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Sunday, 04 July 2021


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I thought (from the 37th Frame days) that you had a special love for the Olympus 50/2.0 film lens.

My current favorite is the Leica SL APO 35/2.0.

Fuji XF35 f/1.4.

A Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2

The diminutive size of the camera and the lens combined gave it an advantage over my SLRs.

35mm 1.4 Art on my Nikon D810 (I don't like using the adapter on the Z6 - makes it feel out of whack). Not too massive, sharp and the most useful focal length.

This week and for last couple of months, the Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 R-WR semi pancake with around a 41mm fullframe equivalent focal length.

A dozen Fujifilm lenses in my arsenal, and this one seems to be the one mounted on which ever camera that I have with me.

Nikon's 85mm f/1.4 (either the old manual-focus AI-S version or the current AF-S "G" version).

My favorite prime is an 85 -- I'm currently using a Nikon Z 85mm f1.8S, and it's a good one.

About the cardboard cutout. There used to be a guy who sold all kinds of large format stuff. He's now dead, but when alive, seemed to be cordially disliked by many people. In any case, he sold cutouts for different formats made of hard gray plastic (might have been 18% gray when I think about it.) One day when I was being particularly stupid I bought one for the standard 35mm format. About, mmm, twelve seconds after I got it, I realized I could have punched the film out of a discarded 35mm slide...

Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 (40mm FFE)

Hi Mike
I keep coming back to the Fujinon XF35/1.4.

First, my preferred view is 50mm. It simply works for me.

For context I shoot Nikon (love the ‘D’ 35/50/85) and Pentax MF film (the 75 is delicious) but I always without exception enjoy and find intuitive the the design and interface, and of course it’s beautiful. But most of all it has character. Sharpness of the kind that matters, and an identifiable look. Just wonderful.

Canon 100 mm f2.8 macro. The L version, if there are other versions. I got it because a photo pro buddy suggested if I was interested in shooting flowers, that was a great lens to start with. I actually do have another prime, and am flirting with the idea of getting another.

Years ago Zone VI made a viewing device that allowed one to "visualize" the scene in a monochromatic fashion. It was in a slide mount supplied with a lanyard to have handy around the neck.

Favorite Prime Lens? TNTC - I can't pick just one!

Here's a post very close to my heart.

I'm one of the idiots who many years ago sold off all his Olympus 35mm gear, including a 40mm, for much less than I paid for it all, before it became fashionable again, and correspondingly expensive. Never ask me for investment advice.

A long time later, I've fallen back in love with Olympus and their OM-D micro-4/3 cameras. Maybe half my pictures now come from an E-M5 with the Panasonic 20mm (40mm-e) attached.

It's a favorite prime because
* 40mm - I'm with you Mike - just something 'right' about that field of view.
* It's sharp enough, low distortion, low aberrations, blah, blah... Like most modern lenses, it's probably better at being a lens than I am at being a photographer.
* People knock it for having slow autofocus, but I generally manually focus. Maybe old habits die hard but I find modern focussing aids in EVFs make it so easy.

And there's a thing. The review sites and forums love to compare and analyse camera 'specs' and sensor dynamic range and MTF charts and on and on to the nth degree and barely anyone cares or seems able to more than superficially address the equally (more?) important consideration of the user-experience of all this fancy gear. For what it's worth, I happen to think Olympus are doing by far the best job of making interchangeable lens cameras physically comfortable, quick and pleasurable to use, but you're very unlikely to read about that in any depth in any review.

Leica Summicron 50mm version 2, circa 1960.

The problem with naming just a single lens is that it could confine one to a single type of photography. Wildlife photography usually requires a long telephoto, whereas architectural photography requires a wide lens. I do both.

I do a lot of bird and flower photography. The Sigma 100-400mm lens in Nikon F-mount is the lens I use most. Not really a prime though! The lens really shines at 300mm, which I use as the default focal length. So, I will go with a 300mm lens as my favourite prime focal length. Having rented and used the Nikon 300mm f/4 PF lens a couple of times, and being impressed by its image quality and diminutive size, I would go with that lens as my favourite prime.

I have been using the Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8 for almost everything since I bought it. It's too expensive and rather large (but comfortable) but I love it. It makes everything look better somehow - maybe good microcontrast or other voodoo. Don't care.
It's great for framing as the field of view is basically what I see through my eyeglass frames. I just have to watch out for my feet...

Mike, alright I will play. First I am generally a Nikon guy but I do shoot Fuji and my favorite prime is the small f2 35 mm Fuji. I simply love that little lens. It is small and can go anywhere with me and the renderings at f8 are simply beautiful. Interested to see what the other folks choose?

I love the Schneider-Kreuznach 3.5 taking lens on my Rolleiflex E2. I would use it for everything if I were more industrious and didn’t balk at paying so much for 120 film.

Favorite prime? Currently my favorite and prime go to lens is Fujifilm 27 mm f2.8 pancake. I consider it my normal lens and of the four prime lenses I have I probably use it more than the other three combined. It has the best angle of view for the majority of photos I take. The fact that it is light and compact is a plus but still if it wasn’t light and compact It would still be the favorite.

Angle of view should always the prime (OK pun intended this time.) reason for selecting the lens for a specific job.

"Farmer's rain"... it's nice to know that this term exists in the English.
On our farm where we produce litchi, persimmon, grapes and shiitake, my wife and I always wait for this rain that doesn't erode, doesn't impact the flowering and moistens the soil in a safe way. But in general what we've had is torrential and quick rain. The climate is changing.

My "prime" in 35mm is the Zeiss 85/2.8. Exactly matches the wide and distant view of the landscape on the farm.
It became the standard lens for me.

At this point my unicorn prime is likely very close to yours. I'd like a unique Fuji 27mm, maybe f2 or 1.8 to avoid another large coffee cup prime like the new 18 1.4, weather sealed, updated AF motor, exceptionally good optics like the Fuji 35 1.4. Put it a little higher priced and slightly (only slightly) larger than the 3 Fujicrons if needed. Hence its unique standing. So a good quality modern 40mm equivalent standard. I know there are at least two people who would buy it!

Favourite is 50mm Summarit-M, small, light, relatively inexpensive, great haptics, and lovely photos - what's not to like?

... most often used though is Apple iPhone XR 4.25mm back camera ... small, light, relatively inexpensive, and attached to a great pano engine - what's not to like?

I like the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 in Sony E mount. On my Sony A7 this is IMO much better than the Leica mount version.

The extreme corners are never really sharp and the look can be funky at wide apertures with some scenes but even f1.4 can be ok if it's a more friendly scene and the wildness begins to settle down by f2.

It is IMO a just lovely lens to use.

I didn’t have much money when I switched to digital so I chose the affordable Rebel XSI as my first digital ILC. For my first prime I splurged on the EF 135mm f/2 because I knew I would probably keep it forever, wanted a longish lens (216mm f/2 on the Rebel) to compliment the cheap IS kit zoom that I only used in the middle of its zoom range, and would someday eventually move to FF. The 135mm was an older design and uber expensive to me but was the perfect choice since I wanted to shoot animals and it was compatible with a teleconverter. I really liked the idea/versatility of also being able to shoot at 302mm f/2.8 on the Rebel or 189mm f/2.8 on an eventual FF camera.

On the Rebel I really enjoyed the reach of the lens and did end up using it with a 1.4X teleconverter much of the time and once I moved to FF the 135mm quickly became my go to lens for candid portraits. I’ve made some amazing (to me) candid street portraits with the 135mm at night while prowling the streets of a festival such as Tucson’s All Souls Procession. I almost never mount a teleconverter to this lens now that I’m shooting full frame and own a 100-400mm but I did so the other day so my brother would have a longish lens while we were out shooting wild horses in the mountains of Arizona. I still love that versatility.

Zeiss Batis 40mm f2. I used to favor the 35mm field of view but there something about the 40mm that is more satisfying.

8mm Lumix fisheye is my favorite prime!
My 24-105(e) lens covers almost everything I ever want to photograph. But indoors, candid shots at the wide end really distort the scene - and people. The fisheye gets everything in front of me in the frame, and people on the edges are pleasantly slimmed. Lightroom allows full or partial correction to full rectilinear. With 20 megapixels and more, I have plenty of room to crop and still have a fullscreen, full resolution picture.

The Pentax 6x7 SMC 45mm f4 was as close to a one camera/one lens option that I ever had, for several years. Great performance in all aspects, it imparted a 'gravitas' to the images that is hard to capture outside of large format. That lens with the waist-level finder and wooden handgrip made the 6x7 a viable hand-held camera.

For years I used 50mm lenses almost exclusively on both SLRs and rangefinders. But earlier this year I bought an LTM 35/2.5 Nikkor. I use it with a Voigtländer 35mm viewfinder on an LTM Leica body. After half a dozen rolls of film with this combination I am hooked. I haven't used a 50mm lens since.

105 2.5 ais Nikkor. It is mounted on my D7100 right now. If Nikon wants to push the retro envelope it should bring this masterpiece back in AF form.

The First lens where I experienced the feeling of "Everything just looks right with this lens" was the Nikon Nikkor O 35mm f/2.0 (non AI)
It was sharp, fast, and drew pictures that just looked right to my eye when printed. The 'extra stop' (compared to most 35 mm lenses of the time) was a big help as well, because I think I shot Tri-X at around EI 200.
It was a lens that introduced me to the fact that depending where you stand or how you compose, can be made to look like a 50 or a 28.
But mostly it was a lens that taught me how a slightly wider than normal lens feels like a window to the world-- it calls no attention to itself, and the pictures look 'right' in very subtle ways.
Later, when I shot 8x10, I fell in love with the 10" Wide field Ektar for the same reason. So that lens taught me a lot.

The 80mm on my Hasselblad 500 cm, it was the only lens I needed for years and years. I never wished for any other in those film days and many of my frame worthy B&W prints were created with the above combination. If it were not so cost prohibitive to get back into film shooting and my own processing I would give it serious thought. Has anyone looked at the prices of medium format film and the reels and tanks lately ?

My favorite prime for 24 by 36 mm image capture is the 105mm. When I'm walking with this combination, what ever my naked eyes see as a composition is framed the same way when I view the scene through a 105.

Any "nifty fifty" is my favorite, I always end up gravitating to that focal length.

Currently a Fuji 35mm f/2.

(As an aside, I'm frequently hitting the "x2" to button on my iPhone, which lands at 52mm-e)

50mm-e feels comfortable on my eyes, same was a the right size shoes, or what not.

The Fuji 23mm f2 R WR is by far my most used and current favourite lens.

My favorite and most-used lens for the past two and one-half years has been the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 in Leica M-mount. I just sold it.

Unfortunately, despite it's good qualities, that terrific lens didn't play well with the sensor stack on my Sony. I replaced it with the new Voigtlander 35mm f/2 APO lens that is a better match for my camera, but it's not a favorite yet.

Would have to say the 18.3 f2.8 on my GR, which as a package has tripled my output the last half dozen years... Never thought anything so small could be so good (camera and/or lens).

In my big bag 'o' primes it would have to be the Fuji 16/1.4, the first lens I bought for my Xpro2 because I knew I wanted this focal length. It's a big lens---it blocks the OVF---but I don't care as it's fast, it feels well built, the focal length fits my style of travel photography (that's its most important feature), and the close focusing is amazing, it almost doubles as a macro. The photos coming out of it make me smile. I've added almost all the Fuji primes since then, all marvelous lenses, but this one has a special place in my mind.

I share your appreciation for the Zuiko 40. It is still my favorite although I no longer own one. When I sold off the bulk of my OM gear to go digital I contemplated keeping it, but the price I was able to get for it was just to compelling. Funny thing is, the original list price was very affordable.

I still really like the field of view of the 40mm. I also owned the Minolta 40, alas it lies deep in a crevasse on My Rainier with its attached CL body!

I do have the Panasonic 20, the equivalent m4/3 lens. It's fine, but I would love to have a 20 with the build quality of the Olympus pro lenses. Alas demand for the focal length means that is not likely to ever happen. The build quality of my much beloved Zuiko 40 was likewise below most of the Zuiko lenses.


Nikon 50mm f1.2 AI-S. I’m done with massive lenses with limited life spans and the Z mount can take a running jump. I’ll use my existing lenses until they wear out while I re-buy a set of the manual Nikkors which brought me the most pleasure.

The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 remains my all-time favorite lens. Small, versatile, discreet, very good measured performance metrics — and it is easy to ‘learn to see’ it’s field of view. I owned several copies, and used one as my only lens for long stretches on several occasions, but have never found an equivalent in other brands/systems that I have shot since leaving M4/3. I am too deep into Nikon Z to switch systems now, but perhaps the upcoming 40mm f/2 “compact” will have some of the magic?

For the past couple years it’s been the Olympus 17mm 1.8 that is more or less permanently attached to my old Oly E-P5. In fact when my Olympus electronic viewfinder stopped working, I just bought one of those very cheap plastic clip on viewfinders that roughly covers the “35mm” field of view and 4/3 aspect ratio. I carry this combo around for most incidental trips out of the house.

The interesting thing for me is that although I spent the last 30 years or so mostly ignoring the 35mm view, back in my 20’s, when I “was-gonna” be a famous edgy photographer, my everyday lens was the SMC Pentax-M 35/2.

I enjoy the Fujinon XF50mm f/2 on my X-E4. Its 75mm equivalent view is perfect for a wide range of subjects.

Further to my previous comment, I kind of expected that lots of others would choose lenses with a 35mm field of view and I kind of have a theory why that might be. I was struck by Michael Perinni's idea that.. "a slightly wider than normal lens feels like a window to the world". Although 50mm is supposed to be our normal view from the naked eye, I think when you're standing around somewhere, maybe with your back to the wall, taking it all in, the 35mm view is what you see when you're watching the world go by but trying not to turn your head too much so as not to be seen to be rubbernecking! At least, that's how I feel when I'm trying to get the shot but not attract attention.

Panasonic 20mm 1.7 for M43. If I could have only one lens (and it’s not a zoom) this is it. 35mm (on ‘full frame) was always a touch too wide for me. The Pan 20mm 1.7 is tiny, bright and sharp.

In the film days, the Pentax M 85mm F2, was my Unicorn. Alas it didn't look the same with digital. I have adapted to other lenses now, but the rule is "one lens" So I won't divulge the alternative, other than to say that it ain't quite the same. Sigh.

Used to prefer 35 or 85 primes, but have come back to 50mm. Current favorite is 50 mm Summicron (current version). Would like to see what ASPH version adds, but too expensive

The absurdly named King of Bokeh.

EOS M3 with 22mm

Without a doubt, my all time favorite was (is) my 24mm f2.8 on my Olympus OM-1. Picked it up in 1974, it quickly became my standard lens.

Leitz Summicron 40/2.0 on my M8. I had the lens modified to bring up the 35mm frame lines, which is a perfect match. Incidentally, I only use that camera for B/W - which it is amazing for - and have hence dubbed it the “M8’ochrom” :-)

The best prime I had was when I owned a Lecia CL and later a IIIf - a beautiful postwar 50/2 Summitar that I traded an early radioactive collapsible Summicron for. I got the better deal ;)

The Summitar wide open has insane bokeh and is gets soft but not in a Tessar type buttery way but in a unique Summitar way. OTOH, stop it down and it becomes at F/5.6 or so as sharp and well behaved as a good Summicron. That split personality is why I love the Summitar.

Now that my primary ax has become a Leica M typ 240 I have an exquisite CV 50/1.5 Nokton on it. Beautiful lens, well behaved and I love the images I've gotten with it. But I want that crazy again so I still troll Ebay looking for a good condition Summitar I can afford.

In the past, y favorites have been the 35/2 on the little Konica Hexar AF camera and the 28/2.8 on the Ricoh GR cameras. Today I’d echo John Krumm’s thoughts above. But since I’ve just bought the newest version of the Fuji 27/2.8, I’ll have to say that’s my favorite. At least until they tempt me with the f2 version. 😊

This is an interesting question that, at first, I didn't have an answer for. None of the lenses I'm currently using feel like my favorite lens.

Then I started thinking about lenses I've used in the past and realized that I do have a favorite. It's the 35mm f/2 lens on the Sony RX-1. Even though I haven't used this lens in a few years, it's still my most used lens according to my Lightroom catalog. It's also the only lens that I can look at one of my prints and say, I bet that was taken with the RX-1 and generally be right (partly the way the camera renders and partly the way the lens looks). I need to dust off the RX-1 and really use it again!

Factory-AI'd 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor. I love the versatility it provides. Whether on my D300 or a film body, it lets me get just that extra bit closer for detail shots while keeping a bit of context in the frame and makes for a very nice portrait lens on the APS-C sensor. The long focus throw aids in fine tuning focus and speed is not a high priority for me. Finally, the deeply-recessed front element also means no need for a lens hood under most circumstances. Just a great grab-and-go setup. And you can get a good one for less than a 50/1.8 these days.

In film days, I was fond of the K-mount Pentax 100 mm/f2.8. I don't know enough to say anything intelligent about its characteristics but I like that FOV and I liked how light and small it was on the Super Program and MX bodies.

Pentax 43mm Limited. Preferably on 135 film. Can shoot an entire vacation with that ... and have.

Leica M 35/2 asph summicron, first version, chrome. I can't remember the generation name (maybe I think is is 6?) but it is the one before the coding and not the current.

Its appreciably sharper than the non-asph versions on digital bodies. I did try a non-asph 35 for about a year (Version 3, before the much loved version 4), but the results were consistently poor in low(er) light.

And why chrome? It just looks good!


I bought a Fuji XT3 a couple of months ago and I've been using my 1965 Summicron 35mm f2 (I taked away the googles) on it. There are scenes where the old glass falters, but when it hits the sweetspot is beautiful.

For years I avoided using a normal lens. "Normal" as in the 135 format 50mm lens and its equivalent in other formats. Now it's my most used focal length. My favorite is the one that's on whatever I'm using at the time. For the Fujis it's the 35/2, small and sharp and fast and lovely. For Nikons it's probably either the 50/1.4G or 1.4D Nikkors. But I have several normals in Nikon mount and they all are great. I've even trained myself to manually focus again so I can use the Carl Zeiss 50/1.4 Planar ZF and the old Nikkor 50mm lenses from 50 years ago.

Canon 400mm F5.6 L. Been a favourite for 20 years for bird photography..

Sherwood McLernon

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2.0. An essential lens for all ten people who own a Canon M camera. I bought an M2 just so I could use this lens and it’s become my go to. Fast, tiny, sharp, and cheap with beautiful rendering. Wish it had an aperture ring and real manual focus but you can’t have everything .

Leica 28mm Elmarit. The one made in Canada, with the 49mm filter size. I think they call it the third version, not sure. I have it and I love it. I wish I could afford an M10 just to use it again...

My favourite focal lengths - on the Leica M or, of late, the Fuji-X - are jostling between the 35mm and 50mm.

I started with the 50mm in 1969, and the tendency is "to come home" to the 50.

Pretty much any half decent 35mm f/2.8 or faster, native to the camera I happen to be using will do.

However I’m particularly partial to my C/Y fit 35mm f/2.8. A lens which, in spite of being very old indeed, isn’t likely to be surpassed any time soon. The world seems to have decided that 35mm is not wide enough for typical shift lens uses like architecture. Whereas the ability to shift, therefore retaining all of your pixels, while achieving a relatively natural perspective is IMO more useful, more often, than the very wide distortorama 17mm, albeit sometimes only the latter gets the shot.

The 25mm f/1.4 Panasonic, a 50mm-e on the GX8. Whatever you focus on is sharp enough at any aperture. There’s some purple fringing at larger apertures, easily cleaned up in post, and field curvature means it isn’t sharp across the frame wide open. Stopped down, it’s fantastic. Great rendering of reds and oranges, too—noticeable but rarely discussed.

It’s small, light, contrasty and sharp. Bought mine (the mark I version) mint on eBay last year. Wish I’d done it earlier. I’d prefer a 22mm focal length, perhaps, but I do love this lens. I’m in the small minority of dumbass photographers doing low-light photography with Micro Four Thirds so I need all the light-gathering ability I can get. Were I slightly richer, I’d buy a mark II for the weather resistance.

Pentax 15mm f/4 Limited. Small, simple and elegant, with a beautiful rendition.

M Rokkor 40mm f/2. Incredible lens. I shoot it on my Minolta CLE.

Hi Mike,
I went back to the AA method with my 4x5. Ebony made a 4x5 frame in wire with a handle.
I attached a piece of string and through trial and error made a knot at various intervals, one for each focal length I use. Holding the correct knot to my nose and stretching the string I can frame the view perfectly without even taking the camera out of its bag.
So simple and the frame is always around my neck.

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8 G on my D850. Just a great walkabout lens, not too big and heavy and very sharp.

The Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH.

The funny thing is I really hated 35mm at first because it felt like an awkward middle ground between 28mm and 50mm. But your OC/OL/OY rules prohibited two lenses and there were just too many situations where I wanted wider than 50 or closer than 28.

After that year I saw in 35, and came to love how with a bit of a tilt or a step it can be made to look either wider or tighter. The 35mm frame lines are perfect in the M viewfinder and the lens itself is just disappears in your hand. It's all muscle memory.

14 years later, it's still the one lens I use 95% of the time.

I have always liked the Nikon 35/2

The Olympus m4/3rds primes all seemed great to me. Especially the 45mm/1.8 (90mm FOV).

Of course my favorite current Olympus lens is a zoom 🙂.

I have had many 50mm lenses over the years, for the Nikon, Leica and Canon.
They were sharp, for sure. My current favorite is the latest Summicron M. I love the prints coming of it and ergonomics, size and weight of the lens are perfect.

Olympus 45 mm f/1.8 for Micro 4/3. I can’t think of anything they could do that would improve it. Small, lightweight, reasonably priced, very sharp wide open.

I can't pick a single lens when I used much trough the years, I feel it's like picking favorite movie(s), the list will change depending on the phase in life (and in this particular case, depending on the camera system).

I will give it a try anyway:

When I started with a Canon APS-C, the Sigma EX 30mm f/1.4 for sure.

When I upgraded to Canon full-frame, the Leica Summicron-R 35mm f/2 (adapted).

On mFT, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7.

Not sure it counts, but I used and enjoyed the hell out of the 23mm f/2 on the original Fujifilm X100.

Currently, and surprisingly, I'm liking the Pergear 25mm f/1.8 a lot on my Fujifilm X-Pro2. I often carry two other favorites, the Fujinons 35/2 and 18/2, but when I want to carry just a camera and one lens the 25mm is a great in-between focal length. It's optically great, small size but solid, and very cheap at 70 bucks. I find it a joy to use, it renders better than the Fujinon 23mm f/2 WR, and it also looks great on the camera:

The only drawbacks are manual focus, click-less aperture ring and the light transmission not being f/1.8 wide open (may not even be f/2).

My favourite prime isn't fancy: it's my trusty EF 50mm f/1.4. It's not a popular lens anymore, but it's inexpensive, sharp, compact, and light. It has served me well for many years.

My history began in 1975 with a Nikkor 105mm macro with a bellows and a dedicated ring light. I was a periodontist [dental specialist], and had to document my work. Fast forward through many iterations of macro photography and I still have a Nikon [now D300] with the 105mm macro and a Godox ring flash and the images are pristine, even if my steadiness is not. But in regular photography I've moved on to mirrorless FF Sony and my favorite lens is the 20mm f1.8 G version. I started shooting in the 70's with the 105mm and a 50 mm. and always coveted a 20mm. Not that it was so expensive for my Nikon system, but I never had disposable income for this luxury, until I decided that I did, and on my new Nikon FM3A the 20 mm seemed right. Then the digital revolution took hold and my 20mm became a 30mm with the APSC cameras [D70, D300]and the magic seemed lost. Now I have revamped my photo kit and moved on to Sony mirrorless and I again have a pure 20mm lens. Oh, joy!!

Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 (40mm FFE), on a long line of Lumix M4/3 bodies, for all the same reasons already so well stated.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 DG/DN for Sony. Small, light (for Sigma, anyway) and sharp.

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8

Not perfect. But all the better for it.

Glorious. With its own sublime character.

The only lens i can identify by seeing an image taken with one.

Olympus 17mm 1.8

300mm f/5.6 Nikkor W on my 8x10 Phillips Compact II. In other words, a "40mm equivalent."

You've now made clear why you disposed of the "Single Use Device:"

...without having to laboriously set up the tripod and the camera and get under the groundglass...

It must have been painful squeezing your noggin inside the bellows. Had you instead merely viewed the groundglass from under a darkcloth, perhaps you'd have gotten along better with view cameras. Composing and focusing that way is much more effective than dealing with an aerial image. :-)

The lens I'm using the most currently is the Zeiss/Sony Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 , but the favorite lenses I own are a bunch of Ektars. I have a couple of the Kodak Ektar 127mm f4.7 that I think are pretty wonderful, but the very best lens I own is the one that's on the 70mm Combat Graphic. It would be too depressing to open up the case to remind myself what it's called but is it ever wonderful.

These days I shoot mostly with one zoom, and it takes a lot to get me to swap lenses or carry a second body. There is one lens that has turned out be worth it: the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8

Ansel Adams recommended making a cardboard cut-out with the aspect ratio of your format, and learning how far away from your eye to hold it to mimic the field of view of your lens."

The late Fred Picker of Zone VI marketed a viewing filter holder in which one could insert a wratten monochrome filter to use as described above. It helped with both framing and seeing how the image would look in B&W. A quick check on the auction sites indicates that it is one of the few good investments I made.


Pentax Takumar 50mm 1.4 on my Spotmatic ll. Damn if i could get any of the old film lenses - like this glorious bokeh master of a lens - to get sharp focus on any of the Pentax DSLR's afterwards. Looked sharp through the VF... but results were OOF almost every time. After playing around with shim adjustment for weeks on my K-5 VF without a satisfactory result, I just gave up on it. Still cant figure out what was going on?

With 35mm film, the 85mm f/2 Nikkor was practically glued to my F2; On the 4x5, it was the Fuji 210 f/5.6; for the Hasselblad 500CM I loved the 150 Sonnar. They are all gone now and I am deeply into the Sony system, with the A7RIV. With that I love my 85mm f/1.8 FE but for ultimate performance the Voightlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar might just be sharpest lens I've ever owned. I just rented the Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM and while it's as good as everyone says, while it is over a stop faster, it is twice the weight of the APO-Lanthar. First world problems all the way.

21mm Olympus f2.0.

My favourite prime is usually the one I have on my camera at the moment. However, in the last couple of months that prime is usually the Voigtlander 35mm f/2 Ultron v.II. A lovely small lens that has pushed my other primes, especially my other 35's aside for the while.

Hasselblad 100mm f/3.5 CFI Planar T

Mamiya 135mm for the TLR system. Mine is from 1982 when I bought it new. Sharp enough for anything I needed to do. It took many photos of my honeymoon, kids, and my parents as they approached their end. I may have other lenses that are better, but this is my favorite.

I finally realised that it is not the lens per say, but the focal length that I love, as it an extension of how I see the world around me. And the focal length is 40mm (which you have written about in the past). I have had many examples of 40mm lens for all my camera systems and I have tried wider and longer but after lots of swapping because things just where not quite right, I decided to give in and just settle on 40mm, as I found that I did not need to change lens so often.
So for any camera that I can get a 40mm lens then that is my fav lens.
As I am lucky in having a Voightlander 40mm for my Nikon D850, that is perfect for me. Unfortunately for me on my Leica M10 the viewfinder does not give 40mm framelines, so while I would love to use a 40mm on that camera I have had to settle for 35mm as I can’t quite guess the edges of the frame as accurately as I would like to.

Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH

Cooke PS945 for 4x5

Pinkham & Smith Visual Quality IV series 2 for 8x10

Another vote for the Panasonic 20mm/1.7 on an Olympus Pen-F M4/3 digital body, at least for day-to-day shooting.

However, in my parallel universe, there's also a 7-inch (178mm) Goerz American Optical Co. Dagor on 5x7 film, which come to think of it is virtually the same angle of view as the 20mm Panasonic on M4/3.

Usually a 50mm is mounted to the camera, but my favorite prime lens and go-to wide angle is the Nikkor AF 28mm/1.4D.

I always get a nice buzz when I use the Carl Zeiss ZF.2 21mm/2.8 on my A7ii.

My most Used lens is the Olympus 25/1,8 mft. As much as I like the Panasonic 20/1,7 I came to like the oly better.

Christine Bogan

RUSSAR 20mm...... soffffffffffft !

It‘s the Leica Summicron-M 1:2,0/50mm Version 4

I own four or five primes (two of them for my Nikon-1 V2!) but I nearly always use a zoom of some sort. Primes might give (slightly) better quality, but the flexibility of a zoom outweighs that. IMHO. Though special purpose primes (super-wide, macro, tilt and shift, etc) have a place - I just can't afford most of them. :-(

I don't know if he mentioned it anywhere else, but Ansel did mention the use of viewing frames in his autobiography. He would get students to use them as a way to learn to see how the camera would crop the scene. It's not an idea exclusive to photography – I had a drawing teacher who recommended we look at the scene through a cardboard cutout frame to decide what we wanted to include or exclude before starting the drawing.

Nikon 180mm ƒ/2.8 ED AI-S manual focus used for astrophotography. It took a few years of searching to find a good copy.


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