« TOP Classic: The Coen Brothers' 'True Grit' | Main | Classic Mike: The Love of Books »

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

How about the recently introduced Voigtlander 40mm f1.2?

I have one which I use on my Sony A7. It's worth a look :D

I remember this article - it was the one that got me on to 40mm. I even got one of the Noktons. Very nice for street photography on a rangefinder.
Then when I went to micro 4/3 (with the nice Panasonic 20mm f/1.7) the Nokton filled in at my preferred 80mm-e short tele focal length, which I like a lot for landscapes. On that format, that's a nice pair of lenses.

Damn it I thought my interest in the Fuji 27mm had gone away, and now here's this article to get me browsing photography stores again.

And not to forget the best value lens for m4/3, Lumix 1.7/20. Gem of a lens. As you know.

Yes, one of my favourite lenses on my Pentax K5, is an old late model PKM 28mm lens, bought for £20 in a charity shop. It's the late version of the PKM with the same design as the PKA but without the A setting. It is consistently sharp, with minimal fringing but can suffer flare when shooting into the sun but a hood takes care of that in most situations.

Ok that did it. I am going to shoot some film. I will soon have my favorite 35mm, a Zeiss Ikon Zm, already had the leica mount lenses, and plenty of film in the fridge. Not to mention the Hasselblad clone (Hartblei) in the darkroom and all the Velvia film in the fridge.

Interesting. My first two 35mm cameras, a Canonette GL III QL17 and a Konica TC both had (or came with) 40mm lenses on them.

For his workshops, Peter Turnley insists on his students using only 35mm lenses (I cheated a bit with my Ricoh GR for some shots my Zeiss 35/2.8 couldn't handle), and I think that was very sensible because the workshop was about how you make a photo and the 35 made you get in closer to your subject and make human contact with them.

I reckon that a 40mm lens would be ok with Peter for the workshops, but I'd sure like to know what he thinks.

Good article & I respect you & Ms Mann's experience. That said, when I bought a Leica CL it came with the 40/2 Summicron. I tried to like it but there was just something not quite there for me and I found I missed that just a bit tighter FOV that 50mm gave me. I soon sold the 40/2 and ended up with a 50/2 Summitar. Selling _that_ lens remains the greatest mistake of my photographic life.

There's also a new Voigtlander 40/1.2 available in Leica/M and Sony/E mounts.

I like 40mm as a focal length and have fond memories of the M Rokkor.

One of the best buys currently out there has to be the EOS 40mm f2.8 pancake. It really is a very nice lens and fantastic value.

I guess this is why so-called "pancake" lenses are often in the 40mm or equivalent focal length. I've used two of these over the last few years, first the Canon 40mm f2,8 STM (an admirable lens), and now the Fuji 27mm f2.8 R, about 40 mm equivalent on an E-Pro 2. While I also admire my Fuji 23 mm (35e) and 35mm (50e) F2 lenses, it's the pancake lens that is on the camera the most, both because of its wee size, but also because the focal length feels "just right" to me.

“... although no cameramakers who mainly make APS-C cameras have come out with dedicated 28mm normals for the format“. Fortunately Fuji have rectified this with their 27mm for APS-C now.

Only experience I had with using the 40mm focal length was on my Canonet QL III which of course had a very fine 40mm. Did not use it much but when I did it provided great results and yes the focal length was perfect for a walk around camera when I left my Minolta SRT 101 at home.

Good essay. Of course we are all now like 15mm guy except with 4mm lenses in our phones. Thus the selfie stick as, in part, a kludge for close-up distortion. The existence of technical limitations and of human adaptations to them is a constant.

This Monday I was travelling around Cameron for my Fall annual sojourn. After the usual and requisite large format work on Angel Road, which has some spectacular views of the Canisteo Valley and Allegheny hills, I started for home.

Along the route I saw photo opportunities and took detours onto small side roads. I went all Weston for shots - "Anything more than 500 yards from the car isn't photogenic." Heck, I just stopped the car, put the window down and used the Leica CL with 40mm. It was about right. I was more Weston than Weston, eh?

A very good and worthwhile article that certainly continues to hold true. Thanks for republishing it.

FWIW, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 MFT lens is one very good modern incarnation of the classic 40-e optic that seems to provide many of the same benefits. I found that I had imperceptibly drifted toward using it as my standard lens on MFT cameras. The particular angle of view resulted in thinking of it as more of a fine art optic.

You should try out the little 27mm Fuji pancake from LensRentals...it's a little sweetheart, and it's a prime, too. ;-)

I may have a problem, what with three 40mm lenses, one 45mm, and several near equivalents...

Taken with the Canonette G III QL17 40mm,HP-5:

Cedar Bowl, North Platte, NE, 1980

I recently purchased the Voigtlander 40 f/2 Ultron SL II for my Nikon. It has now replaced the 35 f/2 AF-D which was my previous favorite focal length and lens. This lens has fantastic.

I love my Panny GF1 & 20/1.7

I like 45mm. 40mm is too in between - I like 35mm too. I am considering taking a year with just my Sigma 30 1.4 Art on APSC next year...

When I purchased the XPro-1 I bought the 27mm 2.8.

Now I use a 23mm 2.0 BUT . . .

I would be very, very happy if Fuji would bring out a 40mm-e as optically nice as my 35mm f1.4 that focused as quickly as the 23mm f2. Maybe I should give their existing 27mm a go anyway.

For real fans of the length there is now a 40mm ‘lens’ to charge your phone:

As I have written previously here on TOP, I, too, am a fan of the 40 mm FOV. It started back in the 70's when I carried an Olympus 35 RC fixed lens rangefinder with me everywhere. Almost all of the fixed lens rangefinders of that era had very fine lenses in the 38-42 mm range (the many iterations by Olympus, the Canonettes, the Konica Auto S3, and later the Contax T). I have a collection of them and still shoot with them. The 40mm M Rokkor is a marvelous lens perfectly matched to the Minolta CLE. As mentioned, 40mm equivalent lenses have been made into a number of classic and modern pancake lenses all of which are very fine performers including the OM 40/2, Panasonic 20/1.7, Fujiflim X 27mm, and (as I posted recently) the Canon 40/2 STM which is incredibly sharp and less than $200. Put one of these on a small body and you have a marvelous pocketable street shooter.

I spent time with an Oly Trip 35 and a Ricoh 500GX, so for me 40mm kinda hooks back to those, the simplicity of having one fixed-length lens located in between one's fingers, picked up and pointed and clicked with a degree of documentary whimsy. As you say, a certain fading of the technicalities to the background.

It might be that 40mm works particularly well with 3:2 aspect ratio; there are some aspect ratios (4:3 in particular) where the focal length just looks too-square, too lacking in horizontal scope. "Woah, we've zoomed in here"

Random Thought 1: There's an aspect of "winners write the history books" one-sidedness about invoking HCB and co. The fact they chose one method and cranked it out and emerged successful doesn't disprove the contrapositives.

Random Thought 2: My work is magpie in nature: oh look, a mountain; oh look, a waterfall... and I shoot whatevertheheck lens is required to get me a composition I want and process it for lots of megapixels. That's just my way - if I had one title for my work it'd be "stuff I like" or "that's what it's like around here". Simplez, generally flying against the wind of "everything interpreted as art". But nobody's yet told me that choosing 3 zooms lets the results down, either. Make of this what you may.

No 28mm for APS-C cameras? Well how about the 27mm 2.8 from Fujifilm? I think this lens gets no respect because it is called a Pancake lens. Just like APS-C cameras get little respect because of a silly name put on them. Calling an APS-C a crop-sensor camera by Nikon was stupid. A more creative lable for the APS-C sensor, I think, would have been better.

Anyway the Fujifilm 27mm is a very nice lens and makes for a good normal lens for the X-series cameras. And right now it is on sale.

I used to keep a 35mm lens on my 'film' cameras and have been using 28-30mm equivalents recently. I wish I understood why some of us feel comfortable with 35mm and others with 50mm to the point of practically being unable to use the other.

When I had an SMC Takumar 50mm/1.4 I never felt comfortable with the focal length. Later I bought a Fuji 35mm/1.4, a lovely lens, but hardly used it. I've recently been tempted to buy the same lens again (!) -for street, and portraits with some bokeh- but when I went out with a zoom to see what I could do with that focal length I quickly started to feel claustrophobic. The 50mm equivalent felts like a short telephoto, and I don't do telephoto. Why, you might ask? Well, its that claustrophobia thing ...

So, as it happens, I'm now wondering about trying a 40mm for a while.

Could it be that Sally Mann loved that 40mm f/2 Zuiko because it gave her approximately the same perspective as a 150mm lens on a 4 x 5 inch camera?
The diagonal of a 24 x 36mm frame is according to Pythagoras 43mm. (Pentax claims that the SMC FA 43mm f/1.9 has the most natural perspective. Zero wide-angle and zero telephoto effect).
A quick and dirty calculation learns us that a 4 x 5 inch frame (101,6 x 127mm) has a diagonal of 163mm. The 40mm equivalent for this format is 163 : 43 x 40 = 152mm, so roughly 150mm.
In Germany, home of Rodenstock and Schneider Kreuznach, the 9 x 12 cm large format was common. That gives a diagonal of exactly 150mm and this explains why that focal length became their standard. Combined with 4 x 5 inch however it is less natural and it becomes a shy wide-angle.

“... although no cameramakers who mainly make APS-C cameras have come out with dedicated 28mm normals for the format“.

Not so fast. I have a Canon 28mm f1/.8 that I use on my Canon APS-C 7D/70D bodies. Very fast, sharp, and light.

Interesting! The more-or-less primary lens on my 6D is a 17-40mm zoom, but I found that I'd made so many interesting pictures at 40mm with that lens, I later got the tiny 40mm/f2.8, which transforms the camera into a sort of subnosed DSLR. This lens may as well have been welded to the body for the past 2-3 years. My first "real" camera was a Minolta Hi-Matic E, also a 40mm, so I've gone in a big, dishearteningly lengthy circle on the favorite focal length question. .

Hi Mike - to your point about a dedicated 28mm e lens with an APS-C sensor being the normal FL (and not made by any manufacturer) that's exactly the spec of the Ricoh GR. I know this is partly because the Japanese market prefers that FL for compacts, but could this also be a factor in that camera's popularity elsewhere? (Apart from its many other attributes).
Also, like many of your commentators, my first 35mm camera was a compact Ricoh 35ZF - with dedicated 40mm lens, so I kind of grew up with that FL being "normal" as I didn't know anything else! 50mm always feels like looking through only one eye to me, where 40 or 35 gives me the feeling of looking through both eyes - which just seems a more natural perspective.

[Hi Andy, The GR has an 18.3mm lens, or 28mm *EQUIVALENT*. What I was talking about was an *actual* (not equivalent) 28mm on APS-C, which is 42mm equivalent. --Mike]

Ah yes, thanks for the correction Mike, I must read your posts more carefully. Great work as always ! ☺️🍻PS, I’m with Ned on your joining Instagram, nothing to lose and much to gain. Bests - Andy

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007