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  1. #21

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    I hardly ever used a 50mm until I bought a Leica. It was the only lens I could afford for several months and I came to like it a lot. Now I most often use 50mm and 35mm lenses on both Leica rangefinders and my Canon EOS bodies. I also like 75/80mm lenses on medium format.

    Interestingly, I've never felt the 50mm had a "normal" angle of view compared to my vision. I tend to see in wide angle but with magnification like a 70mm lens. The perspective of a 50mm does seem "normal" to me.

  2. #22

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    One more thought. I find people who use "normal" lenses a lot are more interersted in the subject matter of their photos whereas people who use super wide angles and long telephotos are more interested in the look of their photographs. I can go either way--I also love the distortion of perspective you can get with various focal lengths.

  3. #23
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    The 50mm lens are called "standard lenses" because they are for most subjects they are the most useful , and if I was only allowed to choose one lens to have with my Canon FD system it would be the 50mm 1.4, that's also the fastest lens I own.
    Ben

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by benjiboy View Post
    The 50mm lens are called "standard lenses" because they are for most subjects . . . the most useful ....
    I don't entirely agree. Historically, a 'standard' lens was one that was close to the diagonal of the negative, and with 35mm the 'long standard' became the norm because it's easier to make a reasonably fast (f/3.5) 50mm lens that covers the frame well than to make a 43mm. If you want faster still (f/2, then f/1.5) with full-frame coverage, 50mm is MUCH easier. Anything longer, on the other hand, soon gets bulky if it is at all fast. In other words, it was cheap'n'easy.

    Degrees of enlargement also enter in to it, and I'd argue that a 35mm is at least as 'standard' as a 50mm, while 40mm is closer still. As for 'the most generally useful', I'd disagree completely; I find a fast 35 much more generally useful, and I am not alone in that. As I said above, my 'standard' lens is a 35/1.4.

    Then again, my favourite 'standard' on the Nikon F was the 58/1.4 -- like many ultra-fast lenses for reflexes, even longer than 50mm for similar reasons to why 50mm (or 2 inch) lenses were normally supplied instead of 43mm, 40mm or 35mm.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    Dear John,

    In the 40s and 50s maybe, but the 35 was pretty popular by the 60s and 70s -- once there were high-quality, fast lenses such as the 35/1.4 Summilux (c. 1957). The big advantage of the 50 could be summed up in one word: SPEED.

    Cheers,

    Roger
    I've seen the work of many photojournalists who covered the Vietnam war with a 50mm lense on a 35mm SLR. An amazing feat looking back from this age of zooms. My father shot for Newsday throughout the 60's on primarily a 50mm lense, and he was shooting Tri-x.
    Last edited by John Curran; 06-29-2007 at 03:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Curran View Post
    I've seen the work of many photojournalists who covered the Vietnam war with a 50mm lense on a 35mm SLR. An amazing feat looking back from this age of zooms. My father shot for Newsday throughout the 60's on primarily a 50mm lense, and he was shooting Tri-x.
    Dear John,

    Sure. I'm just saying that 50mm was a long way from universal -- and got further from universal as 35mm lenses got faster.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  7. #27

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    Wow, lots of insightful posts in this thread, and I totally agree with John's post about the photojournalists of the Vietnam war making amazing photos with just a 50mm, compared to photojournalists nowadays having a 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm telephoto zooms as their bread and butter gear.

    A lot of times I wish I could relive the 70s again, and started doing photography back then, instead of starting in the mid 90s.

  8. #28
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    I love my MD Rokkor-X 50mm f1.4. Especially on my Minolta Bellows III.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  9. #29
    Shawn Mielke's Avatar
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    I recently shot for one solid year with the 50mm focal length exclusively. It is my preferred focal length. I need to be forced by practical photographic circumstances to shoot anything wider, such as while in the many medinas of Morocco this last winter. Narrow corridor after narrow corridor and it became very clear that the 35mm focal would have served me better.
    But I think that it's very important to not be dominated by effects while shooting, and to achieve a spiritual connection with the subject and it's environment. Therefore, the less perspective distortion the better and the more the inner vision is allowed to come out, imo. Which isn't to say that aesthetics are less important to me than content. To me they are irrevocably combined.
    Mainly though, practical considerations pertain to handheld shooting technique and the 50mm allows the shutterspeeds to be reasonably slow. While shooting humans engaged in social activities, 1/30th of a second is about as slow as I like to go without seriously losing fidelity and 1/50th is very close to 1/30th.
    What would Dziga Vertov do?

  10. #30

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    i use a 50mm on a 35mm camera more and more.
    i use others as well, but the 50 just feels right sometimes.
    i am on a trip now, and i have 2 35mm cameras and a 4x5 with me.
    the little cameras are mounted with 50's, and the big one has a 6ish"

    j

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