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which lens focal length do you prefer?


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I hope this is not like an oil or tire thread on motorcycle forums, and I DID search to see if I could find anything (couldn't), and I fully understand it has a very personal aspect to it, but...

I get to Manhattan once a year for a meeting, and in the off times I love walking around shooting street day and night. I have been using my d810 with a nikkor 20/2.8 Ai (S I think).

I like that lens because it is wide enough to shoot from the hip, literally. But, there's a new girl in town, a z8.

I can use the 20 on the z8, but it sticks out pretty good with the FTZ2 adapter so I am considering an addition/replacement. It seems like a lot of street photogs shoot with a 28 and the 28/2.8z looks pretty attractive. I like it because it is light, small, has a reputation for good IQ, and not expensive. My concern is will it be wide enough. I believe the 20 covers ~90 degrees, while the 28 covers ~75 degrees. I won't know if I miss that 15 degrees until I try it, but I do know that I would not be happy with a 35mm, too narrow at ~63 degrees.

I have 2 nikkor 35_s: the 35 AF-S 1.8 G and the 35 AF Nikkor f2 D; both of which become superfluous if I have the 28, so I would trade them, keeping the 20.

Thoughts?

If this isn't the right place to post, please direct me and TIA

John

 

NYC 12_2022-117.jpg

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I like the 50mm (75mm.equivalent) on a D300 Nikon. Maybe it’s the pleasure of using the camera but always a good experience with lots of keepers. Just too heavy for walking around. 28mm equiv on a Panasonic is always fun. For some reason the 35mm equiv on a Fuji just doesn’t do it for me. 27mm (around 40mm) on a Fuji is another good one.

Edited by Sanford
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For street, 20mm is an entirely different beast compared to 28mm.

For eye level street photography the 20mm has the unique property that you can basically place it 50cm from a persons face and have their face slightly off center - and the person will think you are photographing something behind them. That doesn't work well with a 28mm - but you say you shoot from the hip - not eye-level.

With 28mm, camera positioning becomes much more critical if you continuing shooting from the hip, however you can utilise the flip rear screen on the Z8 (I think the D810 is fixed?) and thereby obtain more compositional control while still shooting stealth by looking downward.

The 28mm/2.8 is cheap and good and is just a fraction of cost of your Z8 purchase, so I wouldn't personally think too much about it.

For my compact wide street lens (on my Z6II), I opted for the new 26mm/2.8, but it is more expensive and an acquired taste - not the lens to buy if you mull over internet opinions. 

Edited by Niels - NHSN
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Niels
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With reference to the thread title, maybe I should add that I prefer my old 20mm f/3.5 AI for up close street shooting.

Even with the FTZ adapter, it is still smaller than the Z 20/1.8S. 

For that type of street I shoot at f/11 anyway - zone focused.

Niels
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Does it really matter what anyone else prefers to use?  Its sort of up to you and how you like the look of your images.  I like 28mm or 50mm (FF effective) as a walk around lens, and have never warmed up to 35mm, even though I have owned a few.  If you have a zoom with a 28mm setting, you could tape the zoom ring and see if that focal length works for you.  

Edited by Ken Katz
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10 hours ago, AlanKlein said:

I find that verticals bend too much at 24mm.  Better with 28mm.  Maybe it's my lens.  Bending is important especially if your shoot in cities with lots of up and down buildings.   Have you compared that aspect? 

Not really, but I have noticed it some. That said, the image I posted was in portrait, and the lines are pretty straight. When I first got the 20—decades ago— I did have issues with distortion, until I learned how to use the lens, being very mindful of horizontal and vertical axes...I watch the indicators in the viewfinder. I mostly shoot landscape aspect, though sometimes the frames are pretty off kilter, from shooting from the hip or quick grab and shoots— and I address in post.

 

23 hours ago, Sanford said:

I like the 50mm (75mm.equivalent) on a D300 Nikon.

Yes, there is a contingent that uses an 85, but for up close the 85 becomes unusable, though it does have functionality at a bit of a distance. I am hoping to have the 105 by that time which would accomplish the same thing.

 

9 hours ago, Niels - NHSN said:

For eye level street photography the 20mm has the unique property that you can basically place it 50cm from a persons face and have their face slightly off center - and the person will think you are photographing something behind them. That doesn't work well with a 28mm - but you say you shoot from the hip - not eye-level.

exactly right and that is what I fear I would miss

 

9 hours ago, Niels - NHSN said:

For that type of street I shoot at f/11 anyway - zone focused.

yes, exactly, though I am usually at f8 and zone focused

 

5 hours ago, Ken Katz said:

Does it really matter what anyone else prefers to use?  Its sort of up to you and how you like the look of your images.  I like 28mm or 50mm (FF effective) as a walk around lens, and have never warmed up to 35mm, even though I have owned a few.  If you have a zoom with a 28mm setting, you could tape the zoom ring and see if that focal length works for you.  

It matters as a point of curiosity for the forum labeled "Street and Documentary," my emphasis on what I call Street, and not Documentary so much.   I watch a lot of the Paulie B "Walkie Talkie" videos on youtube and nearly all of those guys are 1) shooting film 2) shooting Leica and 3) shooting with a 28. They are bringing the camera up to eye level for their shots. That's 4 major differences to the way I would sometimes use the lens. I know what I like about the 20, as mentioned above, and the question arises would a 28 address those concerns positively (enough) or not so positively.

I have the 24-70 and the 16-35/4, so I am not foreign to 28mm, but at home, there is no real NYC world to really test it out as I would in NYC. Also, I am not using it as what I would call a "walk-around lens," and for just walking around, I would be happy with a 28 or 35, or my 24-70. I understand your valid points and appreciate the input.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Niels - NHSN said:

however you can utilise the flip rear screen on the Z8 (I think the D810 is fixed?) and thereby obtain more compositional control while still shooting stealth by looking downward.

That is an excellent point, something I did not think of, and could be something very useful as long as I don't inadvertently step in a pothole. Yes, the d810 has a fixed screen. The 20z/1.8S is too big and too expensive.

 

1 hour ago, Sanford said:

Whatever you decide go out with you have to convince yourself you made the absolutely right choice and not be wishing you’d chosen something else instead.

sage advice...dance with the one who brought you, make it work and be happy. Yes.

Thanks again, to all for good observations and advice.

John

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I don't actively go looking for street shots any more (as I once did). The few street shots I do take (if people catch my eye) I take with my (Samsung) phone. It has  primary lens equivalent to 26 mm + a "telelens" equivalent to 29mm and a wide angle lens equivalent to 13mm. Digital zoom in and out from any lens is of course always an option. The software is clever anough to automatically combine ' digital zoom' images from multiple lenses. The main thing I like about using a phone in street photography is that it's much less 'intrusive' than my DSLR.  And I always have it with me 🙂. If I have my DSLR with me, I'll sometimes use it for street photography. My 'walk-about' lens is a 24-55mm zoom lens. 

These days, I mainly shoot portraits and 'events' (both in a 'documentary' style). I.e. photos of people in their working environment and people interacting with each other at an event. I shoot most photos using my 24-55mm lens and add some close-ups shot with my 70-200mm lens.

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It's still hard to beat the Auto-Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 for a 'street' lens. Look at almost any journalists in a Viet Nam war movie, and they are loaded down with Nikon Fs with this lens.

Nikkor-P-105-f25.jpg.9a461164d9fe5b44a2b1afea54451cf7.jpg

 

Mine has served from Nikkormat to Canon 5 digital

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On 7/28/2023 at 6:05 PM, Sanford said:

Whatever you decide go out with you have to convince yourself you made the absolutely right choice and not be wishing you’d chosen something else instead.

I went through a period a few years ago where I challenged myself to go out with the "wrong" lens (in this case, it was my Canon 50 mm f1.4, which I had typically used for portraits). I'm glad I did. I learned to see a little differently than I had been and was happy with some of the shots I got.

ft-mason-photog-model-4920-FINAL-P2012-w.jpg.d15d26cc09dc058263294c4c28f8fd65.jpg

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"You talkin' to me?"

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2 minutes ago, samstevens said:

I went through a period a few years ago where I challenged myself to go out with the "wrong" lens (in this case, it was my Canon 50 mm f1.4, which I had typically used for portraits). I'm glad I did. I learned to see a little differently than I had been and was happy with some of the shots I got.

ft-mason-photog-model-4920-FINAL-P2012-w.jpg.d15d26cc09dc058263294c4c28f8fd65.jpg

I remember someone pointing out dolphins hundreds of yards offshore. Hadn’t even noticed them, I was just focused what was in range of my 50mm.

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Early in my newspaper days I discovered the 28 one sunny day after using 135 and longer nearly exclusively. It was turning on a light bulb and changed how I worked. Later I got my hands on a 20 and it was even better.  My editor hated it and I didn’t like him either so all the better. Get a 28 and keep the 20 and at least one of the 35’s. If you decide to go to the Z mount hold on to the F mount gear until you know you can get the glass you need for less than the price of an airliner. Personally I have yet to see any real reason to switch. You won’t get much for the older stuff anyway so I’d get some extra batteries while you can and use whatever you’re in the mood for on any particular day.

 

Rick H.

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On 8/5/2023 at 10:38 PM, Rick Helmke said:

 Get a 28 and keep the 20 and at least one of the 35’s. If you decide to go to the Z mount

Rick H.

Thanks, I plan on keeping the 20, it is just too useful. Do you think keeping the 35 would be that useful if I have the 28? I have considered that. That's a personal opinion, but curious about your thoughts. The 35 I'd keep is a 1.8G which is a pretty good lens and served me well. Also, it could be that that 35 is sharper than the 28, and that would be a reason to keep it. I have a z8.

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11 hours ago, John Di Leo said:

Also, it could be that that 35 is sharper than the 28, and that would be a reason to keep it. I have a z8.

Probably not, but no need to sell before you have verified.

I never found 28 and 35 to be too close to disqualify owning both, although I may not have both in my bag at the same time.

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Niels
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On 11/23/2023 at 10:13 PM, hjoseph7 said:

For Pure street photography you can't beat the 50mm(or equivalent) , but sometimes you can't get close enough and sometimes you can't take in enough...

I’ve been shooting a 35 1.8 on an apsc cam for the past few months. People tell ya when you shoot one focal length for a period of time you start to see the world that way…. Not the case for me. Often I can spot the frame I want and have to position myself accordingly after the fact. Legs=zoom. Point is often the 35 isn’t tight enough or wide enough but when it’s the right length boy is it so good. The small amount of time that it’s right makes it worth it for me. Might try and play around on a 20 or 28 though. 

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