Street photography with a 90mm lens?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by solareslarrave, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. Can it be done? Has anyone done something like it? I've seen a
    couple of samples but I'd like to hear more about those of you who
    have done street with a telephoto like the 'cron 90/2.

    BTW, I searched on the topic and did find a number of comments about
    the lens, and something with a neat shot made with this or some other
    90mm Leica glass, but nothing to the point I'm inquiring about.

    Thanks a bunch!
  2. Why don't you try it and find out for yourself?
  3. Indeed. This is one of those, "Have you ever actually taken a picture with your Leica?" questions.
  4. Haven't been to a town large enough yet. I live in a college town, and walk from home to my office and back. Sure, I have my camera with me, but this isn't an ideal setting. Hence my question.

    Have you tried it yourselves?
  5. It's more difficult for me to compose a street shot with the 90 Cron. You have to be more distant from the subject and in a street situation there are too many obstacles between you and that subject. For example I like this picture but I think it's ruined by the person in the foreground. Using a shorter focal length I would have gotten closer, eliminating the distracting foreground. So even though I always want to have a portrait lens for each of my camera systems, my 90/2 mostly sits in my camera bag and I leave the 50 Cron attached to the camera since about Feb '04. I think the 90 would be easier to use in non-street shots with less chaotic activity between you and the subject.
  6. This is also the 90/2. I was luckier here without distracting foreground and I doubt I would have gotten this shot with a standard focal length without disrupting the action. I think lens choice is mostly a matter of where you stand with respect to your subject. I hope to be able to use my 90mm to better results some day. Of course that means taking it out of the bag and actually learning to use it to advantage. [​IMG]
  7. [​IMG] Tele can be OK for street stuff
  8. I like your shot Trevor but I don't like the distracting chairs in the foreground.
  9. Francisco

    Of course it can be done ! you could probably do it with a 200mm, but only you can decide what is right for you.

    There are no rules as to what you can or cannot do ,in photography ,also ,personally, I would not call a 90mm a telephoto lens, more like a long standard to me.


  10. Try the superb little 90mm f4 collapsible (macro). Inconspicuous, light, fast enough with 400 speed film. Image quality at f4 almost as good as it gets.
  11. Kent^, are those shots a coincidence or do you frequently find yourself cropping/composing to the square format? Have you ever tried "street shooting" with a Rolleiflex?
  12. My first Leica lens was a thin Tele-Elmarit that was, by default, my street shooting lens until I acquired a 35 and a 50.

    I found the 90 was ideal for street portraits, but that it required me to be too distant from the subject matter for more inclusive street action shots. Not only were there more likely to be obstacles between me and the subject, but the compressed perspective often detracted from the image.

    This weekend, I hope to figure out, finally, how to use my scanner, and then I'll try to post some examples.
  13. Ben - I like square format and the way a composition sits in a square frame. I'm not above cropping a 35mm frame when the sides are not part of my vision as long as the quality is not compromised. I am not religious about having to print the entire negative. I have a Rollie 6003 but I have barely used it and never for street situations. It's another piece of equipment that sits in it's bag. Rollei has a similar solid, German quality, built-to-last, fine optics, no additional gadgets or "features" that Leica has. I should use it more but the little rangefinder feels so good in my hand and is a faster and quieter cam to use in street situations. I think the TLR is quieter and I want one of those too but I am prone to get one of everything and then use only one system.
  14. [​IMG] [​IMG] Using a 90mm lens can be really nice if you're in a place where lots is happening and you can align your backgrounds in your head before you decide where to stand and shoot. If you use the 90mm simply to avoid getting close to people, then your results may show fear. I've found my 90mm lens to be nice for shooting in crowded spaces and find a few people doing something interesting. It takes a while to get used to the field of view and focussing fast. The 90mm changes the relation of background and foreground completely. I found rangefinder focussing a bit harder than SLR focussing with 90mm, but the outside-the-frame visibilty is nice.
  15. I tried to like the 90mm lens on my M6 for grab shots out in public, but while it works, I really prefer to zone focus a 35mm lens and walk up close to shoot based on looking with my eyes versus looking through the finder. With the 90mm, zones are not too easy to use, so you must focus for every subject, which can make for some missed shots. I use an Elamrit M (over the Summicron) because the f-stop ring is suually closed down a bit for some DOF, so a wide aperture is not a big issue in normal light.
  16. This was with a 135mm. Not much of a shot but I guess it qualifies.
  17. Another 90mm shot. This one was an example of when a shorter lens would have been better. I was on a sidewalk with a lot of human traffic, saw this girl, focused and then waited until I had a clear shot... which never came. I have several obstructed shots, because the 90mm lens forced me back which allowed many, many people to cross between me and the girl. A 35mm lens would have allowed me to move up and grab a shot without even viewing through the finder (I didn't want her to see or react to me).
  18. I think short telephotos are ok for street photography; it's pretty good for isolating subjects, but you do need to get used to using it.
  19. I've got a few street shots with a 90, but it wasn't my usual lens of choice for such things.
  20. Idealy, it's all about what works for you. Until you experiment, you can't know
    if you'll like it.

    If you're mulling over the purchase of a 90, you might be advised to borrow
    one the next time you're in the right environment to test it to your

    Do you know yet if you have a preference for being right in the crowd you're
    shooting, or do you like perching off to the side in a comfy vantage point?

    Street photography has built up quite a tradition, so to some shyer people it
    can feel intimidating to just try doing things their own way. It's true that
    there's a bit of dogma floating in the air about focal lengths (not to mention
    cameras) -- the genre sometimes seems like a religious denomination!

    You don't have to join a particular congregation though; you can try out
    various flavours; or you can start your own private cult and worship your
    lawn statuary.

    Sorry, I'm not usually so "out"!

    I just mean: you can do it with an M3, moderate wide angle and Tri-X, or you
    can do it with a folding Plaubel in an underwater housing and Infra-red, if
    you're getting shots that please you.

    But longer lenses can be good when you start out, to help you break the ice.
    I'm slowly getting less timid with my camera, but it was nice at first to use a
    moderate tele to grab people shots, without having to stick the thing in their
    faces! (Oh, that terrifying eye-contact... shudder ;-) .)

    I haven't been doing it long, but I'm already starting to feel like I have the
    right to take stranger's pictures; so shorter lenses (and distances) are
    getting more comfortable.

    Peter Wilson
  21. The 90mm is not your "point & shoot" lens. Not like the 35 or 50, where you can set the hyper-distance and just concentrate on capturing the essence of the moment, the 90mm requires quite a bit of manipulation in framing, focussing and setting the aperture to throw the background out of focus in order to make the subject stand out. Having said all that, if and when you are able to capture a picture, the tighter framing and the perspective of drawing the subject into view, it has a "pop" factor that no 50 or 35mm lens have. It is not a lens for using it casually. I like it more for candid photography and the effect that it can produce. While the 50 and the 35mm is my stable lens, the 90mm also have a character all its own.
  22. for what its worth in Winogrand 1964 there are a few shots that were
    taken with some long lenses, and I think there are a few in
    Winogrand's Arrivals and Departures..

    "Street photography" is what you make of it. I met a photographer
    here in Tokyo who does street photography with an 8x10 view camera.
    In color. Not what people would expect, and I think in that way it
    is quite successful. Have fun with whatever camera and lens you have
    in your hand at the time.
  23. Thanks a lot for all the tips and examples! I have a 90/2, and found that I really like it. Of course, I'm aware of its limitations (not one for hipshots, certainly), and your shots have shown me or confirmed to me some of the ways it can be used in the street.
    When it comes to street, my favorite glass is 35mm. By sheer trial and error I've come to do fairly decent hipshots like this one in a poetry reading at a town nearby:
    Or this one, during the annual local festival:
    The true test has come with my visits to Chicago, where I got this one, of a family crossing the street in the opposite direction I was going:
    Whether they're good or not... it's probably a matter of taste. In any case, after having done some stuff with the 35, I simply wanted to know about the possibilities of a longer lens.
    Certainly, I learned a lot from you! Thanks a big bunch!!

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