View Full Version : Normal vs Wide as standard lens
I started to put this in the 50mm lens thread, but decided I should start another thread instead. Just some meandering thoughts from that thread & giving my 5yo son a single use camera today to document what he found important...
I'm not sure that it matters so much what the focal length is as it is making the photographer get to know one (reasonably fast) focal length lens. I tend towards the 50 but, it seems to me, that a fast (2.8 or faster) 35 is as good a choice for the beginner as it was for the PJ's who went to that FL as soon as the wides from Canon & Nikon were good enough. Let's not forget that the favorite lens for the PJ on the 4x5 Speed Graphic was a 127mm lens which is a wee bit wider (roughly equivalent to a 35mm on 35mm :eek: ) than the normal focal length (150mm) on 4x5.
In the RF world and in the P&S/Single Use Camera world, wides are supreme for a number of good reasons, DOF especially.
Still I wonder if anyone thinks that sending a beginner out with a good 35 is as good as sending them out with one of the classic 50s?
William, I suspect it doesn't matter very much, as one can get used to one as easily as the other. When I bought a used M2 back in 1967, the store guided me to a new 35 'cron, a classic combination (which I still use), and I didn't have a 50 to fit it until last year. OTOH, had that used body been an M3, I bet they would have suggested the 50 'cron, also a classic combination. :)
Yeah...what Doug said. I think you get used to whichever lens you have rather quickly, and tend to "see" and subsequently frame your subjects nearly automatically after a while.
Having said that, I seem to like 40, even 35 as the "all-around" lens, maybe because focus is a bit less critical for general shooting, and because it's less probable that I'll clip edges of frames. YMMV, of course.
To be boring, I'm going to agree with everyone else so far and opine that any lens between 35 and 50 would probably be fine for a beginner - if you asked a number of experienced photographers for their favourite standard fl, I suspect you'd get a fairly even spread.
Personally, I'm a big fan of 50mm these days (it's a fl I neglected a lot in my early days), but over the years my favourite general-purpose lens has varied quite a bit. Today, inspired by another discussion here, I was out with just my Pentax MX and 40mm pancake. Recently I've been out with just my M6 and a 50, and on another occasion just my CL and a 35. And in each case I was perfectly happy with what I was using.
Perhaps a 35 makes sense for the beginning photographer, who typically photographs groups of friends and family, landscapes, architecture. It's hardly a coincidence that fixed lens cameras have for long been a good bit wider than 50 mm.
When I started you were pushed to use the 50mm length. SLR's came witht that lens as standard. The variable focal lengths (zoom) were popular (which I avoided). Wide angles were not popular until later. Today the wider angle lens is more popular and I think easier to work with under "street" situations. It is better for landscaps/cityscapes.
Much depens what you want to shoot. For a rangefinder camera I'd recommend a fast 35mm at f/2.0 as a starter. It certainly is more costly than the 50mm. Many of the older fixed lens cameras have 40mm f/1.7 which is nice. And, makes them very popular as they are inexpensive.
As far as a portrait lens in concerned 80mm to 90mm is preferable. (Though I have used a 135mm often.) I find that the camera doesn't matter for with portraits people are aware that you are photographing them for a the portrait and are prepared for the shutter.
At the moment, I'm having a revelation on how cool 28mm is. I used to be puzzled with why on earth would people use that focal length, it's wide, but then I realize that most 28mm lenses allow you to get *very* close to your subjects.
So I probably recommend a 28mm to a beginner. :)
It depends on the use. A 35/2 (or faster) for "catch-all" type street shooting, a 50 if there is more time but a 50 is more demanding of the photog I think. As others have said once you get used to a particular focal length your perspective about other FLs changes. I'm beginning to look at a 50 as a mild telephoto.
35 is the new "normal", prior to the ASPH, the distortion in this size was not good. ASPH and post ASPH fixed this so we can all use normal 35mm without distortion.
It doesn't matter as long a beginner really "works" the lens, gets to know it, etc. But ... I'd suggest 35 or 40 for a beginner because it forces you to work closer. Almost every beginner I know wants a telephoto as their second lens because it allows them to not have to be close to people, and their pictures generally are cold and sterile.
Remember, if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough. In my own early days, my tutor once "forebade" me to take a photo with anything but my Konica C35, and nothing further away than 5 ft. Changed my (photographic) life.
I used a 24mm as my "normal" lens for a long, long time. I wore out one 24mm and put a lot of miles on a second 24mm. It was the lens that made the most sense to me given the circumstances. You have to make sense of your own circumstances. Nowadays (in order of actual use) it's a 50mm, 35mm, 21mm and 90mm (or the medium format equivalents).
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