the camera technology has made it the best all-purpose camera we could possibly have. So how does having a smartphone with UWA camera make it even more versatile?

Shoot in tight spaces

First of all, you can now shoot in tight spaces or group photos without having the need to step back. So that actually makes your phone a lot more useful in certain situations.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Great for street or urban photography

Secondly, a camera with ultra-wide-angle lens is perfect for taking landscapes, group shots and pretty much everything you could think of. Meanwhile, a telephoto camera may be awesome for portrait and sniper shots but once you try to fit in more subject or background into the shot, it becomes a challenge.

It tells more story

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Jiufen Old Street – narrow streets, food stalls & sweeping views of the mountains & sea

As a UWA lens sucks in more elements from the background, the photo often tells more story than those taken with a standard lens.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

In transit

Just look at this shot that was taken in a fairly empty transit. You want to highlight the passenger sitting in front of you (subject) and at the same time, showing that the coach has plenty of space. This kind of image can only be achieved with a UWA lens, otherwise, you will have to depend on panorama shot which would have inconsistency in the stitching and exposure.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Same goes for this photo we took at Jiufen Old Street, clearly it is a point-and-shoot result but it pretty much captures what is exactly going on at the street during our visit.

It exaggerates the image

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Massive rail transit structure

We, humans, are naturally attracted to something that looks special and beautiful. That’s why magazines and photo portals have beautiful headline images to capture the viewers’ attention. Those exquisite landscape shots featured in the travel sites or magazines are often taken with a DSLR camera with a UWA lens. Then again, smartphones with UWA lens, too, can replicate the same result.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

SOGO building looks overwhelming

As we mentioned earlier, the lens would take in so many info that sometimes it distorts and exaggerates the photo. It makes the end result look extraordinary like this SOGO building looks way bigger than how it seem in real life.

It changes my perspective

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Get low and intimate with the ground

Last but not least, as we pick up a new camera, there would be plenty of new things for us to learn. For instance, how changing the shooting angle would greatly affect how the final image looks like. Especially if you put the camera closer to the ground that the effect will blow your mind away.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

And sometimes you’ll find out new interesting angles too.


Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Those are the reasons why I’m a big fan of ultra wide angle lens on a smartphone. Have you tried any phones with a UWA lens on it? Or you personally prefer a telephoto lens instead. Do let me know what you think down in the comment below and perhaps we can share more tips on mobile photography over here at My Everyday Tech.