You can indeed shoot an entire event with just a 35mm, but...

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Karim Ghantous, May 29, 2021.

  1. There are some cases, such as parties, where you can shoot the whole thing with just one lens, that being the 35mm. Of course, some would say 28mm, some would say 40mm, some would say 50mm. But, the point is still valid: you can shoot an entire event with just one lens.

    I was thinking about this just recently because I was at a party on the weekend, which was mostly an outdoor affair. I took photos even though I didn't really expect to. I used my iPhone, an 8 Plus, with dual lenses. One is a wide, the other a standard (wrongly called 'portrait' but whatever). I did switch between them but I did feel that if I had a 35mm equivalent (which I feel is not a wide angle lens but a wide standard) I could have used only that.

    However, parties and other kinds of events are not quite the same. I have done a couple of weddings, and I find that you do need a tele zoom for those. The main reason is that there's a lot of sitting down, and if you want to get all the guests at their tables, you really do need a lens long enough. Same with conferences, where you need a telephoto to shoot the speaker and members of the audience. Again, a different dynamic.

    Back in January I was supposed to shoot a 21st birthday party but that fell through. I was going to do the whole thing with a standard zoom. But if I still had a Leica kit, I would have taken no more than two lenses, a 28 and a 50 - the only two lenses a PJ really needs, or so they say.

    Perhaps I would have taken a 21mm as well, just in case? But here we're getting into choosing lens sets.

    The thing is, a 35mm would have been fine, even indoors, but I do like the fact that different lenses give different types of pictures. Purely because of that, I don't know if I really would want to shoot any event with just one lens - but you certainly can do it, no question about that.

    I'd love to know what you all think. Has anyone shot a wedding with nothing longer than a 50 or a 90? Has anyone shot a party with nothing other than a 50? Do tell.
    Sanford likes this.
  2. Sure, back in my film days I shot parties and such with just a 50, partially because it was all I had, but also because it was fast enough. Shorter or longer lenses I could afford would have been too slow. When I was younger it was way easier to move around- "sneaker zoom."
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  3. In the past, I've used a Nikon D300 with the 18-200mm zoom for everything, never changed lenses. Now that I try to walk a few hours a day the weight has become un-managable. I've always bought the 50mm with a new camera mainly because it was so inexpensive, about $125 for the Nikkor, but never used them, until lately. "Freedom" best describes using a fixed focal length lens. Once you've locked into seeing 50mm photos (75mm equiv) everything becomes much easier. "Car week" on the Monterey Peninsula is fast approaching and it looks like they are back to a full schedule this year. Looking forward to testing my theory.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  4. I have shot many weddings with just 2 cameras with 35mm lenses.
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  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    IMO, focal lengths wider than 35mm require care and expertise or you can get strange people distortions. Last wedding I shot was digital.(a good few years ago) Df with 24-85 for the outdoor stuff, 55 1.2 AI for indoor. Worked fairly well.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  6. Yesterday I used a Panasonic GX1 with a 14mm (28mm). That's about as small and light as it gets, challenging for street but my goals are modest these days.
    Last edited: May 29, 2021
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  7. I've shot (as an amateur) a number of events. One of my aims has always been to 'sparingly' get in the way of whatever's going on. I don't have a problem with being 'up front and center' for certain shots but I try to avoid 'being in the way' for most of
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  8. AJG


    When I first shot weddings on film my go to lenses were a 35 mm on one camera and an 85 on a second. When zooms got better I went with a 35-105 f/3.5, and I still used at least 2 camera bodies with each one equipped with a copy of the same zoom lens. I agree that wider than 35 mm on full frame can result in some "interesting" perspectives at the edges of the frame that the people in the picture usually don't appreciate, and that clients won't buy prints of. Small flash unit coverage of wider than 35 mm is usually a bit questionable as well, and most of my work at receptions involved flash due to slower film speeds available at the time.
  9. Many years ago when I shot weddings, I used only a Leica R camera and a 60mm lens and a 35mm lens in a pouch clipped to my waist, which I rarely needed. In all my years of shooting I never used a zoom lens on a paying gig.
  10. I've shot at one wedding with a Leica M4-2, 50 Summilux which worked out well. That wedding had a professional photographer and I was just filling in with candid shots. The 50 results were ok except where I was very lucky, but I wish I'd had a 35 Summicron for several of the group shots. The one lucky 50 shot remains one of my all time favorites. In my limited experience, weddings are a specialty best left to professionals.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  11. It all depends who's doing the shooting, the focal length, or, the photographer.
  12. When I first bought my (then new) Nikon FM, I bought it with the AI 35/2.0.

    For indoor shots, it was about the right angle. Often you can't get farther back, and usually is wide enough.
    Also, the Vivitar 283 flash covers 35mm, which I often used with it.

    And for scenery like lakes or mountains, it was also a good size.

    A year or two later, I got a 24mm, which is useful for those somewhat rare times when 35mm isn't enough.
    I do remember a trip to Sequoia park, with tall redwood trees, that needed the 24mm.
  13. I'm officially impressed. I know I couldn't pull that off.

    You do have to be careful with the wides and especially the super-wides. Flash isn't an issue for me personally, but volume distortion is a problem, as well as not wanting to get too close.
  14. My own wedding was shot entirely with a 50mm lens. The reason? The guy only had a 50mm lens OK. Your question doesn't make too much sense. Of course if one lens is available or at least too much of a hassle to change then yeah an entire event can be shot reasonably well with one lens. But there is always situations in any events where a different lens is better suited for the shot.
  15. When you're shooting for yourself or friends, you can use any lens you wish. I frequently take one lens only on a walk-about. It's good practice and a lot less to carry. If you're being paid, or it is a significant event for friends, you need more flexibility.

    Most social events I've shot consist of groups of 2-4 people, trying to capture most if not all of the attendees. This is best done with a lens wider than 50, and my usual choice would be a 24-70 zoom. If there are presentations, you need to stand off more, and a 70-200 zoom is about right. I like prime lenses, but mainly for travel and landscapes. Trees and rocks don't complain if they have to wait while you change lenses.

    It takes more than one lens to do justice to a weddiing. Shots of the vows from the sacristy door takes a 200 or more. There's no time to change lenses in the procession/recession, so a 24-70 on one camera and a 70-200 on another are pretty good insurance. Formal groups, again, benefit from a 24-70. I might use a very wide angle, such as a 16-35, for establishment shots. Receptions are essentially social events, so the previous rules apply. Modern style is to get everybody in at least one situation (sells more small prints), including table shots, small groups, and candids.

    And yes, I've shot many weddings with a Leica or Rolleiflex. For the Leica, a 35, 50, and 90 were all I had, so I made do. That would not be competitive today. I see drones in use, especially for outdoor weddings. Maybe I need to get Section 107 certification.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  16. Sometimes I just restrict myself to one camera and one lens just for "practice". On 24x36mm image, I do often use a 35mm.

    Here is Luxor at night with a 35mm f/2 lens, though not on a rangefinder in this case. 20070319_4-815-Luxor.jpg

    Here is one of my favorite combinations in rangefinder land.
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  17. Olympus E-PM1 with the 17/2.8 pancake, fast becoming a favourite of mine, fits in a big pocket and the lens has quite a distinct character.
  18. Ah, the Canon RFs! I have a P, although I don't like the fact that the VF is too far away from the corner. I can deal with the non-illuminated frame lines, but not the VF placement. I used the camera only once. I might try a Zeiss Ikon ZM in the future. For digital, the value is in the M 240 these days, IMHO.

    Edit: How good are the corners with that lens?
  19. Just fine. Here's Bert Keppler's contemporary test from Modern Photography

    Here's a picture from the lens on the Canon VL2
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  20. Canon had the idea to design most of their rangefinder lenses in Gaussian form.
    Here's a gaggle of lens formulae from Deschin's 1957 Canon Photography.


    A few Sonnar formula lenses snuck in along with some retrofocus lenses. These were Leica thread-mount.

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