If you only had one prime lens for all occassions . . .

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by catcher, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. I recently took only my 50 1.8 on a 5d to the zoo with the family and enjoyed the simplicity of it. It got me wondering. If you only had one prime lens (no zooms) for all occasions, which would it be, and why?
    I'm not so much asking for recommendations ("look at your pictures with your zoom lens and see which focal length you primarily use), so much as reflections on your own photography. Thanks.
     
  2. 24/2.8 was my favorite for a long time. With the 50/1.8 and 35/2 also in the bag - the 24/2.8 found it's way onto the camera most often. I liked the slightly wide angle perspective on my cropped sensor. The 50/1.8 is also good, but slightly long. The 35 I always liked, but somehow I generally gravited to the extremes of my three primes.
    Pockets not deep enough for the 24/1.4L or 35/1.4L. I contemplated the 50/1.4 -> never saw the need to "upgrade".
    The image quality (in the reviews) of the 20/2.8 -and the slightly higher price - held me back from buying that lens. The 85/1.8 is sweet -> but too long for everyday use.
    Must admit that I have gone over to the dark side, and my main two lenses today are zooms. The 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 are still in the bag for special applications.
     
  3. If I only had one prime lens... I'd go insane.
    However, in 1974.... or was it 73....hmmm...the price of Colombian was 15 dollars...I forget... when I bought my 35mm Minolta 101 (with a leather case.. right as they were going to plastic) all I had was a 50 mm lens.
    So... I'd go insane with a 50... and it would be a 1.2 which would be easily affordable because I wouldn't be buying other primes.
    When I wanted wide I'd shoot a bunch and then stitch.
    I'm glad that's not the world I live in.
    Richard
     
  4. 800mm f/5.6L IS ... I shoot birds.
     
  5. A fast 50 on a 36x24mm frame and if it can't focus close I'd like a 12mm tube with it.
    So...
    Without the 12mm tube I'd want the Zeiss 50/2 MP. However if a 12mm tube falls within the "one lens" limit I'd have a EF 50/1.2L plus tube.
     
  6. 35/2.0
    Nice travel combo when I had a Rebel XT--pocketable in my overcoat!
     
  7. I know one polo photographer who mostly uses a 400/2.8, but I think I would still need the 100-400.
    But my 300/4 and Sigma 50/1.4 are usually attached to something.
     
  8. The best 50 I could find.
     
  9. On a crop sensor camera, I really like the 24mm f/2.8 for a prime. In fact, I can probably just copy/paste what Jim said above. :) I use the combo for family outings to museums/zoos/conservatories/parks as well as around the house.
    So that would be my choice, I think.
    Recently I've been walking with a crop and the 35 f/2 and it's taking some getting used to. In the past, I have tended to prefer either the 24mm or the 85mm f/1.8 and the 35mm and 50mm f/1.8 have seen little use. But a challenge to myself this year has been to dust off my seldom-used lenses and give them a run.
     
  10. I have never been a 50mm shooter so for me a 35 F1.4. Indeed on my rangefinders this is the lens I use the most. Indeed I find the simplicity of shooting a camera like the Leica M (my only digital one is the M8 so I use a 28mm lens to get the 35mm equivalent) is a joy compared to my 1DIIN, 5DII and 7D. The menu system is much simpler as you have very few settings and the manual nature of the camera coupled with the big viewfinder allow a different photography experience. Of course for most work the Canon DSLRs are much more versatile and flexible (longer lenses, Tilt Shift, high ISO etc...)
    What you need to understand is what lens works best for you - in my case I find that I really like that 35mm lens feel and angle of view. After that my next favourite is the 85 to 90mm FL. I have always used and liked fats 50mm lenses but somehow never developed the same bond to that FL as to the 35mm and 85/90mm FL. Of course growing up using fixed primes helped many of us develop this relationship.
    Henri Cartier-Bresson shot almost all his work with a 50mm lens and never cropped and must have developed an amazing relationship with that focal length. Of course this is where a Leica helps as the viewfinder (especially with a 50mm lens) allows you to see what is around your shot - helping the "decisive moment" If you have primarily used zooms try shooting with a single prime more - it really alters the way you take photographs.
     
  11. TS-E 24/3.5 L II
     
  12. TS-E 90mm + extension tubes + 1.4 teleconverter + panorama head
     
  13. 35/1.4 L or 50/1.4
     
  14. Canon 85 f1.8. I love this lens for portraits and street. My 135 f2 is better, but less useful all around.
     
  15. Certainly no DSLR (what a waste), but rather a mirrorless with the equivalent of a 24mm.
     
  16. On a FF camera, a 35mm.
     
  17. If I had only one prime lens for all occasions I would feel terribly constrained. In an era of excellent zooms and (obviously) the ability to quickly and easily switch among primes, it is hard to imagine how shooting all subjects with only single focal length prime would be a good thing.
    Don't get me wrong. I love primes, and I own more of them than I own zooms. For certain types of work I prefer them. (Right now, for something I'm doing later today, it turns out that I'm carrying one body and three primes.)
    Finally, if you really want to try to shoot "all occasions" with "one prime," why would you want a DSLR?
    Dan
     
  18. 35L or 50L.
     
  19. zml

    zml

    > Henri Cartier-Bresson shot almost all his work with a 50mm lens and never cropped
    Urban legend. OTOH it depends on your definition of the words "almost" and "never".
     
  20. The lens I use 90% of the time when walking around with the 5D II is my 28mm f/2.8, I have always found that 50mm does not give me the FOV I like.
     
  21. 50mm summicron on my nikon
     
  22. Or 28mm elmarit on my m8
     
  23. I'd go with the widest lens I could get. I leave a 10-20 on my camera as my primary lens. (DX)
     
  24. 50 / 1.4 .. i love the focal length (and i have an aps-c) , frequently not wide enough but i still would like it more than say a 24 or 28 ( although i dnt have any of these, but have the 18-55 ) .. it has a great image quality, it is light and small and fairly well built.. great for low light and shallow depth of field..
     
  25. The first lens that cross my mind was the EF 35/1,4L but its too big and heavy and every combination of suitable bodies are to heavy and large to serve as a only go everywhere camera.
    So, the Nikon 28/2,8 AI-s is much smaller and lighter. It can be mounted on a Nikon 800E and serves as a FF 28mm lens or as a 42mm in DX mode ( FOV wise). It can also be used on a NEX 7 with an adapter.
    It can be used on the new Olympus new M4/3 16 Mpix as a 56mm lens. At last, it can be used on the Nikon V1 with an adapter as a 109mm lens.
     
  26. For me in full frame, I can exist quite well with a 35 or a 50. 35 is my first choice.
     
  27. 45mm f1.8 , oops they dont make primes in that focal length or do they ?
     
  28. For the first couple of years after I got my first Nikon F, a 5.8cm f1.4 and a 200 f4 were the only lenses I had.
    Yes Harry, Nikon did a long time ago.
     
  29. A 28mm on a full frame.
    Rick H.
     
  30. 100mm macro
     
  31. Interesting responses. I normally carry around a 24-104 f/4 on the 5D. I find that to be a flexible lens. (I add the 70-200 f/4 if I'm taking more than one).
    But two things in particular I enjoyed about only having the 50 1.8 this time at the zoo with family. First, it's much lighter than the 24-105. (There are, of course, lighter zooms, though perhaps not optically comparable).
    Second, and more interestingly for me, it forced me to see the shot that was 'there' and not the shot that I wished were there. What I mean is this: I assumed going into it that I would regularly find myself missing all sorts of possible shots because I only had one focal length. No doubt there's some truth to this. I couldn't zoom in to get a tight portrait shot; and I couldn't zoom out to get a wider contextual perspective. But, it did not follow that as a result there was no shot available. In other words, I never found myself putting the camera down because I did not have the correct focal length. Rather, I found myself finding the shot available to me, and was never left wanting.
     
  32. On a FF cam, 35mm for what *I* shoot.

    I don't understand how that would useful for what and how *you* shoot, whatever that might be. With you
    not knowing what *I* shoot, and how I go about that.
     
  33. Michael - in terms of HCB - cropping I am only aware of two shots - the most famous being Derriere la Gare St Lazaire which he cropped to remove a railing (It is the man jumping the puddle). In terms of almost - I mean just that - I believe the vast majority of his images (especially those from the Magnum era were taken with a 50mm lens).
    Harry - there is at least one 45 mm lens although it is F2 not F1.8. It is made in Japan but designed by Contax and is a very impressive lens. It is of course the Contax G series 45 F2
     
  34. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM.
     
  35. Oddly enough for most of last year I only used a Voitlander 15 f4.5. The catch is that it was on 3 focal length modifiers. Film (1x) , Sony NEX 5n (1.5x), and Olympus bodies(2x). More recently I've added a Konica 50 f2 and voigtlander 35 f1.7 to the mix, but the majority of the keeper shots have come off the NEX 5n with the Voigtlander 15 f4.5. So I would have to say if I only had one lens, the 15 f4.5 would be it.
     
  36. Fast 35 on film or full frame. Can do 80% of what I really need to do. 100% if I really have too. :0
     
  37. 50/1.8 on a crop body... Somehow I very much enjoyed walking around with just this lens... I like a more condensed perspective/details etc.
    @john: that is very interesting! Zooming by changing a body :) I never thought of such a possibility...
     
  38. Philip and Harry, Contax made the 45/2,8 MM for the Yashica- Contax mount. Its a pancake type with a Tessar construction ( four lenses in three groups). I have two of these for my RBT 3D camera ( 135 film).
     
  39. Aaron, oftentimes I do that on purpose.
    I leave the house bringing just one body and one lens.
    I mix between 17-40, 50 or 100. (also have a 28 and a 70-200 but I tend not to use those as standalone lenses unless I
    use the 28 on a crop)

    When I bring just the one lens my mind focuses on that focal length until I only see shots for that length.

    My shooting is pretty intuitive (when shooting for art/fun) and this approach works pretty well for me.

    However when shooting 'events' I either bring more lenses (like the two zooms or the 28 and the 100) or I just bring the
    50.

    A 50 is a nice compromise between wide and long to me.

    By the way, my most used two lens combo for fun/art is the 17-40 plus the 100 macro.

    Enough rambling. All the best,

    Matthijs.
     
  40. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Rokkor 58F/1.2 was the answer a while ago: now, with Canon DSLR, it is the EF35/1.4L.
    WW
     
  41. Canon 17mm f4 L TS-E on my 5D II.
     
  42. Still trying to understand how this thread could be useful or helpful to anyone...
     
  43. Still trying to understand how this thread could be useful or helpful to anyone...​
    It isn't. It's just filler fluff. That's why I responded before falling asleep for the night. :)
     
  44. It's about sharing.

    That's what those X chromosomes are for.
     
  45. I'm still trying to figure out why someone who can't figure out why the thread is useful is bothering with it (and returning to it more than once!) at all . . . :)
    On a more serious note, I didn't ask the question for advice or 'usefulness' but just out of interest. It interests me (and perhaps others). I don't think any further justification is necessary for something like this.
     
  46. For the 7D it'd be the 24 f1.4L. On the 5D2 it'd be the 35mm f1.4L. That said due to how I use my cameras I'm not sure I've ever had the 35mm on the 5D2. I've had the 16-35mm f2.8L II on (at 35mm) on the 5D2. The lens usually on the 5D2 is the 50mm f1.2L. I use a 35mm on my Leica M, fyi. BTW, for those who *must* have their zooms and cannot comprehend one camera plus one prime lens -- you should try it sometime. It's amazing how well it works. Good luck, all, with your photography.
     
  47. I wouldn't have a clue. Who would limit themselves to a single prime lens? But I think I could be happy with two. The 100 mm IS macro
    and the new 28 mm IS.
     
  48. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It's about sharing.
    That's what those X chromosomes are for.​
    Great answer to Brad - Killing myself laughing
    WW
     
  49. I have to agree with a lot of you who have already posted:
    I have the option of zooms, but I love when I leave the house with only a single focal length in tow - for "inspired" photography. It allows my mind to see only one focal length. When I am able to do that, I don't go crazy thinking about the millions of possible photos my zoom could get that would be "interesting".
    Instead, I am able to focus on what would make an interesting photo with my 50mm FoV... and I come home with much "better" (in my opinion) photos.
    With that said, my 50 1.4 is the one I would choose, but I have yet to try a 35 or wider prime - I use my 17-40 for that range at the moment... and after seeing how many people like the 35, it may inspire me to tape my 17-40 on 35 for a day and see if I can be inspired.
    This is on FF
     
  50. If you had only one lens, you wouldn't need a DSLR. Buy one of those high priced Fugi gizmos.
     
  51. I'm like Nathan and Peter - for me the
    one prime would be the 500mm f/4 IS.
     
  52. >>> It's about sharing.
    >>> I didn't ask the question for advice or 'usefulness' but just out of interest.
    That says a lot... Being a photography forum, one would think sharing actual photographs taken would be of more interest.
    Next not useful topic of interest: How long is your camera strap?
     
  53. i primarily shoot on the street.People, urban landscapes, street posters(the more worn the better). My lens is almost always a 50mm Summicron collapsible, on a well worn M3. It is such a pleasure compared to when I shot fashion and PJ, with a Nikon System. The small body, the lens collapsed easily fits under jackets, coats whatever.
    Zooms are so heavy, lack contrast and sharpness i desire, and without a primary length, or having a variable angle of view, cause me, to get weaker shots. The point about low contrast really significant since the Summicron is low contrast already! Most zooms have terrible distortion. Some are correctable in "Photoshop". I prefer things to be right first time round.
    A truly small unit, a spare roll and I'm ready to roll.
     
  54. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    How long is your camera strap?​
    Even funnier!
    WW
     
  55. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Being a photography forum, one would think sharing actual photographs taken would be of more interest."​
    Why I chose the 35/1.4 as my answer:
    Apart from being a fantabulous lens for taking portraits; and working indoors in low light; and a lens I know really well, such that I can use it shooting from the hip or over my head. . .
    A good 35mm lens on 135 format camera, for me, has a picture postcard view of the world and it makes a crappy Winter’s day that little bit more enjoyable:
    [​IMG]
    WW
     
  56. i apologize, not realizing it was the EOS forum.My comments meant as no disservice to your systems.
    It's important to state though why a certain lens or lenses is chosen. The end product always an image!
     
  57. A pin-hole
     
  58. This Photography website. . . . however, this is the *Canon EOS forum*. This IS the place for Canon gearhead questions and dreaming about Canon equipment.
     
  59. 40mm for me.
     
  60. Next not useful topic of interest: How long is your camera strap?​
    Lately I've been feeling uninspired. I think I need to buy a new strap. Is it better to buy a longer strap or a wider one with more padding? Which one will make my photos 'pop'?
    Follow up question: If you could take only one strap to a desert island...
     
  61. It occurred to me that the cause of the angst in this discussion is perhaps not the "prime" itself, but the "for all occasions" part of the original question.
    Given that "all occasions" covers so much ground, it seems pretty nearly impossible to imagine that a single prime lens would be the best choice for trying to deal with that range of subject and shooting diversity. (Imagine one prime of shooting sports, your vacation, portraits, wildlife, fashion, portraits, street, etc.)
    Perhaps a more useful question might be something like: "I'd like to try shooting with a single prime. What focal length might cover the widest range of uses?"
    Dan,
    who understands that even that is not a question with an objective "best" answer and who understands that factors such as sensor format, preferred method and subjects of shooting, etc. would also make a big difference.
     
  62. >>> Lately I've been feeling uninspired. I think I need to buy a new strap. Is it better to buy a longer strap
    or a wider one with more padding? Which one will make my photos 'pop'?


    Strap width. Don't get me going down that rabbit hole... Right now I'm sweating fabric denier ratings used
    in camera bags.

    My Maxpedition bags are 1,050-Denier, but am having serious doubts it's studly enough for all-condition
    shooting. Is there a suitable 2,000-Denier ballistic nylon out there that's impervious to the elements, yet
    still has a reasonable hand? Fabric abrasion marks on my 35mm f/1.4 L would really get me steamed.
     
  63. Agreed with a previous post: I'd like to try a prime 35 (though 2, not 1.4).
    The above suggestion is interesting: which prime would provide the most opportunities over a wide range of situations (not necessarily ALL situations).
    I'm continuing to play with the 50 1.8 and find it--so far--to be very flexible over a wide range of shooting circumstances.
    Can't tell for sure if you guys are joking about the camera strap, but I'll say that for a while I've been using only a handstrap on the camera, plus a small camera bag. With the 50 1.8, however, I've switched back to a camera strap so I can ditch the bag.
    See--it does matter!
     
  64. I'd probably pick a variable focal length prime lens such as Canon's 24-70 or even 28-300.
    Oh, did you mean fixed focal length?
     
  65. If I only had one prime lens for all occasions I'd sell my DSLR.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  66. 35 mm f 1.4 Samyang Manual is working great for me. I miss auto focus in panic situations but man is it ever tack sharp,
    good tonality, good bokeh. Otherwise my Canon EF 85mm f 1.8
     
  67. John S., don't you miss automatic control of aperture?
     
  68. I have a couple of old manual focus lenses (a vivitar 35mm 2.8 and no name 28 2.8) with adapters that I've experimented with on my 5D. Aside from exposure not being all that reliable, I found the manual aperture control (functionally of the old stop-down metering variety) difficult to use, unless wide open. I'd also be interested in others' experiences with the newer manual aperture lenses.
     
  69. jason gold - your answer made perfect sense since you actually tried to answer the question. Apparently this forum caters only to photographers who need at least six lenses to walk out the door. Others who had no answer for the question attack the question. It's too bad seeing the EOS forum stoop to the level things have gotten in this thread.
     
  70. >>> Others who had no answer for the question attack the question.

    Who had no answer to the question?
     
  71. 28 1.8 on Canon 5D2.
     
  72. I've used MF and LF systems that were all prime all the time. Two primes can cover a lot of territory, but being restricted to one is a
    serious constraint. (Fans of the nifty fifty may not agree.)

    My answer recommended two primes, a wide angle and a tele/macro. Sorry if that equates to a corrupted forum in the minds of some
    folks. I did my best to give a thoughtful response to the question. The strap sidebar was just for fun.
     
  73. Dan S.,
    The suggestion for two primes is interesting. It reminded me of a National Geographic photographer from the 70's and 80's (and perhaps 90's) whose name I can't for the life of me remember. He shot with a Leica, and I recall reading that his standard setup included only a 28mm and 90mm.
    That would make an interesting question. Perhaps I'll ask it sometime.
     
  74. Dunno...
    If you could shoot with only one shutter speed, which would it be?
    ... or shoot with only one ISO, or only one film
    ... or shoot with only one aperture value
    ... or only shoot one subject
    If your camera were permanently affixed to a cement wall on some street corner, which street corner would you choose, and which direction would you want the camera to point?
    Strange question.
     
  75. He shot with a Leica, and I recall reading that his standard setup included only a 28mm and 90mm.​
    Hmm, that's pretty close to my preference. Interesting.
     
  76. For years, I've pretty much shot all of my weddings with a 35mm and a 75mm, and the 35mm would account for 85% of my shots. But I tend to stick to the things I think I'm relatively good at - that is to say that I don't try to be a jack of all trades. I don't know of any really successful photographers that would try to shoot landscapes, fashion, wildlife, travel, still life and sport. They find their niche and gear up to suit. Six lenses is more than any serious shooter ever needs, and I'd go as far as saying that anyone that shoots with six lenses, could improve on their craft by culling half of them. Just because we see it, doesn't mean that we have to photograph it, and by trying to cover all situations, you will likely end up missing the shots you really want as a result.
     
  77. You can have six lenses at home but only pack two of them to take on a trip.
     
  78. Leica, 28mm and 90mm, National Geographic?
    Might that be Sam Abell?
     
  79. Yes--Sam Abell! Thanks. I ran across his book "Stay This Moment" a number of years ago. I don't recall if it's in that book or in something else I read later, but at least for some part (if not all) of his career with Nat. Geo. he traveled with primarily two lenses--the 28 and 90 mentioned above. Again, that's at least as I remember it. I could be corrected.
    This thread keeps going! Part of my interest in this question relates to the art of 'seeing' in the composition of a photograph. Of course, 'seeing' can be extended in all sorts of ways the more flexible one's set-up is, e.g., zooms or several primes. But, my own initial experience with only one fixed focal length prime got me wondering whether my own vision could be 'extended' not primarily with extra equipment, but by attending to what in fact was in front of me, and then working in a disciplined way to attempt to arrange the pieces into a compelling photograph. Of course, could do this with more equipment (and great photographers are already good at it). And of course, limiting to one fixed prime is not necessary any better than having lots of equipment--and, as several have pointed out, having lots of equipment is certainly necessary in many cases. But, it is different, and in my own experience at least, facilitates my attention to 'paying attention.' For others, that might not be the case.
     
  80. Arranging the pieces into a compelling photograph most often involves more than choosing which angle to shoot from and then stepping closer or further away. There is a great misconception that really good composition comes from using a single focal length and then fitting the primary subject into the frame somehow. Period.
    While it is possible to create compelling photographs that way - and, in fact, at one time it was almost required, given equipment limitations in the past - the possibility that something can be done in some way does not imply that it must be done this way. It is possible to conduct all of your correspondence via postal mail, but it is (almost certainly) better to consider other options in most cases today.
    Consider composition for a moment. Yes, the angle between the photographer and the subject matters. Yes, the size and placement of the subject within the frame matter, too. But other things are also very important. Foreground and background elements matter, as do their size and position relative to the primary subject. The primary method of controlling this is by varying focal length. Their relative focus also matters. Aperture has a role to play here, but so does focal length. The personal relationship between the photographer and the subject is deeply affected by the distance between them. Choose a short focal length and work in close and you get one sort of relationship; choose a longer focal length and work from a distance and you get another. In each case, the subject responds differently to the presence of the photographer. These are all critical factors in the creation of a photograph.
    There are most certainly times places for prime lenses in good photography, but that does not mean that primes are better or produce better photographs as a matter of principle. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't - a prime could be the best choice or it could be the worst choice. I say this as a person who shoots both and who owns more primes than zooms.
    For HCB, whose name has come up in this thread, the primary reasons that he might have used primes included: quality zooms were unavailable at the time he began doing the work for which he is known, and he often worked quickly and unobtrusively, raising a relatively small camera and quickly making a photograph. (He wrote about how a good part of what attracted him to photography was the ability to instantly register a fleeting scene.) It is also important to keep in mind that he was using what would have been regarded at that time as the most modern, advanced, and flexible type of camera. It sometimes seems odd that people who would emulate his "modern" approach to photography make almost the exact opposite decisions and choose to use and older and arguably antiquated type of equipment - the 35mm, single focal length, rangefinder camera.
    One genre that I sometimes work with is street photography. Sometimes I work with zooms. Sometimes I work with several primes. Sometimes I work with a single prime. The choice has to do with how I am going to work and what I hope to accomplish during a particular shoot. The zooms allow me far more flexibility in regards to composition and let me adapt quickly to the fast-moving subjects found on the street. Working with a single prime mainly allows me to work with a smaller and lighter camera/lens and with less thought about compositional matters, since the prime limits my choices in this regard.
    Dan
    Finally, to loop back to the question that started this thread, a single prime is not a versatile single-lens choice for covering a very wide range of subjects - and that is what the OP asked about.
     
  81. I hope you'll pardon the analogies, but I was in an interesting situation yesterday. I had to extract a canoe paddle shaft that had been glued into a metal tube with Great Stuff foam. I had a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a cordless drill, and a huge cold chisel. I WANTED a Dremel tool to cut the pipe and peel it off the shaft -- or a skinny coping saw blade, that I could use to cut the foam. I also WANTED a vice to hold the pipe, so that I could wrestle the paddle more effectively. However, I didn't have these things with me. So I jammed the screwdriver into the shaft, dug it into the plastic of the paddle, and (somewhat destructively) pried the thing out -- with considerable effort.
    Perhaps in many ways a good flat-blade screwdriver (which I actually broke in the process) is the 50mm lens of the tool world. If I had to choose a single tool to do all jobs if shipwrecked on a desert island, it would probably be a flat-blade screwdriver. You can use it (poorly) as a chisel. You can use it (poorly) to turn a Philips screw. You can pry with it. You can scrape with it. You can hold the shaft and hammer (poorly) with the handle. You can set a nail sloppily with it. (I suppose you would pound it with a rock, not having a hammer.) You can use it as an ice pick. You can open a can of food with it. I suppose if you got creative enough, you could use it as a weapon to kill a wild boar for dinner.
    Certainly having ONLY a screwdriver challenges one's creativity, and one can sometimes be proud of one's creative solutions. However, I do not think any given job can be executed better with a single screwdriver than with an entire collection of tools designed for the job at hand. At best, one only has to turn a slotted screw, in which case a flat blade screwdriver works perfectly.
    These "only a single prime lens" discussions come up frequently, and many of us started photography that way. (I did.) I've grown in my abilities as a photographer, and I've grown considerably in my equipment inventory that my accumulated skills enable me to use effectively. I'm now like a chef with a cabinet of delicious herbs and spices, rather than just salt and pepper -- or just salt.
     
  82. I recently took only my 50 1.8 on a 5d to the zoo with the family and enjoyed the simplicity of it. It got me wondering. If you only had one prime lens (no zooms) for all occasions, which would it be, and why?​
    Couldn't do it. I shoot MF film, 35mm Film and cropped from DSLR. I guess the 50mm equivalent on each system would be what I would go for. Although there is no equivalent to the $100 excellent 50mm 1.8 for Canon cropped DSLRs. Having said that, I tell anyone that will listen to buy it or the Nikon equivalent for 35mm film or DSLR (FF or cropped). Unless someone wants to get a little fancy and get the 1.4 I tell them it is a no brainer to get the 50mm 1.8 for the money. A friend of mine in photography school got it and I showed them how to shoot shallow depth of field portraits. Let's just say their professor in their intro class was very pleased that a neophyte was taking shallow DOF portraits AND using 25 ISO film. The rest of the class was shooting garbage consumer zooms and 400 ISO film (yuck).
     
  83. Perhaps in many ways a good flat-blade screwdriver (which I actually broke in the process) is the 50mm lens of the tool world. If I had to choose a single tool to do all jobs if shipwrecked on a desert island, it would probably be a flat-blade screwdriver. You can use it (poorly) as a chisel. You can use it (poorly) to turn a Philips screw. You can pry with it. You can scrape with it. You can hold the shaft and hammer (poorly) with the handle. You can set a nail sloppily with it. (I suppose you would pound it with a rock, not having a hammer.) You can use it as an ice pick. You can open a can of food with it. I suppose if you got creative enough, you could use it as a weapon to kill a wild boar for dinner.​
    You have slandered the 50mm 1.8 lens to an extent that I have never witnessed.
     
  84. Sorry about that! If it helps, you can use a 50/1.8 to start a fire by focusing sunlight onto a pile of straw. This would enable you to cook the boar you stabbed with the screwdriver. Starting a fire with the screwdriver would be much more difficult, but not impossible. :)
     
  85. Sarah, +1 (And I'm assuming that James Smith accidentally left out the ironic smiley that was called for in his follow-up post.)
    I also started shooting cameras that had only single focal length, but some of them (borrowed from my father) were pre-SLR 120 film cameras, including one with, believe it or not, a fold-out bellows arrangement. When I did get SLRs, I also started with 50mm primes. Been there. Done that.
    Dan
     
  86. 35L or 50L again.
     
  87. I don't know. I think these one lens questions are fun. As the screw driver analogy forces you to think out of the box shooting with one lens does the same. Doesn't necessarily make you a better photographer but it's fun to consider the options.
    I have seven lenses most of which are primes. For clients I wouldn't walk out the door without a zoom. For fun the 28mm f/1.8 would probably be most practical for me.
     
  88. I use the 8-16mm on the secondary camera. But if I had to choose only ONE prime lenses for all occasions... I'd have to go with the Zuiko legacy lens from the OM-2, 55mm f/1.2 on the Canon 7D.
    The Zuiko 55mm f/1.2 would be the equivalent of 88mm, given the 1.6X factor for an APS-C sensor. It's great for portrait photography, landscape, low-light conditions, candid, street photography, wedding photography, and etc.
     
  89. Dan, I started out as a kid with a Brownie box camera, then an Instamatic. I was very excited to buy my first 35mm camera. It wasn't much of a camera. It had been beat to hell by its previous owner, and it was all I could afford on a kid budget. However... and here's the part that was most exciting to me at the time... it opened up all the possibilities of interchangeable lenses! I started out with a semiautomatic Takumar 55/2.2 (mechanically a HORRIBLE lens, owing to its jack hammer recoil), but with some contest prize money and a bit of added allowance money, I could soon afford a very sweet, used SMC Takumar 135/3.5, and then the SMC Takumar 50/1.8 (a vast improvement over the semiautomatic 55). Then I started selling photos to other kids in my school and was soon able to afford a 28mm Tamron. Aside for the 50/1.8 that I was so happy to substitute for the 55/2.2, no lens would substitute for any other. That was sort of the point of having the M42 screw flange. Those three lenses satisfied most of my needs for a very long time. (I still have all these items, BTW!)
    Oh, like you, I also used to shoot portraits with a 620 folding camera. It was a Kodak Monitor Six-20 that I had picked up at a garage sale in the more affluent side of town. Aside from the uncoated optics, it was an awsome camera. (I still have that one, too.)
    It sounds like you caught the bug from your dad. I caught it from my mom, who was a Leica enthusiast. (Yes, I now have her collection, too. She had some awsome lenses for that camera, including a very sweet Nikkor 85/2.8 that was the pride of her collection.)
     
  90. MY system showed it in an assorted bunch of questions, not under "Canon EOS". I only saw that after posting my 1st reply. Sorry i ruined your day! It matters not what system, it is about a viewpoint. Do i use Canon? Of course. Digital and film.
    I also use other systems for their specialties. Gosh I used a Fuji today!
     
  91. Sarah, yours is a great story! I can relate, as it sounds like it parallels my experience quite closely - with the exception that your parental inspiration came from Mom and mine came from Dad. I didn't mention it earlier, but the first camera that was "mine" was also a box brownie - and boy was I proud of that simple little camera! (I can still get a bit nostalgic about looking for the frame number through the little red window on the back of the camera.)
    The first SLR that I owned (as opposed to borrowing from my Dad to the school photography club) was a Minolta 35mm camera, also with some 55mm lens. I eventually moved over to Pentax and owned and loved the ME and the MX, with their small size being attractive to me as a backpacking photographer.
    With the exception of one camera, I did not keep my father's cameras. I don't think my siblings kept them either. The exception was a classic little Rollei 35 that I used for backpacking for a number of years. (Now that was a classic little camera!) I kept it for years (decades?) after I stopped actually using it, and last year I passed it on to my oldest son, who collects old film cameras (including a Leica) that he uses to do street photography.
    Anyway, aside from the pleasant nostalgia... when it comes to working with a single prime lens, both of us have been there, done that. I still do it at times, but I would not consider it a realistic option in the context presented by the original poster in this thread.
    Dan
     
  92. Sarah and Dan. While I agree that a single FL is not versatile and that I do not plan to sell my extensive selection of
    Canon bodies and lenses I take a certain pleasure in going with a simple set up - but this is not just a single prime lens
    set up on a DSLR. Don't get me wrong I like the right tool for the job - as someone who owns the 70-200 F2.8 and 70-
    200 F4 IS and uses them both for different reasons (indoor sports vs mountains and lightweight) how could I disagree
    with you both.

    However, I love to shoot a simple set up. I find I get lots of great people shots with my Leicas. These shots tend to be
    better than with my Canons as the viewfinder, intuitive simple handling and compact size allows a different shooting style.
    I am talking about candid shots here not studio. I even love using my old F1s and a 24 or 35mm lens to make a change.
    Obviously the Leica cannot substitute my Canons - while I can get ski racing shots or ice hockey shots with the Leica they
    are not the same as those with t.he Canons.
     
  93. Sarah, +1 (And I'm assuming that James Smith accidentally left out the ironic smiley that was called for in his follow-up post.)​
    I did forget it.
    Sorry about that! If it helps, you can use a 50/1.8 to start a fire by focusing sunlight onto a pile of straw. This would enable you to cook the boar you stabbed with the screwdriver. Starting a fire with the screwdriver would be much more difficult, but not impossible. :)
    I will grudgingly accept that, Sarah. But I've got my eye on you. ;)
     
  94. Ah, I love this thread! Sarah: That is a great set of posts!
    For me, as I said before, if I was restricted to ONE lens, it would be a 24. (I have a 24/2.8). But the joy of SLR's is multiple lenses . . .so 24 and 35 and 50 and 85!
    (I have the cheap versions of them all! - although I admit that the 24/2.8 and 35/2 have been replaced with zooms in my bag these days. The 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 are still in there).
     
  95. Ah, I love this thread! Sarah: That is a great set of posts!
    For me, as I said before, if I was restricted to ONE lens, it would be a 24. (I have a 24/2.8). But the joy of SLR's is multiple lenses . . .so 24 and 35 and 50 and 85!
    (I have the cheap versions of them all! - although I admit that the 24/2.8 and 35/2 have been replaced with zooms in my bag these days. The 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 are still in there).
     
  96. One fact that seems to have escaped all the manufacturers is that the 'standard' lens for 35mm / full-frame digital is 43mm. 43mm gives a really pleasing view which can do a group, an environmental portrait, street and an engaging landscape. 28mm on a crop body comes close - and is a favourite lens on that format. The 28mm f1.8 works very well on the crop body. But where is a 43mm lens - from any manufacturer? I have a Nikon zoom that starts at 43mm but it is nowhere as nice as a crisp, comapct modern prime. 45mm is close, but 43mm would be even better for me.
     
  97. One fact that seems to have escaped all the manufacturers is that the 'standard' lens for 35mm / full-frame digital is 43mm.
    Sigh.
    The "standard lens," to the extent that the concept refers to focal length, is whatever focal length seems to be "not wide and not telephoto" to the person using it.
    The concept of "standard lens" made a lot more sense in an era without zooms (or without good and affordable zooms) in which people had no choice but to start with one lens. In an era of zoom lenses, the whole notion of some generic "standard" focal length is pretty meaningless in all sorts of ways.
    I'm also amused when some conceptual abstraction leads to a conclusion (43mm is normal!) that no one would arrive at by using their subject sensibilities.
    Dan
     
  98. I'd much rather have a 35mm than a 43mm or a 50mm. It's a very personal choice of course so YMMV.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  99. For me on my Canon 7D - a late 1970's Vivitar Series 1 90mm f2.5 VMC macro lens made by Tokina. Needle sharp wide open, smooth natural bokeh, build quality to die for, great contrast even wide open, great color, one of the best. I got it for $65 from KEH to replace the one I got for $75 and dropped it (this one's aperture doesn't open fully anymore). It is even very nice for portraits, but you have to step back with the crop camera. The natural bokeh, sharpness and contrast produces a 3D effect with depth.
    I love macro photography and this produces even if it is only 1:2 by itself. I recently got the Lester A. Dine 105mm f2.8 macro that does 1:1 pristine for $25 and it is excellent, but the Vivitar 90mm is better.
    Give me that with my flash and diffuser and I am good to go!
     
  100. If only I was the No.100 Replier!
    Of the primes I used: 50 1.8, 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 135L, 35L...hands down the 35L is the best one for all occassions.
    Obviously 85 and 135 too long for an all occassion use.
    So I am curious as to how the 50L and 24L perform too because honestly them two are the other candidates apart from the 35L to answer your question. But I suspect the 35 focal length is just the best!
     
  101. it

    it

    No such thing as one prime "for all occasions".
     
  102. Buy postcards and don't worry about it...
     
  103. EF 45mm 1.2
    But as I dont have that choice then the lens I want to love is the 35 1.4 but the lens I do love is the 50 1.4
    Im not as good with the 35mm...
     
  104. One lens? The 28mm, without a doubt! If two, the 28 & the 85....
     

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