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Why HCB uses a 50mm lens


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7 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

This one:

« I have always thought that this was yet another occasion where there was a significant gap between what Henri said, and the reality of what happened »

You asked if I was saying HCB was a liar.  Perhaps I was being too obtuse.

It's just that we don't understand each other i guess. I expected some support in the form of a quotation from HCB for instance or a testimony of any sort but you're quoting a sentence of yours or someone else i don't know the name about a gap i have never heard of between what HCB said and the reality. I respect you infinitely but i am not interested in unsupported statements of any sort so i prefer forgetting this discussion if you don't mind.

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On 8/29/2022 at 10:01 AM, John Robinson said:

Fascinating how choice of focal length can provoke such a -- sometimes heated -- discussion.  What is missing perhaps is the concept of intentionality.  Working with fixed-focal-length lenses on any format, over time, the photographer's eye is trained to look at a scene and "see" how it might look through a camera.  What is the intention in making the image, putting a frame around the world?  Chances are, before you even take your camera out of its bag, you have a good idea of the outcome you have in mind.

As to choosing which lens to take on a "one camera, one lens" expedition, you need to know what you are looking for and then you choose the lens that will work for you in the situation.

The great thing about prime- or fixed-focus lenses is the discipline they enable.  My favourite 16mm cine camera was a Standard Arriflex (Arri ST) with a lens turret.  I remember it had a 16mm, a 25mm and a 50mm (probably Zeiss).  It was common to talk about "wide shot", "mid shot", "medium closeup" and "big closeup".  The three lenses on the turret gave the choice, from a fixed camera position.  The huge TV cameras from the 50s and 60s had something similar.

"Zoom" lenses were a different matter, designed for a different purpose (replace the need for a lens turret).  They were very useful for documentary filming but rather broke the fixed-focal-length discipline.  Fast forward 40 or so years and I notice that many cinematographers swear by their choices of prime- or fixed-focus lenses.  As this is a Leica forum, the selection of Leica cine lenses (mostly PL-mount) is notable (alongside Zeiss etc).  There are also certain still-camera lenses (e.g. Distagon f2/28) that can be adapted to cine and are in huge demand.

As photographer, you are the subject (hence the notion of subjectivity); the scene in front of you is the object (objectivity?).  Where do you place yourself in relation to the scene, the object of your gaze?  What point of view are you seeking?  From this follows your choice of camera and lens.  Without knowing your intention, it is hard to say which lens is "best".  Knowing what you are looking for, which choice of lens gives the outcome you are happiest with?

That was a joy to read. Thank you.

Ernst

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Personal answer to the title: most probably ("the way I see it" ;) because HCB loved this focal and felt comfortable using it :) :) :)  

I use 35 and 50 for candids and street shooting, more comfortable with the 50. But "safer" with the 35 as I can crop -- and I am fine with this, don't feel bad doing it.

For family pictures and some landscapes, the iPhone 26mm is not bad at all :) :):) and the wider 13mm is fun to use (and good for interior photography!) 

There is no correct focal, it is a personal choice, lost battle trying to (implicitly) find the "right answer". 

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On 8/31/2022 at 2:14 AM, evikne said:

I would rather say that 35 is the new 50. 😉

75 is my new 50.  It captures exactly what i am looking at.  If not for the size of the 75 noctilux, it would be my everyday lens.  I have developed an appreciation for 35 after 2 decades of shooting 50... but only because my wife bought me the lens did i discover ways to use it... I would not have picked it myself.  Now i find the 50 is sitting in no man's land.  Not wide enough for some shots, and too wide for others.

Having said all that, force me to own any 1 lens and i can assure you that over time it will become "normal" for me.  Humans are malleable.

HCB is a good photographer, but reverence is dangerous.  There are lot's of good photographers, and I much prefer the work of others over HCB.  Not sure why his opinion on the matter is meant to be the final word.  Humans also have the capacity to tell good stories to explain or justify their position.

I like @evikne - he shows his work on this forum.  Discussion is good, but sometimes I wonder if some on this forum actually make photos!

 

 

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I prefer 4x5 ratio, X1D uncropped, to 35mm format, and 80mm seems perfect with the medium format. 35 equivalent would be 63mm lens according to the maker, and the closest offering in 35 would be 50mm with some cropping? Don’t know exactly how much crop is needed from 50mm original to achieve 80mm fov in medium format though. What I really want to say is, in portrait orientation, the longest side of 35mm format is a bit too long to my taste, and especially so when using 50mm lens. Maybe just me, but strange…

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2 hours ago, Drmat said:

HCB is a good photographer, but reverence is dangerous...Not sure why his opinion on the matter is meant to be the final word.  Humans also have the capacity to tell good stories to explain or justify their position. I like @evikne - he shows his work on this forum.  Discussion is good, but sometimes I wonder if some on this forum actually make photos!

I agree that reverence for the work of HCB is...well....a bit like 'religious faith'; a personal choice and therefore up to the individual viewer to make such a choice but I've never read anywhere (of intelligent input) that his opinion is 'The Final Word'. I, too (like a great many others here), very much like evikne's posts and his work and also his willingness to share his photographs.

Out of interest, Drmat, have you posted any of your own photographs in the forum? I'd be interested to see some if you could post a link? Thanks in advance.

Philip.

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15 minutes ago, pippy said:

I agree that reverence for the work of HCB is...well....a bit like 'religious faith'; a personal choice and therefore up to the individual viewer to make such a choice but I've never read anywhere (of intelligent input) that his opinion is 'The Final Word'. I, too (like a great many others here), very much like evikne's posts and his work and also his willingness to share his photographs.

Out of interest, Drmat, have you posted any of your own photographs in the forum? I'd be interested to see some if you could post a link? Thanks in advance.

Philip.

I have posted on the forum.  I am not very good at figuring out how to link.  Here is a link to my website, which is a better reflection of my work:

www.mathewmercuri.com

And yes, i am not sure anyone said "final word", but there is a lot of implication to some statements that if HCB did it, then it is the proper way.  I think he gets way too much attention about the equipment he uses.  I think that is due to a lot of people wanting to be him and think the equipment is a good place to start, i.e., if HCB can do it with a M and 50mm, then that is all the camera I need and the rest is on me.

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18 minutes ago, pippy said:

I agree that reverence for the work of HCB is...well....a bit like 'religious faith'; a personal choice and therefore up to the individual viewer to make such a choice but I've never read anywhere (of intelligent input) that his opinion is 'The Final Word'. I, too (like a great many others here), very much like evikne's posts and his work and also his willingness to share his photographs.

Out of interest, Drmat, have you posted any of your own photographs in the forum? I'd be interested to see some if you could post a link? Thanks in advance.

Philip.

I posted a bunch on the 50 lux pre-asph forum, but I can't seem to find the links now!  I still contend that was the best lens i ever owned and sadly let it go because I couldn't find colour filters for it and then went down the hole of thinking I needed the APO and 0.95, etc... both of which I am afraid to sell now even though they are the least used lenses in my kit.

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8 hours ago, Drmat said:

...Here is a link to my website, which is a better reflection of my work:

www.mathewmercuri.com

Thanks very much for posting the link, Drmat. I enjoyed looking through your photographs. Some lovely stuff in there!

As far as 'Filters and Fifties' are concerned I have a similar problem in that I'd like to get more filters for B'n'W work for my '53 f1.5 Summarit but the lens takes very uncommonly found 41mm filters and the screw-in type which come up all seem to be priced in 'Collector's Territory'. Happily the v4 50mm Summicron takes Leica's usual 39mm filters and is, by comparison to the Summarit, a very cheap date.

Thanks again!

Philip.

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2 hours ago, pippy said:

Thanks very much for posting the link, Drmat. I enjoyed looking through your photographs. Some lovely stuff in there!

As far as 'Filters and Fifties' are concerned I have a similar problem in that I'd like to get more filters for B'n'W work for my '53 f1.5 Summarit but the lens takes very uncommonly found 41mm filters and the screw-in type which come up all seem to be priced in 'Collector's Territory'. Happily the v4 50mm Summicron takes Leica's usual 39mm filters and is, by comparison to the Summarit, a very cheap date.

Thanks again!

Philip.

Thanks to members of this forum i was alerted to the e46 version of the 50 lux pre-asph.  I finally came across one but could not pull the trigger on purchase because I already owned the noctilux and summicron.  It is silly what we can convince ourselves about what we need - i am not criticizing the APO or noctilux, but sometimes i feel I chased these due to the allure of what might be instead of what works for me.  Not knocking either lens... they are both fantastic.

First image is the 0.95 on the M10M, second is the APO on M10M

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But getting back to the message of the OP - I do agree with HCB about precision, although I feel, that for myself, the 75 does a much better job.  I have not ventured into the 90, as I do not like the tiny frame lines.  Having said that, I do find that years of shooting 50 has made me accustomed to the 50 frameliness and find it frustrating that Leica decided to put pair those with the 75 frame lines on the M10!  That may be academic... the visoflex has become my new best friend with the 75 noctilux (I never needed it for the 50 noctilux... turns out a 1/2cm DoP is my margin of error!).

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2 hours ago, Anbaric said:

Anyone having difficulty with their 4fps Leicavit technique might want to check out this video, which suggests another method of shooting fast Professional images with a Leica 50mm lens, especially in low light:

Another of this gentleman's 'superb' technical reviews and rather apt in light of the discussions and content of this thread.  His matter-of-fact way of 'explaining' the technical intricacies of attaching his Noctilux and using it in autofocus mode on the F3 body were mind-boggling.  Recommended watching.  I can hardly wait to see the pictures he downloads from his F3.

Pete.

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9 hours ago, Drmat said:

I do find that years of shooting 50 has made me accustomed to the 50 frameliness and find it frustrating that Leica decided to put pair those with the 75 frame lines on the M10!

Just for the record, Leitz "decided" to pair the 50 and 75 framelines 41 years ago (1981 - M4-P, following the (re)introduction of the 75mm focal length). Not something new in the M10. ;)

Due to the historical contingency that in designing the M3 in 1953, Leitz provided mechanical frameline settings in only three variations: 50/90/135. Adding other framelines, ever since then, requires they be paired with one of the original three (or left out altogether). 35mm lines were paired with 135 from the beginning (M2 leaves out the 135 lines, M4 and later show both together), Leica CL paired 40mm with 50mm. 28mm lenses/lines were covertly paired with 90mm beginning around 1970 (but never actually made visible until 1981). Leaving 50mm as the only "unpaired" original setting with which 75mm could be paired eventually.

To forestall the next question: M framelines are backlit stencils or slits cut in metal masks. Backlit by either a window on the front (film Ms, and digital M8/9 variants) or by a internal LED (digital Ms since the M typ 240). Much the same way a candle backlights the features cut in a Jack-o'-Lantern.

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But other than the backlight source, the M10 (and for that matter the newest M11) framelines are still mechanical slits cut in metal. And thus not "addressable" individually, but only in the traditional pairings.

....................

Back on the main topic: I haven't used (or even owned) a 50mm lens regularly since about 1980 (except briefly, as a "~70mm" on the cropped M8). I just gravitated towards more context (21/24/28/35mm) or tighter details (75/85/90/105/135), depending on system used.

At age 16 in high school, I was shown this picture from Bruce Davidson's East 100th Street, and it was an epiphany.

https://emuseum.mfah.org/objects/128811/from-the-series-east-100th-street

Show a loving couple in the intimacy of their tenement room - and the street they live on, in one shot. How cool is that!

Davidson is know as a Leica shooter, but for E100St he used a 4x5. The shot above (as were many others in the project) was with a 90mm (28-30mm equivalent on 4x5). Bought my first $39.95 Spiratone 28 a month later. ;)

Edited by adan
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6 hours ago, adan said:

Just for the record, Leitz "decided" to pair the 50 and 75 framelines 41 years ago (1981 - M4-P, following the (re)introduction of the 75mm focal length). Not something new in the M10. ;)

Due to the historical contingency that in designing the M3 in 1953, Leitz provided mechanical frameline settings in only three variations: 50/90/135. Adding other framelines, ever since then, requires they be paired with one of the original three (or left out altogether). 35mm lines were paired with 135 from the beginning (M2 leaves out the 135 lines, M4 and later show both together), Leica CL paired 40mm with 50mm. 28mm lenses/lines were covertly paired with 90mm beginning around 1970 (but never actually made visible until 1981). Leaving 50mm as the only "unpaired" original setting with which 75mm could be paired eventually.

To forestall the next question: M framelines are backlit stencils or slits cut in metal masks. Backlit by either a window on the front (film Ms, and digital M8/9 variants) or by a internal LED (digital Ms since the M typ 240). Much the same way a candle backlights the features cut in a Jack-o'-Lantern.

But other than the backlight source, the M10 (and for that matter the newest M11) framelines are still mechanical slits cut in metal. And thus not "addressable" individually, but only in the traditional pairings.

....................

Back on the main topic: I haven't used (or even owned) a 50mm lens regularly since about 1980 (except briefly, as a "~70mm" on the cropped M8). I just gravitated towards more context (21/24/28/35mm) or tighter details (75/85/90/105/135), depending on system used.

At age 16 in high school, I was shown this picture from Bruce Davidson's East 100th Street, and it was an epiphany.

https://emuseum.mfah.org/objects/128811/from-the-series-east-100th-street

Show a loving couple in the intimacy of their tenement room - and the street they live on, in one shot. How cool is that!

Davidson is know as a Leica shooter, but for E100St he used a 4x5. The shot above (as were many others in the project) was with a 90mm (28-30mm equivalent on 4x5). Bought my first $39.95 Spiratone 28 a month later. ;)

I wasn't suggesting it was new to the M10 (I have shot Leica for 13 years).  However, it is a matter of fact that the M10 has the 75mm frame lines within the ones to which I grew accustomed!  Bad luck i suppose that I suffer a quirk of history in design.  If I started with a 35 instead of a 50, I would not have dealt with such problems.  I suppose the 75 focal length was an after thought in the Leica world (I am sure there are some on this forum who will now argue that only 28/50/90 are legitimate... others will say 21/35/75... and others will claim that one should not own a 35/75 when a 50 will do. I shoot 35/50/75.  Owned a 28 and found i always cropped... which I have today learned makes me a sloppy photographer).

Love that Davidson photo.  Thank you for sharing.

Also love the history of design - I took graduate courses in history of technology, and I feel few people are aware of how some things we come to rely on are on occasion due to restrictions based on other decisions.  Thank you for the context.

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4 hours ago, Drmat said:

I suppose the 75 focal length was an after thought in the Leica world

Somewhat.

As early as 1931, Leitz offered a 73mm f/1.9 Hektor in the original Leica screw mount. Discontinued 1942, and replaced with an 85mm f/1.5 Summarex 1943-60. Both could be easily adapted to M-mount, but it was assumed (apparently) that they would be used with their own original accessory hotshoe finders, and did not need built-in framelines in the new M system.

Fast-forward to the late 1970s, and Leitz was facing competitive pressure from the first 85mm f/1.4 lenses for low-light journalism from Nikon and Zeiss, as well as an exotic 85 f/1.2 FD SSC from Canon. The problem was that a 90mm f/1.4 would have been very heavy, and so large it would block the rangefinder windows. **

Reviving the 75mm-ish focal length as the 75mm f/1.4 Summilux-M in 1980 allowed for a slightly smaller, lighter and easier-to-focus "longer than 50mm" f/1.4 lens.

(Of note, the 75mm Summilux-M was one of the last designs from Walter Mandler at Leitz Canada, and in his opinion, his finest lens. Which was pretty accurate - it outperforms both the 50mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2.0 of the same era, at comparable apertures. For a price. ;) )

______________
** Nevertheless Leica has finally introduced a 90mm f/1.5 APO-Summilux-M-ASPH recently, alongside the 75 Noctilux f/1.25. Presumably ~40 years of advances in glass and optical technology (and a $$$five-figure price) now make it workable.

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On 9/2/2022 at 11:00 AM, farnz said:

Another of this gentleman's 'superb' technical reviews and rather apt in light of the discussions and content of this thread.  His matter-of-fact way of 'explaining' the technical intricacies of attaching his Noctilux and using it in autofocus mode on the F3 body were mind-boggling.  Recommended watching.  I can hardly wait to see the pictures he downloads from his F3.

Pete.

You do realize this is a parody account from a few years back, don't you? Makes the rounds now and then, hilariously duping people still. 

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