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a city lens?
Old 07-16-2018   #1
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a city lens?

if i were to narrow down my main preference of subject i would say that i'm a city kid through and through. i like walking the streets and seeing what i might find to shoot. i like city vignettes, tall buildings and the sun's reflections on big city windows. i like people walking, doing their business and just meandering about.
with this in mind i started to think about which focal length might be considered a 'city' lens? i know the choice would not be universal as we all see things differently but i am curious to hear what others might have to say.
do you think there is a city lens?
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Old 07-16-2018   #2
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My pattern follows yours very closely. For Fuji X, my choice is the 28/2.8. For film bodies it is 35 or 40mm.
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Old 07-16-2018   #3
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Fifty or equivalent on crops.
The 18-55 F2.8-4 R LM OIS is also a great city lens for Fujis.
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Old 07-16-2018   #4
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For me it tends to be on the wide side, for western cities something around 35mm. On the other hand when I’ve travelled in crowded Asian cities it’s been 21mm. Under those conditions I like getting close to the subject to avoid the intervening extraneous bodies. I seldom do tight crop portraits and want to show the person in their environment.
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Old 07-16-2018   #5
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Kind of like what Glenn2 said: My city lens varies with the city, day, and mood (and ?). I don't know how some people can use just one lens (focal length) only. Sure, a favorite lens used most often, but one lens exclusively doesn't work with my brain.

That said, my city lenses (35mm film and FF digital) are 35, 50, and 21. Only challenge is changing lenses quickly when situation/mood/whatever prompts it.

On a Leica, I suppose the tri-elmar would fit well enough (28, 35, 50). On other bodies, I guess a zoom covering those focal lengths (or equivalents) is a good option -- provided its a high performing zoom.
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Old 07-16-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfaspen View Post
Kind of like what Glenn2 said: My city lens varies with the city, day, and mood (and ?). I don't know how some people can use just one lens (focal length) only. Sure, a favorite lens used most often, but one lens exclusively doesn't work with my brain.

That said, my city lenses (35mm film and FF digital) are 35, 50, and 21. Only challenge is changing lenses quickly when situation/mood/whatever prompts it.

On a Leica, I suppose the tri-elmar would fit well enough (28, 35, 50). On other bodies, I guess a zoom covering those focal lengths (or equivalents) is a good option -- provided its a high performing zoom.
I agree that for me, one lens doesn't do it. For me, in 35mm film, I like wide most of the time, but have a place for 50mm and short tele. I have three zooms in C/Y mount, from 18mm to 150mm. Luckily they are pretty good lenses. Oh, the 50mm f/1.4 Contax is happy in that bag as well.

If I'm going prime with my Fujica ST 901, it would probably be my 200mm with macro, my 50mm f/1.4 Fujinon, and either my 18mm or 24mm lenses.

I began with "normal" lenses in my photography, and haven't forgotten how I got some really nice photos. If I were only allowed one lens, it would probably be 50mm. I used to use my feet to "zoom: and haven't forgotten how.
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Old 07-16-2018   #7
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That Canon 22mm lens for your Canon EOS M gave you great results in the past, Joe.

Your photo examples taken with that lens still impress me to this day.
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Old 07-16-2018   #8
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I don't think you can designate one focal length to use for every instance and environment and subject.

In a city crowd, a 28mm perspective is about right for people on the street (a type of photography that seems popular these days but it's something I find pretty boring overall). Garry Winogrand seems to epitomize the best of this type of photography to me. He worked close in to his subjects, within a crowd many times, and his choice of a wide lens was a wise one.

But 28mm is not a universal focal length in my opinion. It's great for what it is but it's a smidge too wide for those times when the environment is a little more open and you want to show more detail and avoid perspective distortion. A 35mm or 50mm perspective might suit the situation better here.

Personally, I wouldn't want to be without either a 35mm or 50mm focal length perspective. Or a wider one either, for that matter. But I'm not a big city street shooter. I like small towns and open spaces. And I don't mind using 2-3 camera bodies with different lenses attached.
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Old 07-16-2018   #9
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If I had to pick only one it would be 25 (35mmFF EVF).

Perhaps it's a good day and I could add another it would be a moderate telephoto, depending upon the camera it would be either an 85 or a 105. A 50mm would be ok, but I like long jumps between primes.

B2 (;->
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Old 07-16-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xayraa33 View Post
That Canon 22mm lens for your Canon EOS M gave you great results in the past, Joe.

Your photo examples taken with that lens still impress me to this day.
i did like that combo...need to revisit the album on flickr for another look.
and thanks for the kind words.
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Old 07-16-2018   #11
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When shooting city subjects, it depends on which camera I am using.

Nikon 35mm SLR film camera
35mm f/1.4 flanked by 24mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8

Leica 35mm rangefinder film camera
35mm f/1.4 flanked by 21mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2

Contax 35mm rangefinder film camera
45mm f/2 flanked by 21mm f/2.8 and 90mm f/2.8

Fuji X-Pro APS-C digital mirrorless
23mm f/1.4 flanked by 16mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2

Nikon APS-C digital SLR
50mm f/1.4 auto focus flanked by 85mm f/1.4 auto focus and 14mm f/2.8 auto focus
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Old 07-16-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
When shooting city subjects, it depends on which camera I am using.

Nikon 35mm SLR film camera
35mm f/1.4 flanked by 24mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8

Leica 35mm rangefinder film camera
35mm f/1.4 flanked by 21mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2

Contax 35mm rangefinder film camera
45mm f/2 flanked by 21mm f/2.8 and 90mm f/2.8

Fuji X-Pro APS-C digital mirrorless
23mm f/1.4 flanked by 16mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2

Nikon APS-C digital SLR
50mm f/1.4 auto focus flanked by 85mm f/1.4 auto focus and 14mm f/2.8 auto focus
that fuji set up is a favourite of mine also...now if i could just rid myself of the arthritis in my hips, shoulders and hands i'd be laughing.
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Old 07-16-2018   #13
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I walk around mostly with the Leica M. Caprice of the moment dictates what lens I put on it, but the 50 and 35 win most of the time.
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Old 07-16-2018   #14
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For city life my tendency is to reach for a wide (and I often do) but when I force myself to use a 50mm I get better results.

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Old 07-16-2018   #15
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I started with 50mm lens in the city, but once I was able to get decent 35mm, I never looked back.
Now to me 50mm lens is then I'm in uptown or driving and it is empty.

Once I'm close to downtown and walking I just need to switch to 35mm. Because it is getting busy. Often it is my one and only lens for city and else.

I was trying 28mm because I enjoy GW photography... it is kind of not very far from 35, which is easier to get under reasonable price, yet with street build and compact size.
But 28mm is difficult for me to use with build-in frames or with entire VF.

I also used 24mm and it was weird focus length, I have to look in VF and trying to figure out how it actually frames. It was taking too long time. I was only OK with it for landscapes, cityscapes. I remember to carry on tripod and cable release for it!

And I'm more and more looking and recently tried 20mm focal length.
I'm finding it challenging and fascinating. First, VF not always needed, FOV feels just as I see it with both eyes.
Second, 20-21 mm lenses are available in different, but more less affordable variants.
Third, I already have Russar VF .

I like Lynn work with 21 and I have seen one youtube review of another 21 lens and it was very interesting work as well. Both photographers knows how to deal with distortions.
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Old 07-16-2018   #16
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Being more a landscape person I'd probable go with a 28mm on FF as that would allow me to shoot cityscapes and some street.
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Old 07-16-2018   #17
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I keep trying the 35 on my Fujis but never seem to like what I see. I've tried the 23 with similar results. Over all the images that please me seem to come from the 18. I have a 28 that lives on my M9, a 21 that lives on my Epson and the 18 on the XE3. My only deviation is the 18-55 on the old XPro1.
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Old 07-16-2018   #18
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I'd say if your want only one lens go for 35.
If two are an option take 50 for stronger portraits of people in their environment and a 25 for your tall buildings.
But you have how many lenses right now, 12?
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Old 07-16-2018   #19
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These days it's a 28mm f/2.8 AiS Nikkor. This lens is killer and has a focusing range that almost makes it a macro if I need to get really close to something. On the Nikon FA this is a great combo shooting in program or aperture priority.

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Old 07-16-2018   #20
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While I accept that the majority will opt for a wide lens I still tend to err in favor of a longer one for maybe 80% of the time. Wide scenes do little for me in most cases and if I am wanting to capture buildings and skylines I mostly prefer to get in close - believing that an interesting detail tells more about a city than does yet another (predictable) wide scene of a skyline etc. I feel the same about many street photos of people. I prefer a long lens to isolate the background if possible and also to capture people candidly without me having to shove a camera in their faces which is intrusive and almost invariably ensures a different kind of photo than that which I would have really liked- i.e. a photo other than one where the subject is looking in my direction, wondering why someone is shoving a camera in their face. But that's me - I am sure many others would disagree with this analysis. (And I am sure many are better street shooters than I).

So my favoured lens is something like an 80-200mm f2.8 AF D (an intermediate option in cost between say a prime of some sort and the latest Nikkor in the new 70-200mm range which is expensive- MUCH). Alternatively, for MF shooters the older (and slower) 80-200mm F4 AI which is pretty cheap and very good and is a very good option. A cheaper alternative for AF shooters of Nikon gear is a 70-210mm f4-5.6 AF D. A good inexpensive lens that I take with me when on longer trips when there is a good deal of air travel - I used it a lot for Hong Kong for example as it is also smallish hence involves less hassle at airports with carry on baggage.

The only downside really is size / weight though the last two mentioned are not too bad in that respect.

If you were to ask me which prime lens I would carry as a "city lens" I would possibly make do with an 85mm f1.8 although for this purpose it is neither fish nor fowl and is not ideal for my style of shooting.

The truth though is that I can never limit myself to one lens. Even if only out for a day shoot I do like to have a wide prime in the say 24mm range for the few occasions that I do need one plus something like a 50mm f1.4 plus my big zoom on the camera.
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Old 07-16-2018   #21
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For street shooting I prefer something wider than "normal", meaning such things as the 40mm fixed on the GIII, a 28mm prime, or a zoom close to the wide limit.

However, for this one below (across the street, roughly curb to sidewalk), the correct tool for the job was the 28-80 zoom close or at the long end. (The best camera/lens for the job is the one you have with you!)

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Old 07-16-2018   #22
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I shoot mostly in the city and mostly in the street, but NYC's neighborhoods are quite varied in how they're laid out and how people move about.

For years I defaulted to a 35mm as my "normal" lens in the street but I'm finding myself drawn a little more toward longer focal lengths recently. The 55's and 58's that were popular kit lenses in the early seventies and late sixties seem to be working out well for me lately and sometimes I've been going a little longer to 85 and 100 to isolate people from a more comfortable distance.

I still use the 35 plenty, though, and I'm also starting to admit that the plain ol', pedestrian 50mm, which I avoided using for years, is actually a pretty darn good focal length for a lot of things.

Most of the time I only bring one lens out with me for the day and the focal length dictates how I shoot to some extent, but I do pick the lens based upon where I think I'll be walking so it's not completely random.

A lot of fixed-lens RF cameras from the 1950s through the 1970s were fitted with lenses a little shorter than the typical 50mm SLR lens; 42s and 45s. I would bet that's one reason why they've always been so popular with urban street photographers. It's a pretty good all-around focal length for this type of shooting.
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Old 07-16-2018   #23
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i used to think that a 28 or a 50 were too boring to get a really good image...i thought that using a telephoto on the street was 'cheating'...i really liked very wide shots but they were for other people cause i didn't 'see' that way....it's so easy to limit oneself.
these days i pick a lens depending on where i'm going, what i hope to achieve and how i feel, both physically and emotionally. i'm allowing myself to think of myself more as an artist than i have ever allowed before so my feelings are very important to me when choosing a lens. i am loving wide angles, really liking the fuji 18 and 14 and 16...wide views and lens size itself help me decide when going wide. i looks through a few of my flickr albums today and discovered i had a few good shots and shots that i liked in the 56 album...a lens i have not pulled out for awhile.
like i said earlier, i'm a city kid mostly and i have throughly enjoyed this conversation.
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Old 07-16-2018   #24
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On 35mm film cameras, I have used the following focal lengths as a "city lens:"

35mm (my personal favorite)
40mm
45mm
50mm
55mm
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Old 07-16-2018   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i used to think that a 28 or a 50 were too boring to get a really good image...i thought that using a telephoto on the street was 'cheating'...i really liked very wide shots but they were for other people cause i didn't 'see' that way....it's so easy to limit oneself.
these days i pick a lens depending on where i'm going, what i hope to achieve and how i feel, both physically and emotionally. i'm allowing myself to think of myself more as an artist than i have ever allowed before so my feelings are very important to me when choosing a lens. i am loving wide angles, really liking the fuji 18 and 14 and 16...wide views and lens size itself help me decide when going wide. i looks through a few of my flickr albums today and discovered i had a few good shots and shots that i liked in the 56 album...a lens i have not pulled out for awhile.
like i said earlier, i'm a city kid mostly and i have throughly enjoyed this conversation.


I think that is a good way of thinking about photography - treat lenses the same way an artist - say a painter treats his paint brushes by picking up the one that works best for the specific task in hand. I have declared my hand (I like longer lenses) but I seldom limit myself to just one lens if I can at all help it - I just do not know what photographic opportunities are likely to confront me on a typical day.
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Old 07-16-2018   #26
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A 50mm (on full frame film) and 38mm on the Pen F (half frame film). If you cannot back up enough a 28mm for full or 20mm for half frame can be slipped in a cargo pocket and carried almost unnoticed.
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Old 07-16-2018   #27
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20, 35, 50 mostly the 35

105, 135 I like to use to pick out details
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Old 07-16-2018   #28
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Many thanks Kostya for the compliment!

Joe I like 21, 35 and 50mm for the city. I currently use 21mm the most, shooting from the waist or using an external finder. 21mm is easier to use on an inconspicuous camera like a Barnack rather than an SLR or larger camera. Before using the 21mm I liked the 24mm on my LX3 and 5D a lot.
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Old 07-17-2018   #29
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With my FUJIFILM cameras I use 18, 23, 27 and 35 mm lenses. These are for candid work of people. I don't use zooms because they're too heavy. Larger lenses also draw attention.

The least used is the 27. I like to use when I can't be on the move because its small. The small 27 is also useful for public spaces on private property.

I use the 18 when I'm walking around in crowds. With some practice you can isolate subjects (get close) and they assume you're photographing something in the distance.

The 35 is useful when there aren't crowds.

I use 23 mm when I don't have any plan or specific project in mind. My silver X100T is also useful for public spaces on private property. People don't take it seriously.
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Old 07-17-2018   #30
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Shift lenses - 35mm and a 55-110mm zoom!

The zoom weighs about a kilo (2 lb), cobbled together from a Mamiya 645 lens and a shift adapter.

I hate converging verticals, which are unavoidable in narrow city streets if you want a certain framing; hence I always use shift lenses.

The zoom? Again, it’s the narrow streets! Prime lenses mean I often can’t get the framing I want without standing in the middle of the road or in someone’s yard. Plus it saves swapping lenses all the time.

The Mamiya 55-110mm might weigh a ton and be massive but I’d put up against most prime lenses...!



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Old 07-17-2018   #31
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with Fuji the 16-55 2.8 and now I switched to Sony the 24-105 will do perfectly (with OIS) as a walk around city lens
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Old 07-18-2018   #32
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my mind sometimes thinks in terms of kits...different combinations of gear...put together with a purpose. like these...fuji gear, for the street...18 & 27, very small, good general coverage and no one would take you very seriously...i could carry this all day!
16/23/56...clearly this would be the fast kit, all larger apertures...great for those long winter days of limited light...14/23/35/50...the biggest small kit available. great from wide to a decent portrait...and all great in the city.
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Old 07-18-2018   #33
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My Fuji Travel Kit also makes a good city kit.

Fuji X-Pro2

23mm f/2 Fujinon auto focus

12mm f/2 Rokinon manual focus

55mm f/1.8 adapted Fujinon M42 screw mount manual focus lens with FotoDiox adapter


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Old 07-18-2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnb View Post
Many thanks Kostya for the compliment!

Joe I like 21, 35 and 50mm for the city. I currently use 21mm the most, shooting from the waist or using an external finder. 21mm is easier to use on an inconspicuous camera like a Barnack rather than an SLR or larger camera. Before using the 21mm I liked the 24mm on my LX3 and 5D a lot.
I've noticed this too now (after how many years?) The 21 is much easier to use "from the hip" than most lenses. And, it seems to be a great match with a barnack. I've also put it on an MDa in recent times. But, it tends to be the little LTM CV 21/4 and a IIIa that feels right.

The DOF and the "Holga-esque" technique of pointing and shooting from any position (i.e., the hip) seems to work with the 21. I also have a 15, and it works with that lens too, but not as well. Composition and subject distance become factors, so less spontaneous.
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Old 07-18-2018   #35
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It really depends on the city and how wide the streets are... but generally I still like a 50MM equivalent.
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Old 07-18-2018   #36
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It really depends on the city and how wide the streets are... but generally I still like a 50MM equivalent.
This is almost exactly what I was going to say, except that I'm still undecided between 50 and 35. As I get older I find the 50 more and more useful, though the 35 was for almost 40 years (and to some extent, still is) my "standard" lens.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-18-2018   #37
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35mm is my focal length of choice, for city or country.

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