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Bye Bye 35mm?


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For years—maybe even decades?—my default lens has been a 35mm. When I moved to Leica, my first lens was a 35mm, and since then I've invested the most money in my 35mm lenses, first the FLE, now the reissued Steel Rim. I was "sold" on the M system in part because of the natural match between 35mm and the 0.72 viewfinder.

Yet over the past eight months or so, I've found myself using 35mm less and less. Instead I'm using 28mm and 50mm. It's to the point where I have to force myself to use 35mm. A few things are driving this change:

  • We had a second kid, and all of a sudden family life is different, spatially speaking. To capture a scene in which everyone's interacting, 28mm is often better, especially because I'm so often right next to my kids. With so much kid chaos, I'm somehow more drawn to capturing wide scenes of everyday life.
  • Conversely, I find myself wanting to isolate individuals more decisively. For that, 50mm is better.
  • I moved from the M10 to the M10-R, and now cropping in a bit from 28mm to something around 35mm is painless.
  • Owning the 28mm Elmarit ASPH and 50 Summarit f/2.5, among other lenses, I now have a two-lens kit that's so small that there's practically no convenience penalty over using a single 35mm lens. It's so easy to take both lenses with me.
  • I've simply gotten better at using 28mm: I get in closer, get more involved in the scene, and my photos now have a dynamic quality that I don't get as often with 35mm.

I find that, aesthetically, I'm even preferring the more decisive separation of my output—which is basically candid documentary photography—into wider shots and tighter shots. I never understood what people meant when they said that 35mm was "no man's land." Now I think I do. It's amazing how much my way of seeing has shifted....

Separate from this change, as part of an overall downsizing, I've sold two of my three 35mm lenses, and now have only the Steel Rim reissue left. It's not going anywhere anytime soon, but it is collecting dust. I'm curious whether anyone else has forsaken 35mm for 28mm and 50mm.

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nope, not since getting the steel rim reissue which together with my 21/3.4 super elmar sees lots of use. I love my 50/1.4 lux asph but don't use it very often.

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Not me either - used 50 & 35 for over 50 years. With digital just shifted from mainly 50 to mainly 35. But I'm in a different stage of life: even our grandkids are in college.

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Not here. 35 remains my lens of choice. Glad to hear you've finally settled on a focal length and set of lenses which works for you...it seems to have been a long journey.

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I started my M-journey with an M3 and 50 Summicron. I quickly added a 28 Elmarit and a 90 Tele-Elmarit. Those three lenses served me well for over 30 years. My most used lens was the 50.

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Done this 30 years, using 28mm and 50mm, mostly filmmaking, with the 35mm always at hand. It makes sense in a storytelling sense to jump from 28mm (the introducing long shot) to 50mm for the close-ups. So, when shooting family scenes, I can very much relate to that approach.

With stills I defaulted to 35mm. The reason is this: I waned a focal length that sees the world like we do, adding nothing "photographic-expressive" to the images. I also wanted it to lean more towards the medium longshot feel than the medium close-up feel (50mm). 

Plus, I wanted a lens that I could use for all my images without exception. Why? Because the view on the world pays as much into your trademark as do the subjects.  Consistency is key for me.

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vor 59 Minuten schrieb JoshuaRothman:

I'm curious whether anyone else has forsaken 35mm for 28mm and 50mm.

Not me (I do use all three focal lengths), but what you say sounds very convincing, and if it works for you better than before, then that's all that counts. Over my many years of photography, I have found that focal length selection is often VERY subjective, and that many users have at least one preferred focal length (since decades, I for one am a huge fan of 90mm lenses), so just use what you feel most comfortable with. After all, it is the result that counts.

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2 hours ago, JoshuaRothman said:

For years—maybe even decades?—my default lens has been a 35mm. When I moved to Leica, my first lens was a 35mm, and since then I've invested the most money in my 35mm lenses, first the FLE, now the reissued Steel Rim. I was "sold" on the M system in part because of the natural match between 35mm and the 0.72 viewfinder.

Yet over the past eight months or so, I've found myself using 35mm less and less. Instead I'm using 28mm and 50mm. It's to the point where I have to force myself to use 35mm. A few things are driving this change:

  • We had a second kid, and all of a sudden family life is different, spatially speaking. To capture a scene in which everyone's interacting, 28mm is often better, especially because I'm so often right next to my kids. With so much kid chaos, I'm somehow more drawn to capturing wide scenes of everyday life.
  • Conversely, I find myself wanting to isolate individuals more decisively. For that, 50mm is better.
  • I moved from the M10 to the M10-R, and now cropping in a bit from 28mm to something around 35mm is painless.
  • Owning the 28mm Elmarit ASPH and 50 Summarit f/2.5, among other lenses, I now have a two-lens kit that's so small that there's practically no convenience penalty over using a single 35mm lens. It's so easy to take both lenses with me.
  • I've simply gotten better at using 28mm: I get in closer, get more involved in the scene, and my photos now have a dynamic quality that I don't get as often with 35mm.

I find that, aesthetically, I'm even preferring the more decisive separation of my output—which is basically candid documentary photography—into wider shots and tighter shots. I never understood what people meant when they said that 35mm was "no man's land." Now I think I do. It's amazing how much my way of seeing has shifted....

Separate from this change, as part of an overall downsizing, I've sold two of my three 35mm lenses, and now have only the Steel Rim reissue left. It's not going anywhere anytime soon, but it is collecting dust. I'm curious whether anyone else has forsaken 35mm for 28mm and 50mm.

Lens choice and combinations is a very personal thing. I also had 28&50 as a pair. 

I find 28mm too wide and cellphonish looking. 

The difference between 28 and 50 is too much and the photos look obviously different. 

I don't like wide angle distortions. 

The frame lines are a pain to see. 

So I switched to 35mm and to me 35&50 is the perfect pair. Now when I look at all my photos they all have a consistent look. 

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Posted (edited)

When I bought my first Leica I purchased a 28mm Minolta, 35mm 7artisans and a 50mm Nokton ltm. I found they matched up well but 28mm was too wide for me at the time, I was a staunch 50mm shooter. When I tried the 35mm I did not gel with it initially, it was neither here nor there for me at the time. Fast forward a few years and I now predominantly use 24mm and 35mm and it is 50mm which has taken a back seat somewhat.

I think the point I am trying to make is that it may just be a phase of your life that passes or it may not but unless you need the cashflow, I would hold on and see what gives..

Edited by costa43
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I own 28/35/50mm lenses for the M.  35mm and 50mm receive the majority of use, by far. When I owned the M8.2 (cropped sensor), 28/50 was my preferred pairing.  I might have gotten on well since moving to “full frame” M bodies with a 35/75 pairing, but never bonded well with the 75mm frame lines, and 50mm lenses are generally smaller and lighter.

Personal preferences, of course.  I can understand changing preferences over time, or at least experimenting with different options.

Jeff

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1 hour ago, wda said:

I started my M-journey with an M3 and 50 Summicron. I quickly added a 28 Elmarit and a 90 Tele-Elmarit. Those three lenses served me well for over 30 years. My most used lens was the 50.

My journey exactly .

I`ve added a faster fifty  a 70 and 35 but rarely use any of them.

It`s the 50 summicron v5 and 90 Elmarit which I use 90% of the time. 

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Posted (edited)

I agree that a 28mm lens can be very useful, when photographing small children, while interacting with them at contact and near-contact distance. My 28mm Elmarit-M was very handy, when my grandsons were toddlers. I also agree that a 28mm image can be conveniently cropped to ~35mm, if it was captured by a camera with ample resolution. My M cameras are 24MP, but I have used the truly excellent Nikon Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E on my ~46MP D850.

As for saying “bye bye” to 35mm, well, that is an individual creative and financial decision. I capture more total images with 35mm M-mount lenses, than with all of my other M-mount lenses, combined, largely because 35mm is my usual “walking about” focal length, and, while driving through an area, where I anticipate interesting vistas, I tend to keep a 35mm lens on an M10 camera, within reach. My favored M lens is a Summilux-M 50mm ASPH, but a 35mm lens enables me to have a better rate of successful images, when I am likely to suddenly encounter something interesting, than when using a 50mm lens.

Edited by RexGig0
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The core of the outfit I carry waffles back & forth between the 21-35 and 28-50mm set and even changes to 21-35-50-90.

I never carry just two so there's always at least a third and more often than not, a 4th option, in addition to Leica-brand to any of a full set of high-speed Voigtlander Noktons.

Deciding which lenses to use the next day is half the fun for me.

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Was on 50 initially, on rangefinder (like millions of others back in time). Once I went back to rangefinder in 2010 or so, I went 35. And stayed where until I got 21.

50 became useless for candids, street and else. Never really get used to 28mm. 

Not selling my three 35 right now.  One is Russian Biogon, another Nokton 35 1.4 II and third one is Summarit-M 35 2.5. All three are nice to have :) . 

To me 35 is still most universal on M. But 21 is more interesting. At every zoom lens I have, I'm keeping it on wide end as default. And 28 is not wide enough. Not even 24 :) .

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I've always very strongly preferred 50mm & 24/28mm and have never really had much use for the 35mm focal length. The middle focal length is just that, in the middle, a compromise, neither here nor there... it's just, blaaaah.

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Posted (edited)

I used a 50 mil lens exclusively for 22 years shooting film and, in 2000, I started using zoom lenses when I started using digital cameras.

Now, I am a 35 mil guy, but, I really like the 24mm and the 21mm focal length too.

I could live with only either a 35 mil lens or a 24 mil lens. I could never live with only a 50 mil lens ever again, I find it too limiting but in combination with a 28 mil lens, it is a great and fine focal length pairing.

I do miss my early photography years (over two decades) of only one lens, one camera and only two film stocks. I was free, careless and more importantly, I was happy. 

Edited by patrickcolpron
My initial post made while commuting didn't make any sense !
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Posted (edited)

50mm guy here. 35mm has always been WA to me. Banal but interesting focal length though, especially for landscapes and people when i want to get closer w/o making them egg-faced contrary to 28mm and wider.

Edited by lct
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