35mm or 50mm lens?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by patrizia_marsura, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. What lens would you recommend for street photography? I'm looking
    into buying a Nikon N80 with a fixed focus lens.

  2. 35mm for me. 50mm requires me standing kinda far away from the subject, inviting random people walking across the frame at the Kodak moment :). M
  3. Anywhere in the 35mm to 50mm range will work. 35mm is probably more common, but the 50mm lens is significantly cheaper and faster to boot. An easy solution is to start with the 50mm f/1.8 and use it. If you want a wider angle, then go to the more expensive 35mm lens later on.

    If the price and speed of the 35mm are okay with you, by all means try it out as well, but you really can't go wrong with the inexpensive 50/1.8.
  4. I assume that you mean a fixed focal length, or "prime" lens. I generally use a 35mm f/2 for night street photography, but with more light in the daytime I prefer longer FLs to isolate the subject. My favorites then are the 85mm f/1.8 and 70-210mm zoom.
  5. I know that this is not on your original post, however, consider a rangefinder for street photography. I've shot on the street with an F100, N80 and F3. Usually with a 35mm lens. I felt conspicuous. It worked out just alright....I picked up a Bessa R2 with a 35mm lens and I've found that my street photography has gotten "bolder". The Bessa looks a bit more 110 instamatic, and I've found that people are less likely to shy away. The 35mm lens is a good choice because it gives a bit of wiggle room for framing, as well as, because the field of view is not "normal", a differant perspective than what we are used to seeing.....Warren
  6. It's completely a personal preference thing. Cartier-Bresson used a 50 / Winogrand used a 28. In the end, the act of picking a focal length and really getting to know it is more important than the actual focal length you pick -- you know, unless you go and buy something like a 600mm f/4. On a practical level, you want something easy to handhold, reasonably sharp, and with a wide enough angle of view to shoot from the hip without framing errors. For me, this means anything from 50 on down.

    I personally do most of my street photography with a 35. I find that it opens up space in interesting ways, and it's easier to work close to your subjects. But like I said, picking a focal length is more important than what focal length you pick.
  7. Like another poster said, if you primarily want to shoot street, an RF is the way to go -- in 35mm terms, the two most useful lenses would be a 35mm and a 75 or 85mm -- switch back and forth as the situation dictates. A good low light meter (e.g., Gossen Luna Pro S) would also be helpful.
  8. I would recommend a Nikon FM2n or Nikon FM3a. I can’t comment on a Bessa as I have not used one but I used to use a Leica IIIG and a manual focus, manual advance rangefinder might be good. The FM2n has a match diode meter display that is easy to use in low light; the FM3a like the FE2 from which it descends has aperture preferred auto exposure which is very accurate even in low light.

    I think the N80 is a poor choice because of the sound of motorized film advance and focus. In my opinion any of today’s AF cameras are just not discrete enough for street photography.

    For lenses you might use anything for 20mm to 50mm. I’ve seen beautiful candid photo from NY, NY take on Kodachrome 25 with a 20/3.5 and Canon F1 (old). I’d think primarily of a 28/2.0, 35/1.4 or 50/1.4 but having seen the work mentioned above I also have to consider a 24/2.0 and 20/2.8.

    This isn’t really an answer to your question but it wouldn’t hurt to own both a 35mm and 50mm so I wouldn’t sweat that decision. I would however give strong consideration to manual focus and manual advance v. autofocus and auto advance.

  9. I forgot to mention that most of the photos on Kodachrome 25 were taken at dusk and during the evening. The wider the lens, the easier it is to hand hold in low light. Just on more thing to keep in mind.
  10. Hi, I happen to own the F80 with AF 35mm 50mm (1.8) and 85mm Plus a FM.
    For street photo I will use the 35mm. Someone did mention about noise, I have found the F80 quite 'silent' comparing to my manual FM.

    I advise you buying the 35mm first hand because older version may carry the oil-on-the-blade problem. If you really have to buy 2nd hand, then you must inspect whether there is any oil on the aperture blades or not. It may prevent the lense from stopping down. My new version works just perfect.
  11. The N80 with a new 35/2 AF-D lens is a very versatile choice. If I could only have one lens for travel/street type photography for my Nikon(s) it would be that one. I am guessing that those who say an N80 makes too much noise have never actually used one. They really are very quiet.

    Is the N80 as good at low-light autofocus as an F100? No, but it is a whole lot lighter, smaller and quieter. I think it is also a lot quieter than the Bessa that someone mentioned. The mirror is pretty well damped, so handholding at slow speeds is really just a matter of technique.

    Is the N80 as unobtrusive as a Leica (or as the Contax G2 I've enjoyed using for the last year)? Maybe, maybe not, but it is more versatile (I can put on a long lens if I want to go to the zoo) and nowhere near as expensive. I think being unobtrusive when shooting has a lot more to do with technique and attitude than with equipment.

    I've been photographing my travels and on the street since the mid-70's and I am really not sure that any one camera is that much better than another. It's really more a matter of what feels right to you. The more comfortable you get with whatever you are using the less people will pay attention to you. Last year at this time I was in Paris with an F100 (with 35/2) and no one payed any attention to me, even inside of churhes and museums or on the street. The F100 is a big camera.

    Hope this helps. Oh, and to answer directly your original question (as opposed to responding to some of the other comments): If you get the N80, get a new 35/2 AF-D and have fun.
  12. Dear Patrizia,

    Would like to share with you my little experience. I do take lots of street photos during my travel. My standard equipments are

    28 mm Point and Shoot (GRs1) loaded with fast film - in my upper shirt pocket - this is the fastest weapon in case something comes up in no time - it is also my backup in case of theft of the main gear (it did happen during my East Europe tour !!)

    35 mm loaded on my rangefinder - very very good and fast (F 1.4) for street photo particularly you want to cover a little about the environment - for Nikon, i guess it is easy to find an equivalent.

    Long range for headshot - Canon 70-200L F4

    I can easily fit all three camera in a simple shoulder bag - travel light is the key to street photos ! Happy shooting :)
  13. n m

    n m

    I think we are decided that a 35mm is more useful by now. I fail to see that the clunky mirrors of older SLR designs and their winding ratcheting is less obtrusive than the average AF camera.
  14. 35mm. It can look like a "normal" lens--low distortion--but it gives you that extra space in the background to show where you are, and how you're subjects look in their environment.
    Also consider getting a new 24-85 AF-S "G" lens and shooting fast film (like Kodak 3200 pulled to 1200; you don't want to go slower than 400 speed film with this lens, due to the 3.5-4.5 max aperture). It's REALLY quiet, focuses REALLY fast, and is nice and sharp! Also, you can manually adjust focus. Finally, it focuses close. Don't get it if it feels too heavy, if you are going to print larger than 8x10 (on 11x14 paper, say)--you'll see the difference in sharpness--or, if you want to shoot in low light. I opted for the 35mm and 50mm (I use both, depending on my mood) because I print big and shoot in available light at night.
    Part of the suggestion for the zoom is so you can get all the lenses a street photog wants in one. The other is because when you are in tight spaces...in a flea market, for instance, or a taxi cab...that 24mm wide angle is priceless.
    By the way, I shoot people, and the N80 is an excellent choice. You see it (or a camera shaped like it) hanging around the necks of everyone from students to tourists. In other words, it's not a big deal. Whenever a Leica comes out, anyone who has read too much Photo.net (people like me), say "ahh, is that a Leica; what kind?" The N80 is extremely quiet--if you turn off the autofocus. I find the viewfinder bright enough with an f/2 or f/1.8 lens to focus manually with good accuracy.
    Good luck, Adam

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