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Tuesday, 06 August 2019


I'm with you Mike on your love of small/cheapish f2 lenses. And that's why I'm still using a Canon DSLR. While the body is bigger than the mirrorless sonys, my lenses are quite small and lightweight, equalizing the size advantage of mirrorless.

And my lenses are much cheaper than the new full frame mirrorless "low priced" lenses. Maybe not quite as good, but plenty good enough for 50mpx.

My 80% lens is the 50mm. 15% for the 24mm. 3% for 35mm and... 2% for the 100mm. If I've done my math correctly!

Mike, the little Fuji 27mm lens works superbly well on the XH1. Right in your 35/40 wheelhouse. :-)

I like 35mm too, although over the years I have tended to rotate through periods where I used other lenses more, but I do come back to it often. My first 35mm love was the original Nikkor O 35mm f/2.0 (pre A.I.).
A wonderful lens, remarkable in its day because it was 'good' AND 'fast'
I still have it.
I came across this just the other day:
https://www.casualphotoph ile.com/2017/06/19/nikon-nikkor-o-35mm-f2-pre-ai-lens-review/

PS I'm looking forward to a 'Field Report' on how you are enjoying your new Fujifilm expanded kit.

There's a decimal point too much in the second para below the first picture; the number should be 221mm and not 22.1mm.

My "home" focal length wanders. It was 35 mm for many years (a Canon f/2 on an M2 or its equivalent on a Nikon F, but with the Leica M8 and then M9 it became a 30 (21mmx1.5) and then a 28, where it has stayed for a while, as the smallest M 28/2.8 now is a wonderful lens. But for the past year I have been pulled down to 24mm, which gets me even closer to most subjects. The recent arrival of an incredible 35/2.0, AF, and full frame sensors with twice as many pixels may bring me back to where I started. But what do you use all those pixels for? More people in the frame?

Anyway, it's not a home, it's a journey.

I had a go at conjuring something using Lightroom Smart collections. I can't think of a way of listing all the focal lengths used but it easy enough to create queries that search for photos within a range. By crafting a series of these queries, it is relatively easy to get a sense of the focal lengths used (remember to correct for so called crop factor).

In my case, looking at shots taken with my Lumix G6 and G7, I take 5x as many shots at 50mm equivalent or above as I do shots below 50mm equivalent with the largest set being above 100mm equivalent.

I could have guessed this because I mainly use 2 lenses, the 45-150mm and the 17mm pancake and I rarely fit the 17mm (35mm eq).

I am not a wide angle user! I think the main reason for this is I like tightly framed, minimal compositions and the stand off effect of a tele lens.

You can see examples of this preference in this Italy trip gallery. I doubt these are the kind of shots many people would bring back from Venice and Italy :-)


That new Sony 35mm f/1.8 looks twice as big as my Nikkor 35mm f/2 AFD or any other classic 35mm (e.g., Canon FD, Pentax K-mount). And it's probably ten times bigger than a Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron or 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. Sony's full-frame cameras are relatively small, but the lenses are huge in comparison. Ditto for Nikon's new full-frame mirrorless lenses. If I ever switch systems, I want something smaller and lighter, not bigger and heavier.

I have the Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8. It was bought last year, well before the new f1.8 was announced. While initially I had doubts about the f2.8 max aperture, I couldn't be happier with it. Files look superb to say the least. And, while it's not quite a pancake form factor, it is indeed small. Small enough that, along with the Sony A7 series cameras, that it harkens (somewhat) to the size and feel of my Leica M6 and M4. Results with Black & White in the Creative Style setting look very nice, and also Black & White conversions of RAW files. The Sony in-body Steady Shot definitely helps.

If someone gave me a new Sony FE 35mm f1.8, I'd accept, of course. But I'd still keep the Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8 lens for it's intangible qualities.

Timing will always be a friend, but not always a good friend. I recently picked up a bargain K-5 and lenses for damp-weather shooting (on that Pacific side of the Cascade Range that's pretty often!). What a great deal I found, far cheaper than a sealed μ43 setup: Hooray! And then someone broke my personal price barrier on a well-used EM-1 v1. With my Lumix 12-60 I suddenly have two sealed systems.

In the Sony world you are now spoilt for 35mm lenses. Sigma have just started shipping a HUGE 35mm f1.2.


Have to agree about the fft. None the less my A7RII with the Loxia line up of 21 35 50 and Batis 85 for portrait (because of eye af) is excellent.

Ive eased off the 50 over the years to 35. The reason being my first SLR came with a 50 and I could not afford another lens at that time. So have to agree that 35 is my home too. HCB myths have something to answer for. :-)

I like running this gear alongside the EM-1 II gear. A nice stop differential for 2 systems.

A little utility program called Exposure Plot will scan through a folder full of image files and tell you all sorts of info, including focal length and will make nice graphs showing your most used focal lengths. It's free and it's probably easier than using Lightroom.
My "home" focal length is 24mm on a 35mm full-frame body, or equivalent on other frame sizes.

This is ludicrous: decades ago, Carl Zeiss Jena (yeah, the Commie one, for those of you who are counting) manufactured the diminutive 2.4/35 MC Flektogon, which produced excellent results, and from what I've seen online, still holds up today.

I have a bunch f 35mm lenses that I use with my A7. bur the $269 Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE seems to be a perfectly nice lens that is as Mrs. Webb tells her daughter "pretty enough for all normal purposes" and is just a little bit bigger than a lens cap.
For less normal purposes I have an old Deckel Curtagon that is pretty wonderful in that ineffable Schneider way and still pretty tiny. I have a few other 35mm lenses from Nikon and Olympus that I never seem to use.
Love that Curtagon, especially since it looks like a tiny Hasselblad SWC Biogon mounted on the camera, but the Samyang is always good enough and you can use it one handed with a beer in your other hand and sometimes that's important.

I would like to put in a nod for the Tamron SP 35mm 1.8. VC. It is available in both Nikon, Canon and Sony (minus the VC for Sony) mounts.

It might be $50 or so than the competition But do read VC. As in vibration control for a almost wide, reasonably fast, prime lens. Not small by any means but it balances well on both my antique D700 and F100. It is available in a 1.4 version as well but that was a bit out of my league.

FWIW, although you refer to “the full frame tax” it’s worth noting that the price might be higher in the US than elsewhere due to tariffs on Chinese goods. Anyone who wants the lens might consider shopping wisely.

As for me, this lens might be too little too late. A manual focus 35mm f/1.4 lens that is among the best that I’ve ever had has become my most-used lens, and the autofocus walk-around niche that the 35/1.8 might have filled will likely be occupied by the nice little Sigma 45/2.8.

Three years ago I purchased a 35mm f/2 Pentax lens for my K-1 full-frame body. The lens cost $268 used (in excellent condition) from KEH. The current price new from B&H is $396.
It is 49mm long and weighs 193g…and uses 49mm filters.

A lovely 'pairing', I believe. Although I wouldn't mind something even smaller and slower.

I'm with Mies van der Rohe - "God is in the details" - so generally I don't start seeing until I'm on the far side of 75mm. Checked Lightroom and nearly 30% of my images are at 200mm.

I do have photographs at shorter focal lengths. I haven't done an inspection yet, but I suspect it's a mix of indoor photos (e.g., family pics), and macro (Mies would approve).

Do you use Lightroom as your image catalog? Wanna learn more about your actual photo practice? Is your catalog of a reasonable size? Try Lightroom Dashboard. It’s free.

Using your most common choice of focal length to guide you to choosing a preferred single focal length lens may not be an optimum policy to improving your photography.
Consider this: You may take 80% of your photographs within a certain range of focal lengths but your "best" images reside in the other 20%, so maybe you should use those other focal lengths more often.
Or this: you take the majority of your photos within a certain range of focal lengths but maybe you have become a lazy image maker and need to move out of your comfort zone to a wildly different focal length and see what you can do with that.

I always found it varied by camera. On my Bronica ETRS it was 75mm, on Leica it was 35mm and for decades on Nikon it was 24mm. The reason may have more to do with what I used each camera for but regardless, I now hate the 24mm focal length and will often use 20 or 28mm just to avoid it. I'd say my home focal length for the past 15 years has been 105mm, which is odd as I like to stand physically quite close to my subjects.

Yes, there is something very special about 40mm-e lenses. Or rather, 40mm-e is a perspective that really is "normal" and "not extreme", and it is this pure normality that makes the 40mm special.

In the Fuji universe, the XF 27mm really is very nice, and it is soooo light and tiny. Not quite the robust mechanical feeling of the other Fuji lenses, and sadly no internal focusing, but it combines super well with all the Fuji bodies. Put it on the XE3 and the camera becomes something like a genuine pocket camera, and put it on the XPro2 or XH1 and you ooze "Ignore me, I am just taking some snapshots".

I also have an old Leica M Elmarit 28mm for my Fujis, it is very compact and it too combines beautifully with all the Fuji bodies. I love it on the XE3. But, but. In the end, when I want to take out a 40mm-e, most of the time it will be the humble Fuji XF27mm. That lens just means to used.

For the longest time I had only a 50mm lens (on a 35mm film camera). Last year I added a 28mm and a 135mm, and I use the 28mm more than I expected. I'd guess my usage is something like 28mm 45%, 50mm 45%, 135mm 10%. If I had to pick just one focal length, maybe I'd go with 35mm... although I've never actually used a 35mm prime!

The list of the Sony FE 35mm 1.8 in Japan at Kimura camera is ¥93,960 ($884.26) but discounted to ¥75,200 ($707.71). MAP camera Tokyo has it for ¥67,680 ($637), so it seems there is no tariff added to the US price. It is still a Japanese product.


Lightroom Dashboard will give you all kinds of statistics from your LR catalog, nothing to install it web based and free.


My distribution would look like 1-1-98, with 24-50-85 equivalents respectively.

I've got the Sony 35mm/f2.8 (+ A7R3) and the "slow" aperture is fine for my purposes, as I don't need the shallow depth of field e.g landscape, street, candid social photos.

Re: full frame tax ...

Sony makes a (Zeiss-branded) 24/1.8 for APS-C that's $1100. So maybe it's just a Sony tax. (Or a Sony 35mm equivalent tax ... the 35/2.8, another Zeiss-branded lens, is $800).

BTW, if the Nikon F mount equivalent costs less, the new Z mount mirrorless 35/1.8 is a whopping $850 ! At least the Canon RF version is a relative bargain at $500.

If 35mm is a "80%+" focal length then in the Sony world that of course opens up the option for the compact FF RX1RII with the fixed 35mm f2 Zeiss with a dedicated aperture ring... You also get multi-aspect ratio shooting (1:1) option unlike the A7 bodies, but of course covering the "remaining 20%" focal lengths could bankrupt everything... May even be worth using the RX1RII for that majority of shots/more serious shooting and supplementing with a RX100 Compact for anything between 24mm - 200mm depending on the model and reach needed, lots of options in that series...

I just bought the new HD Pentax FA 35mm f/2.0 lens from B&H for $396. It's an update to the old manual focus 35mm f/2.0 that I bought back in 1980 something. New coatings for digital. Nice lens.

I have to admit though, I'm using it on an APS/C body and "home" for me is long normal 55mm to 60mm.

I have a "full frame" Contax G fit Zeiss 35mm/f2 I use on m4/3 and Fuji cameras and it about an inch and a bit long. Those old G lenses have a high reputation for quality as well.

What's in the Sony that makes it so big?

My first lens I bought for my Fujifilm X camera was the 28mm f2.8 pancake. In truth it was discounted to $300 at the time but it really was my first choice. I really like the AOV it gives you. I now have the 50mm f2, 23mm f2 and the 16mm f2.8. But the 27mm is still my go to lens. I probably use it more than the others combined.

Well, I thought 50mm(e) was my native focal length but it was an illusion caused by habit. When I had to do a year or more with an iPhone I had to learn 28mm(e). It improved my photography no end. Now I have a choice again (TG-5), I consistently shoot wider then I used to. For me, finding my “native" focal length and staying with it would be a path to mediocrity. For others, of course, it might be a path to excellence!

Mike on a Windows PC, you don't need Lightroom to tell you the focal length you use. Windows file Explorer can add a column to indicate the F stop, focal length and other parameters in a set of both Raw and jpeg files. You can even sort your images baded on these properties.

35mm, or it’s APSC equivalent, has been my go-to lens for several years. I was surprised it took hold of me the way it did as, before that, I’d been happy using a 50mm most of the time.

Last year I took the plunge and purchased the Sony A7III. At the time there wasn’t a 35mm that appealed to me so I purchased the Sony 28/f2 and 55/f1.8 to stay busy with the camera, I used the former, hardly ever the latter, which I really should sell. Just recently I purchased the Samyang 35/2.8, a truly diminutive lens. It’s good, but I’ve had veiling flare issues with it. Now that this Sony 35/1.8 has been announced I am sure I’ll eventually talk myself into buying one. The only alternative I’ve considered is one of the 40mm lenses available, though I’m not sure whether or not that 5mm difference would make much difference in the real world.

Jeffrey Friedl's Lightroom plugins are fun. This one might be appropriate for the current topic, although I haven't used it with current versions of LR


Lightroom gave me a count for 17mm, another count for 18mm, another for 19mm, etc., so I used AlloyPhoto's Export List plug-in to inventory it all, then used Excel to generate a histogram that I found much more informative:

mm Count
15-30 3854
31-45 1271
46-60 1148
61-75 1255
76-90 465
91-105 2056
106-120 49
121-135 80
136-150 69
151-165 77
166-180 1436
181-195 64
196-210 162
211-300 55
301-400 26
401-500 16
501-600 75
(The formatting kind of got lost in the posting - sorry!)

I used to have 50 as my basic focal length, but in recent years I have found myself using 35 more and more so that I'm now split between those two (silly right? the difference in angle of view is noticeable, but not big enough to carry both at the same time). So some two years ago I concluded that I need a 35 with AF for people photography, something I had been without since switching systems a bit earlier, and ended up buying a used 35/2.8.

The Sony 35/2.8 is actually a really nice lens since it's tiny and contrasty. But there are issues such as f2 sometimes being desirable, image quality can play tricks with bokeh going bad or vignetting being too heavy and the build quality could be better. The Zeiss Batis 40 was very interesting, but then it had focus problems and my enthusiasm cooled off a bit since it's a quite voluminous lens, expensive and didn't seem to offer anything "extra" beside the close focus

So now the new 35/1.8 is very interesting for pretty much the same reasons you describe. The price doesn't seem to bad when looking at 3rd party 35/1.4 lenses (heavy!) or at the offers from Sony or Zeiss ($$$). Actually the price was one day lowered on Amazon UK, so I put a preorder, but I really don't think that $748 will be the final price, for example the Sony 50/1.8 has gone down in price significantly after introduction.

In the end, real life performance determines whether this is a desirable lens or not. So far it ticks many boxes: reasonably compact for a modern lens, focuses close and the photos at DPReview looked good (and the reviewer was excited). But the Internet at large seem to be more interested in lenses with more dazzling specs, such as fast apertures. Me, I'm ready for convenience in carrying and using, imagining camera size being more like 1985.

I've been guilty of trying to always have a full set of lenses for the systems that I've owned over the years, and subsequently carting it all around like a rented mule. Nevermore, as the raven says. I just checked the last 5 years of images, and 45% of them are with a 50mm, 32% are with a 28mm, 10% with a 85mm, with the remainder being wider vs. longer. I've also never bonded with a 35mm, I like the 28mm fov more.

Nice lens. But 55mm filters? To me, this is a big lens. I still love my tiny Leitz 35mm Summicron Type 4 with its 39mm filters. At my age, I like small and ultra portable.

A photographer I once worked with taught me that if I wanted everything, the whole scenery, in my frame, I’d better use a 35mm moderate wide angle and step back if necessary. When using more extreme wide angles, objects in the background will simply disappear. Obvious, anybody can see that, but for me it was an eye-opener.

35mm is my natural "wide field" - it exactly matches how I see. 28mm, 30mm, 38mm (equivalent) and 40mm - none of them work for me (I've tried them all).

135mm is my natural "detail field". I see that exactly. I swap to an 85mm indoors, but it's not effortless like the other two lengths are.

I spent two or three years with only a 35mm f/2.0 and a 135mm f/2.0, each permanently fixed to a Canon F1N body. Didn't really miss any other lenses. Only used one BW film (HP5+) and one developer (Perceptol 1:1) for years as well, and printed everything 12" x 18" on 16" x 20" paper. Had the print exposure written on the box of paper - no test strips.

Zen photography...

Home focal length? I don't think I have one.

In the old days, I suppose you could say it was 50mm because that was what came with my MX and it was a while before I could afford another decent lens. Which was, iirc, a 135mm.

But with the coming of digital and decent, convenient zooms, I use whatever focal length is appropriate for the subject. I suppose you could say that I have a 'home focal length range' - which would be (on apsc) 18-50mm approx, most of the time it covers what I want. Maybe that's why that is a standard of sorts?

Mind you, I do have a couple of weird ones - a Sony 18-70mm on my old A200 and a 14-50mm (35e - 28-100mm) on my L10.

Sample images from Sony here


and MTF charts here


it's for cat and food pictures. Looks a bit "meh" for $750 to me.

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