Nikonos Hot Shots Wide Angle 15mm-The Wonder Lens

By Geri Murphy

The Nikonos 15mm ultra wide angle lens produces spectacular results: dramatic perspective, super sharp detail and breathtaking depth of field. The trick is learning how to use this remarkable lens to your best advantage.

Equipment Needed: The 15mm is designed to fit any Nikonos model but works best with the more advanced Nikonos V. The lens is technically known as the UW-Nikkor 15mm f/2.8N ultra wide angle. You will also need the matching 15mm Optical Underwater Viewfinder DF-11. It mounts on the shoe just above the camera's built-in viewfinder.

Flash for Color: You will get the best results using a wide angle strobe with the 15mm lens. If you can afford it, the rechargeable Nikonos SB 104 is ideal.

If you are on a budget, the Nikonos SB 105 will provide satisfactory lighting as long as you use the wide angle adapter/diffuser.

Exposure Set-up: Depth of field is absolutely critical. The lack of it can cause your foreground or background subject to be soft (slightly blurred). Whenever possible, select the smallest possible aperture setting-at least f/8. Use a fine grain film with a speed of ISO 100.

Shoot Shallow: You can improve your aperture setting by selecting a shallow water site with bright ambient light. Try to find an area with a white sand bottom that reflects sunlight. The flash will help fill in the shadow areas.

Get Closer: The secret to wide angle photography is getting very close to your subject-the closer the better. If you're too far away, your subject will be a tiny image in a big picture. Try to move your camera to within 12 to 18 inches of the subject. The closer the lens, the more dramatic the image perspective becomes. Your goal is to make the foreground subject appear immense-virtually dwarfing anything in the background.

Setting the Focus: The focus setting is determined more by the depth of field range than the lens to subject distance. Wide angle composition only works when both the foreground and background subjects are sharply focused. Both must fit within the depth of field range.

Calculate your depth of field by first setting the aperture to match the ambient light (or flash or both). Next, set your estimated lens to subject distance. Then calculate the depth of field. Finally, adjust the focus distance so both the foreground and background subjects are within the depth of field range.

Framing the Scene: The 15mm optical viewfinder has one drawback you must always consider. Optical viewfinders are mounted several inches above the true axis of the lens. Although these viewfinders are tilted down, they are normally set to intersect the axis line six feet from the camera. When shooting close, you must correct for parallax-the difference between the point at which the lens is aimed and the point at which the viewfinder is aimed. In most close-up situations, this means you will be using the lower (closest to camera body) one-half or one-third of the viewfinder to frame your pictures.

Parting Shot: When shooting close, adjust your strobe to low power to avoid overexposure. The best wide angle photos are produced with a subtle flash fill-just enough flash to lighten harsh shadows.


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