View Full Version : 50mm focal length for street?

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03-07-2011, 05:05 PM
Too bad the longest focal length on the Sigma is too short for me! I had a 17mm lens and found it hardly useful, especially on the street. Even my 24mm Nikon lens (which was made in the '60's and does not have any barrel distortion that I can see, not to mention that it is tack sharp) is too wide for me most of the time. I can't imagine I would ever have a use for that lens, and definitely not for street photography.

The only wides I have seen any noticeable barrel distortion on have been zooms or vari-focal lenses. But as I said, I am not comparing to lenses in the 12-24mm focal length range, but to more standard wides like 28's and 35's. And one example does not disprove my general point.

03-07-2011, 06:32 PM
For me, the best street lens is a 50mm when used with a Rangefinder which allows me to see a significant amount of info outside of the frame. That combination of field of view and 'advanced notice of interesting possibilities' is my ideal.

03-07-2011, 06:42 PM
White elephant, now that you mentioned it. Yes indeed the ability to see outside of the frame is wonderful

08-16-2011, 09:30 AM
my favourite street lens is a 35mm, going closer to subjet

08-16-2011, 09:45 AM
I have two approaches - a 45mm fixed rangefinder and a 24mm lens on my Nikon SLR. The rangefinder is super-sharp and quiet, while the 24mm lets me shoot without even looking through the viewfinder. The latter is probably an approach that will get me criticized by some, but my guiding philosophy in photography is "whatever works."

So any fixed focal length from 24mm to 50mm is good. If you have interchangeable lenses, there's no reason not to gradually build up an arsenal.

08-16-2011, 09:55 AM
is a 100mm lens on 6x9 ie 44mm, or a 50mm on a 35mm an ideal street lens? Longer than 50mm and the shoots look bland, not showing enough of the environment, and any wider than 50mm and you will have to get near in their face, then people tend to pose or object to the camera.

There's the usual gear quotes of course (and I'm guilty of that too), but the number of great shots I've missed because I didn't have the right lens is dwarfed by the number of shots I've missed because I wasn't out taking pictures: Too hot, too cold, too dark, too bright, too tired. Too lazy. That's a poisonous one; too lazy.


Colin Corneau
08-16-2011, 10:17 AM
Winogrand used a 28mm and got close. I like a 35mm on 35mm. 50 is too much of a telephoto.


What Don says...has been my experience over the years too.

I don't like the idea of stifling peoples' potential -- someone approaching this type of photography with a 'clean slate' and no preconceptions may well love a 24mm (for example) and make truly original images that way.

08-16-2011, 10:51 AM
Some of the Worlds best street photographers only use 50mm lenses, it's "different strokes for different folks", if the OP has a 50mm lens use it, the widest lens I personally like for shooting street is a 35mm, I don't like anything wider, and there isn't an enormous difference between the 50mm and the 35 mm in the final results, and fast 50mm lenses that are usually at least f1.8 and sometimes f1.4 are a lot less expensive than fast wide angle lenses.

08-16-2011, 05:28 PM
I like 50mm most, but sometimes I'm forced to use 35mm due to small streets in Portugal where I can't frame well with 50mm. My 35 (1.4) is faster too when I need speed. ()'s

08-28-2011, 07:51 AM
As a rule I carry two 35mm SLR bodies, with 24mm and 50mm lenses. They cover most shots and I rarely feel lost for a perspective. However a 24 demands the photographer gets really close and even modest distances can make the subject appear far off and uninteresting. It's biggest advantage is DoF which is almost total, especially with fast film. Looking back I get more good shots with the wide but the few really good ones are on a 50mm.

09-01-2011, 08:49 AM
I'm not a big fan of the angle of view of a 50mm lens on 35mm format. However, in most of the systems I have, the 50mm lens is the sharpest and fastest. So, if I need a fast lens or the best resolution, I'll use the 50mm.

10-04-2011, 12:21 AM
I find that with a 50mm, I have to back up - and then people wander into the space between me and my subject like a herd of lobotomized house cats.

With my 28mm, I can get close to my intended subject(s) without leaving room for stragglers to wander into my frame.

Sometimes a 50mm does work well as a short telephoto lens for street work, though.

10-04-2011, 03:13 AM
-I use normal lens 90%, short telephoto for the 8% and maybe 2% wide no more than 35mm in my 35mm camera and equivalent in medium format of my pictures, i like abstract approach because this put the spectator to use their fantasy, imagine the rest of the scene, i don't like the ''obvious'' approach (..put all) of wide angle, this is good for commercial work but i think no good for art.
-This passion with wide angle (..put all)start from the professional, commercial, photographer, (like national geographic) shotting travel photography and of course that is good for that type of photography because they wand to show ''all'', but i think this is no art because art need to put the spectator to think, the art no need to be ''obvious''..

10-04-2011, 04:21 AM
I'm sorry not to mentioned but that is my approach, i don't mean photographing with wide angle is wrong, only its not good to have all the same thinking, its good to have our personality.

10-22-2011, 02:24 PM
I like to carry my 50mm (in 35mm terms) when I am on the street, but generally speaking 28mm is my favorite focal length for street shooting. 50mm can give you a great perspective on a particular subject, but isn't wide enough to give you any context (unless you are shooting from afar).