I quite recently bought a smc-m 40mm 2.8 "pancake", mostly for its compactness (great pocketable combination with a me/me super/super A body). But I found myself using it most of the time, as it seems to hit some sweetspot in tems of angle of view, at least for me. I found the 50mm a bit too narrow-fielded for street photography (at least for the streets of the city I live in). I also use a 28mm, which is quite compact (smc-m f/2.8). I take it with me most of the time, as it fits well in a jacket pocket. The 28mm is my default option when the environment isn't that crowded or when I can get close to the subject. But most often the interesting, fleeting things I spot on the street are some meters away, where a 28mm lens would introduce too many undesired side elements in the composition. Anyway, this is the pair of lenses I take with me 90% of the time when shooting 35mm street. Occasionally I use a 17mm (tokina), as it goes past that focal length where people still realize they are in the picture, so they don't modify their attitude. But for really wide shots I use a 14mm samyang. Its problem is that it is comparativelly large and cumbersome, so I leave it at home almost every time.
I'm surprised nobody has suggested a zoom. I find a 28-70mm pretty handy for most scenes you stumble upon. Often you really don't have time to change lenses and I hate carrying much for this kind of shooting anyway.
Originally Posted by Christopher Walrath
It depends on the planned print size and viewing distance. These two factors create a very specific angle of view.
An 8x10 print to be viewed at arms length indicates the use of what most people call a "normal" lens.
To get a 16x20 to look "normal" at arms length a wider lens is needed.
A 5x7 print would "need" a longer lens to make it look "normal".
This effect is easiest to see on very large prints from wide angle lenses but true of any lens. As you move closer to the print the perspective distortions disappear and the view becomes "normal".
Saw a huge print of O'Keeffe by Karsh in Santa Fe at the O'Keeffe museum. I was with a group at a workshop. As a group we naturally found the "normal" viewing distance, i.e. we stopped at roughly the same place on the floor to view it. Most of the other people there did the same thing.
[QUOTE=bobwysiwyg;1146276]I'm surprised nobody has suggested a zoom. I find a 28-70mm pretty handy for most scenes you stumble upon. Often you really don't have time to change lenses
Speaking personally I find that shooting people in the street with short zooms that by the time I've put the camera to my eye and zoomed the image to the optimum size before you shoot the picture has gone, I much prefer the 35mmf2 that if left focused on about 15ft and using the lenses hyperfocal distance you don't need to focus just point and shoot.
I think zooms are most useful when you are stuck in one spot; when you are free to roam, their biggest advantage is lost. And you pay with size and weight (and expense, if they are a very good quality zoom, which one needs to come close to the quality of even the fixed-length lenses that are not necessarily high-end glass). Wide zooms are often an exception, as they are not too huge or too heavy. However, they are still larger than fixed-length wide, and good ones are expensive. They are also not available in very fast versions (f/2.8 is as fast as they get TMK), and I think fixed-length wides are generally optically superior. Having something small, light, fast, cheap, and simple trumps the ability to change focal lengths on the fly IMHO.
Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg
I use 180mm on 6x7cm (85mm equiv for 35mm) and the shots look great!
Sigma 12-24mm is SEVERAL leagues better than any wide prime lens. Had a look at the distortion tests, and all the primes in that league are terrible.
Originally Posted by 2F/2F
Having a zoom when you're not stuck is great though too, because you can move around, it allows you to alter perspective easily.
Any? Any 20-24mm ever made? I mean, it is an admirable performer in that regard, but...
Originally Posted by Athiril
Anyway, it doesn't have an aperture ring, so I can't use it.
I used 28mm (nikon 28ti, minolta tc-1), 35mm (nikon 35ti), 40mm (role 35 classic ti, plaubel makina 67 which is equivalent to 40mm), 50mm (summicron rigid DR) for the past 300 rolls and find the 28mm most useful for street photography.
28mm has the all rounder competence in street, the key is, get close to your subject and don't shoot from far away. It gives good wide view, powerful composition. When used at close distance, it's exaggeration will render the scene captive to the eye; when used from a distance, it's great for scenery shots.
40mm is a bit narrower, but role 35 has a great distortion that could give architecture shots an overwhelming power.
50mm for me is only good for urban still life shots. This is disappointing.
I just posted in another topic my experiences with several lenses, I'd like to cite it here:
In fact I forgot to mention that a good part of the My Angst serie is done by a role 35 classic titanium edition. It has the most competent lens I've used: fabulous contrast, very dark toned render of the scene, etc. I totally love it's 40mm lens, and I find it rendered the achetecture shots with mighty and powerful distortion. I know we usually don't use these terms when talking about distortion - we usually look for NO distortion. But this 40mm lens's distortion, when used properly, can give the architecture shots an overwhelming power.
I'm having a love hate relationship with summicron 50. The thing is, it's a bit narrow for me, and also this lens has its own character which is hard to control. I don't want people look at my photography and instead of praising the photography itself, keep on talking about how this summicron contributed to the aesthetics. So I find myself constantly, intentionally shooting things totally out of focus or with very slow speeds, because if in focus and tuned, the lens just come over me and render MY photography like other millions of summicron users. Also, I work a lot in post production: unconventional developing, usually very high push to gain grain and contrast to ensure people don't see that it's a summicron.
Also,I recently sold the mikon 28ti because I find it too big and clumsy. Now for wide angle I use a minolta tc-1. I did a search on this forum but didn't find any related topic on this machine. For the record: it's the camera of the greatest value I've seen (lens sold in leica m mount for over 1500 usd), and at the same time, a most fragile & expensive camera. It's lens totally surpassed anything in 28mm range, I abused mine with 100 rolls in the two month ownership. Now it's in japan waiting for repair (300 usd I presume including shipping fees). But I love it so much that I will totally pay this repair and (ab)use it again.
Raymond Depardon just published a book called Manhattan Out, it's totally done by a superangulon 21mm 3.4. BUY it.