Zoom lenses are great because they allow us to have a wide range of focal lengths contained within one lens. However it is still important to put distance between you and the subject in order to avoid extreme distortions of the item you are photographing. Up close, a subject photographed with a wide focal length will look bowed and warped.

In the image on the left I set the focal length to 24mm on my Fujifilm X-T1 and 18–55mm lens, giving the beer glass some noticeable distortion, primarily at the top where it flares out and then narrows towards the bottom. However by moving yourself back a few feet and extending the lens to a longer focal length (in this case, to 55mm), the subject becomes much more true to its shape. The image on the right is a much more pleasing photograph and represents the glass much better than the original, and even the glass in the background is more upright and less distorted.

Summary:

  • Photographing a scene close-up with a wide-angle focal length will add distortion to your subject.
  • By moving yourself back (away from the subject) and using a longer focal length, you will reduce the distortion and end up with a more pleasing and natural representation of your subject.