The 50mm focal length (or its 35mm equivilent) continues to be my favorite focal length.

Odd that I've only had the Sony cameras for a short time but I have already acquired two 50mm lenses, one 35mm lens and one 30mm lens, along with a zoom that also covers the 50mm focal length as well as the 35mm focal length.  I don't have anything wider than a 24mm (35 equivalent) and yet I don't feel nearly as naked as I did when I didn't have the middle of the optical range well covered. (This was written a while ago.  I'm editing:  I've added a Sigma 10-20mm lens to round out the wide end.)

All of my current photography happens between 16mm and 200mm. The lenses are used on APS-C camera bodies so the range actually covers 24mm to 300 mm, in old school speak. But no matter what I intend or what I head out the door with the images that make me happy are always in that narrow band of focal lengths that emulate what I learned on with that old Canon TX film camera and its bulky but stalwart 50mm 1.8.

When I shot everything with the Canon 5Dmk2 I ended up collecting at least five optics in the "normal" range, including:  a 50mm Zeiss f1.4, a Nikon 50mm 1.2, a Canon 50mm 1.8,  Canon 50mm 2.5 macro and a converted 60mm Leica R macro.  I guess it's a bit of an obsession.  But one that makes sense.  We're  seduced by candy and sexy super models and loud music but we spend time with nutritious food, approachable girlfriends and soft music in our ongoing lives.  We think we love the sparkle but we stay pretty firmly in the comfort zones.  It's no different with optics.

From 35mm to 85mm or even 135mm we feel safe and sound.  We're excited to play with a 15mm wide angle but we soon tire of its uncomfortable novelty effects.  We marvel at some shots taken with an 800 mm lens wide open but after a very short while we long for the context that comes from seeing more of a scene.  And seeing more of it in focus.

I've owned the high speed, high priced normals and I've owned the cheapos and I'm here to tell  you that, unless you  spring for something esoteric like a Leica 50mm 1.4 Aspheric, you're not going to notice a heck of a lot of difference between the lenses once you hit 2.8 or so.  You know, the range we mostly shot at or above.


  1. I know the feeling, I have a 35, 40 and 50 for my small sensor Nikon. I also have the plastic fantastic 18-105 that actually shoots above it's weight. Strangely, I have never felt like I am short of anything lens wise. Maybe I'll get the 85 some day, well probably.

  2. 35 (equiv) is almost always wide enough for me. 50 (equiv) is great for walk around and 75-85 (equiv) is great for portraits and street candids. 28 is ultra wide angle for me.

  3. Michael Johnston at TOP has used (maybe he was the first to adopt the usage) of referring to lenses in 35 equivalent focal lengths by appending the name with a "e". So a 25 mm 4/3s lens is referred to as a 50e mm during discussions. It's a handy short form.

  4. So is it the 50mm or the 35mm you prefer on the Sony cameras? With my Samsung NX10 (a seemingly rare species around here) I find myself mostly using the excellent Samsung 30mm 2.0 pancake lens and an old Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm 1.7 (which performs great when I manage to nail the manual focus). If I need anything wider than the 30mm I use the wide end of the 18-55mm kit lens. Two other old Minolta lenses I use from time to time are an amazingly sharp MD Rokkor 35-70mm 3.5 and a nice and compact Celtic 135mm 3.5.

  5. I agree... Maybe it's because in old film times we bought with gleaming eyes our first SLR camera with a 50mm lens that we kept for years before being able to invest in another lens ?
    Anyhow the 35mm, 50mm, 85mm is quite enough for the casual stroller :-)


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