I apologize for my lack of photography terminology. I am a beginner who enjoys taking pictures of my infant, and I would like to improve greatly. With the winter here and doing all my pictures indoors. I'm having an issue in fitting everything I want into the frame. I have a small house and cannot back up enough to fit everything in. For example, this past christmas I could not fit my family (three of us) in front of the tree in a shot because I did not have the room to set the camera back far enough.

I have a Canon Rebel T5i/700D and use a 50mm 1.8 lens, as well as the stock lens.

My question is what type of lens should I purchase? Any recommendations that are budget conscious? And what is the actual terminology I should be using? I was reading about wide angle lenses, but was informed that is causes distortions.

  • 5
    By "stock lens" do you mean an EF-S 18-55 kit lens? And why not use the 18-55 if the 50 isn't wide enough—given that's kinda what it's for...
    – inkista
    Dec 28, 2015 at 21:58
  • You can use the zoom lens to fin the focal length you want through trial and error, and use that as a benchmark for choosing another lens(if you find you really need one).
    – wedstrom
    Dec 29, 2015 at 0:30
  • @inkista it does provide a wider frame. I just don't like to use the 18-55 indoors (unless I'm doing something - which is quite possible).
    – Jeoha
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:47
  • @wedstrom, which zoom lens are you referring to? To the best of my amateur knowledge - I don't believe I can zoom out with either of the lenses.
    – Jeoha
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:52
  • @Jeoha I assumed, as did inkista, that the stock lens you refer to is in fact the 18-55mm, which of course zooms out to 18mm, which I would think should be plenty for the shots you describe. If it's not, a brief note in your description, specifically what other lens you had, the widest focal length you have tried (18mm? 50mm?), would go a long way to determine how wide you actually need.
    – wedstrom
    Dec 30, 2015 at 16:12

6 Answers 6


"Wide angle lens" is the right term (see What is an ultra-wide lens? for discussion of the terminology), but the thing is that it's not the wide angle itself that causes distortion. It's being really close to your subject and then projecting that onto a flat plane (like, a photograph). If you need to use a lens wider than the 18mm at the wide end from your kit lens, you'll also have to accept the perspective distortion.

For more on wide-angle lenses and perspective distortion, see:

  • Thanks for the discussion links! I'll definitely check them out!
    – Jeoha
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:41

With the problem you have, in my opinion, it's not necessary to use a wider lens, but first to learn to use what you have.

1) Learn to use the zoom lens you already have. The other users already told you that you probably have a 18-55mm lens. Move the big barrel.

@inkista it does provide a wider frame. I just don't like to use the 18-55 indoors (unless I'm doing something - which is quite possible)

2) This sounds like you have a low light situation. Change the ISO to 400 indoors. Try ISO 800, change your aperture to max aperture. Turn the Image stabilizer on. Also try to use a tripod.

3) If the thing you do not like is that you need to use your pop up flash, buy an external flash, with a remote controller (there are combos really cheap) and learn to use ambient light + a flash bounced to the ceiling or a wall.

4) Have you tried turning your camera 90° (portrait) to fit what you need?

5) Define why you do not like to use the zoom lens. I hope it is not the distortion on proportions.

6) Only if everything listed above fails, then you probably need a wider lens.

Go to a store with your camera and ask to see some lenses around 10-20mm like this one: http://www.sigmaphoto.com/10-20mm-f4-56-ex-dc-hsm (just an example).

You will notice that the numbers overlap a bit with your 18-55 (10-19-20)

Go physically to a store to see in person the effect of that kind lenses, try to shoot the salesman and see the distortion vs. your space so you can calculate your house proportions.

Look to buy one of those ultrawide zooms after you learn how to use your kit lens.

7) Shoot outside.

  • 1
    I like this answer because it points out something that's really important - pushing the equipment you have as far as it will go before buying new toys. Instead of brute forcing the issue with a big expenditure on new glass, learning techniques to push what you have further. Then, if even if you decide to plunk down the cash, you will be able to use what you have to its fullest.
    – wedstrom
    Dec 31, 2015 at 16:48

You don't need a new lens.

Sure, it would be nice to have one. And possibly the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM will fit your low-budget requirements while giving you a wider angle of view and remaining a fast prime. But. You don't need it. You have an EF-S 18-55 kit lens, and this will work just fine for you, provided you try a few other things.

Granted, the 18-55 doesn't give you the thin depth of field that a 50/1.8 does, but that also means you won't have the same autofocus issues with it that you might while using an f/1.8 lens wide open. Or the longitudinal chromatic aberration issues (purple/green fringe, or "bokeh C/A"). It is a slower lens. But that just means you need to add more light.

Consider doing the following three things if you want to shoot indoors in low light:

  1. Increase your ISO setting. You bought a big-sensored camera, in part, because it's better at high ISOs. Don't be afraid to use the settings above 800. I shoot a 2x crop camera and will use iso 3200 and 6400 if I need to. Shooting RAW, exposing with care (underexposing and then pushing the exposure brighter in post increases noise), and post-processing for noise reduction can all help you here, too.

  2. Consider using a tripod. If you can get your subjects to sit still, a tripod will let you use a longer shutter speed without the danger of camera shake blur causing an issue with your image. Together with the timer, it also means you can be in the image. Keep in mind, that unlike IS, a tripod can be used with every camera/lens you buy.

  3. Consider using a speedlight (hotshoe flash). Yes, the pop-up flash sucks. This is because its placement and direction are fixed, and all you can get from it is on-axis light. But a hotshoe flash is different. The head on the flash can be pointed at another surface, and the light "bounced" from the ceiling or wall to look softer and more diffused. If you flag off any direct light coming from the flash, the image can actually look naturally lit. And, bonus, you're not blasting anyone in the face with super-bright light directly from the flash head. And again, like a tripod, you can use a flash with any lens you buy. And you can also begin to get into off-camera lighting, studio-style.

This is one of those situations where what you don't know is what's getting in your way. Consider sometimes when you run into an issue that you may not need a lens or a camera. That what you may need is lighting gear, support gear, a class/seminar, software, computer hardware, books/videos, or simply a lot more time spent shooting.


It sounds to me like you're looking for a wide angle lens. The kit lens that came with your camera is probably a 18-55 mm lens. If you're able to fit a tree in your house then you won't need to go any wider than that.

As for the distortions, every lens will cause distortion to some degree when the picture is translated from the curved glass to a flat screen or print. Distortion does get more severe with extreme wide angle lenses, but you shouldn't have anything too noticeable on the kit lens. You can also use programs like Adobe Camera Raw to correct the distortion for each lens that you own.

  • Your right, the 18-55 mm does fit more into the frame. But the lighting needs to be perfect inside - since I'm not a fan of the flash. Thank you for the information regarding the wide angle lens. It makes a lot of sense.
    – Jeoha
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:39
  • 3
    Yes, the 18-55 won't be able to handle low light situations nearly as well as the 50 f/1.8 that you have and most people would agree with your dislike of built-in flash. There are a few different routes that you could go to help with indoor, dim light photos. The most expensive would be to upgrade your lens; you would probably want something like a 24-70 mm, f/2.8. You could also look into an external flash, or just a sturdy tripod and some longer exposure times. The tripod solution won't help as much for family photos, but for any still objects it will be the cheapest solution.
    – Jon
    Dec 30, 2015 at 18:38
  • @Jon I mostly agree, but I don't think a tripod is necessarily cheapest — a decent tripod will run about the same as a low-cost flash with manual radio control.
    – mattdm
    Jan 5, 2016 at 0:26

So, you prefer not to use your 18-55 inside. Flash looks crummy? Lighting is terrible? Need a nice, fast, sharp prime that won't need flash, but don't know how wide you need to go?

Start using your "crappy" kit lens inside. Take shots that you don't like (using that awful flash to take pictures that have bad lighting. Ignore that part. Is everything in frame? Play with it at different focal lengths. Stay focused(no photography pun intended) on field of view and focal length. Then, determine which one is most useful for your space. Try setting at, say, 30mm, and leave it. Pretend its a prime. Do a whole shoot. Did it work? Did you like it? If not(still not wide enough?), make adjustments. Do it again with 20mm and so forth. Then buy your lovely sharp and fast prime at the focal length that works best for you.


I'm assuming like most people who purchase a 50mm prime, you love the depth of field control and low light abilities it provides. Sure, you have the 18-55mm kit lens, but it doesn't offer as great of bokeh and doesn't stop action in low light well at all. The likely candidate would be something like a 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, or 40mm lens. Canon offers all four, and different models of all of them. Your budget is likely the factor that will narrow it down to one choice. Since you already have a 50mm lens, 40mm isn't going to gain you that much of a wider angle indoors.

I would probably first look at the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS lens. It's great quality and not too terribly expensive. But like I said, there are lots of options for all budgets, but nothing quite as budget friendly as the 50mm f/1.8!

Check out the tag for more information on that topic.

  • Thank you! I appreciate the info. This is a huge help in pointing me in the right direction.
    – Jeoha
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:31

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