View Full Version : best pic - 35, 40, or 50?

08-19-2006, 22:30
i figured a survey of "normals" would be interesting, so here it is.

Stephanie Brim
08-19-2006, 23:36
A 50 has been my go-to lens for two years...and so that will stay. Just wide enough without being too wide to do a portrait of someone sitting across from you at a table in a restaurant. It's also just wide enough that you have to get in there a bit when doing street photography.

08-19-2006, 23:56
Both 50 and 35 are comfortable focal lenghts. All in all I am using the 50 a lot more but it does require discipline, both in framing and focusing. Having being used a lot more means that it has given me a greater number (but not necessarily greater ratio) of photos I like.

My vote for the 50mm.

08-20-2006, 02:04
There are times that 35 works for me, but I am most happy with what I get from a 50.

08-20-2006, 02:07
Strangly enough I was hardcore wide angle guy, but now I am loving my 50mm, can not take it off my camera :)

back alley
08-20-2006, 05:01
i had been using a 35 for ages and thought it was made for me.
but since using the 25 and then the 21, i can't stop using them.
yesterday i went out and loaned my zi and 25 for part of the day. i decided to use the 50 planer. i found myself way too close to people and had to keep backing up. no fun.
today i'm heading out with the 28/1.9 and the 90/4 for a lighter kit.
i bet the 28 tays on all day.

08-20-2006, 08:09
50 all the way. I can use and appreciate wider lenses (and am slowly starting to learn 28) but if I just want to get out and get it done, I grab a 50.


Stephanie Brim
08-20-2006, 08:12
If I didn't have to work today (cue famous Clerks quote: "But I wasn't even supposed to be here today!") I'd most likely go out as well and take the 35mm. I've decided that I need to spend more time shooting it to get used to the focal length...and not to mention framing without being able to the entire frameline. It's odd that I'm starting to like things wider and wider...but I still keep putting the 50mm on my camera for critical shots.

08-20-2006, 08:24
the more i shoot 40mm, the more i like it

08-20-2006, 08:28
In all my SLR years I never had a 35. Nikon F3 and 28, 50 & 85 was my kit. I'm now three years into RF ownership and the 50 is a short telephoto to my eyes. I have a 35/1.4 and that lens wide-open (or close) is my normal. You feel like you are there with close-ups using that lens.

08-20-2006, 10:45
I use 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55mm prime lenses as normal lenses on 35mm cameras. Since I prefer the 35mm focal length to the others, I have used it for a longer period of time; I have shot more photos with it; and I have taken a higher number of “favorite” shots with it. The 35mm f/1.4 is not only my favorite “normal” lens and my favorite wide-angle lens, it is also my favorite lens period.

leica M2 fan
08-20-2006, 10:52
The 50 has been my lens of choice for many years mostly because that's the only lens I had. Never cared much for wides but did love telephotos. Since I've gotten into RF I really appreciate the Jup-12 in 35 and the Nikkor 35 both excellent performers and am learning to really like the view.But still choose the 50 as my go to lens.

08-20-2006, 11:09
I won't vote! Those are my three favorite focal lengths, and some of my favorite images have been shot with each. I've been shooting almost exclusively with the 35 these past three months, before that the 40 on my CLE, and before that the 50.


08-23-2006, 05:47
On small format, it's 50mm for me..

On med. format, it's 80mm. Which is kind of odd, as it's a little wider on that format than the 50 on my RFs.

I guess it comes from a similar ability to isolate the subject from the back ground..

So, all considered it's not the field of view that makes the 50 the lens for me, it's the shallower DOF possible compared to 35mm..

08-23-2006, 06:19
I like 'em wide, 28 or 35. I have been using a fifty lately and really enjoying it but like Joe, I end up being too close at first.


08-23-2006, 06:42
If you'd asked me this question three or four months ago I would have voted for the 50 without a moment's hesitation. The 50 is the lens that I learned on and, up until very recently, I was quite sure that I saw the world photographically through 50mm framelines. However, recently, I find that I am using the 50 less. I still use it often. But more and more I am reaching for my 35 and loving the results it is giving me. And now that I have a 21, don't even get me started!

10-30-2006, 01:28
again, i take it as equivalent FL in the 35mm format ...

10-30-2006, 01:33
50 for me, nearly always, which means a 35mm on my Epson R-D1.


10-30-2006, 18:51
In ancient history, it would be the 35, now it's the 40, for sure. I love the charms of the 50, but the 42s are on the fixed-lens RFs I love so much, and the compromise between 50 and 35 is just perfect. Unless I need something wider. :D For that, I'll grab the OM w/28 or even 21.

11-04-2006, 04:54
50 mm lens...

... but it's because I only have 50 and 85 for my Bessa. I'm still waiting for the 35/2.5 skopar in the mail...

11-04-2006, 15:01
I chose 40 because my Canonet has a great 40mm on it and it's my favorite camera.
Usually on my SLR, I'll choose a 50mm. If I want wider, I use a 28mm. I seem to just skip over the 35, it seems either too wide or not wide enough.

12-08-2006, 13:26
My 50 helps me "get to the point" the quickest with whatever it is I am trying to convey with the shot. But I look forward to learning all the other common and less common lengths.

12-21-2006, 22:28
The 40mm gives a good angle of coverage for me. And I like the perspective that is associated with that.

George Bonanno
12-21-2006, 23:03
A 45mm lens on a 35mm camera is the perfect complement to normal vision... period ! A 50mm lens on a 35mm camera is a good compromise only because of its universal availability. If you can't take a decent image with a normal focal length lens on a given format, well then, your vision is limited and needs to be trained. Expand your visual horizons and force yourself for at least a few hundred pictures using a normal lens. You will see your images drastically improve. The best pictures on this planet are, were, taken with normal lenses.

Don't BS with comments like "I can't get back far enough" or "I'm too far away". Statements like that are used all to often as a crutch. I'm talking about pictures taken in the true spirit of rangefinder cameras.

If you don't agree after you have at least made a serious attempt to discipline yourself visually using a normal lens, well then, once again, your vision is limited.

That's my personal opinion and I stand by it.


BTW: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Now, turn your computer off and take some pictures.

01-10-2007, 04:23
My "normal" is a 28. What is "true" for one person is not always "true" for another.

01-10-2007, 04:35
I've always liked 50, although some of my favorite pics ever were with a 40mm tessar on my rollei 35. I do miss that camera...

01-10-2007, 05:45
I had to vote 50. I've had the 35mm CV Ultron for a few months, and I forced myself to use it exclusively, but it still does not feel natural to me and the results show it. I find that with the 35 I'm either too close or too far, and that it feels too wide.

The funny thing is that on my slr I use the 20mm prime almost exclusively and I was worried that on my bessa I would be limited to the relatively narrow view of the 35mm lens (if I wanted to avoid an external viewfinder).

01-28-2007, 20:02
I find virtue in all the above, but the only access I currently have to the 35mm focal length is via my Konica Lexio 70's 35-70 zoom...and that one distorts just a bit too much at 35mm for my taste. From there, I have the 38mm f/1.8 on my Konica Auto S3. I love that lens, and it's goaded me to seriously considering a Minolta CLE and CV 40mm f/1.4 Nokton to eventually take the S3's place (and be the "silent running" M-mount companion to my pair of Hexar RFs). I think I do prefer the 40mm POV to 50, but only by a certain amount...I won't be tossing my 50 M-Hex, in other words.

- Barrett

02-09-2007, 21:21
The 40 seems most natural to me, and the 35 nearly as much, after decades of M2 + 35mm and CLE + 40mm. I didn't have an RF 50mm until recently, and it's really not bad, just a tad long. The 50mm framing of the M2 is particularly nice I think, finally being able to see something around the outside of the frame.

02-10-2007, 07:10
There are too many other factors involved. I have many 50 all excellent but with quite different personalities.

02-20-2007, 18:31
When I first got my Bessa, I got a CV25 as my only lens. But I just got a 55mm/2.8 a few weeks ago. and it has stayed on my camera. I like the 50/55, Useful for candid pictures. It forces you to step back a few feet and give some breathing room to your subjects. I am also getting a J8 in 3 weeks, so I will have a low light 50/2. I use the 55/2.8 for outdoor mostly. Walking downtown etc...

just picked up a J9 also (85/2). needs a CLA, but it very usable until then.

Can't wait to spend a day downtown with just the J9 (and maybe the J8 too). will use a slow film so I can use F/2 -F/5.6

02-21-2007, 00:33
35 shows me what I see and 50 shows what I'm looking at.

I like the selectivity of the 50mm, both in terms of framing as in terms of DOF.

I 'switched' from a SLR with 35mm to an MP3 with 50mm. At first I found it difficult to use, but the discipline this lens imposes onto me really is improving my pictures.
So I agree with George on this.

With the 35mm I tend to make more snapshot like pictures with often too much elements in them. The 50mm for me has a far lower 'keeper' rate, but the ones that survive the selection are often much better to my taste than my pictures with 35mm.


03-21-2007, 22:45
I've learned to love a 35, which just wasn't true 'till I took up RF photography. I'm trying to see if I can work with a 28 (still haven't had the film developed for shots I took with an Ultron 28/1.9). I'm working with my 75 as well. But I think 50mm will always be my favourite for RF-style photography. It seems such a natural fit.


steve garza
03-22-2007, 08:58
35 is great for street shooting when you need to take quickie shots especially when the subject is relatively close....50mm is more amenable to careful composition.

Paul T.
03-22-2007, 10:29
I enjoy using 35mm on my Hexar AF, likewise the 50mm on my Kievs or SLRs has worked well, but the FL that works best for me, by a mile (or perhaps 5mm), is 40mm. It just has a certain... rightness...

03-22-2007, 10:38
I guessed the distribution would be 50 (50%), 40 (10%) and 35 (40%)

When I had a look there were 89 votes out of 179 for the 50. So I had to vote 50 to make it 90 out of 180.

As it happens I've used the 50 summicron that came with my M7 most. In the meantime I've got the 25 and 35 Biogons - but I'm still not used to them. i have to work hard to get something interesting in the foreground.

I also like the smaller depth of field of longer lenses.


Steve Bellayr
03-22-2007, 10:59
The ubiquitous 50mm because all the cameras I have came with that lens.

08-28-2010, 06:32
35 shows me what I see and 50 shows what I'm looking at.


Nicely put.

08-28-2010, 06:34
Some of the 'cooler' lenses out there are 50mm. But I find 35mm to be more versatile.

Juan Valdenebro
08-28-2010, 06:48
I see no relation between my favorite images (to me or others) and any focal length or gear oriented reason.

About feeling comfortable, I feel just as comfortable from 15mm to 300mm: I've even traveled with extreme focal length lenses as my only lens.

I don't use normal lenses more than wides and teles.



08-28-2010, 07:27
....me and my Biogon T 35/2.0...a love story :cool:

08-28-2010, 07:45
Strangly enough I was hardcore wide angle guy, but now I am loving my 50mm, can not take it off my camera :)

Same here.

08-28-2010, 08:53
50mm corresponds to how much of a scene I can see with one eye and how much I can remember ... I photograph the world through a CanonP with a 1:1 viewfinder

So the whole experience for me is seeing reality and recording memories. Summars and old Sonnars give a magical look even more like the images I see in my memories when I close my eyes.

Alex (feeling romantic)

08-29-2010, 04:04
I voted for 50mm.

It has been a journey of dicovery for me for the past year since i started using rangefinders.
Was back and forth between 35mm and 50mm but have since realized that 50mm is for me.

Whenever i see an image that i'd like to make, the 50mm always frames it nicely as opposed to 35mm.

08-29-2010, 04:53
This thread was started in 2006 ... now this is weird! :p

08-30-2010, 10:40
I agree, Keith. I wasn't part of the group in 2006 but I sometimes wonder how many times these same threads go around. I find myself clicking on a poll thread only to discover that I have already voted. When did I do that?

08-30-2010, 10:54
My best pics now certainly come from a Rolleiflex.

85 mm would be my best focal length then. But that does not show in the poll. Sorry.

And in 35 mm format the best come from 21 mm anyway.

08-30-2010, 11:09
If you'd asked me this question three or four months ago I would have voted for the 50 without a moment's hesitation. The 50 is the lens that I learned on and, up until very recently, I was quite sure that I saw the world photographically through 50mm framelines. However, recently, I find that I am using the 50 less. I still use it often. But more and more I am reaching for my 35 and loving the results it is giving me. And now that I have a 21, don't even get me started!

My experience exactly, I couldn't have said it better myself!

08-30-2010, 11:37
I use 36mm (X1), 37.24mm and 46.55 lenses exclusively ... (M8). ;)

back alley
08-30-2010, 16:50
i voted for 35mm but might change that for 50 now...of course it's all amuck with crop factors these days for me...but i cannot stop using that 50/1.1 lens, even on my panasonic g1!