I’ve tried many different focal lengths and I have set myself up with only using one, the 50mm. Recently I thought I would quickly (very very very quickly) try out the classic focal length of 35mm. For thous of you that don’t know, I only shot with a 50mm. And I have so say… I’m conflicted.
OK first off I’m not talking about brands or specs, purely focal length. I personally love the 50mm and how focus falls off. The 35mm is a close second but just has a little too much in focus for my aesthetic. BUT, BUT! I do love the versatility and coverage a 35mm gets over the 50mm. You can really establish a scene with a 35mm. And if shot correctly you can give a better feeling of intimacy when shot close.
The downside is I’m not good at framing a 35mm lens. My images start to become messy and cluttered. Some of that has to do with getting such a wide focus. And a lot of that has to do with my skill using the 35mm. In short, I suck at using it, probably because I’ve shot with a 50mm exclusively for 7+ years.
Here is the kicker I used to only shot with 35mm. That’s right I was someone that got the 35mm for street photography. I did a few Bruce Gilden style images back in the day when I started out in photography. I kinda love it…? I thought that was the length everyone was recommending me, so I got one. I’ll see if I can find any of my M6 images for back then??? Are here they are.
Not very good… anyway in short here is a direct comparison between a 50mm and the 35mm. Personal I find the different to be minor. Both are shot at f2.8 and I kinda still prefer the 50mm. But again this is totally up to your own personal preference. I myself am not sold just yet to go back to my Gilden days. But you never know till you try. I feel like a 28mm and a 50mm is a good lens combination. Who knows maybe I’ll change focal lengths if I get the Leica Monochrom? Or if you have been following me, a little sooner 🙂
There is nothing wrong with trying something new. There is nothing wrong with experimentation. It’s good to go outside ones comfort zone. As creatives we should strive to do it on the regular. We need to embrace failure and learn from trying, missing the shot, not getting the right (insert problem here). For myself trying something new (a lens) or revisiting my very very very old ways, has calcified my choices. I know now that I still have a very strong feeling and aesthetic around using the 50mm focal length and I don’t see myself changing any time soon for a 35mm (just yet, but maybe a 28mm).
Keep shooting, keep experimenting and keep loving what you do. I’d love to hear about what focal length(s) you use the most? You know what I use, I’d love to know whats fixated on your camera body. Keep it kind and keep photographing the way you see the world, because no one else will.
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