Nifty 50, 35 jive, or something else?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by soco, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. macrumors demi-god

    soco

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    Dec 14, 2009
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    #1
    As I have been learning more and more about lenses, their unique uses, and more and more developing my personal style and such, I've become attracted to primes.

    It's important to note that I don't have anything but the kit 18-55mm that came with my T3 (not a Mark IV but it's my baby nonetheless).

    I am mainly developing in street photography. I've heard conflicting opinions that a great prime to start with is a 50, but also that given my camera's 1.6x crop factor, a 35 is my equivilent.

    Either way, do I want a 35mm for a 50mm style, or do I go with a 24 or something (is there such a thing?) to try and achieve the 35mm style?

    Or something else? :p
     
  2. macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Is you kit lens letting you down?
    With your kit lens do you favor the wise or longer focal lengths?
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    MonkeySee....

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    #3
  4. macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    If you look around the internet you will find that most street and documentary photographers use either 28mm or 35mm lenses (real 28 and 35mm, meaning FF, no crop factor).

    The reason that these focal lengths are preferred is that the images give the impression that the photographer is in the action, rather than an outsider looking in.

    One photographer who used a 50mm lens almost exclusively is Henri Cartier Bresson.

    I suggest you spend some time looking at the work of street photographers and try to see which field of view attracts you the most. Some names to look up are Cartier Bresson, Joel Mayerowitz, Bruce Gildon, Garry Winogrand. Also look up the collectives In-Public and Burn My Eye. The Eric Kim blog has a lot if useful information (whether you like him or not!), the Flikr group HCSP (Hardcore Street Photography) is also a place to scour images and read threads, and of course look through the portfolios on the Magnum website as well as VII etc.

    By looking at images, reading interviews with the photographers and watching youtube clips of them working you will be able to get a better idea of what focal length appeals to you most.

    If street photography really is for you, you may find that changing your camera to something more discreet may be a more prudent use of your money than buying a new lens for your DSLR.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    California
    #5
    I tend to think that you would want a 35mm or wider for a walk-around lens on a crop sensor, but that's me. Why not try shooting for a day at a specific focal length on your kit zoom (24mm, 35mm, 50mm)? Evaluate those photos and see if you need/want to go wider or narrower and then try it at a different focal length. In other words, try using your kit zoom as a tool to help determine which prime might best fit your needs.
     
  6. macrumors 601

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    #6
    24mm lens.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 29, 2011
    #7
    50mm on a crop was too tight to be versatile for me personally.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

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    #8
  9. macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    As much as I agree with the sentiment that 24mm would be preferable, to the extent that the only lens I own is a 24mm 1.4 (though Nikon flavour), they are hugely expensive lenses.

    I would question the wisdom of investing this much in a lens at the stage of development the OP is in with his photography (I gather he has only been practicing a few months?).

    If this is to be used for street photography, I would suggest a better investment would be in something like a used fuji X100, Lumix GX1 or similar which can be had for a fraction of the price of a 24 1.4 lens, and will be more stealthy to use on the street, is lighter and much less restrictive in the sense that it can be carried easily and conveniently almost everywhere.

    It is unfortunate that APS-C DSLR cameras do not have a good selection of wide prime lenses at reasonable prices, forcing those who want a wider lens into the world of the highly priced FX fast primes.
     
  10. macrumors 601

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    #10
    You don't have to pay much for a 24mm...
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    But you do for the one linked to above!
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    ijohn.8.80

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    #12
  13. thread starter macrumors demi-god

    soco

    Joined:
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    #13
    I favor the wider. I tend to take shots at anywhere between 18mm-28mm (28.8mm-44.8mm due to crop). It's actually not that the kit lets me down, but I guess I've been lead to believe that a fixed prime at a focal that I favor will get me better quality than using my kit and happening to use that focal most of the time anyway.

    I have been studying HCB and others like him for a while now. I've been following some great modern day street photographers as well. I really enjoyed watching DigitalRevTV's "Cheap Camera/Pro Tog" series due to the inevitable walkabout style to the episodes where you really get to see how certain professional photographers work, compose, set up, and see.

    I'm currently reading "The Essentials of Street Photography" by James Maher. It's honestly a little repetitive, but I appreciate the message so far.

    I love this idea. I think you win the thread. I'm going to spend a month or so shooting at 22mm (effectively 35.2mm with crop) and if it feels right, I'll keep my eye out for a cheap-enough lens to fit.

    Something like that. :)
     
  14. macrumors 6502

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    California
    #14
    Just remember that, using your example, if you find you enjoy shooting at 22mm on your kit zoom, you would be in the market for a 22mm lens (not sure that exists). Don't get caught up in the effective focal length unless you are directly comparing a lens on your crop sensor body to a lens on a full frame body.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Put some tape around your lens to keep the focal length in place, this will allow you to essentially forget about the lens.
     
  16. macrumors 601

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #16
    All that won't matter unless you master seeing the light and getting interesting compositions of a subject(s). I learned the hard way - a given lens won't improve your photography one bit, just make it clearer and sharper.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors demi-god

    soco

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    #17
    Huh? :confused:

    My bit about enjoying watching those DRTV clips included:

    I'm completely on top of composition and improving the creative flow. :D

    ooh really interesting. I wouldn't mind tossing a bit of electrical tape on the kit.

    Thanks!
     
  18. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    #18
    Wider is better for street photography, but you should still get a 50.

    You can always pick up a really cheap 5xmm film lens on ebay. Like a Helios 44-2 for around $40. If money is a concern then dont limit yourself to modern lenses.
     
  19. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #19
    I agree with Attonine. For street photography, stealth is important. Many subjects react negatively when they see the big camera/lens come out. I'd be looking at a Sony RX100 or some other compact camera containing a large sensor.
     
  20. macrumors G4

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    #20
    On a crop body a 50mm is good for head and shoulders portraits and other kinds of tight shots. It is a mild telephoto lens on that body. The 35mm is wider and gives a perspective that is like what you see with you eyes, kind of.

    24mm on a crop body is getting to be a wide angle and is hard to use on the street because you get so much in the image get busy.

    I actually like tight highly cropped in shots and would go for the 50mm. I'd rarely shoot a full body person shot I even lie to use my 85mm f/1.8 on the crop frame SLR.

    But if you like more scenic and open shots go with the 35mm

    Most beginners NEVER get close enough. That is way the longer 100mm lenses are popular. Lazy people don't like to get close but the perspective is more "involving" when the camera is physically close up so get the 35m and shoot from 4 or 6 feet away.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors demi-god

    soco

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
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    #21
    Yeah I'd never want to shoot from across the street lol

    I've been reading quite a bit that fear is a big issue in street photography, but thankfully I've been fine walking straight up to subjects and clicking away. I'm always very polite and most times will even ask permission if I think they may be a little put off.

    I definitely enjoy the less-scenic, more like-you're-there shots. I'm going into NYC to do some shooting tonight, so I'll play with ~22mm on my kit to see if I can get an effective 35mm look, and see how it feels.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    ratboy90

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    Apr 15, 2009
    #22
    The 35 is a great lens but I would go with the 50. You can do so much more with it, especially with street photography.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

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    California
    #23
    How so? I am by no means an expert in street photography, but within the range of focal lengths that is being discussed so far (24-50mm), what makes a 50mm lens more versatile? Don't get me wrong, I have a 50mm in my bag, but I think it would be useful to discuss why a 50mm is "better" for this particular purpose than a 24mm (or vice-versa).

    Ultimately, only the OP can decide what best suits his particular needs, but I think an informed discussion as to the pros and cons would help inform that decision.

    My $0.02...
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    I have to totally, totally disagree with the idea that a 50 (on an APS-C) body is good for street photography. I accept that "Street Photography" is broad, there are as many different styles and opinions as there are practitioners. The best street photography leaves the viewer with the feeling that they are in the image, 80mm (50mm on APS-C) just doesn't do this, it makes you an outsider.

    "If you can't smell the street, it's not a street photograph." Bruce Gilden.

    If you don't agree you can argue with him, I'm not!
     
  25. thread starter macrumors demi-god

    soco

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    NJ
    #25
    I have to agree that due to the APS-C crop, a 50mm effectively being an 80mm is just off for me.

    If he meant an effective 50mm, or in other words, a 35mm equating to 56mm, then yeah I could see using that, maybe.
     

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