PDA

View Full Version : What lens(es) for Chicago?


Bingley
12-01-2008, 12:52
My wife and I are headed to the Windy City on Thursday for a wedding on Saturday, and we'll have some time to explore downtown (we're staying just north of the Loop). My previous visits to Chicago have been fleeting, so this is a first chance to do some exploring. I'm taking my M2, but am undecided on which lens or lenses to take for street photos and architecture (mainly in the areas of the Loop and Mich. Ave.). My choices are 28/3.5, 35/1.7 or 35/2.5/8, 50, 100, but I'd like to travel light (1-2 lenses). So here's where I'd like some advice: would a 35 (say, the Ultron) be sufficient for street photography in downtown Chicago, or should I go the 28/50 route. Any thoughts or suggestions gratefully received.

I'm looking forward to seeing the HCB exhibit at the Art Institute.

Thanks in advance!

climbing_vine
12-01-2008, 13:02
When I go back to Chicago (I grew up there, and my wife and I try to take the Amtrak down once a year), I use a rangefinder with a 50mm for "street" shots. These involve mostly my wife in various places and predicaments.

I bring a Spotmatic with a 28mm Vivitar for architecture/environmental photos. I found the 35 to be the wrong compromise. But that's me. In short, I'd recommend 28 and 50 but YMMV. The only reason to bring the 100 is if you're thinking of doing telephoto shots across the lakeshore parks with specific things in the foreground (the point being, unless you have very specific foreground/tele juxtapositions or foreshortening in mind, you won't need a telephoto lens--you can just walk up to whatever you want to shoot).

rogue_designer
12-01-2008, 13:08
I'm usually quite happy with a fast 35 for street work downtown. The few times that I've wished it was wider, a 28 wouldn't have done it anyway (21 or 18 more like).

My standard 3 lens rig for downtown shooting is 21/35/50. But if I'm only taking one lens, it's a 35.


edit:
In the interest of full-disclosure though - I have never really personally liked, or felt comfortable with the 28mm focal length.

climbing_vine
12-01-2008, 13:19
I'm usually quite happy with a fast 35 for street work downtown. The few times that I've wished it was wider, a 28 wouldn't have done it anyway (21 or 18 more like).

My standard 3 lens rig for downtown shooting is 21/35/50. But if I'm only taking one lens, it's a 35.

For "street" work, a 35 would be fine--I prefer the 50, personally, but 35 would be fine too. I was talking about the 28 for the other side of the coin, the architecture/environmental stuff. A 35 won't cut it for, for example, a lot of shots of the great old skyscrapers around the north end of Grant Park, but a 28 will. 21 is overkill unless you want to get a lot closer--which you may, for perspective/artistic reasons. That's a personal decision. ;)

rogue_designer
12-01-2008, 13:29
I admit, I hadn't considered that side. Since I live here, if I want to shoot buildings, I break out something with movements and bigger film. But I know thats a weight penalty that a visitor doesn't usually want to deal with.

Steve Bellayr
12-01-2008, 13:50
You are going to Chicago in the winter. Consider the lighting. A f/3.5 lens in my estimate might be a bit slow in the winter light towards evening therefore I'd go with the fast 35mm.

climbing_vine
12-01-2008, 13:55
You are going to Chicago in the winter. Consider the lighting. A f/3.5 lens in my estimate might be a bit slow in the winter light towards evening therefore I'd go with the fast 35mm.

I might disagree. Twilight is short... you're going to have, likely, some pretty bright snow-reflection stuff during the day, a very short twilight, and then dark enough that the Ultron, handheld, won't buy you much in reality. I bought an Ultron a few years ago for exactly this reason up here in Minneapolis, and found out after a few weeks that as far as my usual outdoor routine goes it didn't buy me much, if anything, over my collapsible Industar at 3.5 (whose look I liked better, to boot). I sold it. Most of the interesting "low-light" shooting has storefront light, snow reflecting streetlamps, etc.

This is going to be highly dependent on where and when he'll be, though. You may have a point depending on his circumstances.

Bingley
12-01-2008, 14:36
Brian, Steve, Rogue -- Thanks for the input and suggestions. The short twilight is not something I'd thought about (since I live well south of Chicago's latitude). I'm not sure how much late afternoon shooting I'll be doing anyway; it may be more morning to mid-afternoon shooting. If I go the 28/50 route, the 50 will be my Canon 50/1.8, which will be fast enough w/ asa 400 film.

Since our time in Chicago is relatively short and this is a first visit w/ time for sightseeing, I expect that we'll be exploring the stretch from the vicinity of the Drake Hotel down to the Art Institute of Chicago, and maybe over to the Navy Pier. I'd love to get down to the U of Chi area and over to Oak Park to see the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, but I doubt we'll have time on this trip for that.

whitecat
12-01-2008, 14:47
Born and raised in Chicago. Here is a blog on Chicago photography I just started .....http://garciaramblings.blogspot.com/

I love Chicago architectural photography so PM me if I can help further. I now live in Texas now so when I go I take a Zeiss Ikon and a 25mm and a 35 Summicron for street shooting. My main camera for architecture is an Olympus OM 4T and a 24mm PC lens. I take a Nikon 35 ti for point and shoot and indoor shots (flash). I also take a toy like a Rollei 110 for fun.

Look into the Chicago Architectural Foundation for fun photo tours even in winter.

FrankS
12-01-2008, 14:49
I suggest 28, slow 35, and 50mm. You can do most things with 35 and 50. If you have a 28, bring it with because it might be just what YOU need. It won't take up too much room.

rogue_designer
12-01-2008, 14:56
Re: the short twilights - it's averaging full darkness here by 4:30pm.

Whee. I can't wait for spring again.

Bingley - I work downtown. I'll keep an eye out for a gent with an M2. (I'll be in a fedora and carrying a Canon P). :)

Bingley
12-01-2008, 15:40
Gil -- Thanks! I like your blog -- I'll pm you when I get home this evening.

FrankS -- Your suggestion reminds me that I could also slip an Oly XA into my bag for 35, stealth street shots, color.

Rogue -- I'll keep my eye peeled for the Canon P and fedora; I'll be the shivering M2!

Thanks, guys!