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Help me learn to love my 35mm lens?
Old 09-04-2018   #1
ASA 32
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Help me learn to love my 35mm lens?

I recently acquired a Leica M 262, and have been looking here on RFF at all the wonderful images other RFF users have posted using a 35mm lens. I've also been reading the many blogs and posts elsewhere praising the 35mm and even noting that using that focal length will improve one's photography.

Over the years I've always been a 50mm and short-tele shooter, but while I'm an old dog, I can learn some new tricks. So I'm going to take Steve Huff's advice and for three months, shoot only with the 35mm. I started yesterday, shooting several altogether forgettable images...a good start, so there's room to improve, right?

I'll be using my Zeiss ZM 35 f/2 Biogon which I've had for several years. In my shooting yesterday, I shot some images with Lens Detection on Manual selecting the Leica 35 f/2, and others with Lens Detection off. Imported to LR 7.2 with Embedded camera profile, and then for the Lens Detection off images invoking the Lens Profile listed for the Zeiss lens. Comparing the two, I preferred Lens Detection off and using Adobe's Zeiss lens profile, partly for the sake of convenience.

Among the tips I've read and will try to incorporate:
1. Get closer!
2. When shooting people, make environmental portraits.
3. Shoot "layers."
4. Be aware of distortions at edges of the frame.
5. Edit ruthlessly.

Would be happy to hear comments from others about my "assignment," and I welcome further tips.

Thanks!

Last edited by ASA 32 : 09-04-2018 at 10:25. Reason: Clarity, spelling
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Old 09-04-2018   #2
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35 will not improve anything. It just allows to get more at closer distance. This is it.

You are much more lucky if you like 50mm. So much more choices and much more affordable 50mm lenses.
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Old 09-04-2018   #3
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I am a 50 guy. 28 and 35 are often much to wide for the things I like to photograph. Although! I was in a situation with my Ricoh GRDIV this weekend that I wish I would have brought the 21mm conversion lens for a few interior shots of my Great Grandparents cabin my Grandfather has been remodeling. Grandpas work always gets me inspired.
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Old 09-04-2018   #4
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Shoot many photos and try out many things. Shoot each image as a horizontal image and then as a vertical image.

Shoot in color and shoot also with the goal to have in the end a B&W image.

Play with DOF when using the 35mm lens. Experiment.

Good luck with it all.
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Old 09-04-2018   #5
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I was very happy with my 50's until I got a 35. 35mm is how I see! Now the 50's are irrelevant, I'll trade them all for 35s.
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Old 09-04-2018   #6
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Why?

There is no "one size fits all".

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Old 09-04-2018   #7
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Sell the 35mm.
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Old 09-04-2018   #8
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Just think of your 35mm as a wide 50mm that can focus closer to the subject. Have fun and happy shooting!

Shot with a Zeiss 35mm f2





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Old 09-04-2018   #9
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1) Enjoy the extra DOF. As a 50 shooter I found it hard to zone focus unless I was using f8 or greater and aiming for mid-long distance subjects. The 35 should make zone focusing much easier.
2) Yes to the advice to get closer, particularly when coming from 50s. However, also learn to evaluate the background better and incorporate leading lines, interesting light, action that enhances the main subject
3) Corollary to the above: since it's harder to isolate your subject with a 35, pay attention to background elements that might be distracting or otherwise detract from your composition

As a former 50 shooter that went to 35s and now is getting back to 50s, I remember vividly how easily I could pre-visualize a 50 frameline. After shooting mostly 21-28-35, I now struggle visualizing interesting subjects in the tighter cropping, and often find myself bumping into a wall or a pole as I try to take a few steps back and squeeze a little more content into my frame. It's been an interesting exercise to "edit out" of my vision, whereas you should consider learning to "edit in".
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Old 09-04-2018   #10
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First off, keep shooting. Expensive if you're shooting film, but it's important.

Second, do you have a 35mm FOV External Finder? I think you need to see/visualize the framing. Look through it, then decide if it's a picture. Perhaps you should try to framing the shot, counting to three slowly and reviewing the shot in the finder. If it doesn't look at least good, don't push the button. I've always tried to do that when I was shooting film, when I shoot digital I'm not as disciplined.

Get a cheap digital camera (8 or 10 MP) and a lens that is effective 35mm. A good M4/3 camera would work fine and shot a LOT. Much cheaper than film. Go through and don't just say it's not to your liking, think about what you could have done to make it to your liking. Different angle, different side, different lens, what would work better. Editing your pictures is hard for some, but working the picture, dissecting pictures for what would work better and thinking about the look is often harder.

It's your first week, don't go to hard on yourself.

Frankly, going from a 50 to a 35, IMHO is not enough of a jump in difference. I'd say 24, 25, or even 28 would be better. Myself, I find I work better with larger differences between my lenses (less swapping), but that's me. When I was learning photography one friend had a 24/50/105 set up, mine was a 24/85/200.

It's hard to take a jump to a different focal length. Don't give up and keep asking questions and post a few of your shots, good and bad for input. Just get ready to hear some things like I've heard (e.g. you are short, you smell, your cat has a funny tail, and your dog isn't manly enough).

Hope this helps.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-04-2018   #11
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can’t help you there! i’m a 50mm/28mm person, and 35mm feels like a watered down version that makes it harder to get a “rich, full-flavored” composition and perspective.

lots of photographers do great things with a 35mm, like lee friedlander, hiromix, ryan mcginley, richard billingham, and luc delahaye. i’m just not one of them!
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Old 09-04-2018   #12
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Long time 35 lover here. The reason I love it is because I can get closer which allows me to emphasise near-far perspective, include environment, and add layers.
I find my keeper rate is lower than with a 50 because there’s more going on, but I much prefer the output from the 35.
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Old 09-04-2018   #13
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I used to use almost only 50mm lenses for many years, but since I switched to RF cameras, I somehow started to enjoy using 35mm lenses too. I started out with M3 with 35-50-90 Summicron lenses.
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Old 09-04-2018   #14
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(ツ) I never really understood the popularity of the 35mm, sure it's a great compromise lens but wider and longer are more interesting / (ツ)
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Old 09-04-2018   #15
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Quoting HCB

"The 35 is splendid when needed, but extremely difficult to use if you want precision in composition. There are too many elements, and something is always in the wrong place. It is a beautiful lens at times when needed by what you see. But very often it is used by people who want to shout. Because you have a distortion, you have somebody in the foreground and it gives an effect. But I don’t like effects. There is something aggressive, and I don’t like that. Because when you shout, it is usually because you are short of arguments."

I love the masters opinion and I love my 35 too. Go to car shooter.

A lot of great Hollywood stuff is made with a 28 on 1.5 crop so roughly 42 equivalent.

Ever tried a 40?
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Old 09-04-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
35 will not improve anything. It just allows to get more at closer distance. This is it.

You are much more lucky if you like 50mm. So much more choices and much more affordable 50mm lenses.
+1 (This sentence added to meet minimum character requirement.)
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Old 09-04-2018   #17
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I did most of my best work with a C-Biogon 35/2.8, most of it in Cuba with Peter Turnley. He really turned me around on 35's.

I used to use 50mms most of the time, but now they feel cramped and constricting. The 35mm opens up the frame to include more geometry in your compositions, not less.

And it's a godsend indoors, especially if you've got a Nokton or a Summilux.
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Old 09-04-2018   #18
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I feel this way about 28mm. A very hard focal length for me to visualize. I'm either too close or too far.

If you really dig the output of 35mm, just keep it on your camera. Resist the temptation to go back and forth with your 50. Eventually you'll begin 'seeing' in 35.
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Old 09-04-2018   #19
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35 mm feels more natural.
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Old 09-04-2018   #20
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The reason I shoot with a 35mm F/L on FF is it really matches the way I see and work. Is it that way for you?
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Old 09-04-2018   #21
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I like 35mm; I feel it is a great compromise between 50 and 28. Take a couple steps forward or back. If you can't take a step in either direction you're stuck. Life goes on. Still, only had to bring one lens...

I've used 28 a lot and even 25 for awhile. A 50 seems like looking through a tunnel after that.
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Old 09-04-2018   #22
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I like 35 for the DOF. It was my main lens for a long time and I still use it a lot.
It's only recently that I've really started appreciating 50 again. Part of the reason I get along well with 35 is that I shoot mostly in the streets of NYC where most subjects are close or, at least, reasonably close. I don't even really consider a 35 to be a wide lens; it's more like a slightly wide normal.

28 is a length I've always had trouble warming up to, however. If I'm going to go that wide, I'd rather go 24 or even 21.

As far as advice goes, I think the most important thing is what you're already doing: leave the 35 on the camera for a while.
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Old 09-04-2018   #23
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Often, paying special attention to the foreground pays off with wide angle lenses, even with a 35mm.

Oh, and watch out for perspective distortion with buildings, and with pictures in which faces are close to the lens.

BTW, for what it's worth, I think I use a 28 more than a 35, and rarely use a 50.
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Old 09-04-2018   #24
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I started photography with an SLR a few years ago and my first real lens purchase was a Canon 35L for my FF 6d. I had it in my head that I was a 35 guy, but found myself reaching for a 50 cron more often than my 35 Summaron. It wasn't that I couldn't work with the 35, it's just that the tighter composition from the 50 worked better for me. That being said, I still feel like the 35 is my do it all lens if I'm going SUPER light and 1 lens setup. I did recently force myself (and struggled a bit) with a 2 lens 28/50 setup. 28 is my nemesis lens. I find it uncomfortable to use, but upon inspecting my film I end up with a higher keeper rate with the 28. Is it slowing me down and making me look deeper into a scene? Maybe. Maybe it's the effect of the lens. In either case, slow down and JUST take your 35 and have fun. Eventually it'll feel more natural.
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Old 09-04-2018   #25
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When I was doing newspaper photos in the 80's, the 35mm lens was most useful for doing a shot of someone and showing his or her context. So think of it as an environmental portrait lens.
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Old 09-04-2018   #26
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I used a 28/50 combo for thirty years before using my first 35mm lens a few years ago . I instantly fell under the spell of the 35mm and it’s my go to focal length for most things. Having said that I still get plenty of use of the FLs around it ie 28/40/45/50 !
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Old 09-04-2018   #27
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I find the 35mm lens too tight, and the 28mm too loose.

I like the Lomo Minitar 32mm 2.8, which is just right. And teeny.
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Old 09-04-2018   #28
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35mm is life. No cheap distortive or perspective tricks, no bokeh-hiding-bad-composition antics. Closest you can get to a normal.
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Old 09-05-2018   #29
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In some ways it is good to try new things; but there is also a time for realising that some things just don't work (for you) no matter how much money and time you put in.
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Help me learn to love my 35mm lens?
Old 09-05-2018   #30
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Help me learn to love my 35mm lens?

Agreed with some comments above?
Why you _have_to like 35mm while you are happy with 50mm already.
At the end of the day, pictures are final results and i am sure that no one cares if a picture was taken by which focal length.
In my case totally opposite , i sold all my 50s and 35mm is my only focal length now. Not that i hate 50s but i use 35mm 95% of the time, so that it is.


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Old 09-05-2018   #31
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1) Watch the background - give it as much attention than the foreground. No "bokeh"-fixing of bad backgrounds.
2) Composition requires more attention in general.
3) Do not hesitate to crop. 4:3 ratios may work better sometimes, and generally 35mm will give you a bit more leeway to do so, and why not.
4) Get closer...or maybe not. If you need to get closer, are you trying to achieve the same thing as with the 50s? "Environmental" was the word here. See above points.
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Old 09-05-2018   #32
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The way to get to know any lens is to shoot with it all the time until you become familiar with its angle of view and the way it renders. So enjoy getting to know your 35mm, and then you'll be able to judge whether the 35mm view is one you like to work with.

Any focal length lens can produce good work if the person using it has a good eye and understands how to use it. It's your eye that makes the difference. Look at Jane Bown's wonderful portraits taken with the OM Zuiko 85mm f/2.

35mm allows an intimate distance while still giving context, through its wider angle of view. Is that what you like?
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Old 09-05-2018   #33
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The 35mm has field effects inherent to this angle of view which it itself can be charming and interesting. There may be a little vignetting that you can use to effect, and the distortions, field of focus effects and general closeup performance make for interesting photographs. When shooting wide open, you will notice that the middle compared to the corners differ in focus - thus the field curvature. The corners will not de-focus like the centre. Use these features to good effect, because they can make a charming image and sometimes make a coherent effect with the subject in focus and the borders of the image. Most 35mm also produce impeccable image clarity at close distances.

You might think this is a lot of hoopla, make your opinion - but artistically it can be a strength of this lens angle of view. Taking into consideration the practical use of getting closer to the subject, and getting more of it at the same time. The 35mm is possibly the most practical angle of view.

Leitz Summaron 35/2.8


Leitz Summaron 35/2.8


Leitz Summaron 35/2.8


Leitz Summicron 35/2 Type 1
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Old 09-05-2018   #34
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Best tip is to use it more so that you can appreciate its potential.
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Old 09-05-2018   #35
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Bill Pierce recounts swapping cameras with a PJ to take a photograph of each other so that the photograph of themselves was on their own roll of film. He habitually used the “get it all in” 35, and marvelled at the telephoto view in his mate’s viewfinder, through a 50mm lens.

I shot for 20 years with a 50 and when my children were small I traded in a meterless M4-2 for a metered M6 and soon added the tiny v4 35mm Summicron. That compact kit was fantastic for chasing after children, shooting from the hip with scale focus and I’m sure my keeper rate was much higher for all the advantages of that specific set-up. I remember the first shot of my daughter with that lens where I finally cracked the framing with the 35. There is so much more to the 35 than you think.
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Old 09-05-2018   #36
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Try one one an SLR or with live view for a little while. Easier than starting with a RF I think. Especially with a high magnification VF, seeing that big view as a picture is hard at first.
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Old 09-05-2018   #37
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Back in the 1960s, when I bought my first SLR, the 50mm lens was used by most photographers as the standard lens. The 28/50/135 kit was the most popular combo.

When I switched to a Nikon SLR from a Miranda SLR, I also switched my kit to 35/85/180. I preferred using the 35 instead of the 50 because it allowed me to step in front of competing news photographers to capture the images I needed.


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Old 09-05-2018   #38
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50mm is normal - if you are a cyclops.

I have two eyes, with overlapping fields of view and peripheral vision.
Don't you?

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Old 09-05-2018   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
Back in the 1960s, when I bought my first SLR, the 50mm lens was used by most photographers as the standard lens.

When I was about 14, I started using my parent's Minolta SR-1. They had one lens for it - a 50. I don't think they even considered the possibility that the lens could be removed and another one attached in its place. So I was raised that way. It was a revelation when I discovered other focal lengths!
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Old 09-05-2018   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
.... kit to 35/85/180....

Nikon F2 by Narsuitus, on Flickr
That was my Father's kit at Kodakery for many year. The 35/1.4 is a rocking lens, way out of my price range back then. With the 35 he never needed to worry about heads becoming footballs or other such fun distortions. He came from a LF background and was very sensitive to showing people in their best light.

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