What's your favorite focal length and why?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by SquarePeg, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Then you're well enough equipped. I guess you and wide angle aren't made for each other.


     
  2. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    50mm, 85mm and 100mm.
     
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  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    But, doesn't every camera maker offer 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm lenses? I mean, aren't these the same focal lengths that have been used since the 1950's? I mean...aren't these like time-proven, dependable, reliable focal lengths for full-frame cameras, and also good on APS-C cameras too? Who wants that!
     
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  4. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    90% of the time I use my 105mm f/1.4 now
     
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  5. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    These are simply my preferred focal lengths. Has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks, it has everything to do with my personal preferences and experience. I used to love 135mm, but through experience found that it isn't a focal length that is sensible even on a full frame camera. 100mm gives an equally effective focal length while also being much more easy to use indoors and outdoors. Same goes for 85mm; I could post two images, one shot with an 85mm and one shot with a 135mm, and guarantee that you wouldn't be able to figure out which lens was used without looking at the exif. Better yet, the 85mm is $700 cheaper. Honestly I could probably take 100mm off of my list because the 85mm still does the exact same job for hundreds of dollars less. 50mm is wide enough to make a big difference from 85mm though, which is also why it's a favorite of mine that's separate from the 85mm.

    So I guess I revise my list. 85mm and 50mm.
     
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  6. Frank F.

    Frank F. engineering art Supporting Member

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    For me it changed with age and experience. Wide Angle Photos are much more difficult to compose than Tele photos.

    In a wide angle shot you have so many possibly conflicting elements and with a cheap wide angle you cannot really separate by blurring. At f/1.4 or f/1.8 you get some subject separation even at 20mm, but these lenses cost more than the whole bag of many amateurs.

    What to do? Geometrical slow photography using a tripod and f/5.6 to f/22, depending on the diffraction limit of you camera.

    Modern high pixel count cameras with small recording areas like 1/1.7 or 1 inch chips have their diffraction limit at f/4 or f/5.6.

    With these it is much easier to get some separation on the long end of the usual zooms delivered with these cameras.

    Tele means your frame will contain fewer elements so composition is much easier.

    For beginners in film days a 1.8/50 was the lens delivered as a kit and I still recommend this on digital Crop sensors. Much less frustrating. Much easier to achieve a previsualised result.

    In a film format body like the Nikon D3 or Nikon D600 which can today be bought very cheaply on eBay the 1.8/50 is more challenging but still a light Tele and you get loads of very good examples looking at the history of photography.

    After that theoretical preface, I must say that my 1.4/105 Nikkor is my favourite lens at the moment, on crop as well as on film format (24*36 sqmm). Here the challenge is to use the razor blade thin focal plane to make your point. It is so easy to misfocus these shots. But: If you succeed it is all the more pleasing. Examples:

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    33160783055_ec3dc2c419_o.jpg 33162937525_88ea51af98_o.jpg

    Having said that, after roughly one million photos taken in my life I feel confident to use all the lenses in my bag halways competently. All of them from 8mm to 300mm and the macros on crop or 24*36 and my monorail cameras.
     
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  7. gk fotografie

    gk fotografie èn...dat zoeken we op! Supporting Member

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    I've always been a big fan of wide angel/fish eye lenses and panorama photography.
    Mid 1970's I discovered Dutch photographer Frits Rotgans, pioneer in panorama photography and builder of his own filmcameras. Short intro:



    In the past 50 years every first or second lens I bought for a new reflexcamera was indeed a wide angel or a fish eye.
    Through the years I've owned several Nikon superwide lenses, a 30mm Distagon for MF and a 47mm Super Angulon for LF. Never had a serious interest in telephoto lenses, but absolutely needed them as a pro.

    I love to explore and experiment, this morning a 6,5mm fish eye arrived for my Fuji XE1, too bad Fuji has no real fisheye lenses for X-mount. Just a quick snapshot:

    img.JPG
     
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  8. Frank F.

    Frank F. engineering art Supporting Member

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    If I may point out that I also like my 1.4/35 Ai-S very much, esp as a "normal" lens for my D500. Why the D500? because she offers a very good ground glass, which Nikon took from the famous Nikon F6. Examples:

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  9. bribrius

    bribrius Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No idea. I think of what i am trying to do sort through my lenses (most of which aren't that great) and think "hope this one will work". Sometimes it takes a couple trys.
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    DSC_4934_Aug 6 Astoria.JPG

    Which one is which? Nothing was done to either image, except to check the little box, to apply Adobe Lightroom's automatic Lens Correction Profile for two different lenses. No highlight recovery was applied to tame the highlights on the ship's white superstructure. LOADS of smoke was in the air from two days-long DSC_4924_Aug 6 Astoria-2.JPG forest fires in BC, Canada, and from two days-long forest fires raging in Oregon. Each original-sized posted image is 3,000 pixels wide, and is a straight, Lightroom conversion from a .NEF file.

    Both are 180mm shots.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  11. Frank F.

    Frank F. engineering art Supporting Member

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    Which is what?

    You have two perspectives here and two lenses you say. Did you crop?
     
  12. Frank F.

    Frank F. engineering art Supporting Member

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    My strategy from the start was: few lenses but good ones. So my first choice was a 1.4/50 Zuiko in 1984.

    Life it too short to waste it planning and composing shots with a lot of effort that in the end are technically flawed in a way that is unappealing.

    Of the 35, 50 and 85 lenses most are quite decent and can be had for small money. When on a budget buy a used Mercedes not a new Fiat or Renault. That is what I did in my amateur days and what I still do when I have time to wait. Very economical and pleasing. Good zooms are quite expensive, even used. With only a few exceptions In the manual focus field.
     
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