Have your FOV preferences changed over time?

emerson

Top Veteran
Oct 2, 2015
Maritime Canada
David
A while back I was contemplating a new camera purchase. I try to keep a leash on my camera spending, and objectifying the selection process is helpful in this. Otherwise, the 'best' camera would be the one I could least afford.

I decided to work backward from the photos. That is, I assembled a group of the photos I was the most pleased with and sorted them by camera and a other few different ways. I wanted to see what this might tell me about the wisdom of my past choices.

In retrospect, the results should have been more obvious to me. I learned a few things:

a] MSRP is not closely connected to my satisfaction with the photo.

b] Small and light almost always comes out on top; it's that camera most likely to actually be with me when I encounter something that's photographically interesting.

c] Expansive feature sets rarely matter in the final result.

d] Over time, I have come to prefer a 28mm FOV. I knew that over the years I had drifted to shorter facial lengths, but when I looked at the photos I valued the most, they almost without exception came from a 28mm. My working theory is that as I accumulated experience, I used converging lines in composition more frequently. Perhaps I also become more willing to slow down, and zoom with my feet, too.

The first three points weren't so much of a surprise, but the prevalence of 28mm shots was unexpected.

So what about you? Have your FOV preferences changed over time, and why?

[Postscript: the first three points, though perfectly rational, remain unhelpful in repressing my urge for a Leica Q]
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
Switzerland
Matt
Looks familiar and pretty sensible to me - and as a whole points more towards the GR (a II or even a III) than towards the Q. An alternative would be a (used, by now) X70 or XF10, depending on what's most important to you.

Back to your main question: I find myself sort of drifting between preferences when it comes to FoV - I seem to be naturally inclined to prefer a 35mm FoV, but I'm also fine with longer(!) focal lengths; curiously enough, I struggle a bit with 28mm, i.e. I'm constantly misjudging the FoV when pre-framing with such a lens. If I want to go wide, 24mm actually works a bit better for me personally. I think if I could bring myself to consider the 28mm more of a wide angle, I'd be happier with it (not that I dislike the FoV or anything - I'm just not entirely comfortable with it).

Yet with a small and eminently mobile camera like the GR, the disadvantage of being maybe a bit too wide for some scenes is countered by great quality, usability and portability in one compelling package.

However, I've known periods when I was more comfortable with a 50mm or even 60mm FoV than anything wider. It's a bit hard to put a finger on why this happened when it did, but I think it once more had to do with pre-visualisation. More to the point, on some days, I still want a longer lens because I seem to sort of see in vignettes instead of scenes (I hope this makes enough sense to you - I find it quite hard to put into better words, to be honest). For that, a (long) normal or even short telephoto lens (75mm to 90mm) is clearly better suited than a wide angle. That's why I always also carry at least one (slightly) longer lens when I'm travelling - you never know ...

That said, in my personal experience, moderate wide angles beat everything else in terms of versatilty - even though they're not quite the best choice for portraiture (or faces in general); environmental portraiture remains an option, though. "Normal" lenses come in a close second, real wides work great for some people, but are probably more of an acquired taste. So, my "moderate wides" start at 35mm, whereas for you 28mm may feel more like it - that wouldn't be uncommon at all, I know a couple of people who see things that way.

Furthermore, we're all learning to see increasingly in 28mm or thereabouts - because most smartphones cover that FoV. Actually, maybe that's one of the reasons I can't seem to enjoy smartphone photography ...

As always, YMMV - it's just the way things are.

M.
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
I'm tending more to longer focal lengths - not sure if that has changed over time, but it probably has.

For me it's the fact that any landscape has and endless amount of interesting smaller details - but probably just one view that works with a wide angle (ok, that's maybe a bit exaggerated - to get my point across :) )

Those smaller details can make beautiful compositions even on a dreary day or in a bleak landscape...

--
Having said all that - I agree that a Ricoh GR or Fuji equivalent might make a better alternative to the Leica option. Especially considering your points a) and b)
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
Switzerland
Matt
For me it's the fact that any landscape has and endless amount of interesting smaller details - but probably just one view that works with a wide angle (ok, that's maybe a bit exaggerated - to get my point across :) )

Those smaller details can make beautiful compositions even on a dreary day or in a bleak landscape...
Too true! I think Thomas Heaton did a video on this as well ...

M.
 

Biro

Hall of Famer
Aug 7, 2011
Jersey Shore
Steve
My first "serious" camera was a Minolta SRT-200 in about 1974. It was 100 percent manual - but did have a light meter. The camera came with a 50mm f/2.0 Rokkor-X prime mounted on it. And I shot with that single lens for five or six years, never minding that "limitation" one bit.

Today, it's clear that 35-40mm is my personal preferred focal length - sort of a "relaxed" take on the traditional 50mm field of view. But, of course, certain subjects and conditions require all kinds of different focal lengths.

Wildlife often requires telephoto ability. Meanwhile, I find that I can work just fine with cameras like the Ricoh GR, Fuji X70/XF10, etc. 28mm is excellent not only for street work but also in tight conditions and for group shots. If I prefer 35mm I can always used the crop modes those cameras offer or crop manually in post. Having APS-C sensors helps - and 24mp will help even more.

As far as feature sets are concerned, I'd be very happy if one of the major cameramakers would put out a compact camera with high-quality lens and a stripped-down feature set. Sure, include auto and the PASM modes and even exposure compensation. But nothing else.
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
if I had to settle on one fixed focal length my preferences haven't changed all that much.
My first fixed focal length compact was the Sigma DP2 - with its 41mm lens.
An updated version of that - same size - same lens - same features - just with a better display and some more current electronics would suit me just fine.

In m43 the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 serves exactly the same purpose for me. If I want to go minimalistic and still have a good enough camera - the E-PM2 and 20mm comes along...
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
Switzerland
Matt
Yes, it led me there as well. The fixation on the Q isn't rational, and I don't think I will act on that particular urge. The GR is more than a match for my skills.
That last thought is never helpful - after all, we all can grow ;) I'd emphasise that the GR is probably a better match to your needs because it's small, portable, competent and a joy to use. I had the privilege to shoot with a friend's Q for a few short moments - and while it's a wonderful camera, it comes with its own issues, price and size being the main ones; in most parts of the world, add security ...

The Q needs a bag at all times (if only for safety's sake); it's quite bulky for a compact camera, and while it's a fantastic image taking machine, so's the GR at just a third of the weight and a quarter of the volume (these are estimates, of course). The Q does tick a few extra boxes: even better IQ from a brighter lens, better low-light performance, better dynamic range, gorgeous EVF, great handling - but you really lose portability, and you add a few extra worries for sure.

To illustrate this, a little insight: During the cold season, I really like carrying my M8 (that's about the body size of the Q, though heavier) with a suitable lens and at times put it into a coat or jacket pocket, but even then I much prefer using a bag, and I couldn't get it into a pocket with its mainstay lens, the Voigtländer 28mm f/2. Now, to be clear: The Q's lens protrudes further from the body than the 28mm f/2 from the M8's! Of course, the Q smokes the M8 in all other regards (it has AF, for starters - and the lens is a monster!), but it's no better for portability; worse, as a matter of fact.

With the GR, all those issues evaporate, and I still get very high IQ (again, better than the M8 - but that's a given; if I want the best IQ from a Leica body, I use the M10 - I wouldn't put that camera in a coat pocket, however!). There's simply no reason not to carry the GR, whereas I simply can't take the/a Leica everywhere. The GR is the ultimate pocket camera in the best sense of the word. It can always be with me, and it eats smartphones for breakfast, dinner and lunch.

Anyway, if you really fancy the Q, go shoot with one - take the risk, and if you fall in love with it, it's most probably worth owning (this happened to me with the M10 - I'd never have thought I'd ever go for such a camera, but it's now my absolute favourite; it even triggered the wish to have an "inexpensive" version as an EDC, hence the M8). But I really think the GR will - photographically speaking - give you even more, simply because you'll carry it with you much more often.

M.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
bart
I started out as a wide angle junkie, living at 24mm (equivalent), merging panoramas whenever I could, and lusting over glass as wide as 12mm.

At some point I figured that 35mm was very versatile (if also quite plain looking), and I enjoyed the hell out of my Fuji X100.

In the mean time I got to appreciate longer focal lengths because of their compression and greater capability for abstraction.

I'm currently in the midst of an internal struggle to decide if my high quality compact prime camera should have 35mm or 50mm equivalent... 35mm just makes much more sense as a "point of view" camera (NEVER believe the people trying to convince you that 50mm matches the way the eye sees, it's utter rubbish that just gets repeated and repeated until people actually believe it...) Not that 35mm is a closer approximation of the human eye, it just enables you to shoot the 2 people sitting across the table from you, or the 1 person and some context, while still being long enough to be flattering and allow some subject separation. But then again, 50mm allows just that bit more abstraction, making it a bit more unusual, while still being decently versatile ..
 

Covey22

Hall of Famer
Feb 3, 2012
28mm became 24mm, mostly because I could finally afford a quality lens at the wider end. At the long end, I'm still at the 180-200mm equivalent, probably because I lived for a long time with a 180mm prime and got used to framing with it.
 

emerson

Top Veteran
Oct 2, 2015
Maritime Canada
David
Anyway, if you really fancy the Q, go shoot with one - take the risk, and if you fall in love with it, it's most probably worth owning ...
You raise good points, all.

I did try the Q a few months ago; though it's said you should never meet your heroes. I found it too big and too heavy to be a companion in the way that the GR is. Not a smart buy, for me. But I still long for one.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
My favoured lens has always been the 50mm. The only time I needed wider (35mm) was when I visited Japan where I realised in my final week that I'd been struggling with my usual 50mm because I couldn't fit enough of (magnificent) Japan into my 50mm fov.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
I initially didn't like the 35mm fov as I felt it wasn't one thing or the other, either not wide enough or not long enough. However, when using that FL on an m mount camera, all of a sudden, everything made sense, it was as if that was the only FL I'd ever need (I could actually 'see'). That would be due to having to manual focus through a RF and think differently as compared to using a AF camera.

I also used to own a Nikkor 20mm F1.8. That lens produces magnificent images. But I felt the lens was too wide for most images I was trying to compose so eventually sold it. But again, using a 21mm manual focus sense is really enjoyable, even a 15mm.

I don't think of the FL when I see a picture, so am not really glued in one way or another. But for me though, the difference between using an AF or MF does change the outlook.
 
Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
I'm a 50mm sort of chap, and always have been. My fov preference has not changed, but it would be fair to say that my appreciation for other focal lengths has increased. 35-80 is still a sweet spot for me though...

Which makes a mockery of the fact that one of my favourite cameras has always been a GR of one sort or another, ever since the film GR1. I love the always-with-you compactness, the intuitive no-more-is-needed handling and latterly the film simulations unlike those of anyone else and - at least in the case of HiBW - damn near impossible to replicate in post.

In spite of the touchscreen, I can feel a GR III in my future.

At least it doesn't tilt...!
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
I'm a 50mm sort of chap, and always have been. My fov preference has not changed, but it would be fair to say that my appreciation for other focal lengths has increased. 35-80 is still a sweet spot for me though...

Which makes a mockery of the fact that one of my favourite cameras has always been a GR of one sort or another, ever since the film GR1. I love the always-with-you compactness, the intuitive no-more-is-needed handling and latterly the film simulations unlike those of anyone else and - at least in the case of HiBW - damn near impossible to replicate in post.

In spite of the touchscreen, I can feel a GR III in my future.

At least it doesn't tilt...!
I’ll bet you can turn it off. I did that with my XE3. I’m faster selecting settings with the joystick.
 

marlof

Trying to focus
Dec 25, 2010
The Netherlands
Marlof
For me, 40mm seems to be the absolute sweet spot for general use. I grew up on a Minolta X700 with 50 1.7, but I like how 40mm is just a bit more relaxed. Now, my most used camera is a Panasonic GX9 with 20 1.7, even when I generally prefer the design of Olympus cameras. I bought the camera specifically for that lens, which behaves better on Panasonic bodies than on Olympus ones. I also have the much touted 15 1.7, but that’s too wide to be general purpose for me. And if I want go wide, 24mm seems to be my sweet spot.
 

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