View Full Version : 50mm focal length for street?

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06-19-2010, 07:43 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.

Don Parsons
06-19-2010, 07:50 AM
Winogrand used a 28mm and got close. I like a 35mm on 35mm. 50 is too much of a telephoto.


Erik Petersson
06-19-2010, 07:57 AM
50mm is perfect. But so is 35, 28 and 24, to my mind.

06-19-2010, 08:01 AM
A 50mm lens is fine for street most of them are f2 and faster I use mine as a telephoto to get a bit closer than my favourite street lens a 35mm F2

08-28-2010, 04:06 AM
I started shooting street with a 50mm f1.8, but some rolls later I bought a 28mm because I find it easier to include 100% of the subject in my photos with it.

08-28-2010, 04:17 AM
When did a 50 become a telephoto?

08-28-2010, 04:19 AM
When did a 50 become a telephoto?

Ditto. I personally like the 50 and the field of view

08-28-2010, 05:02 AM
When did a 50 become a telephoto?

For me it happened when I got my first 35mm lens. I soon decided that the ideal focal length (for my mind anyway) is same as the horizontal image frame.

For example I prefer a 35mm lens on my 35mm bodies, and I prefer a 127mm lens on 4x5.

Can\'t always get what you want however. Kinda hard to change the lens on old folders.

08-28-2010, 06:11 AM
When did a 50 become a telephoto?

I meant as a telephoto as compared to my 35mm lens to get a little closer and give a narrower angle of view, I'm perfectly aware that a 50mm lens Isn't a telephoto.

Christopher Walrath
08-28-2010, 07:26 AM
But 50 would give the viewer that perspective of seeing it as it is. Can be limiting for field of view in some instances. How small is you average 28? Carry one anyway.

Jeff Kubach
08-28-2010, 08:28 AM
You might consider a 35 - 70 zoom.


08-28-2010, 09:33 AM
Go with a 35mm. It's the perfect all-rounder in my opinion. But keep a 28mm nearby, sometimes that gives more compelling perspective in images, of witch I think can work great.

08-28-2010, 09:46 AM
17mm. You'll not only get the street, but the alleys too ;)

Seriously though ... wait that was serious.

No I mean ... I started doing street photos with a 50mm cause its all I had. Now I use my 28mm most days. But I also own a 35mm. When I can afford it, I'm going to get a 21mm.

From the OP about "having to get too close to the person" with a wider angle lens, well then you are just limiting your view of what street photography is. Its not always about a single person or a couple ... whatever. Oftentimes it encompasses the energy of "the street" as the subject, not people. Many of Friedlanders photos are nearly devoid of people, or they are small objects relative to the frame.

Now if you're interested in a kind of street portratiture, then sure a 50mm might be ideal .. but then I would argue engagement with the subject isn't always a bad thing.

Pre-focusing with a wider angle lens is easier too, and with the right camera you can stand right in front of someone and snap some shots and they'll never know, unless you are limiting yourself to looking through the viewfinder.

Have fun ... experiment!

Mark Fisher
08-28-2010, 09:48 AM
Depends on the area.....50 and 35 are the two I turn to. Mostly I prefer 50 just because it can isolate a subject better. Cartier-Bresson preferred a 50 so it can't be all that bad.

08-28-2010, 10:51 AM
50mm is the one for me at the moment. Previously I preferred 35mm to the extent that I had to force myself to use 50mm for 3 months (one camera, one lens, one film project). Since then I haven't looked back.

08-28-2010, 11:38 AM
The little Nikon 45/2.8 Ai-P is really nice on the FM/FE variants or an N90s for street shooting--just wider than a 50 to be interesting.

08-28-2010, 01:12 PM
I will say though that in my Intro to B&W classes I make all my students use a 50mm for the first 1/3 of the semester. I'm still a believer its the best lens on which to learn composition with a 35mm camera.

08-28-2010, 02:57 PM
For 6x9 try a 65mm or 75mm lens.
Perspective, of course, has nothing to do with the lens one uses. It is only related to subject distance. The different focal length lenses only change the field of view.

08-28-2010, 07:23 PM
Started off with a 50, loved it. Henri Cartier-Bresson was the person who "assured" me that it was possible (before that, I'd been using mid-teles).
Got a 35, loved it more. Put the 50 aside for a month or so.
35mm VF broke in Europe (cheap plastic one). Went back to 50mm.
Still on 50mm until I get a new finder.

Both focal lengths work for me. Not sure I'd go much wider or longer than that, but I'd rather go wider (25?) than longer.

I'll have far more choice with my lenses when my Zorkis come in the mail — right now I'm using a Kiev.
A few more weeks…

08-29-2010, 07:00 AM
I love using a 24mm for both field of view and distortion. When you don't want distortion, a 35mm or 50mm is good in my opinion. I never use anything longer.