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Tuesday, 23 September 2008


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You can pry my Zuiko 40mm/f2 from my cold, dead hands. I've sold off a lot of my film bodies and lenses but that one (and an OM-1n) is a definite keeper. Very psyched that this focal length is coming to the digital age.

Would you believe I've sold *three* of those? Who knew a little one-off normal you could buy on closeout for $69 in 1990 would one day be a prized $700 rarity? Augh!

Mike J.

I used mainly a 50 mm f/1.7 with my Minolta XG-1. There was nothing wrong with it either, but I do admit that 40 mm is better in many situations.

Currently I'm mainly using 24 mm, thanks to Panasonic LX3.

Easy: 40mm is everything you need to make great photos.

35-40mm or it's digital equivalent is an excellent length. Often wide enough but with lower levels of distortion than wider lenses. Then again there are times I wish I mounted a 50 or maybe a 24. Sigh. Still if I could have just one lens make it 35-40mm please.

40mm also happens to be my favourite focal length. I use the Pentax 40mm pancakes (M and DA versions) on my MX and *ist (film!) cameras. I also have Voigtländer 40mm lenses for both my Bessaflex TM and my Bessa R2A.

As for digital, my favourite lens on my K10D is a prime 28mm (42 mm-e). Only last Sunday, on my sister's 40th birthday party, I shot some 360 pictures and most of them were with the 28mm (even though I brought my 16-45mm zoom).

On the other hand, the 24mm-e of my Ricoh GX100 is great fun in the street...

Nothing wrong with 40mm at all. That focal length (give or take a few mm) was certainly a popular design choice for many classic fixed-lens rangefinders like the Canon QL17, the ubiquitous Konica C35 variants, etc.

Mike!You sold THREE Zuiko 40mm/2 for some 70$ each?
Well, in that case, IF you ever had one more and wondered who to sell it to (for some 70$), just let me know!


No, I said they were on closeout in 1990--new ones, from Olden Camera, if memory serves--anybody with an old issue of Modern Photography from that era could check. I bought mine for between $55 and $300 and sold them for between $450 and $500. Still regret that, too.

Mike J.

I've recently been going through the photo archives to update my website, and out of curiosity I looked at the exif data for my early pictures. That was when I used only the D40 and kit lens, and didn't know what a prime was; I didn't think about perspective or understand its effect on pictures yet. In revisiting these old images I've been paying attention to the focal lengths I most often used with that zoom. And what do you know? The most common focal length was 28mm, or about 42mm-e.

40mm... or 80-90mm in 6x7 :-)

I recently changed system from one obsolete 35mm film SLR to another and have to decide whether to take a 35mm or a 45mm with me when I walk out the door. It would be easier if a 40mm existed for the "new" body but so far I'm happy with 45mm for rural and 35mm for urban.
The previous system had a very sharp 40mm with no character that wasted its small size by needing a hood to control flare so I'm not regretting the change.
It's a funny thing, I can manage all day on just a 28mm, a 35mm, a 45mm or even a 55/58mm but wouldn't feel inclined take the camera out of the bag if it only had a 50mm.

Cheers, Robin

what's the big deal about 40mm you ask? That "Why 40mm?" article on L-L has cost me a lot of money. First bought a Canonet QL17 for the 40mm, then a Bessa with a 40mm caught the rangefinder bug so I followed it up with a Leica M2, etc, etc, etc.

IIRC, 42mm (close enough to 40mm) has a FOV that pretty much matches human vision without peripheral vision. So, it isolates the subject as we see it, without the "noise" (clutter) of objects in the periphery.

I use Olympus fixed RFs a lot, many of which have a 40mm or 42mm lens. The Olympus 35SP is just about the perfect fixed lens RF, IMO, and the lens is wonderful. I'm not saying it's the best 40-ish every made, but it's very good.

If I could afford a Zuiko 40/2 on one of my OMs, I'd buy it in a flash. And the Rokkor on a CLE would be wonderful. My next foray is with a newly acquired Minolt 7Sii with the Rokkor 40/1.7. Some say it's very close to the M mount Rokkor 40/2. I find that hard to believe, but we'll see.

The really, really good news is Sigma continues this line!! And 41mm/f2.8 is heaven. Hope they have a viewfinder.

40 mm is wide enough to combine with a 28 mm, so you'd have a good and compact two lens kit for street and documentary photography. I'm currently using 35+50 mm (compact versions); the 35 mm stays on, 50 mm used mainly for portraits or other subjects requiring narrower field of view. On a film camera of course.

Not too long ago I got into rangefinder cameras by buying a FED 2 with a 50mm lens. Before that I'd only really shot wide angle with cheap digital and pinhole cameras. I really loved the 50mm focal length (quite a new experience) but felt it was just a tad too narrow, so often found myself wanting just a bit more width and stepping back. So when I migrated to a Bessa I decided to get the R3M with the 40mm frame lines, and got a 40mm Nokton SC to go with it. I have to say, that despite having other focal lengths I rarely use them, it just seems to be the right focal length for me most of the time, and I'm delighted with the results - like a 50mm but juts a bit wider.

I was really happy with the 40mm focal length on my Canonet QL17 G-III. It's a good across-the-table focal length if you like shooting at dinner.

Do you have a favorite 28 mm K-mount lens (to give 42 mm-e on APS-C)?

Maybe it's for people that want to take pictures with the same FOV as their old compact. :-p

40mm is probably my favorite focal length for general candid photography of people. Specifically for indoor use, I'd probably go for 28mm. In other words, I like what Sigma is doing! Hopefully we'll see a 14mm-ish prime for Micro Four Thirds as well.

Regarding the OM 40, that is one lens I will never sell! It's actually my only lens for the OM-2N, but lately I've been thinking that an OM 85/2 might make a good companion.

Pentax 43mm LTD is my best lens. Even on a crop sensor K10D.

I would have said that doubting between the Cosina Ultron 40 and the Pentax 43, the latter is the best.

I had to say that remembering that my copy of the 43 [aka "the perfect lens"] disassemblied itself for no reason on my hand while manual focusing.

Out of warranty [as a foreing present as it was].


I learned to love the 40mm-e while using my Mamiya automat VI foldable which has a Zuiko 75mm f/3.5. I realized how the constraint of this simple focal length and its lack of excessiveness (excuse my English) made me work more to create more interesting images than I couldn't get with my digital camera and lens at that time (a Nikon D70 with 18-200mm). Since last winter I sold both digital camera and lens and got myself a used Nikon D200 (easier to use with manual focus lenses) and a 20mm f3.5m, a 28mm f2 and a Micro 105mm f4, and, needless to say, the 28mm is what sits 95% of the time on my camera.
I love my 28mm f2 also because wide open it still allows for some separation of subject and background: I hope the 20mm f1.7 for 4/3 will allow the same kind of separation (anybody has any experience with an optic so short and so fast? or maybe Ctein can do the math behind it and tell us something about the expected depth of field :) ).

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