How useful is that 20mm?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by waynecrider, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I'm more of a wide angle shooter and I'm currently shooting a 28mm FD that I like. I've thought recently about going wider but am wondering how useful something like a 20mm would be as a cityscape and landscape shooter. I'm wondering if it's a focal length that's just occasionally useful or is it something that you reach for often enough to justify it. Obviously it depends on the subject matter at hand, and your own preferences (likes), but where does it wind up with you? Is it worthwhile out to 11x14?
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    My wife has a 20mm and I use a 17mm. Both gets lots of use. You will notice a big difference between the 28 and a 20 for sure. Opens up all kinds of extra opportunities. Both are very sharp, but any extreme WA will show some distortion in the corners.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I have a 19mm. It's a long way from the 28!
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Well, I use 21 a lot, and 38mm on 44x66mm (almost exactly equivalent to 21mm). I also use 15mm, albeit rarely, and my wife's standard lens on 56x84mm (6x9 nominal) is 35mm, pretty close to 15mm on 35mm.

    But an awful lot depends on what you shoot...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. Markauf

    Markauf Member

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    I love to use the 20mm when I shot infrared. It adds the "dream-like" effect.
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have a f/2.8 21mm Minolta Rokkor lens, manual focus - it has darkened corners due to the 1/(cos(theta)**4) loss :mad: . Usable for getting the interior of buildings, especially small rooms by shooting from the corner. Also good for outdoor use because I can have something very close in focus with the scene further back. I used it for overall scenes, but the individual objects appear really small. I do not use this camera any more, but I did use the lens a far amount. The f/2.8 lens looks like a headlight - great for available level light photographs.

    I now have a 20mm to 35mm Nikon AF Zoom that I have found much more useful. It does NOT have the darkened corners due to the 1/(cos(theta)**4) loss :smile: . The zoom capability makes the lens easier to use than the fixed focus [even more than one would think]. Both lenses have to be used carefully when shooting buildings [anything with vertical lines] because the wide angle makes the buildings appear to lean back. Therefore, care must be used to hold the camera level. Again an object that you want emphasized in the foreground is great. DOF is great. Overall landscapes and buildings come out better than the Minolta lens.

    I am much happier with the Nikon 20mm - 35mm lens than the 21mm lens due to the flexibility and better optics. I carry the Nikon lens with me when weight is not a constraint. If weight is going to be a problem I use my f/3.6 28mm - 300mm zoom because the wide zoom is heavier than the camera plus the 28mm - 300mm lens.

    As far as using the lens for 11x14, I do not know. I have only used it for 4"X6",12"X18" and 24"x36" prints. :D

    I would recommend buying the 20mm lens for 35mm photography. I would suggest, if possible, renting the lens for several days with the understanding that if you buy the lens the rental money gets credited to the lens purchase.

    Steve
     
  7. Magnus W

    Magnus W Member

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    I have an 18mm for my Pentax. I will never part with it. I once had a 15mm, I'm still kicking myself for selling it.
    Wide is nice, but super-wide is super-nice.

    -- MW
     
  8. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I was so dependent on a 20mm when I shot for newspaper publication that when I went to digital and had chip that was smaller than the film frame I *had* to get the 14mm to achieve the same end.
     
  9. mawz

    mawz Member

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    20's are incredibly useful in the city. I usually carry a 20, 35/50 and 85, and usually have either the 20 or the 85 mounted.
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    My favorite w/a is a 24 mm, I find with 20 mm it's hard to avoid your own shadow in a lot of shooting situations, but I do also have a Tamron 17 mm for when I'm in a super-wide mood.
     
  11. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I think 20mm is a great focal length and I shoot there a lot.

    I wonder, though, if you should get a 24 first. 24 is much wider than a 28, but not with ridiculous dramatics. It's harder to get a normal-appearing image with a 20 - it takes a little more practice and experience. It's much easier with a 24. I also find that a 24 is a much more useful lens to me than a 28.

    Some might argue that 24 is too close to 28 but it is a very noticeable change. Also, if you end up loving the 24, as I think you will, and get a 20 later, you'll still find the 24 is a good one-lens solution when you need to pack lightly. It won't be wasted money. 24s are also cheap so if you find that you've gone too wide, you haven't spent a lot to find it out.
     
  12. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Oh, missed two of your points.

    Do I use it a lot? Quite a bit. I sold my 20-35 and got a 17-35. That is probably pretty informative. :smile:

    Can it go to 11x14? If you get a good one, yes, and particularly if you use a tripod and shoot at middle apertures. I have some 11x14s shot with my very wide lenses and they are very sharp when I paid attention to technique.
     
  13. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    20mm is my favorite focal length for 35mm shooting.
     
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  15. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I use normal to wide angle lenses more than long lenses. I usually prefer a moderately wide lens--35mm, 28mm, 24mm in 35mm format. I have a 21mm for my Leicas and a 20-35mm zoom for the Canons but I don't use them that often. I also have a 35mm for the 645 Pentaxes but use a 45mm more. Still, I wouldn't want to be without a lens in the 20/21mm range. If you now use a 28mm, more than likely you'll have a lot of use for a 20mm.
     
  16. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    I have a 20mm Nikon, though it is something more for occaissional usage. When it comes in really handy is for interior shots, or when wanting to capture a wide scene from across a street. The other fun thing is that you can hold the camera at arms length pointed back at you, and get yourself and some friends in the image. A 20mm can also be fun for across the table shots. Things to avoid are getting your feet in the shot, or distracting elements at the edge of the frame.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  17. artonic

    artonic Member

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    The 20mm is my favourite lens, and occaisionally I rent a Nikkor 15mm (the tulip lens) for even more fun.

    In larger prints when viewed close up, the wide-angle persective does not seem so extreme.
     
  18. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Currently I have a NFD 20mm F2.8 on my Canon New F1, and I like it. I got rid of a NFD 17mm F4 for that because I'm more focusing on taking pictures of people, and I find the 20mm is the widest that I can handle well.

    The 17mm was good for some nature landscape shots, but never so on any human subject. The lens itself had a lot of problems/defects in its quality to begin with.
     
  19. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    I have 20mm equivs on all cameras I own. My 35mm, 6x7, 4x5, 8x10, 4x10, and even my 12x20. I would die without them.
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Well, I like my 20mm - 35mm Zoom, but I would not go quiet that far!
    :tongue:
    Steve
     
  21. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    What's your impressions of the FD 20? How's the corners?
     
  22. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I have not used it enough to be able to tell you exactly what it is like, but compared to the 17mm F4 NFD, it's a lot smoothier, meaning with less defects. The 17mm was almost getting to be like a Holga lens to some extent; the distortion in corners was ugly on human subjects, and the light fall-off was pretty severe between F4 and F8, so it was a bitch to print. It's an old lens (with a 20-25 year-old design), so I didn't expect too much.

    You really have to try one and see how you like it. But if you happen to like 24mm, stay with the 24mm, which could give you less trouble.
     
  23. sienarot

    sienarot Member

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    When I first got my FTb, it came with a 28mm. I loved it, but was used to shooting wider on my 20D so I bought a CZJ 20mm f/2.8 to use on the FTb and found it to be even better. I recently bought an Elan 7 just so I could try out a Tokina 17mm f/3.5 I found a smoking good deal on which I *really* like. Now if I can find an affordable 14mm...
     
  24. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I have to agree that the FD 24 is a great choice. Gives expansive views without the really obvious WA effect. Also a more obvious choice if you have a 35mm lens. I have a breech mount 24ssc for my CanonF1 and the quality is superb.
    Cheers, Tony
     
  25. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I probably use a 24mm more than any other lens, but I make a lot of use of 21 and 15mm lenses too. As others have said, it depends very much on what you want to photograph.

    David.
     
  26. oscroft

    oscroft Member

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    I like the 21mm focal length a lot - I've got two, an Olympus Zuiko 21 for OM SLRs and a Voigtlander 21 for rangefinder. I use them a lot for close-in city shooting.

    But on the other hand, I find the 24/25mm length to be a more useful general purpose length than 28. There's quite a big difference going from 28 to 21.