Trevi Fountain - how wide do I need?

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Armanius, May 4, 2011.

  1. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Real Name:
    In the future, I'd like to travel to Italy. One of the places I want to visit is the Trevi Fountain. I've been told that it's located in a pretty cramped area, and that I'd need a super-wide lens to capture the entire fountain in one image.

    Anyone with experience taking photos of the Trevi Fountain? And if yes, how wide of a lens would I need for the job? Would 28mm (in equivalent focal length) be wide enough? Or do I need super wide stuff?

  2. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2011
    Real Name:
    Been there! done that!

    seriously though, your main problem won't be the fountain, but the hoards of tourists that ARE going to get in your way.
    If you can't get wide enough with what you have, shoot panarama with multi shots and stitch later.
    Like a lot of the sights in Rome, they are somewhat spoiled by the sheer number of tourists + there always seems to be some numpty who wants to get in on the act (climb onto fountain etc).
    DON'T let photography get in the way of seeing Rome (I know that might seem strange on a photography forum....) but you could miss a lot of what Rome (and the rest of Italy) has to offer and delight the senses, if you concentrate too much on the photography aspects.
    Don't forget - you can always go back, this time knowing what you want to see and the best times to see them.
    You CAN'T 'see' Rome in a day so don't try.......
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  3. Alf

    Alf Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 23, 2010
    Northeastern Tuscany
    As Howi said, that place is always full of people, as it's right in the middle of the most touristed area, and always visited by anyone remotely near. Maybe you'll find the square empty late at night after a few hours of heavy rain in a cold month, but I would suggest visiting Rome when the weather is fine.

    But this means that it's great for people watching!
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  4. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the pointers!

    But I still would like to know how wide I would need if I was to capture the entire fountain in one frame.

    Howi, how did you do it? If you stiched, then how many frames did you need and what focal length were you using?
  5. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    A lot of it is going to depend on how you want to shoot the fountain. How close do you want to be, how much beyond the the fountain do you want in frame, etc.

    I don't have access to my Rome photos at the moment (at work, haven't uploaded them), but doing a quick search on Flickr you can see several potential examples.

    This shot is at 29mm EFL and looks to be taken on the steps down to the fountain. It is barely capturing all of the fountain, and it is getting a lot of the people who are in front of the shooter.

    Trevi Fountain | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Here is someone shooting at about 27mm EFL from much farther back on the piazza.

    The Trevi Fountain | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Here is someone shooting at 24mm from what looks to be much closer up. Notice that they are not getting the edges of the fountain.

    Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I'm personally not a fan of stitching since it can introduce some effects that I'm not fond of. Here is a shot taken at I believe ~53mm EFL that's been stitched together. Could pass for a fisheye shot.

    Trevi Fountain | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Here's a shot at 18mm EFL that gets the whole fountain without clipping. Since the near edge of the fountain isn't in frame, I can't really gauge how far the shooter is from the nearest point you can get, but with no people in front of him I presume he's/she's close.

    Trevi Fountain | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Based on the above evidence, if you were to shoot the fountain from the nearest point you could come up to the fountain, you're going to need wider than 28mm EFL. Likely more in the 18-24mm range, but I'm guessing. Really depends on how you want to frame things. Is a wider angle worth the cost for you? Something only you can answer. There are a few options at least: Panasonic 7-14mm f/4, Oly 9-18mm, and maybe even the rumoured 12mm pancakes will be out by the time you head to Rome.

    I'm headed back to Italy later this summer (Milan, Venice, then down the Adriatic coast; no Rome this trip) and picked up a 7-14mm to ensure my bases were covered in these old, tightly confined cities. Still learning how to use it, and sometimes I've felt it's too wide, but we'll see... 9-18mm might have been "enough".
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  6. phillygoat

    phillygoat Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 17, 2011
    If you are worried about tourists in the photo, you can remove many of them by shooting a very long exposure. Stop down and use a high optical density ND filter to get a exposure that last severeal minutes. Tourists that pop in and out won't even show up, although you may still capture those that are sitting still or milling about in a small area.
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  7. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Real Name:
    Thanks so much for the links and the tips!! I have no idea when I'll even be there. But it's one of those places I've always wanted to visit.

    I just go the 9-18 today. And the 14/2.5 too! I will likely only keep one of them, so I was pondering what my needs are going to be in the near future -- superwide vs. wide/faster.

    Given that the one photo closer to the fountain was captured with a 24mm, I would guess that 18mm should do the job. 28 will probably not be wide enough. My understanding is that there isn't much room there to step back.

    Thanks again!

    ps: Just remembered that you did post a 18mm photo too, which appears to have encompassed the entire fountain, including the edges. Thank you very much!
  8. Andrew Riddell

    Andrew Riddell Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 21, 2010
    Fontana di Trevi

    It's quite a cramped site, so I think you'd need the 7-14mm to shoot it frontally without distortion. You could get away with something less wide if shooting across the Via del Stamperia, but then you'd be getting the fountain at an angle.

    Have a look on Google Maps, which will give you a good idea of the area.

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  9. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I have not been to Rome, but I have been to a number of other European spots that have heavy tourist traffic. So while I can't help you with regards to your lens choice, I would say this: go at first light. The light itself is much better, and the crowds much smaller.

    Any other time and it will be crowded - which can be great for certain types of shots, but not necessarily for the fountain itself.

    Also, in the early morning, as a city awakens, you can get all sorts of interesting shots of the locals and architectural / historical details.

    Hope this helps.
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  10. luguidomanski

    luguidomanski Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2010
    Curitiba, Brazil
    Real Name:
    Agree with you. I was in Trevi Fountain in 2009 and it was really crowded. My pics were with a point and shoot, @ 38mm equiv, and from really close to avoid the crowds, so so I don't rit was impossible to take a nice picture of the entire fountain. In the next year I was at Prague, and it is possible to view the difference of early hours and peak hours in a touristy place:

    Here is The Charles Bridge in middle afernoon:


    And here it is early in the morning (about 7 am):


    SO, if you want to see the sights without the crowds, wake up early, and let your breakfast for later :smile:
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  11. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    remember those are equivalent focal lengths, so the 18 really means 9mm focal length for your m43 cam

    Also x3 on getting up early. Prague, Budapest, Vienna - all practically ghost towns before 9 am in my experience (in the tourist areas, and especially in the off season)
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  12. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2011
    FWIW, I took this photo near the edge of the sidewalk in front of the fountain at 9mm focal length using the 9-18 mZD. The camera was raised a bit to go over the heads of the other tourists there.

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  13. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hey Armanius! I've just been there about 5 weeks ago. Awesome place, and yes it is a cramped spot to get a good image. I had my 20mm and i can say that that focal length doesn't work at all. 7-14 or 9-18 probably would do the trick. The Trevi fountain is on one side and on the other side you have the 2000 year old Pantheon. I had the same dilemma trying to get a good one of that as well with the 20mm.

    Make sure you chuck in a euro in the fountain and make a wish:smile:

    I did my best with what i had. The 'Pantheon'.

    <a href="" title="P1130932-2 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> 6276039510_24f5b7e946_b. "1024" height="684" alt="P1130932-2"></a>

    Check out the Spanish steps as well, they're not very far from the Trevi Fountain. I was completely blown away from the amount of people in Rome, simply crazy.

    So in the heart of Rome you have the Spanish Steps that lead up to the French built church. ( Our guide knew his history really well )

    <a href="" title="Spanish Steps, Rome by iconindustries, on Flickr"> 6321608325_b5cfa4b2e2_b. "1024" height="684" alt="Spanish Steps, Rome"></a>
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  14. Why not shoot a simple panorama?
  15. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    I would reiterate what others have said about numbers of tourists and that it is best to go late night or VERY early in the morning. I live in Rome, and am in that area often enough that I would say it is truly one of the most tourist-crowded spots around. Also, it is notorious for being one of the most dangerous spots for pickpockets and purse-snatchers (and, I imagine camera-snatchers).

    That said, back to the original question about appropriate focal length of lens. Even though I do not think I have any pics of the WHOLE of Trevi (I tend to take shots of people around there, and some detail shots of the fountain), my feeling is that the wide (14mm) end of a kit zoom would be fine if you placed yourself right. Of course, you can do your own Flickr search/exif-trolling and see what people have used. There are bound to be thousands of photos online, as it is one of the world's most photographed spots. BE AWARE, as in some of those examples, that you are seeing focal lengths for cameras with different sensor sizes/ crop factors; ie, 24mm on a Canon 5d (full frame), will be like 12 mm on a mu4/3 or 16mm on an APS-C camera (like a digital rebel/xxxD or xxD).

    The wider angle lenses are perhaps most useful for touristy shots in European cities, but overall, if I am touring a new city I tend towards a kit zoom. It is really a good range and also gives you some near telephoto lengths for taking detail shots and portraits. Otherwise, for better quality pics, I sometimes just use the 17mm and I imagine the 14mm would be similarly useful.

    Also, a bit of a suggestion-- if you are in Rome or in other European cities, don't be afraid to walk off the beaten path a bit, where you can find plenty of things to take pics of and some (relative) peace and quiet.
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