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Wednesday, 31 January 2018


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What was it we used to say? "Primes are for purists; zooms are for tourists"

I've been fortunate in that I've spent (at least) one year shooting exclusively with the following lenses: 50mm, 35mm, 28mm, 24mm, 20mm.
Their unique perspectives are ingrained in my head, so I automatically know what is called for in a particular situation. The 28 and 20 are my mainstays. When I needed something to shoot vertical portraits from the waist up (I don't like telephotos), I didn't quite like the 50mm perspective, but the 35mm distorted a tad too much- enter the Goldilocks 40mm.

As I have recently discovered with the Panasonic 20mm, 40mm is an really versatile focal length. In fact it may be edging out 35mm as my favorite. I wish Fuji would redo the 27mm as a 27mm F2.

What Michael Ferron says in the featured comments is pretty relatable to me. The first lens I bought (not counting the included kit lens) for my Nikon D40 was a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I then gradually got wider primes until I arrived at 20mm and was happy. Then I stopped shooting street and found myself with the 30mm on the camera almost all the time again.

When Panasonic announced their 20mm lens it was written in the stars that MFT was the system for me.

But then I started wondering if maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't be using a 50mm-e lens. I mean, I'd get slightly flatter photos than with the 40mm-e lens and I kinda like flat. This all even if I always found a 50mm-e viewfinder somewhat claustrophobic.

Then, after not finding a single 50mm-e lens at a price I couldn't turn down, I got my iPhone X, with its 52mm-e second lens.

Let's just say that now my love affair with the 40mm-e angle-of-view is hotter than ever.

Yes!. Fabulous forties forever. Like Michael, I use the Fuji 27 a lot, especially around home. I think in 15 it took 70%+ of my photos. I automatically pace for framing before raising my camera to my eye. I learned on a 50 and never found a 35 to fit my vision. This works well for me.

I recently spent some time with the simple but elegant Olympus Trip 35 camera with a 40mm f/2.8 lens - probably a Tessar type of optic. It is so much fun!! Zone focus, decide if you want to use a filter (in the oddball 43.5mm size) and snap away. The 40mm is perfect for around-town shots, and the optical quality is great.


Hi Mike, this seems like the best place to post this, since it's only indirectly pertinent to this discussion. In the past few days, you've talked about "seeing" and I, for one, would like to hear more discussion on the subject. You've touched recently on the subject of viewfinders. Lately I've been finding myself dissatisfied with current choices. My recent experience is with a Pentax K5II (optical and live view) and an Olympus Stylus 1 (EVF and live view.) But I've been longing to return to the way things were. So much so in fact, that I sent a Konica FT-1 in for repair and also a Pentax SV. I am really appreciating the big view those viewfinders offer. Especially when used with a lens that gives a near life size (1X) magnification. I don't want to spend more money on a full-frame digital body, so for me it's film.

In answer to today's question, my answer these days would be, one full frame (film) body with a great viewfinder and a normal lens. I've grown tired of all the rest.

So can you talk about what makes a good viewfinder?

Hi Mike,
I have been all over the place for the past few years, experimenting but that article on 40mm has always resonated with me, I even printed as. A hand out when I was teaching to get my students to think about how lens draw. It is personal we all have. Preference I personally like the work dot have a bit of depth and a 50mm flattens the world to much, a 40 does not and it gives a better depth of field, I have for a while been experimenting with 28mm, I like the depth of field and understand why Garry Winogrand used it so much as it helps with everything in-focus type of photography, but I am still to far away from my subject so I am now gravitating back to 35mm for Leica and 40mm for Nikon, as my go to lens when oding documentary work and for portraits 75mm for Leica and 105mm for Nikon, after all we all have our quirks. And I have realised that with these lens I am happy. That sense of contentment has been hard won. With lots of experimentation to get to this point.

Zooms are a bit obsolete now if you use a full frame camera, just not everybody has worked it out yet ;)

30MP to 50 MP full frame - you can crop to half size, and you've still got the MP and resolution of a Fuj mirrorless or an m43 camera.

In other words, your 135/2.0 lens can be "digitally zoomed" in Photoshop up to a 270/2.0 with quality as good as the smaller cameras.

The only other lens you need is a 35/1.4.
Need a 50mm equivalent, crop it later.
Need a wider angle - just shoot a multi-shot panorama. Single row panoramas are now so easy for the software that you can shoot them hand-held.

So... back to the "two prime lens" outfit - and it doesn't weigh that much either.

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