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In short, when comparing 14mm vs 16mm lenses, there are many more 14mm prime lenses available, whereas 16mm is usually only found in zooms, meaning that 14mm lenses usually offer wider apertures along with a surprisingly much larger field of view.
When shooting landscapes, using wide-angle lenses is imperative. Most of the time, you will have one or two wide-angle primes in your kit bag.
However, ultrawide angle lenses are a much more specialized piece of kit that can really elevate your landscape shots to the next level.
We’re going to take a look at two of the most popular ultrawide focal lengths for Fujifilm and other camera systems: 14mm vs 16mm, to see which is best.
The difference between these two focal lengths isn’t that big at first glance, but in reality, a 14mm lens is 12.5% wider, which is a decent difference.
What is a 14mm Lens Good For?
14mm lenses aren’t that hard to find since many manufacturers make them. This focal length is the more popular choice among photographers, even though most lenses are manual focus. For landscape work, autofocus isn’t always that useful.
14mm Lens Choices
So, right out of the bat, 14mm focal length excels in the abundance of choice, and you can find one for pretty much every budget.
If you are looking for a wide aperture, Sigma and Sony make f/1.8 lenses at this focal length. If you are looking for a cheap option, Samyang/Rokinon offers an f/2.8 variant for $270.
14mm for Landscape Photography
Having a lens this wide means that you can capture a lot in the frame, particularly with the foreground. That means you can use a wide angle to exaggerate some of the aspects of the scene and create an image that can put the viewer right there with you.
Elements that are closer to the camera will appear much larger than elements further back, and with that, you are able to force some interesting perspectives.
Bear in mind that lenses this wide usually have some or a lot of geometrical distortion. Most of the time, you can correct that in post-production. However, you will have to be careful when shooting as well since some of the perspective shifts and warps can’t be corrected.
14mm for Astrophotography
When shooting stars, there are several factors that are important in order to capture a great shot of the night sky. First, you’ll need to capture as much light as possible without having the stars smudged. Since the Earth rotates, it doesn’t take long before the stars actually move, and you end up with a smudgy mess.
So there are guidelines like “the 500 rule”, where you divide 500 by the focal length, and you get the maximum exposure time in seconds.
So, with a 14mm lens, you can shoot up to 35 seconds before you get star trails. It is wise to shorten that a bit just to be safe since the 500 rule doesn’t account for pixel size and density, for example.
Next, you have maximum aperture and coma. Many lenses, even though they are wide angles with maximum apertures, suffer from a defect called “coma”. That is when the stars instead of being spots, take different shapes, often being streaks or Dorito-shaped.
Having a wide maximum aperture means you can shoot at lower ISO, so you will get more detailed and cleaner photos.
All that said, being able to choose from different 14mm lenses because there is a wide variety to choose from, you can balance the budget versus the capabilities of the lens.
What is a 16mm Lens Good For?
Even though there aren’t many 16mm primes, there are plenty of zoom lenses that incorporate this focal length. That might be good or bad, depending on your needs.
16mm Lens Choices
The good thing is that there are a variety of zoom lenses that can be set to 16mm. The bad thing is that for 16mm, you are mostly limited to zoom lenses.
Some APS-C lenses with a wide zoom range, like the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 which will cover a full-frame sensor at 16mm. That way, you can get your hands on a decent lens for great prices.
16mm for Landscapes
As previously mentioned, landscapes and ultra wides go hand in hand, and a 16mm lens is no exception. As long as it is reasonably sharp and it doesn’t fall apart, it is a good choice for landscapes. There are plenty of zoom lenses that are really sharp at 16mm, like the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L.
16mm for Astrophotography
Since, for astrophotography, the focal length determines the shutter speed, you will be able to get shutter speeds up to 30 seconds, which means you will be able to keep the ISO low.
There are plenty of choices between zoom lenses that have an f/2.8 aperture, which will in turn, help with keeping the ISO even lower. Depending on the location, you might be able to get away with ISO400, which will be super clean even on an older camera body.
14mm vs 16mm for Landscapes
For landscape work, choosing between 14mm and 16mm is quite easy.
Even though the 14mm is 12.5% wider, it won’t change the composition drastically when compared to 16mm.
In most cases you’ll be able to achieve the same thing with both lenses. The problem is that you have many 14mm lenses to choose from, especially if you are on a budget.
Canon is the only manufacturer that offers a budget 16mm prime lens.
That said, if you stick to 14mm, you can choose between a plethora of lenses, all with different quirks and features.
So, in this case, the 14mm focal length is a better choice since you have more lenses to choose from. However, you can also always crop in without a big resolution penalty to achieve the 16mm composition.
16mm vs 14mm for Astrophotography
Due to the nature of astrophotography, a 14mm lens will be brighter at the same aperture since you can go for a slightly longer shutter speed.
Furthermore, if you are willing to pay for it you can get your hands on 14mm lenses with apertures wider than f/2.8, which improve the light gathering even further.
That said, because the 16mm focal length is mainly limited to zoom lenses, it is at a disadvantage over the more popular 14mm focal length, which has a plethora of prime lenses.
With that, in this scenario, a 14mm focal length wins due to lens availability and light gathering abilities.
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