What’s It Worth To Get 3 more mm Wider Effective Focal Length?

September 1st, 2015

16mm19mmDwayne ask the following question about wide-angle lenses:

I use a Nikon 7100 with a 12-24 mm lens. I only shoot horizontal for continuity. Small bathrooms are a problem. Would it be worth spending the money for a 10-20 mm lens even if it were say a Sigma. Does the 10-20 mm really make that much of a difference?

I agree about shooting small bathrooms horizontal so slide shows of the property don’t have a vertical format mixed in.

The effective wide end difference between a 12-24mm and a 10-20 mm is 19.2 mm vs 16 mm.

I did a quick handheld test in my small bathroom with my 5DMkII using a 16-35 mm lens. One shot at 16 mm and one shot at 19 mm. This bathroom is 5′ x 6′. I run into bathrooms much smaller than this all the time, but it gives you a feel for what the difference between 16 mm and 19 mm effective focal length.

As you can see, you can see from the animated GIF above, the difference but is noticeable but not huge. Is it worth $450? It’s hard to say. It depends on if you have $450 laying around. On the one hand I love having 16 mm available for shooting bathrooms like this (it’s almost the only time I use 16 mm) but on the other hand in the overall scheme of things small bathrooms don’t matter much. I would never suggest going wider than 16 mm, but 16 mm is handy.

Dwayne decided that in the end, having an extra 3 mm in effective focal length was not worth $450 to him.

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11 Responses to “What’s It Worth To Get 3 more mm Wider Effective Focal Length?”

  • If you shoot with the back of the camera parallel to the back walls, I would agree – why spend the money. However, if it was me, I would definitely buy the lens. Unlike many, I shoot for content, not parallax correction in the camera. I dislike acres of ceiling and little floor unless the ceiling is especially interesting which they seldom are unless you are in a European Chateau or the rooms have especially high ceilings. So with that in mind, in bathrooms I tend to shoot down then correct in post which means you loose some of the pixel real estate and the extra space captured with a very wide lens allows for cropping in the process of correcting for diverging lines. And by shooting at full wide angle, it allows for cropping off some of the softness that often happens at the outside edges of the lens especially in the corners. It also lets met get a bit closer in through the door way on top of the other considerations. So I would say it really depends on how you shoot. But then isn’t that how you judge all your equipment? Will it do the job I want and need it to do? And we are all different.

  • I use a Sony A6000 with the 16-50 kit lens. I also have Sigma 10-20 I used when I was photographing with a Sony DSLR. The 16-50 lens covers nearly all the houses I photograph but I found if I have an unfurnished house, the 10-20 comes in handy. When that happens, I switch to the 10-20 and I almost never use it wider than 14.

  • Left out of that discussion is what do you intend to do with the 12-24? Keep 2 lens with overlapping range, or sell it? If selling it, may not be $450 for the lens but the difference reduced by the offset of the sale. In this case, would be a credit for additional purchases as the 12-24 (Nikon or Sigma) is significantly more. That is, of course, simple math. More complex math may actually increase the cost difference when taking into account the original cost and used sale price offset with tax deductions claims with business depreciation…but that is really “counting the pennies.”

    It also comes down to other equipment. Sure, while gaining the 10-12 range, losing the 20-24 range, but that is also covered by your 18-55 (or similar standard/kit zoom). When I shot crop with a D7000, I chose the Sigma 10-20 as optically and build was very solid, so much so that the Nikkor 10-24 didn’t stand out and the Tamron was lacking to the other two. Also looked at the 12-24 and compared range in the local camera store, using left corner as constant and comparing right edge when home – as well as other features on different sample shots. Went back and bought the Sigma. 20-24 wasn’t critical as that range was covered by the standard zoom (not kit – Tamron 17-50 f2.8). Today, with shift to full frame, split the equivalent 15 or 18 coverage difference with a 16-35, but usually shoot around 20. Sold the crop sensor equipment to offset the total cost.

  • I shoot with a Nikon D7000 (DX) pared with a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens.
    While there IS glass out there that would allow me to get more of those rooms, I find that stepping back a couple feet (to the outside of the room) and shooting it “in relation” to another area works best.
    I keep the majority of the bathroom in the frame showing the sink, cabinetry and light fixture, and don’t worry about the toilet and shower/bathtub. Unless it’s a half bath, it’s a ‘given’ that every bathroom has these.

    This technique works well for me and my clients are happy.

  • I am a full frame Nikon shooter, & my primary lens is the 14-24 f/2.8 UWA lens. I also own a 16-35 f/4, but I much prefer the 14-24…
    While the 14-24 is vastly superior optically, I also love the extra 2mm in focal length when needed in the very tight spaces I often encounter with wine cellars, powder rooms, etc…
    I am usually in the 18-24mm focal length, but it is very nice to be able to go ultra wide when necessary.
    I also use a right angle finder to get more flexibility when shooting in tight spaces. A must have accessory imo.

  • Another option is to not shoot bathroom since all you are seeing is a toilet, sink, and maybe a shower. Unless it’s a unique master bath I skip them and inform the agent that it’s better not to shoot small bathrooms, not advertise them visually, and let the potential buyers discover them on the walkthrough which is much better.

  • I Agree with Peter’D, however, If i were to go ahead and spring for a wide angle, it would be the Tokina 11-16, I love that lens on my D7100.

  • I too have a Nikon 7200 and a Tokina 11-16. With a 1.5 crop that’s an effective 16-24. I don’t think a wider lens would matter much for baths. Like others here I shoot down for standard size baths. Tile, cabinets and fixtures usually trump mirrors and light fixtures in importance. I also shoot smaller baths from outside the door as suggested earlier. You can place a low power flash-activated flash in the bath to help illuminate it when shooting from outside. This perspective also allows a shallower angle and less wide angle distortion. Great for small private baths and half baths.

  • I kinda loathe the small toilet shots. I think they should be skipped 85 percent of the time. There is usually no way to deemphasize the unflattering actual toilet. I would certainly not encourage my clients by getting a wider lens just so I can cover them “better”.

  • I’m with Tony and Andrew. Better to skip and take another shot of something interesting.

  • I am starting to shoot more narrow all the time. Primary lens for interior general is a 14-24mm and after reading and incorporating the book by Scott Hargis, I am finding I have more room for light stands and a bunch more room for becoming a little more creative in my composition. It’s not always how much you can cram into an image but more how well the image is crammed. I am trying to stay between 20 & 24, makes my eye look a little harder and more critically at what I am shooting.

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