Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The fifty-mm lens

I wish I could be kewl and say "I've always come back to the fifty-mm" or something.
But I can't, I just don't care much for it, sorry. As an artist I feel like I am trying to play volleyball with a straightjacket.

"But it's what's closest to the way we see things." Yeah, that's great, for documentary work.
But as a wannabe art photographer, I don't want to show things like we always see them, I want to see and show them like we *don't* always see them.

People work in a myriad of different ways. Some photograph the world. Me, I don't, really. I make pictures, using a camera. I used paint and canvas many years before my first camera, and still do sometimes. There, as with photos, I love pictures which have elements of both the real and the abstract.


Ken said...

Someone was asking me about what a 50mm equivalent lens is useful for, as B&H has a very good price on a Panasonic f1.7. All I could say was that it was for taking fairly standard photos in low light. Maybe something for a kids birthday party. They have an 85mm equivalent f1.7 which would make a very nice portrait lens.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I think that was actually a very good answer there.

Olympus has a fantastic portrait lens, the 45mm 1.8. (90-mm equivalent.) It is of outstanding image quality, it is very compact and light, and it's surprisingly affordable.

I'd say with that (and maybe a wide to complement it) on an Olympus Pen you'd have a compact and discreet, yet top-quality street photography camera. (You can even at waist level touch the screen to focus and shoot in a split second. Fastest way I know to get a shot.)

Russ said...

IMO, the advent of cameras that utilized the APS-C sensor was the best thing that ever happened to 50mm lenses!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I hear you. Suddenly everybody had (access to) cheap, decent, fast portrait lenses.

With one caveat, as I found out with my Nikon 50mm (I think it even was the more pro 1.4 rather than the entry lens 1.8), some of them have terrible bokeh (background blur). Meaning when you open the aperture up fully to get a nice soft background, it's not as nice and soft as you'd imagined, but have edges and patterns in it.
A real portrait lens is designed to have nice bokeh, and also generally excellent image quality. But of course they cost quite a bit more. (which makes the reasonable price of that Olympus lens such a nice surprise.)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

BTW, I have recently read that aspherical lenses, while being in other ways a god-sent for camera lenses, are often guilty of roughing up the bokeh. (I'll bet my fiffty-mm 1.4 Nikkor has an asph element)

But I also later saw a new lens (with many elements) which had an aspherical element or two, but still really nice bokeh. So it's not a certainty.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

... Aw, just can't stop...
Also, with some notable exceptions (I think Pentax for example had an outstanding one), fifty milimenter lenses sold with cameras were often not the very best lenses, since their purpose was to give the buyer a cheap start into the system.
Fortunately this medium focal length is one of the easiest to make, optically, so they were usually at least usable. Bulk economics also helped make them cheap.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks to my strap-maker Mark

I found that legendary Pentax 50mm, the Super-Takumar:

Bru said...

I've never been a fan of 50mm either. Somebody let me borrow their Nikon SLR with a 50mm back in film days, and I just didn't see the point. I still don't.

I like the wide 28mm view. Reviewing my year photographically, I realize that the 28mm Nikon Coolpix A, which I bought in June, has been fun, and I've taken some good photos with it. I didn't use it that much, but I am going to change that!

If I'm not going wide, I prefer 40-44mm over either 50 or 35mm, which is another popular lens size.

It's interesting to note that Apple's cameras are around 28mm uncropped, and 40mm square. Both focal lengths fit my style.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Indeedio. I think 40mm is a great Normal lens.

And the first lens I bought for my early Pentax was also a 28mm. Loved that, still do.
After that, a 100mm. I also still love shooting with that focal length.

Admittedly a long zoom is nice too, I often spot interesting compositions far away, and quite a few of my fave pics have been with a focal length over 200mm. And with today's high ISO settings and great anti-shake functions, that's so much easier. Before, you needed sunlight to take telephotos, now you can do it indoors!