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Monday, 24 May 2010


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Wow! What segment of their audience was Zeiss Ikon aiming that TLR at? The guy reminds me of the protagonist in Brit cult film classic- Peeping Tom...


I don't think I've ever seen a more evil expression in an ad. Mr. Contaflex looks like he's about to attack his subject.

I have D5000 with the 18-55 and the 55-200. But after months of never really being satisfied with the images I was getting, on a whim I put my 60s vintage 55 Micro on the camera. Much better, so I added a 24/2.8 AF-D, and those two lenses are all I'm using at the moment.

Ooh ... that Contaflex guy is about to steal someone's soul!

In the days of old when money was tight,
my Pentax screw-mount Spotmatic came with a 50mm lens. I scrimped and saved for
a year to be able to afford a 135 mm lense.

Forty three years later not much has changed. Somehow wish I still had my manual focus screw-mount Pentax.

The Nikon F100 sports two zooms,
an old 18-105 macro and a very
infrequently used 70-300 VR.
Somebody gave me a 20 mm f2.8 wide angle
which I have never used, he was moving
to Canon as dictated by his employer.

Am shooting less and less and digital
holds no charms for me, a dedicated
slide photographer.

Guilty as charged.

I had both a 35mm and 50mm Summicron on my M6. And as odd as it sounds, 50 feels like a short, short tele on a Leica. (Which I think has more to do with viewfinder magnification than anything else...)

Anyway, the 50 was mainly used to blur backgrounds.

Many years before that, I only carried a 50 1.4 and 200 2.8 on my F-1n. The 200 was useful for obliterating backgrounds.

'You VILL buy zis kamera, liddel boy, or I vill be visiting after dark in my best rrrubber trousers'

I'm firmly in the "multiple lenses at home, only take a subset with you" camp. I have a Lowepro Sling bag that carries the whole kit easily (and painlessly), but sometimes I keep it simple and bring only one additional lens in a pouch with an extra CF card, battery, and LensPen. The four lenses I own (for my D700) are the AF-D 24mm/2.8, 35mm/2.0, 50mm/1.8, and 85mm/1.8.

Usually it is a 24/50 or 35/85 setup, but the 35/50 pairing has happened. I've never tried 24/85...

I contemplate the addition of a 20mm or 135mm, but I'll probably never do it. Right now I'd rather have a GF1 w/20mm than any additional lenses.

I took your advice and bought the book: 'On Being A Photographer.'

I don't think they talked about lens kits but they did mention different formats.

I think we all need to just get out there and take some photographs.

How about adding another camera without adding another lens. I suggest including the very cheap, light and quite compact Holga panoramic pinhole camera (no lens - obviously). Shoots 6 x 12 (or 6 x 9) which gives 6 shots on a roll of 120. Lovely vignetting.

Whereas I couldn't identify my most common two-lens combo, or the one that defines my photography, listing some of my quirkier oft-used combos is easy!

- 40/1.8 and 57/1.2 Hexanons on a Konica TC
- 28/2.8 Canon or 35/2 Hexanon on the M8 for 'scouting', 127/4.7 on a pack-film converted Polaroid 110A for 'shooting'
- 65/4 on a Bronica RF645, and 65/5.6 on a Fuji 690GSW
- 20/1.7 Panasonic and 25/1.5 Zeiss CCTV lens on a Olympus E-P1

Some of the most interesting dual-lens systems were the V-series digital P&S cameras from Kodak. I have the V705, which has two Schneider-Kreuznach lenses, a 23 mm-e prime and a 39-117 mm-e zoom, each with their own 7 MP sensor. The Kodak datasheet is here:

Kodak V705 datasheet (PDF).

Out of curiousity, I ran a script to gather all the focal lengths that I've used. I have a few lenses, almost all zooms except for a 50mm, and I've had the lenses for different periods of time, but here's my findings:
764 17.0 mm
33 18.0 mm
63 19.0 mm
67 20.0 mm
62 21.0 mm
87 22.0 mm
70 23.0 mm
362 24.0 mm
118 25.0 mm
66 26.0 mm
66 27.0 mm
135 28.0 mm
117 29.0 mm
54 30.0 mm
44 31.0 mm
130 32.0 mm
62 33.0 mm
19 34.0 mm
89 35.0 mm
38 36.0 mm
19 37.0 mm
23 38.0 mm
13 39.0 mm
646 40.0 mm
2 41.0 mm
1 42.0 mm
3 43.0 mm
39 45.0 mm
36 47.0 mm
1 48.0 mm
3 49.0 mm
765 50.0 mm
1 51.0 mm
2 52.0 mm
53 55.0 mm
30 58.0 mm
24 60.0 mm
13 65.0 mm
20 67.0 mm
630 70.0 mm
14 73.0 mm
35 75.0 mm
39 80.0 mm
8 82.0 mm
12 84.0 mm
24 85.0 mm
7 88.0 mm
30 90.0 mm
9 92.0 mm
6 93.0 mm
44 95.0 mm
4 96.0 mm
3 97.0 mm
2 98.0 mm
1 99.0 mm
108 100.0 mm
2 102.0 mm
137 105.0 mm
41 110.0 mm
49 115.0 mm
44 120.0 mm
51 130.0 mm
72 135.0 mm
59 140.0 mm
62 150.0 mm
73 160.0 mm
66 165.0 mm
77 170.0 mm
80 180.0 mm
60 190.0 mm
132 200.0 mm
119 210.0 mm
52 220.0 mm
34 225.0 mm
42 235.0 mm
30 240.0 mm
26 250.0 mm
26 260.0 mm
15 270.0 mm
18 275.0 mm
7 280.0 mm
5 285.0 mm
1196 300.0 mm
2 310.0 mm
2 320.0 mm
2 330.0 mm
25 340.0 mm
13 350.0 mm
3 360.0 mm
1 365.0 mm
1 370.0 mm
1 375.0 mm
2 380.0 mm
2 390.0 mm
453 400.0 mm

My two lens kit sometimes consists of one glass and one plastic: something on my dSLR (or the wonderfully sharp 28mm f2.8 on my DP1), and the wonderfully unsharp 60mm "f11" on my Holga.

For stuff that is more serious (as a hobby), one of my routine is a combination of this odd ball. I just check using an iphone application to get what lens would be used for my 6x7 and 8x10 gears. I go back and get two lens of 6x7 and then do the shots, develop it at home and check ok before I come back with my 8x10 to re-do it. In one case I have both 6x7 and 8x10 and do it one at a time. Whilst I have 7 lens now with my 6x7 and 1 convertible and 1 19" for my 8x10, I think I use mainly 1/2 lens as the angle of view was fixed with iphone.

I think using prime lens meant that your mind actually can be fixed with what is the final picture and hence you can do this even if you have multiple format - iphone, Pentax 6x7 and Deardroff 8x10.

Actually in many cases even if I carry 4 Pentax 6x7 lens, once I fix our mind on 1 len, seldom change it (except add extension rings etc. for macro shoots.)

Just my take but while tedious, is it odd ball?

Haha, yes, I have been guilty of the 35-50 pair, and "owning lots of lenses but only using 2 at a time."

Maybe not as extreme as your 8x10 and point and shoot example, but similar:
For travel I find a Hasselblad with 80mm paired with a Ricoh GRDII compact compliment each other well.

The compact does the tourist shots, stitched panoramas, and notebook shots of timetables and maps etc.
The Hasselblad makes fewer but more considered shots.

Like Dennis, I have a bunch of lenses at home, but I rarely leave the house with more than one or two.

LOL ... great advertisement!

My kit in the cabinet at home generally has six to eight lenses in it, from ultra-wide to medium tele, but I only rarely go out shooting with more than two. Usually the classic wide-normal and portrait tele pairing, but sometimes more extreme and less extreme pairings. The ultra-wide zoom and short portrait tele makes for a very versatile kit, focal length wise, which is also very compact.

Mr. Contaflex looks like the world's
first paparizzi.

Look in to the soulcatcher and smile, this won't hurt a bit.

Funny, Zeiss used a drawing instead of a photograph...

For underwater photography, you typically use either macro or a fisheye/very wide angle lens, so it is very common to have a 60mm macro and a fisheye. Of course, you can't switch lenses underwater, at least not on a DSLR

I fall into the "lots of lenses at home but few on the road" category. Often I do just take 2 when I'm out shooting for a half-day, and if it's on the streets (which it normally is), my kit is an APS-C camera with the Pentax Ltd duo of 31mm and 77mm f/1.8.

Which highlights one of the issues with choosing two lenses: The brand you shoot. If I could have my pic for street photography (on APS-C), I'd probably choose a 28mm f/2 and a 90mm f/2.4, both optimised in size and weight for APS-C. No brand sells this combination, so I "make do" with what I have.

I use double quotes because I recognise how ludicrous I sound saying I make do with two of the best prime lenses ever built, but the internet was invented so we could complain to a larger audience, right? :-)

"Two primes fairly close to each other—the example given was a 35mm and a 50mm. (Oh, gee, you know who you are.)"

I usually use a two prime kit. Either a 24mm and a 35mm or a 35mm and a 50mm depending on the circumstances. I don't see them as close together at all! Maybe a 20mm and a 21mm or 24 and a 28 are so close as to be interchangable but a 35 and 50 are completely different. About 90% of my images are of a subject no more than 10-15m away so I need greater variety in the wide angle focal lengths. 'Horses for Courses' and all that.

Hi -

I spent a summer in Europe with an OM-1, an 18mm Zuiko and the Vivitar Series 1 90-180 flat-field zoom. Worked great, except for low light.

Nowadays: travel setup is an E30 and the 12-60 and 70-300 lenses. The former is just magnificent, the latter just too darn useful (140-600 in 35mm equivalent!) and small to not take along.

Didn't Garry Winogrand, at some point, keep a Nikon SLR in the trunk of his car with a 300mm lens mounted? That would, presumably, have made his two-lens outfit a 28mm and a 300mm for different systems, albeit in the same format.

If I recall correctly, and the source was right, then the Nikon with the 300mm was for commercial work if he saw a chance shot which needed it.

I have an ancient 500c that came with a 50mm Distagon and a 250 Sonnar.
They give two distinct looks and you get a nice big negative.
I really don't feel the need for any other glass. I suspect the less you reach into your camera bag, the more you reach into your brain.


It would be interesting to know the ranges of your commonly used zooms. With spikes at 17, 24, 40, 50, 70, 300, 400 I wonder if you use your zooms the way many do - primarily as dual focal length lenses (i.e. mostly at either extreme with much less use in between).

When I shot film I found that a doubling of FLs starting at 24 served me very well. 24, 50, 100, 200, 400. And I truly liked those FL. I might substitute 40-ish for 50, but otherwise, I liked 100 better than 85 or 135, 200 better than 135 or 300. (Any wonder I'm a software engineer ?) Maybe I need a 100MP sensor and a 24mm lens sharp enough to let me crop repeatedly. (Maybe that 16mm on the NEX is all I need ... on second thought, if the production version looks anything like the preproduction version, I'll pass).

When I got back into photography, after some time with nothing and then some time with just a P&S after my equipment was stolen out of my house, I did get a two-lens setup: Nikon FM with 35/2 and 105/2.5. I forget how long things went on before I extended that (I may have gotten the Nikon adapter for the Tamron 85-210 fairly quickly, I don't really recall; I certainly had one eventually, because that's what was on it when I sold it the other year).

Despite its being a classic lens, I never did get to like the 105. We just never got along, though I held onto it for years. The 85mm appears to go back to 1963, but somehow I (and apparently the sales people at Finn's Camera) didn't know about it in 1980. I probably would have been a much happier camper if I'd bought the 85/1.8 then.

"You know who you are."

Yes. Yes I do.

I'm that fool who just ordered the Zeiss 35/2.8 Biogon-C for my M6, because the poor Summicron-M 50/2 was lonely.

Recent trip to Chicago I took a bag with a K20, K7, 12-24/4, FA35/2, FA43/1.9LTD, FA77/1.9, and the FA100/2.8 Macro, along with a light meter and various other junk.

Shot the whole trip using the K7 and 35/2.

Did something similar in DC last week, but I switched lenses each day.

In the good old days we knew how to dress and of course the correct amount of oil to keep the hair looking smart, all day long. We had standards, dont you know.

Another variation on the 'one lens; two lenses kit' that I often carry on my D200; Nikon 50mm f1.8 Ais, with a macro reversing ring as a lens hood.

Old kit: F3 with 50/1.4 and 20/2.8.

New Kit: SP with 50/1.4 and 21/4.

I have the Zuiko 12-60, and occasionally I take some stats on what focal lengths I actually use.

There is a free piece of PC software called Exposure Plot that will go through all your photos and plot the focal length, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO of all your photos. (It will even convert different formats to 35mm-e, so that they are all normalized. And you can filter by camera, lens, or file name.)

Using this, I see that with the 12-60, I shoot at 12mm about 25% of the time, 60mm another 25%, and sort of a bell curve at all the intermediate lengths with a peak at about 25mm. Hmmm. I wonder if that means I should buy the 50 f/2 as my first prime (and macro)?

Can someone please come up with a really compact 28ish to 50ish kit-zoom? Like a Tri-Elmar, but for normal people with normal camera budgets. Bundle that with a fast short tele for portraits and I would be set for life.

At the beginning of my "Leica experiment," roughly 1991-'93, I found myself with two lenses, 35mm and 50mm Summicrons. On vacation at the lakeshore during the summer for several weeks, I found it so hard to decide which lens to put on the camera that I ended up deciding the only solution was to get rid of one of them.

I kept the 35mm.

I always meant to get a 90mm to go along with it, but never did.

Then I switched to Olympus and its 40mm and shot mainly that for just short of 5 years, although I had numerous other Zuikos during that time.

At that point I borrowed an M4 from a friend for a whole year, and shot that with the collapsible 50mm Summicron (and no meter). Didn't own a 35mm during that year.

So with me it was 35mm *OR* 50mm, but not both. (Not that that means anything; I'm just sayin'.)


Judging from the many threads discussing officials who harass photographers, I suppose this is the way some police officers now see all of us who wield cameras in public. (If that is what I am seen to be, I wish I actually had that much hair.)


For many years I used a set of a Nikkor AIs 2.8/20 and a Nikkor AIs 2.8/105 Micro with an FM-2 body if space and weight were restricted. If space and weight were at a premium I used a Rollei 35 first and later the Ricoh GR1.

Now I use a D200 with Nikkor 18-200 and a Tokina 12-24 as standard set. The body and both lenses fit into a small photobag which itsself fits into the Ortlieb cycle handle bar bag. If weight or space is at premium (mountaineering) I use a Panasonic G1 with 14-45 Kit zoom. The G1 replaces a Fuji Finepix F10 (I still own it but don't like to use it: no viewfinder, hard contrasts).

A very welcome use of the G1 came with an adapter from mFT to Nikon-F: macro photography makes much more fun with the G1 than with the D200, because the movable display allows one to take pictures without lying on the floor, and manual focusing is so much easier on the G1.

The guy with the contaflex looks psycho to me.

Hey Dennis, my lenses are 17-40, 24-105, 70-300, 100-400. You're right that I am usually in the extremes. However, to get to those spikes, I'd need more primes than zooms :) I do usually go out with something in mind and rarely take more than two lenses. Usually it goes 17-40 for landscapes, 24-105 for general walkabouts, 70-300 and 100-400 for bird photography (with 70-300 doubling as a sports lens, since I can sneak that in a stadium lot more easily than the 100-400), and the 50 f/1.8 for low light/macro/fun.

Hi Mike, sorry for the multi post, but thought I'd post a graph of my focal length survey in case someone finds it interesting:

For years I used a linhof technika with 150 and 90 lenses handheld, but almost always used the 150, then moved to an m6 leica with 50 and 28, but almost always used the 28, in fact went years without pulling out the 50.
Recently got back into 4x5, doing urban landscape and found myself 'needing' a 65, 75, 90, 121, 150, 240 on my sinar P.
This is great but it so confused my head that I bought a crown graphic with a 127 ektar for fun and now hardly use anything else. In fact I may go round my native Australia later this year with nothing but the crown and some graphmatics(memories of your one lens one year exercise?)
The less lenses I take the more pictures I expose, and the more fun I have, Mark

Quite an interesting discussion Mike.

I'm surprised that my approach hasn't been mentioned (because I doubt that I'm that unique) ... or maybe I just missed it.

Anyway, I have a dozen or so lenses at home, and what I take varies as follows:

A) Headed out for half-a-day: Take 1 lens.
This scenario results in the greatest variation. Which one lens I take depends on where I'm going and what kind of mood I'm in. Typical candidates include: 16 Fish-eye, 17-35/3.5, 28-70/2.8, 28-135/4, 85/1.4, 100/2.

B) Headed out for half-a-week: Take 2 lenses
One of these two lenses will almost always be my 17-35/3.5. The other varies based on where I'm going.

C) Headed out for half-a-month: Take 3-4 lenses
This scenario has the least amount of variation; virtually always consisting of my standard triad: 17-35/3.5, 28-70/2.8, 80-200/2.8. On very rare occasions I will add a "specialty" prime like the fish-eye, 85/1.4, or 100/2.

Yep, bunch of lenses at home take a subset out. I'm there. When I shoot film, I take a 28 wide-angle, fast 50 for indoor stuff (because I can see to focus it), and a 70-210 zoom, the zoom mainly for the longer end.

As per the Zeiss ad, I think it's a good idea to wear a tie when photographing, the question is what tie do you wear?

Looking at the diversity of combinations, I'm not sure "oddball" means anything in this context.

I didn't have much to do with zooms for most of my career, as my dominant camera was the Pentax 6x7. When I bought my first one in 1969, I bought the 105mm lens and the 300mm lens (divide by two for 35mm equivalency).

That was all I used until the mid-80s. Then I acquired a 75 mm lens and a 135mm macro lens. That remained my kit until I got rid of those cameras this year.

With the Olympus Pen, I seem to be recapitulating the pattern. My primary lens is the 20 mm f/1.7 (in this case, multiply by a factor of two for equivalency). I also have the 17-42mm kit zoom, but since buying a 45-200 mm zoom, it hardly sees any use. About the only time it comes out is when I find the 20 mm isn't as wide as I need and a few extra millimeters would help. In those situations when I want a tighter composition than the 20 mm lens provides, I almost always end up skipping over all the intermediate focal lengths and going to 45+; a lot of the photographs end up in the 60 mm-70 mm range. So, about the same 1:3 ratio as with my Pentax.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

A 40mm and a 90mm on a Minolta CLE, together with a 28mm Ricoh GR-1s.

Inspired by Bresson, I bought a 50mm lense. I try and use it exclusively and have noticed great results in my photographs, much sharper focused and it even appears to be richer in tones.

@Dorian X

Very impressive. For your next assignment
list the number of 'good photos' (in your
opinion) you have made at each of the
94 focal lengths you have listed.

I have two kits depending upon my mood. One is a zoom kit consisting of a 10-20mm and a 16-85mm. The 16-85mm is a fine "lazy" walk-around lens and is on the camera most of the time in this mode.

The other kit, my "street" kit, has three lenses not two. It consists of a 20mm, a 35mm, and a 50mm. Mostly I rely on the 20mm or the 35mm. There's a world of difference amongst the three on my APS-c sensor camera. The 35mm is more of a "normal" lens while the 50mm has a narrower angle of view and is a bit of a short tele, and obviously the 20mm is the wide (I can just step into the scene with this lens).

Some days I just throw on the 35mm and go shooting.

Two camera bodies, one with 35mm, one with 85 or 90mm, Leica M or SLR, dependent upon mood.

Mike, thank you for sharing your 35/50 Summicron story. My old pair of lenses was the 50 Summicron-M, and the 35/1.4 ASPH. Rather stupidly, at some point I sold the ASPH. That was a painful but instructive error, for two reasons. The first reason is that I did not sell the ASPH for enough money; the second is that being without a 35 has underscored the extent to which that lens on 35mm is my native FOV. Well over a year out, I still can't see a scene in 50 mm with the fluidity and confidence that can do at 35mm.

By the way: when you crowned the 35 'cron the "Bokeh King," you were careful to point out that this was true at middle but not wide apertures. I don't know if you've looked at results from the ZM 35/2.8 Biogon-C, but to my eye it may have the most beautiful signature at f/2.8 that I've ever seen from a 35. Just gorgeous. And as I was writing this, the lens arrived! Gotta go now...

I have D5000 with the 18-55 and the 55-200. But after months of never really being satisfied with the images I was getting

A strong resemblance to Jack Nicholson, if you ask me.

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