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Saturday, 01 December 2007


I cast my vote based on using a 35mm full-frame digital, or a film, camera. But my answer would be different for a smaller-frame camera.

But I suppose it's all just for fun so no need to be anal, eh?

I'm going with 35mm for this, but I should probably preface that I'm shooting an APS-C camera. If I was using a 35mm or full frame sensor, then I'd pick the 50mm.

I'm not sure the question is that useful w/o knowing a bit more about what the lens is attached.

Anyways, that's my data point. :)

As sensor size (if digital) makes a difference in lens FOV, I could only assume the poll was for 35mm equivalent lenses.

For that I would always go with the 50mm.

Are we talking 35mm equivalent?

It depends... Do I get to use it on the full-frame sensor of the 5D?

"Are we talking 35mm equivalent?"

Yes. I edited the question to make that clear.

Mike J.

Hey .... what's this? Three meager choices, and for the wide angle devotees only? Hmmm. Not fair.

Under protest I selected the 50 but I kept looking for that 105 button. I can't help it if perhaps I'm weird but I just don't get along with wide angle lenses (I've tried .... you don't want to see the labors) but the 105 somehow is "my" focal length.

Going from film to digital and to large Nikons such as the D2h has burned me out in some way. Lately I have gone back to film and also towards a light kit of primes. I did that not only to make it so that I actually lug it around but also for the challenge and the re-learning of a few good lenses in a deeper way that I believe is possible with zooms.

So, so far I have three lenses out of my collection of about twelve that I am trying to live with and only with and it is going well. I have two bodies, an FM2 and a FE2 in my little bag and the Nikon 20 f 2.8, the micro 55 f 2.8 and the micro 105 f 2.8. All seems to be going well and I would swear that this minimalist gear is actually improving my creativity. I know for sure it somehow boosts my enthusiasm. But while I could live without the 20 I love the 105 most.

So .... c'mon ... put some meaning to this poll (I mean its not just for fun, right?) and add two lenses on the other side. An 85 and 105 ... and lets see if there are others like me. :-)

Mike, very impressive foray into high tech blogging... ;)

With the lens choices, something has to give. I chose 35mm-e, as it allows most of my preferred type of shooting. I'd miss the head-and-shoulders portraits, though.

If this is going where I think it is... I would have preferred a Sigma DP1 with a 35mm-e lens. I might even buy one if they make it.

50mm is very versatile. Only one lens? Well, a 50mm is my answer.

A surprisingly tough call.

On the one hand, the nikon 50mm f1/.8 on my F80 has never let me down, and the jupiter 8 I use on my Zorkis is absurdly good. Safely nestling in my other hand is my mju II (Stylus Epic).

I went with 50mm because I've had such a good hit rate, but it's a close-run thing. And yes, it would not be unreasonable to examine the kit choices above and conclude I am something of a miser.

Betwixt the three listed it has to be a 50 (even though I mostly use a 35 as a "walk around lens"). The 50 can be wide or be used for portraits or close-ups or just about anything really.

I use a 35-mm, times 1.3 = 46 so I suppose that's a 50. Then I zoom with my feet. Actually I used to zoom with my feet now it's more like incremental steps.

Not gonna make it on this poll with my 20mm. "normal." I tend to get claustrophobic with those longer focal lengths.

Finding this hard. I'd like to see wide more than I do. For my early years in photography when I was a teenager the only lens I had was a "normal" 55mm. I picked 28mm here 'cause I felt somehow I ought to, but then it turned out to be the least popular. My walking around lens these days is a 24-105 (36-157e) and I love it. But if I had only one lens I'd miss too much if it wasn't wide (' course I'd also miss a lot of long shots, especially in the streets; and, on the 5th hand....

When I'm actually shooting this way I'm typically using a 40ish lens. Therefore I went with 35/40. However that's not set in stone, I've been experimenting a lot more with the 50mm equiv. FOV. If you ask me again next year I might say something different.

For film I always seemed to settle on a lens with a focal length about equal to the short dimension of the film
nikon f2 - almost always a 24mm
Bronica S2a and then Hasselblad 50mm mostly
6x9cm graflex XL 47mm super angulon
4x5 inch 110mm

For portraits, up to about 3 or 4 time that focal length, and if the subject is flat I'm all over the place

I find however that in digital I tend to shoot tighter most of the time, more like a 28mm , and in portraits I'm anywhere from 28mm to 70mm.

I don't know if is the new tools and materials or just me getting older or getting more hung up on detail in the subject matter.

35mm in 35mm equivalent ... most versatile, as
wise man said: ''Step forward, you have normal
lens, step backward, you have wide lens ...
f:2, with fine bokeh, of course!

Several Months ago, I purchased a used Olympus E-1 body. Didn't know really why, just because I've always wanted one for some time. Mostly I've been using my Canon kit, 1D MKII, a backup 1D, and a 5D. All with an assortment of glass.....a 14mm, 17-35, 50, 70-200, a 300....all 2.8's except the 50 being a 1.4. and also still shoot large format 4x5, mostly in the studio for jewelry and such.
I do professional work, both fine art and commercial.

Well back to the Olympus, for which I didn't have a single lens and really purchased on a whim on E-bay for 347.00 used. I love the feel of this camera.
So what to do for a lens so started to look around and decided to get the OLYMPUS 14-54mm 2.8 to which I've heard a lot of praise for it's optics.
I was looking for a simple, small, street photography rig, uncomplicated, low profile, not a lot of money, etc.
In the meantime I ordered a Contax c/y adapter (24.00) for the Oly because I had some older Contax lenses for my RTSII film cameras still kicking around. I had 24, 28,50, 85, 135, 200 and a 300, all primes.

So where's this comment going, well, when I received the adapter I put a few Contax lenses, took some shots in the house and was blown away by the beautiful colors, sharpness, and just this beautiful film like look (but much better)to the files. I just couldn't believe I was getting this from a 350.00 4 year old, 5mp camera with a 24.00 dollar adapter and 20 year old lenses.

Believe it or not my favorite street photography combo now is the Oly E-1 with a 28mm 2.8 Contax (now a 56mm) for just having fun and being creative.
Some may look at this and wonder at all the technology I'm giving away but I tell you I'm not....yes, it's a manual focus setup with stop down metering but here I work it.
With the incredible DOF of the 4/3 sensor I just keep the focus within the f stop for infinity focus and at 5.6 or /8 I'm constantly in focus from 3 ft or so to infinity without ever having to manual focus.
I compose....then move the aperture ring to 5.6 or 8 from wide open, to which the camera meters..then I shoot.
Sometimes I don't even step down and just keep it at 5.6 or 8...yeah it's a little darker but it's a perfect P&S setup.
You don't screw around with ANYTHING on the camera and for street photography that's important so as to just concentrate on the brief moments in time that happen so quickly and then are gone.

I really don't know what the magic is in this combo, whether it's the Zeiss lens or the E-1 or perhaps it's the combination of the two but I tell you the photographs are just so different, a richness to the look that I never really saw before......

In closing I say for me, in my new found "decisive moment" rig, is a normal 55mm or so lens to which I can now just focus and concentrate on taking pictures vs. figuring thich lens (and the focal length, settings) with what camera, with a bag full of gear.....

I now seem to be making shots that sem to me to be more incisefull and meaningful in my street work (plus the look). Perhaps it's the dicipline of the one lens and to just "see" the world through a one window...

And the LOOK!

btw, the 85mm 1.4 Zeiss on the Oly is something special to behold as well.
Especially for portraits......

35-40mm is a whole bunch of different focal lengths whereas 28mm and 50mm are two single ones. A poll with the answers: 24-29mm, 35-40mm, 50-55mm might solicit a different result :-)

Stephen is right, of course. On the other hand, it is also true that about 71% prefer a lens shorter than 50mm. It should be noted that the share of respondents voting for "35-40mm" isn't earthshattering and may be impacted by the fact that it encompasses both 35mm and 40mm.

Overall, I think this poll only shows one thing: that it is impossible for a fixed focal length camera to be all things to all people, no matter what lens it has. I sure am glad that I'm not the person responsible for making the decision on this issue. Incidentally, over 70% of the respondents would likely agree with me on that point, at least!


I only voted for 50mm because it was the closest to what I'd really like - 90mm.

Great idea Mike!
While obviously relating to the Sigma camera (and other hypothetical pocket cameras discussed here in the past) this is making us all remember and think about what we really need for field of view.
When I had my first SLR in the 70's the 50mm standard was never used, all I wanted was to get "closer" and yearned for a standard lens of about 70mm - this of course was provided by the short end of a 70-210mm zoom.
Later when cycle touring was a major part of my life I spent 15 years taking 98% of my shots with 35-135mm zoom and very rarely dug deep in the bag for a 24mm.
Oh, the shame of all those years without appreciating the quality of prime lenses!
Now 90% of my shots are at about 35/40mm and 85/100mm so if its an "SLR day" I'll take two bodies and one lens on each.
I've tried the exercise of a whole day with just a 50mm but find it limiting when you can't walk back far enough - give me just a 35/40mm and I'll be happy that I've missed very few opportunities, give me the proposed 28mm of the Sigma and I'll be very frustrated!

Cheers, Robin

40! 40! 40! 40!!!!!!!!! (the crowd goes WILD!!) =)

Should be rather simple: 50 mm. It's the most versatile, and it leaves it to the photographer to come up with good images - not any special effect. It works for landscapes - admittedly I always found the 'landscapes need wide angle' claim highly dubious -, portrait, available light, sports, table-top/small objects ...

You have to rely on your eyes, your mind and your feet.

I'm not sure that this survey will show anything useful at all. Better to look at the real world: Ricoh was quite successful with their GR1 film camera, which had a 28mm lens, got a cult following and did very well in Japan; they also produced at version with a fixed 21mm lens, the GR21.

I shot for a year with the Ricoh GR Digital, which has a 28mm-equivalent, a focal length that I barely used when I was shooting with the Leica-M. But, when in August I got the Ricoh GX100, which has a zoom lens with the facility for stepping in discrete steps ("stepped zoom") from 24 to 28-35-50-72mm. What I found surprising is that I've been shooting the GX100 largely at 28mm (80% of the time)/ My feeling is that Sigma would have no problem with the DP-1 having a fixed 28mm lens, as long as it's a really good camera.


Doesn't one of the Ricoh cameras have an optional add-on lens to convert it from 28mm to ~40mm? That would be another option, although add-on lenses obviously add bulk and may reduce the image quality.


Aside from everyone's lens choice. Being that all the filtering is done on each cell site (foveon X3) technology. This will hopefully be the sharpest point and shoot Black and white camera for landscape and other wide angle type photography.
Now if we could only get the IR filter out of the way, this will make a great P&S infrared camera. The biggest problem with
these camera is shutter lag due to focusing, but it looks like it has a manual focus mode, which might give you a more rapid shutter release. The longer the lens the longer it will take to focus, making it no better then all the other P&S cameras out there. I think sigma has made a good lens choice. The bottom line will be price and if they offer an IR model, they will have a winner.

What bugged me about the DP1 was that it's 28mm-e, which is wider than I almost ever go. I'm a short-telephoto kinda guy, what can I say?

I'll take the 28mm.

My first SLR was a Konica FC-1 with f/1.8 40mm lens. I've always felt that was the perfect length for a walkaround, and I never felt the need to buy another lens for that camera. Lately I tend to shoot a bit wider, but as a compromise to just one length, I'd still pick the 40.

Now that I think about it, I do have an Olympus Stylus Epic 35mm point and shoot with a fixed f/2.8 35mm lens. Great camera, but yes often just a touch too wide for me - still, I could deal with it quite happily.

I'd actually prefer a 45mm tessar for it's size and simplicity as an only walk-around lens, but there's no option for it. So 50mm it is then.

Personally I would like a 35mm f2 (or f1.4) on it but I'll take it with whatever lens is on and keep it under 250 grams.

The most important thing in the DP1 is the big Foveon sensor (and if there is a way to remove the IR filter from time to time) and ability to shoot RAW+JPEG (small).

They can even remove AF, just put a shutter speed dial and an aperture ring and better yet, they can introduce a new set of removable lens and introduce a 16mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm!

I chose 35-40 because 40 would be my top choice; I'd actually prefer 50 to 35. 45 would be great. Anywhere from 40-50 is fine, 35mm might be ok, but I'd have a hard time spending much money on it and any wider is a no-go.


I went for the 35-40 lens, I hope they ( Sigma ) would speed it up to an f2.0 as that combo would be like my old OM-1 with the Zuiko 35mm f2.0 that I loved so much. That made for a great street setup.

As Valdimir said:

''Step forward, you have normal
lens, step backward, you have wide lens ...
f:2, with fine bokeh, of course!


35 mm was a good FOV for me on various Olympus pocket film cameras. It would be welcome and familiar. Mechanical manual focus and aperture would be even more welcome--in many cases I can anticipate faster than a digicam can adjust. At this (actual) focal length, even zone focus would be OK. Manual focus with zone detents would be ideal.

in 500 words or less: 28

I knew I should have never gambled on this. did I sound like a foolish betting man? I'm not.

I was up 25 cents for my whole life since I was 20 years old. Some friends of mine and I were on a road trip and we rolled into an old gas station in Nevada at three in the morning. We parked in the gravel lot, fell out of the car and crashed in our bags next to the vehicle. The next morning we woke up and went into the gas station to freshen up. I put a quarter in a quarter slot and got 50 cents back.

The camera I had on that trip, and for years, was a Canon F-1 with a 28mm lens on it, no motor. That thing could knock out a cow if you hit him right.

Where are all the 28's ?? They must be out tying a binge on in front of a band because the 28's are an optimistic, hell to the water bunch of rabbles when the weekend comes. It comes from the lens. It reeks of optimism and context.

With something as compact as a DP1 then it would be no hardship to have a couple (or three ;-) slung around the neck for that authentic Capa look.

How much of this thread is wishing for a full frame Leica instead of the M8 which has a 1.33crop?

Although so many seem to fall over themselves to excuse Leica who made a faulty camera and then asked the buyers to pay for it with extra filters to sort it out.

I shoot handheld night shots and use the 1.4 35 and 24mm on my canon 1ds II and I would consider the 5D for its size and wonderful high iso performance.

Low iso and F2 is a basic requirement for me.The other reason for a 1.4 or 2.0 lens is better focusing surely this also applies for the Sigma.

What I wait for is the 5D MKII because I just don't like the focus in low light of the 5D.

I went with the 35mm, but really wouldn't mind the 28 at all. 50mm? I'd still buy it.

What is far more important to me is a bright lens. PLEASE give me a 2.8 or better. I want access to low light and short dof. Pretty please?

28mm, definitely. Honestly, I'd probably crop the results to 35mm much of the time, but I like the 28mm for two reasons.

1. For me, this kind of camera will be a carry-everywhere camera for spontaneous off-the-cuff shooting. So I like the idea of seeing a bit more in the viewfinder than I would typically intend to print. Like a rangefinder camera, it gives me some room to anticipate changes from moment to moment. So even though I tend to "see" closer to a 35mm length, I would prefer having the 28mm.

An alternative I would heartily endorse is a 35mm-equivalent lens, but with a greater-than-100% optical viewfinder that incorporates parallax-adjusted framelines. Given how unlikely that is, the 28mm is an acceptable compromise.

1. "Zoom with your feet" is a great principle until you run into real-world obstacles that your feet can't zoom through. In my experience and my kind of shooting, I run into a lot more "can't back up" problems than "can't move forward" problems. 28mm is comfortably wide enough to deal with most confined spaces, so that solves the majority of the "can't back up" situations.

If I had to choose one lens (the pain of no choice!) it would probably be a 35, perhaps a 40mm 35mm equivalent. Assuming that the 28 mm on the dp1 is a sensational lens, I would think that an image could be cropped to a 35 mm and still be able to maintain critical sharpness even with an 8x10 print. So perhaps, to my usage, it will work fine. It probably comes down to a well executed lens...lets hope Sigma takes care of business on the lens design and manufacturing variation. Having a prime lens of a f4 and lack of IS is a bit disappointing in today's era though.

I went for the 35-40mm as well. In my opinion 40mm (give or take) is the best focal length for general use: enough coverage indoors and very pleasing perspective outdoors. Based on my experience with Pentax M40/2.8 + MX and M28/3.5 and A28/2.8 + *istDS (which is ~43mm equivalent on APS-C) if I would have to use one and only one prime my choice would be 40mm as the most versatile focal length.

In contrast, I believe that 28mm is the most inconvenient focal length under 50mm: not wide enough to emphasize perspective in the way it is possible with 24mm or 20mm; not long enough for general photography 35mm, 40mm or 50mm do well. Photographs taken with 28mm often look "undefined wide" to me, if you understand what I mean.

Bottom line: if sigma decides to go ahead and release DP1 with 28mm(eq) that would be very strange decision in my opinion.

I have used the 5D with the 35/1.4 for one year now.

Thats all I have and works fine. In the past I had a OM2 with 28mm, that also worked fine.

Coming back to the sigma, I guess they can always cross out the F/4 and most readers here would not notice in real life.

I am excited about the sigma as well as the new GRII.

Where's the 80-90 option?

I cast my poll for film. I have been traveling with only a 50mm Summicron for years now.

Perhaps it is time for me to change to a 35mm Summilux, but I worry that perhaps I still hesitate to get close enough for a 35mm.

Gee, how come there is no option for 180 mm?

28, 35 and 50mm focal lengths are for me, the most important ones I ever needed to shoot anything - for years now I only have a 28, 35, and a 50mm (all f2) for my M6 - you can shoot anything with those focal lengths - 28mm for wide story telling, documentary shots with context, 50mm for closeups, the occasional portraits and isolation of interesting subject material with DOF, and the 35mm for everything else - the everyday, carry around lens when I don't need 3 all lenses in the bag.

The 28 and 35 can be used interchangeably and as backups for each other in a paid assignment; the 50 gives a different look to pictures when you need it and gives you more standoff distance.

One of the reasons why I chose a (smallish) 5D for my digital work is cos once again I can be reunited properly with those "correct" focal lengths with appropriately wide open apertures. (28 f2, 35 f2 / 1.4, 50 f2 / 1.4 / 1.2)

If I have the money, I would dedicate a body to each of those focal lengths :)

I'm pretty happy with 28mm. But I'm a wide kinda guy. I'd be ecstatic with a 20mm on a DP1.

My only real beef with the DP1 is the f4 max aperture. Especially since it lacks any form of IS. f2.0 at least would be my desire, or f2.8 with IS.

if sigma brings anything to market, at any focal length (28/35/50mm) they will still be the only ones willing to build a camera like this. Maybe Ricoh will get the idea and jamb a full size chip in the GR! That would be sweet!

This survey has gotten me thinking. What if someone were to put up a site where photographers could build their own virtual digicam. It could have a wide range of options for minimum sensor and pixel size, resolution, lens focal length and speed, RAW buffer depth and frame rate, etc...

Perhaps if it generated enough interest the camera makers would take notice.

I vote for the "SMC Pentax FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited" - equivalent :-)

Seriously, though, I've recently discovered the wonderful view angle of the 43mm on 24x36 film. I found it astounding. I'd say this focal length would be the most interesting: a normal lens with room to breathe.

But, playing safe, 35mm would be the most practical (I'd even say the most common sense). But I guess it comes down to a matter of taste (as Mike pointed out, the love affair of the Japanese with the 28mm).

If I were Sigma, I'd make it a ~39mm-e (between the 35mm-e and the 43mm-e). I'd say that would be the safest. And such increase in focal length would allow for a faster lens, which I think is a feature of the foremost importance.


Just to be clear: when I voted for the 50, it was irrespective of "crop factor." I like the way 50's render the world, but it is more about the relationship between foreground and background and the subject than about field of view. Interesting to read others' comments on this subject.

In my experience 3 out of 4 who comment positively on my work are surprised that I often use wide angle. Probably 72% of serious camera owners really have not invested in a quality wide lens. I for one wish it were 21mm.

28mm is perfect for my street shooting, anything longer tends to feel claustrophobic.

If the sensor is as good as it is supposed to be, there is some leeway towards longer focal lengths by cropping the image. However you cannnot crop wider. So the wider end is definitely more useful. 28mm for me (but optimally I'd choose 24mm).

-- Robert

It's funny, in a compact like the DP-1 I'd like a 35mm, however, for primes on an SLR I'd take a 28 f2 + 50 f1.8 + 135 f2 set. I guess the 35 behave a bit like a standard and a bit like a wide.

I've answered with my choice, but at the risk of sounding unhelpful, if I HAD to choose one focal length, I'd spend a lot of time very frustrated.

Back in my days as a photojournalist (mid-70's - mid-80's) we had a saying: "Give me a 24 and a 300 and I can shoot anything." If I could only have one of them, I'd take the 24mm lens.

i promised 500 words or less and i still get 499..just a note to David:

"Where are all the 28's ?? They must be out tying a binge on in front of a band because the 28's are an optimistic, hell to the water bunch of rabbles when the weekend comes. It comes from the lens. It reeks of optimism and context."

this was very funny, but also, there was a lot of truth in your statement, especially about the optimism and context part. Though not a 28, I shoot sooooo much with my 21 that i often feel that this wide, wide view is the way i see everything, it has sort of become my philosophy on life too; deep, wide and open..so what you wrote was particularly poignant, sweetly touching, and yes, flat-out funny. Thank you.

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