24mm or Equivalent for Street Photography

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Sanford, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. Is 24mm too wide as your only lens for street photography? Any examples?
  2. I shoot often at 24mm
    DSC_0302.jpg Prague_7663.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
    blurrist, mikemorrell and Sanford like this.
  3. I have used even wider lens to shoot street. With a super wide you can point completely beside the people and they don't know they are in your frame...
    tholte likes this.
  4. I tried one years ago, a 24mm Nikkor, but the lens was such a dog optically I never really gave it a good tryout.
  5. Technically, any focal length can be used for "street photography". For many people, 24mm is too wide, especially if the lens is not particularly good at holding lines rectilinear.

    My personal preference is for the widest street work lens to be 35mm, though many use 28mm. My preference is for 75-80mm up to 100mm at the other end, and it is hard, very hard. to beat the Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 for street work--picking people out of the crowd.
  6. 24 mm definitely makes sense as a travel lens, especially for interiors. On this trip to Ireland I left my 25/2 at home, but made frequent use of a 24-70/2.8 zoom at the short end. Here, I held it overhead, using the tilting rear screen as best as possible.

    Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin
    Sony A9 + Sony 24-70/2.8 @ 24 mm
    tholte and Gary Naka like this.
  7. Just my personal opinion but in my (limited) street photo photography experience, you never know what you might come across until you come across it. So my preference is for a zoom: 24 - 70mm. This gives me enough 'framing' flexibility and scope for PP cropping if I want to use it. Personally, I'd prefer not to shoot 'street' photos with a prime lens,
    ruslan and Wayne Melia like this.
  8. Just got the 24mm equiv. Fujinon 16/2.8 R WR. Regularly use the Ricoh GR II whose 28mm equiv. 18/2.8 lens is nice for street. Zooms can blow shots with the time wasted pumping to get things framed. YMMV, as usual.
  9. The 16mm Fuji is the one I've got my eye on. Almost seems to good to pass up.
  10. It's the same build quality as the rest of the "Fujicron" lenses and, after only brief initial use, seems as good optically. A Fujifilm.ca rep was doing a show-n-tell with a table full cameras and lenses--including the jaw-dropping GFX 100--when I bought the 16mm. Got a nice price from my usual shop plus a surprise $50 mail-in rebate coupon from the rep. Fujifilm.ca takes CRM seriously and always listens carefully to customers' experiences with their products. Refreshing.
  11. Agree with you! The 24-70 has become my street and travel lens.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  12. Did you want a guarantee.?
    It's the perfect lens, until you want something longer.
    Not to be cliche, but....... "Its' why Baskin & Robbins made 31 flavors".
    Do you have other lens.?
    Spend 20 minutes comparing them and imagine the scenarios.
  13. IMHO, yes, for many people a 24 is too wide.
    The issue is "wide angle distortion."
    The wider the lens, the more that "distortion" is visible. If you tilt the camera, walls will seem to converge/fall over. And how people are distorted when you are close to them; normal head but tiny feet.
    In the past, most people would stop at 28, because that was about the limit of most people to manage the wide angle distortion, and many people stopped at 35 because they had trouble at 28.
    If you can handle the 24, why not. One why not is the exagerated foreground if you are at any distance from the subject.

    But this also depends on distance to the subject.
    How crowded are the streets? If it is really crowded, you may not be able to get the distance you need with a 35.
    And as @JDMvW said, if the subject is across the street, you need a much longer lens than a 24

    So there is no one perfect prime lens. ANY focal length you pick will be a compromise, and will not work in some situations.

    My own preference is a m4/3 camera with a 12-60 (equivalent to a 24-120 on a FF camera).
    mikemorrell likes this.
  15. If it is the "only lens" you have then it is the perfect lens for you. Don't worry about it. Just shoot.
    AJG and Ed_Ingold like this.
  16. Many photographers have a wide range of opinions as to the definition of "street photography" is so it makes sense that they would have a wide range of opinions as to what lens would be the best to use for "street photography". I like my 24-120mm f4 Nikon lens for my "street" photos because of its versatility and how it tends to get the lens fan boys and girls in a tizzy. I realize this attitude is rather childish but it seems to help me get motivated to improve my images.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  17. If you have "one" lens, then a good 24-70 zoom is probably the best choice. If that lens is as good or better than the prime lenses it replaces, it is likely large, heavy and expensive. If you're visiting an unfamiliar place, it's best to prepare for a variety of opportunities. The weight (for me) is less of an issue with the advent of cross-shoulder straps like a Black Rapid. My back tires quickly when using a simple neck strap, to the point that I end up cradling the camera in my elbow. Huge lenses sometimes garner unwanted attention, whether curiosity or suspicion (that you're spying with a telephoto). It is tempting to lighten up.

    Carrying one prime lens is a leap of faith, worrying that you'll miss something important. This is overcome, to a large extent, with practice, in places closer to home and more familiar. You learn to "see" things differently, and discover ways to use that lens to its fullest capability. You can go one step further and carry other lenses in a small bag. This gives you more flexibility, but since changing lenses takes significant effort and some risk (dust, dropping), I'm prone to do it infrequently. You "reset" your goals and explore the new focal length. I find this exercise artistically refreshing, and physically less demanding, to the point that I rarely use a zoom lens except professionally.

    Thinking "prime" also alters the way you use zoom lenses, concentrating on composition and perspective rather than an easy way to "get closer" or crop out unwanted details. You also learn to anticipate situations, thinking "this is a xx mm opportunity."
    mikemorrell likes this.
  18. I've been using primes a lot lately (28mm equiv., 75mm equiv.) and enjoy the freedom, challenge, and weight savings. I woman saw me walking along the shore a while back and pointed out some dolphins. I hadn't seen them because I was only looking "wide angle" that day.
  19. Reviewing the previous posts in this interesting thread made me think of (at least) 3 different approaches to street photography:
    - using a fixed focal length prime lens and looking for frames/subjects that match the focal length (with PP in mind)
    - using a short (24-70mm) zoom lens that gives you much more flexibility in framing shots as they might appear
    - using a longer 70-200mm zoom lens that allow you to take street shots 'from afar' with no contact with and no disclosure to the subject; in some street photography circles this is considered 'voyeurisme' but for a beginning street photographer, it's a very 'safe' distance with little risk of interaction with the subject(s).

    IHMO, 70-200mm street photos are the least interesting (voyeuristic) . Maybe useful for getting started and gaining more confidence. IHMO, the best street photographers are at least prepared to have some kind of interaction with their subjects (either before or after taking photos). If your subjects strongly object (even after offering them free photos via their email), I would just delete their photos.

    Street photography 'privacy' laws vary from country to country and in the US from state to state. In NL, where I live, street photos are permitted unless they're a 'portrait' (in which case the subject always has 'portrait rights') or someone who is recognizable in a street photo who can legitimately claim that the photo is detrimental to his/her 'public image'. For example: a public figure who appears drunk in a photo.

    So a street scene is OK but a 'portrait' of one or two people may not be. For this reason, it's not a bad idea to 'engage' with people whose portraits you've taken in the street. Just explain what and why you're photographing and why you've taken their photos. What made them interesting to you?

    IHMO street photography skills are both social and technical. Bruce Gilden - who's a famous but brutal, bullying , in-your-face street photographer still turns the charm when someone asks: 'Why did you take my photo?"
  20. For the place where are live, where the streets are 15-20 meters wide and 24 is too wide, unless you stick to your person. For me 55 mm on FF or 40 mm on APS is wide enough. If you are in very narrow streets, 35 is OK (on FF camera).

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