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Author Topic: prime focal length choices  (Read 7404 times)

DRR

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2013, 12:04:50 AM »
I have a different approach - start with the one focal length you can't live without and build around it.

For me I shoot a lot of contextual portraits. 85 outside is very common for me, 35 is used a lot indoors. That's good, not a lot of overlap. I personally find 50 to be too narrow for moving around indoors, and too wide at the distances I want to use outside. So it's common for me to just bring 35 and 85 and no L zooms, which are large and heavy. To round out my primes I'd like to have a 135 and maybe something like a 20. I think 20 is as wide as you can get without getting into unnatural looking distortion. Sigma makes a 20/1.8, Canon's fastest at that focal length is f/2.8. Unless you step up to 24mm and L glass.


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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2013, 12:04:50 AM »

RAKAMRAK

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2013, 01:39:00 AM »

Personally, I went with the 35L, 85L II, and 135L (the classic 'holy trinity' of fast primes).

I beg your pardon OP but could I add a question to everyone here (in reference to Mr. Neuro's statement, may be he will also jump to share his understanding/opinion here).

Why does not this "holy trinity" include the 50L? Alright, 85 is 50mm more than 35 and 135 is 50mm more than 85. So they are equally spaced. That may be one logic (not a very strong one though). But is there any other reason to exclude 50L? We could have an "unholy foursome" (ok that did not come out right)....
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adhocphotographer

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2013, 03:30:27 AM »
In the same boat... What i did was look at what focal lengths i use the most (using LR)....  For me, 60% of my shots with my 24-105 were at 24mm, 25% at 105 and the remaining everywhere in-between. 

I suggest doing that! It can be very interesting.

I'm picking up a 24mm Prime.  I have a 50 1.8, which I'm sure one day i will up-date, but on the long side of things, my 70-200 is doing me nicely...

My primes will be:
24, 50, x.

Another reason for 24 over 35....  you can always crop a 24 to 35 easily, but the other way round is more annoying (stitching)...  :)


ps - I am also picking up the 40mm 2.8...  so my need for a 35 is extremely low now! :P
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neuroanatomist

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2013, 06:04:08 AM »

Personally, I went with the 35L, 85L II, and 135L (the classic 'holy trinity' of fast primes).

I beg your pardon OP but could I add a question to everyone here (in reference to Mr. Neuro's statement, may be he will also jump to share his understanding/opinion here).

Why does not this "holy trinity" include the 50L? Alright, 85 is 50mm more than 35 and 135 is 50mm more than 85. So they are equally spaced. That may be one logic (not a very strong one though). But is there any other reason to exclude 50L? We could have an "unholy foursome" (ok that did not come out right)....

Well, we could blame it being relatively less sharp, or the focus shift, but let not.  I suppose the most likely explanation is that the 35/85/135 have been around a while (since before digital, when everyone with an EF lens shot 'full frame', although the 85L was updated), whereas the 50/1.2L is from 2007 and the 50/1.0L was too expensive to be part of most people's kit.
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Vossie

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2013, 08:51:55 AM »

Personally, I went with the 35L, 85L II, and 135L (the classic 'holy trinity' of fast primes).

I beg your pardon OP but could I add a question to everyone here (in reference to Mr. Neuro's statement, may be he will also jump to share his understanding/opinion here).

Why does not this "holy trinity" include the 50L? Alright, 85 is 50mm more than 35 and 135 is 50mm more than 85. So they are equally spaced. That may be one logic (not a very strong one though). But is there any other reason to exclude 50L? We could have an "unholy foursome" (ok that did not come out right)....

It is true that 35>85>135 has 50mm in between. But it may be a better "spacing" to look at the field of view ratios. 135mm film is 24*36mm; so a 2:3 aspect ratio. The ideal spacing would be to have your focal lengths a factor 1,5 apart. That way the vertical FoV is the same as the horizontal FoV of the next lens in your series. An ideal series would look like (starting at 24):

24>36>54>81>122>182>273       with a bit of rounding:
24>35>50>85>135>200>300


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rs

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2013, 10:22:43 AM »

Personally, I went with the 35L, 85L II, and 135L (the classic 'holy trinity' of fast primes).

I beg your pardon OP but could I add a question to everyone here (in reference to Mr. Neuro's statement, may be he will also jump to share his understanding/opinion here).

Why does not this "holy trinity" include the 50L? Alright, 85 is 50mm more than 35 and 135 is 50mm more than 85. So they are equally spaced. That may be one logic (not a very strong one though). But is there any other reason to exclude 50L? We could have an "unholy foursome" (ok that did not come out right)....

It is true that 35>85>135 has 50mm in between. But it may be a better "spacing" to look at the field of view ratios. 135mm film is 24*36mm; so a 2:3 aspect ratio. The ideal spacing would be to have your focal lengths a factor 1,5 apart. That way the vertical FoV is the same as the horizontal FoV of the next lens in your series. An ideal series would look like (starting at 24):

24>36>54>81>122>182>273       with a bit of rounding:
24>35>50>85>135>200>300
What set of primes would you recommend for someone shooting large format square film?  ;)
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codewizpt

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2013, 10:23:43 AM »
I have 35/50/135, though the 50mm is the Canon EF 1.4
35L | 50 | 135L
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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2013, 10:23:43 AM »

Skirball

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2013, 10:54:24 AM »
They really should offer 23 mm, 37 mm, 53 mm, 89 mm, and 137 mm primes.

ablearcher

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2013, 11:05:28 AM »
IMO, the 35-85-135 combo works better if you shoot mostly people, than 24-50-etc. 

I would love to add the 85L to my set, but then i would need to carry two 85mm lenses - one for action/candids (85 1.8) and one for posed shots (85L). Tough to justify in my situation.
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ajfotofilmagem

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2013, 11:16:44 AM »
I have a different approach - start with the one focal length you can't live without and build around it.

For me I shoot a lot of contextual portraits. 85 outside is very common for me, 35 is used a lot indoors. That's good, not a lot of overlap. I personally find 50 to be too narrow for moving around indoors, and too wide at the distances I want to use outside. So it's common for me to just bring 35 and 85 and no L zooms, which are large and heavy. To round out my primes I'd like to have a 135 and maybe something like a 20. I think 20 is as wide as you can get without getting into unnatural looking distortion. Sigma makes a 20/1.8, Canon's fastest at that focal length is f/2.8. Unless you step up to 24mm and L glass.
Unfortunately both Canon 20mm F2.8 and Sigma 20mm F1.8 are pretty bad outside the center of the image. Quite disappointing for prime lenses is near $ 500, $ 600.

ajfotofilmagem

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2013, 11:23:19 AM »
To not have to carry a lot of weight (and spend lots of money), I'd rather have some zoom lenses which together cover 10mm to 300mm (APS-C), and some fast primes with wider spacing between them. Something like 24mm, 50mm, 100mm.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 11:27:10 AM by ajfotofilmagem »

Eldar

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2013, 11:55:25 AM »
I think I have owned all available prime focal lengths from 14mm to 600mm over the years, and I still have quite a few. I also have zooms covering 8mm to 400mm, but many of them collect dust on the shelf.

My most used primes are the 35mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.2. I do not use the 135 f2 very much. It is a great lens, but I often end up using the 70-200 f2.8 instead. I know a lot of you like it for outdoor portraits, but I prefer the 85 for that. I have also used the 50mm f1.2 a lot in the past, but have now sold it, because I find the 35/85 combo so much more usable and their IQ is outstanding.

As I said in another thread, summing up my production over a year, probably 80% of my images are shot with the zooms, but probably 80% of my best keepers are shot with the 35mm and 85mm (not counting sports, wildlife and birds shot with the great whites).
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Skirball

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2013, 12:41:18 PM »
To not have to carry a lot of weight (and spend lots of money), I'd rather have some zoom lenses which together cover 10mm to 300mm (APS-C), and some fast primes with wider spacing between them. Something like 24mm, 50mm, 100mm.

Isn't that exactly what we're discussing?  Well ok, not exactly, the OP said he had 24-200 on a FF...

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2013, 12:41:18 PM »

AmbientLight

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2013, 01:20:59 PM »

Personally, I went with the 35L, 85L II, and 135L (the classic 'holy trinity' of fast primes).

I beg your pardon OP but could I add a question to everyone here (in reference to Mr. Neuro's statement, may be he will also jump to share his understanding/opinion here).

Why does not this "holy trinity" include the 50L? Alright, 85 is 50mm more than 35 and 135 is 50mm more than 85. So they are equally spaced. That may be one logic (not a very strong one though). But is there any other reason to exclude 50L? We could have an "unholy foursome" (ok that did not come out right)....

It is true that 35>85>135 has 50mm in between. But it may be a better "spacing" to look at the field of view ratios. 135mm film is 24*36mm; so a 2:3 aspect ratio. The ideal spacing would be to have your focal lengths a factor 1,5 apart. That way the vertical FoV is the same as the horizontal FoV of the next lens in your series. An ideal series would look like (starting at 24):

24>36>54>81>122>182>273       with a bit of rounding:
24>35>50>85>135>200>300


For a while I have been using 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2 and 85mm f1.2 as my holy prime trinity. Since adding the 135mm f2 L just this Monday I have come to realize that for me there is sufficient difference between the 85mm and 135mm primes. For whatever weird reason I don't think the same regarding the 35mm focal length and its neighbors, so I might end up using such an aforementioned foursome, but not a quarrelsome quintet.

I am a bit baffled, because taking Vossie's list as a basis I do consider 200mm or 300mm focal lengths to be quite a bit different, while regarding wide angle I prefer 14mm and 24mm, but not 35mm. This appears to leave a lot of space in between focal lengths at the wider end, if we would extend Vossie's list. Perhaps this vertical to horizontal FoV spacing isn't so ideal after all.

I would be interested to read about other people's preferences in this area.

mackguyver

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2013, 01:37:39 PM »
For a while I have been using 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2 and 85mm f1.2 as my holy prime trinity. Since adding the 135mm f2 L just this Monday I have come to realize that for me there is sufficient difference between the 85mm and 135mm primes. For whatever weird reason I don't think the same regarding the 35mm focal length and its neighbors, so I might end up using such an aforementioned foursome, but not a quarrelsome quintet.

I would be interested to read about other people's preferences in this area.
You're not alone - I use the 24 f/1.4, 50 f/1.2, 85 f/1.2, and 135 f/2 as well and have for many years.  I don't care for the 35mm focal length as much as the 24mm.  It just isn't wide enough for me, or different enough from the 50mm to be worthwhile.  It's a totally personal preference, and I'm always blown away by the 35mm f/1.4 photos I see, but it's not for me.

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Re: prime focal length choices
« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2013, 01:37:39 PM »