wide vs. very wide
For a while I have pondered a wide angle lens for my RZ67 setup and haven't been able to make up my mind between the 50mm and the 65mm lens. Right away: I intentionally post this here and not in the equipment forum, because I ponder the aesthetic qualities of these lenses as they apply to landscape photography and not their sharpness/bokeh/price or other technical merits.
From what I've seen on flickr, the 50mm lens is frequently used as landscape lens where a pronounced wide angle perspective is desired, whereas the 65mm lens is used to put more stuff in the frame (vs. the normal lens) yet preserve an almost normal perspective. The 50mm lens is often used for frames where a whole subject is included (like a whole building, a whole tree), whereas the 65mm images often show only part of the subject. So judging from their most frequent use in landscape photography these two focal lengths are used very differently despite being relatively close together in terms of focal length.
Am I completely off track here with my conclusions? My goal is making well composed landscape shots where family members are included as small elements (less than 5% of the frame in linear direction) in the frame, sort of like chinese paintings. I've done this with my 110mm lens so far with mixed success and want to go wider to create a little bit more pronounced perspective without overemphasizing it.
The transition from a standard 1100m lens to the 65mm is practical, my equivalent would be from a 150mm on my 5x4's to a 90mm.
A 65mm would give you quite a reasonable wide angle lens, that's easy to use under a wide variety of conditions, when you go wider the lenses aren't always suitable, too wide in some circumstances. This is why many would have the equivalents of both the 65mm & the 50mm, so I have a 65mm for my 5x4 but it gets much less use than the 90mm.
To relate the view of 50mm vs. 65mm in the context of another format which you are very familar with, simply divide the FL by the short dimension of the frame size! So 50mm is 0.9x of 55mm, which is like 22mm on 135 format and like 80mm on 4x5 format...super wide. 65mm is 1.18x 55mm, which is like 28mm on 135 or 105mm on 4x5...wide
Keep in mind that while your people will be small, the background detail will be tiny if far away!
I try to keep the division of FL between my lenses to no less than x1.33 and no more than x1.66. This gives me a "reasonable division" between perspectives while not overspending. My goal is x1.5 between FL of lenses. This seems to be the best compromise (for me)... I don't mind cropping a "little" but not "a lot". EXAMPLE: My 4x5 lens kit (dedicated to 6x12cm roll film) is 38 SAXL, 58 SAXL, 90 f/8 SA, 135 Apo Symmar, 210 Kowa-Graphic, 300 Fuji-C, and 450 Fuji-C. The 8x10 kit (no camera yet) includes 72 SAXL, 110 SSXL, 150 SSXL, 210 Kowa (shared w/ 4x5), 300 Fuji (shared w/ 4x5), 450 Fuji (shared w/ 4x5), and 800 Schneider Tele (to buy later).
I had a 200mm Nikkor-M but sold it along with a 300mm Nikkor-M because I needed the cash. Had I not been in such dire straits I would have kept the 200 Nikkor-M because it's a perfect fit for the lightweight 6x12cm kit. Oh well... we all give-n-take, don't we? :) The 210mm Kowa-Graphic is fairly small too... just not tiny like the 200mm Nikkor-M.
First of all: thanks for all the replies so far! I'd like to throw a few tidbits into the discussion. First of all, I know quite well how focal length scales with film format and have used a vast variety of focal lengths on my EOS 3, from 14mm to 1300mm to be accurate. The difference in use between the 50mm and the 65mm is, from what I have seen in the flickr examples, much more than the difference in focal length seems to suggest. There seems to be a discontinuity in perspective perception between these two, from basically normal perspective with the 65 to pronounced wide angle perspective with the 50. The images taken with the 50 look like my EOS 3 images taken with the 14mm, maybe a little less extreme, but conceptually in the same ball park. The images taken with the 65 on the other side seem to be a completely different animal and remind me more of normal focal length than of wide angle.
There are different ways of explaining this (and none of my efforts may actually be correct).
- It could be that anyone who really wants to achieve a wide angle perspective just doesn't bother with the 65 but uses the 50, whereas if one just wants a slightly wider frame one would go for the 65. Note that how perspective is perceived depends a lot on framing and composition, if I don't include foreground elements even my 14mm lens doesn't look so unusual.
- For a while the 50mm was said to have more optical problems than the 65 so I could imagine people used the 50 only if they really wanted to have a pronounced wide perspective. This may have led to disproportionally many 50mm images with "in your face" wide angle perspective whereas the 65mm images are more mixed.
- Or is it that our eyes (which don't have a well defined field of view, the image just gets more blurry further off axis) barely accept the 65mm perspective as "normal" whereas the 50mm perspective deviates just a tick too far from our normal viewing habits?
- Or do I see a huge difference where there really is just a slight one?
There is a huge difference on 135 format between a 22mm lens and a 28mm lens! So there would be a corresponding huge difference between the 50mm and the 65mm on the 6x7 format...simple AOV programs will show one has horizontal dimension that sees 70 degrees while the other sees 56.6 degrees.
Originally Posted by Rudeofus
wiltw, you are correct, one shouldn't say "the difference is only 15mm" when this already makes a factor of 1.3 in focal length. It's already helpful for me to know that others, too, see a marked difference between the 50 shots and the 65 shots. What puzzles me is that the 65 is not just less of a 50, it seems to play in a completely different ball park. Somewhere there seems to be a pronounced step in our perception where our brain switches from "this is a typical wide angle shot" to "this looks normal". I would have expected the transition between these two a little bit more subtle and smoother.
So the decision between the 50 and the 65 (apart from technical merits which have already been beaten to death in the equipment forum) seems to boil down to "do you want your images to look like wide angle images or do you want a normal looking image with more stuff in the frame than the 110 gives you" ...
Between the 50mm and the 65mm I eventually decided on the 50. Why?
I can always crop a 65mm scene out of a 50 mm field of view.
Modern slow film is fine enough to allow the crop.
The 50mm lens is sharp enough.
And the 6x7 negative is generous enough in size to allow a bit of air around the subject matter if you need it.
The difference of lenses is the perspective difference which is provided...it is so unusual to the brain. It is not accustomed to having the relative size of something close be so radically different in size to something farther away but reduced in scale by the perspective difference.
Originally Posted by Rudeofus
I disagree that 'you can simply crop 65mm out of a 50mm shot'...the perspective is different. Cropping changes framing, but you cannot get the same perspective from the cropped shot since the initial shooting position is different. If I frame an area which is 1000' away, I capture 1200x1400' with the 50mm lens, but I have to be 1300' away to capture the same framing with the 65mm lens, so my relationship between items in the near field vs. in the far field is greatly changed.
wiltw, I think it will work IF he previsualizes the shot as a crop, keeping the subject further away from the lens.
I was going to recommend the 65, as it seems to be what you are looking for.
Your reasons are workable if you want a wider lens too, but from the original post it seems like you're giving yourself an unneeded hassle.
If you decide later you'd rather have the 50, you could sell the 65 and get the 50.