Choice of prime lens

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by tkamiya, May 27, 2010.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'm aware, the answer would be "well... depends on what you want..." but I would still like to get some opinions from folks far more experienced than I am.

    For my 35mm gear, I decided that I'd want prime lens in standard to wide range. I already have 50mm but the problem is wider range. The choices are, 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm. When I shoot digital (sorry), I tend to use wide end of my zoom more which is 18mm. That would translate to 27mm in full frame.

    I could just get 28mm or get both 24mm and 35mm.

    I ask for opinions because I tend to shoot differently when I have prime lens on body, rather than zoom. Obviously (is it?), it won't make sense to get all 3. I can cover similar range by "foot zoom" by neighboring focal length to a degree.

    I know there are prime lens fans here. Opinions and recommendations, please.

    By the way, I tend to be agnostic in shooting subjects. Question really isn't what lens fits better with what subject. Question is, how do I avoid unnecessary near duplications?
     
  2. 5stringdeath

    5stringdeath Member

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    24mm + 50mm = all you need
     
  3. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    For me the most important issue in deciding what focal length to use is whether I want to expand the relationship between fore ground and back ground objects, (as in with a wide angle) compress them (with a long lens) or render them neutral (with a normal lens.) With this in mind, even with a zoom lens on the camera , all zooming is done with one's feet. When the stars are aligned It's never about getting closer to a subject with a long lens, or getting more stuff in the frame with a wide.

    When I started using a 40mm lens (dead neutral, assuming cropping for standard size enlargements) on 35mm it took a while to adjust to seeing subjects without any compression or expansion between elements. But it was very helpful insofar as it made me more aware of the effect of compression and expansion when using other focal lengths.

    Any way-- If you've already got a 50 I'd concur with the above suggestion of 24mm. It gives a more dramatic perspective expansion effect than a 28 mm and is wide enough that it's really easy to set up leading lines that take the eye right into the picture, yet it isn't as hard to handle as a 21mm or wider lens which really demands careful positioning to avoid converging parallel lines etc. It's also the widest you can get for shooting people without doing weird things to their heads if they end up at the edge of the frame. A 24 35 50 combo is overkill-- good to own, but I'd never take all three of those out with me unless I wanted to spend all my time dickering about which lens to use rather than shoot. Id go 24+50 or 35, but that's just me.
     
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  4. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    My perfect 2 lens outfit for 35mm is a 35mm and 90mm. So in answer to your question a 35mm lens would be best. I have both 24 and 28mm lenses as well and only use them very occasionally. Generally if I am in some tight place like a church. For people and general grab shots I love the look of the 35mm lens.
     
  5. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    On my FM2n it's the Nikkor 35mm f/2 that I use all the time.

    - Tony
     
  6. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I've used two different two-lens kits. For a long time it was a 35mm f/2.8 and either an 85mm f/1.8 or 105mm f/2.5; later I started carrying a 50mm f/1.4 and 24mm f/2.8 or 28mm f/1.8, adding a 70-210mm f/4 zoom when needed.
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Hum....
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    21 and 35
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Double Hum....
     
  10. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    25 and 50, both Zeiss ZF'es.
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    I had the same trouble on the wide-angle side.
    So, I got 24, then 20, then 35. Now, I use all three, depending on what I shoot, and never missed the 28.
     
  12. Emil

    Emil Member

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    The obvious advantage to using prime lenses are weight and speed (compared to zooms) and therefore i recommend that you consider those factors when making your choice. If the lens is not significantly smaller or faster than what you have now, it is not worth the bother. All that being said, I say go for the 24 - f/2.8 or faster. 35 and 28 are much too close to the 50 for my taste. And everyone has to have a fast fifty, right?
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I think I'm going to get 24mm first, then if/when I feel the need, add 35mm.

    One last Q... looking at some of the reviews on Internet, some of them talks about focus shift when stopping down. Some of them also talks about barrel distortion. But... thinking these lens have existed since long before Internet was so popular, and everyone reviewing everything, and I haven't heard anyone actually complain outside of these reviews, these aren't really issues one needs to worry about, is it? (and please keep in mind, I will be using these lens on film and digital bodies)
     
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  15. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    The Sonnar design exhibits focus shift but if you are using a 24mm lens stopped down to at least f8 I wouldn't worry about it. If you are going for the wide-open look then you don't have to worry about it anyway. I wouldn't sweat it.
     
  16. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    24 and 50, Nikkors in my case. I also have 20, 28 and 35, but rarely use them although I really love the perspective of a 35. For some reason 28 does not suit me, but it is really hard to say why. The 20 is more extreme and I use it only for special applications.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I have 17, 24, 28, 35, 50, and 55 millimeter lenses in the range you are talking about. While 35mm is one of my favorite focal lengths, and mine (pre-AI Nikkor f/2) has seen a great deal of use, it has mostly been when using only one body, not as a companion to another body/lens. My most commonly used pair of lenses outdoors in decent light are the 50mm f/1.4 (Canon FD S.S.C. or pre-AI Nikkor) and the 28mm f/2 (Canon FDn). These two (plus my pre-AI Nikkor 135mm) are my "go-to" lenses when shooting 35mm film. In foul light, I favor the 55mm f/1.2 over the f/1.4, just for its extra 1/2 stop. It also makes for some very beautiful out of focus areas.

    My least used lens is the 17mm. It came in a lot with a bunch of other FD stuff. I had wanted it for a long time, and it was in near-perfect shape (at least it was when I got it). However, I just find super wides (which I consider to start at 24mm) to be useful in very few of the situations in which I shoot. They are hard to compose with, prone to flare, hard to filter, and can easily tend to make shots too "busy" for what I like. I also don't find this particular lens to be all that mind blowing in terms of technical image qualities.

    I picked up my 24mm f/2.8 (pre-AI Nikkor) just because it was super cheap ($40), super mint, and every now and then my 28mm is not quite wide enough. It is too wide, reduces magnification too much, and distorts too much for general use in what I shoot. I view it and anything wider as special purpose lenses. I find it strange that 24mm, as opposed to 28mm, seems to have become the default wide angle in "The Zoom Age." However, it has its occasional uses, and it is such a small and light lens that it is easy enough to keep in the hard case on a trip without sacrificing anything, so I figured what the hey.

    For longer lenses, I generally jump straight from 50/55 to 135, though I do like 85s and 100/105s.
     
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  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    A 24mm is hard to beat; I've used one as a prime lens for more than 15 years now. Less popular is a lens going down to 17mm (or less) — this will require careful choice and composition given the extreme depth and ultra wide view.

    Adding a 35mm or even a 50mm lens to your kit will set you up for a long time.

    "Focus shift when stopping down"!? Never heard of it. Distortion can be common ultra-wide to normal zooms, less so in primes and almost undetectable in highly corrected (APO/ASPH) optics. I can remember using some early OM Zuiko and Tamron lenses in the early 1980s that had patently terrible distortion (pincushion, barrel, chromatic... just about every one of the Five Aberrations of Seidel!).
     
  19. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    i really like the combination of a 24mm and a 50mm.
     
  20. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I use 35mm and 85mm (I have all the rest too)
     
  21. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Not just you. That's exactly how I'd describe it myself. The 24 and 50 are 2/3 of my standard kit. I have a 28 and a 35 too, but the 24 sees the most use. It's wide enough to be dramatic, and not so wide that it's hard to use. I usually kick in a fast 85 or 105 mm lens if I need a little extra reach. Anything longer than that is petty useless for hand held photography under anything less than perfect conditions, and doesn't get much use.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My standard kit is 3 lenses - 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.0, 85mm f/2.0.

    Of the three, the 35mm lenses (I have 2) spend the most time on the camera(s).

    If you do use short telephotos, I think you need to consider them when you decide on your wide-angle choices.
     
  23. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    The other one that I find myself using a lot is a Nikkor 20mm together with an 18-35 AF Nikkor Zoom
     
  24. largely

    largely Subscriber

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    I tend to use my 50mm more than anything but my 24mm and 85mm also see quite a bit of use.

    Larry
     
  25. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    As you can see, getting agreement is tough around here :smile: I think your plan of getting the 24 then a 35 is a good one. If you shoot in the city much, a 35mm is hard to beat for street shooting.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Thank you everybody. I already have 50, so I'll get 24 next and see where it will take me. I'll probably get 35 after that if/when I feel the need. I'm so glad I asked here. I can read so much "reviews" and none of them really describe the lens in the context of actual image making process.