The eternal 35-vs-50 war

gordo

Top Veteran
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Gordon
I always found it easiest to use 35 and 85 back when I used a 2-lens kit. Never really gelled with the 50mm FOV.

Nowadays, I tend to use 35 more for landscape. I've become increasingly happy with the Pentax 43/1.9 Limited as a general purpose prime on FF, and a 27 or 28mm on APS-C.
 
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I acquired 35mm f/1.4L with my Canon 5DMark3 and got used to it. I then bought 50mm f/1.4 for it and guess what? I’m really home with it.

For me 50mm FL gives normal point of view, that’s the way I see the world. It might have something to do with my eye glasses. I’m seriously short sighted and with glasses my point of view is narrower than normal with no glasses. Or because when I started photography I only could finance one lens, 50mm, for many, many years.

I also fancy tighter compositions and for me 35+50 is equally satisfactory with 50. That’s why I’m about to trade in 50 f/1.4 for 50 f/1.2L :rolleyes:
And save some more money for 85…
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Mike's initial observation appears to become more and more true - there seem to be 35mm people and 50mm people; and then, there seem to be the ones who prefer a middle ground. I really wonder why this is - not the fact that we have preferences, but that there seem so many of us who can't seem to get comfortable with some FoV or other. For me, that's certainly true with 28mm - I've learned to pre-visualise in 28mm (thanks to the GR), but can't seem to like that FoV for my own personal approach; I'm much more at home with 24mm and 21mm as well as ultra-wide. Do we all have our "sour spots" for visualising - is it somethiing of a base condition?

Please don't get me wrong - I appreciate everyone's preferences; but this might mean that it's no use fighting an aversion of this kind. Something to consider for me before (ever) committing to another 28mm lens ...

M.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
For years I was a wide angle junkie, living at 24mm and stitching to get wider (no money for.an ILC). Then I got my X100, and I've been using that as my main camera ever since. But I still have the 24mm history, telling me the 35mm is 'a bit tight'.

It is, however, a perfectly unspectacular focal length, in the sense that the viewer neither notices a particular wide angle effect,* and unlike a 50mm already does, there's not automatically a 'picking out details' effect either, you have to work for either 'look'; if you don't, you'll have a focal length that just registers, without either saying 'look at all the things out there' nor 'look at this particular element'. Without thought put into the composition, it can be dangerously boring, unlike wider or longer focal lengths which either show you a bunch of stuff or spectacular angles, and unlike longer focal lengths, which tend to have a subject no matter where you point the camera. But that lack of outspokenness also allows one to change between the advantages of wide angle and "normal"** more easily.

One other thing I like about 35mm is its capabilities as a 'recording one's own experiece' focal length. For instance, at 3x2 aspect ratio (1", APSC, FF) and in horizontal orientation, it's pretty much the longest focal length that will allow a torso + face shot of the person sitting on the other aide of the table from you. For 4x3 aspect rations that would be 40mm, which has the same vertical angle of view as 35mm on 3x2 sensors, but obviously less width.

Having said that, becoming acquainted with Saul Leiters work really made me appreciate (considerably) longer focal lengths, and I've been wondering if I wouldn't be better served with something in the 40 - 50mm range as default. Unfortunately, the funds to experiment with different cameras and lenses are absent and probably will be for some time.

* I know that 35mm was long considered wide angle and, in the early days of zoom lenses and digital compacts, was often the wide end of standard zooms. But I started getting serious about photography with a camera that started at 24mm, and that obviously changed my perception. Also most phone cameras have something in the 25 -28mm range as (main) camera.

** I maintain that if there is such a thing as a 'normal' focal length, it's in the 60mm to 80mm range, but that's another matter. 50mm became the default lens on Leicas because it's good for group portraits and the Leicas were conceived not as photojournalists' dreams, but as family snappers in an era where group portraits were the thing to do on holiday. That, and it being cheap to make, and pretty versatile, led to this being considered the "normal" range. So long as no one claims that it 'matches human vision', I will leave it at this and not start a far longer rant.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
I also fancy tighter compositions and for me 35+50 is equally satisfactory with 50. That’s why I’m about to trade in 50 f/1.4 for 50 f/1.2L
Is that the best you can do?? :laugh:

Seriously, very much looking forward to seeing your posts with that. I fee sure it will have tons more character than the mirrorless version which Canon has out at the moment.
 
Tried a 40mm? I find it has the clean and symmetrical look of a fifty while offering a roomier frame.

I'm not sure if I want to. The 40mm feels like a neither-here-nor-there FOV. I'm also using the Leica M so I know it's not going to match up with the frame lines. I'd give it a go if I already had the lens but I'm not sure I want to spend a few hundred bucks to experiment with it. I am so disappointed with the vast majority of my 35mm lens photos that I'm afraid to spend the money to try the 40mm.
 
For my 35mm/full-frame cameras- nothing below a 20mm focal length or above a 500mm focal length. I've never felt trapped within that range.
I tend to use telephotos much more than wide-angle lenses. 85/105/135.
In F-mount...Nikkor primes- 20/21/35/45/50/55/58/60/85/105/135/180/200/250/300/500. That's what happens when you shoot F-Mount for 42 years.

Many fixed-lens RF cameras such as the Canonet QL17 GIII and Minolta Hi-Matic 7s-II have a 40mm lens, a Fast F1.7 on these. These cameras used to be cheap, but still much less than a 40 Nokton or Summicron. I used to put a fast 50 or 85 on the M3 and keep the QL17 in the bag so I would not have to change lenses.
 
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Is that the best you can do?? :laugh:

Seriously, very much looking forward to seeing your posts with that. I fee sure it will have tons more character than the mirrorless version which Canon has out at the moment.

I almost got my hands on really good deal of that 50 f/1.2L, but it just slipped out of my hands, bummer. But seeing that it’s available for decent price I’m gonna hold down for a second and wait that deal to find me 🤑
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
SW Virginia
Real Name
Steve
I used to really like to Pentax 40. Then I went digital and it became 60 mme, which I hated. However, I then enjoyed my 28 because it was 42 mme. Then I switched to mu43 and got the 20. All was well. Then I found Fuji and had to buy the 27. Then I got the A7 and bought the Sigma 45. Clearly, normal is a moving target. Oh, I forgot the Q . . .
 

gordo

Top Veteran
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Gordon
I've stopped trying to make sense of it. I also stopped trying to like what convention says I should like. IMHO how our eye/ brain combo perceives the world drives our views, can vary by individual, can change over time, and might be a little fickle.

For example, I've mentioned I'm not a 50mm FOV person. For some reason I enjoyed shooting 58mm on FF. But not 60mm. The 28mm FOV is another I've never gelled with. Just seems a bit off. I'm OK with my 31mm. Go figure.

Maybe I'm just an odd duck. I do like Pentax, and their wonderfull FA Limiteds. :coffee-79:
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I'm not sure if I want to. The 40mm feels like a neither-here-nor-there FOV. I'm also using the Leica M so I know it's not going to match up with the frame lines. I'd give it a go if I already had the lens but I'm not sure I want to spend a few hundred bucks to experiment with it. I am so disappointed with the vast majority of my 35mm lens photos that I'm afraid to spend the money to try the 40mm.
I can understand the framelines issue, that would give me pause as well. But I think of the 40mm is a more natural standard lens than the 50mm.

As someone else brought up, however, aspect ratio does matter. I mainly use my Panasonic 20mm on a micro four thirds sensor, so the horizontal being shorter than it would be on a 3:2 sensor might make a difference. Though I still quite enjoy the 40mm lens on my little Ricoh 500G film rangefinder.

50mm has seemed too tight for me for some time, but again, that was a 25mm lens on a m4/3 sensor, so that might have made a difference.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
Back in my frequent trading days and my film-again phase, I found a black MX and a SMC 40mm 2.8 pancake. As usual back then, I used them a lot for while, then decided I wanted to try something else and sold them. I've sometimes thought, though, that if Pentax could replicate that combo in digital, with the same body size and FL, and minimal functions, I could make it my Forever Camera. Just a fantasy, I know, but a boy can dream. A FF digital camera the size of the MX, with a Pentax mount, and only the exposure settings would be a dream indeed.
 
I'm thinking some of the people here should invest in a zoom lens or two. Not something for a traditional RF camera- but most cameras can use them. I traded it for an RF lens, but I had an AF-Nikkor 28~85 that was quite good.
 

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