What is this weird hatred of different focal lengths?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Rich, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. Rich

    Rich Guest

    I don't get this oddball hatred of focal lengths not in the "norm" of
    camera focal lengths. Scroll down 2/3 and see the comment by sour old
    Wizniewski. He claimes 55-58mm focal lengths all "failed." Was it too
    difficult getting 10-15% further away from a subject so you end up with
    your precious 50mm focal length, if it's that important??

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/09/07/Carl-Zeiss-preparing-Distagon-55mm-
    F1-4-for-Canon-Nikon-lenses-for-mirrorless-system-cameras
     
    Rich, Sep 8, 2012
    #1
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  2. Rich

    Robert Coe Guest

    : I don't get this oddball hatred of focal lengths not in the "norm" of
    : camera focal lengths. Scroll down 2/3 and see the comment by sour old
    : Wizniewski. He claimes 55-58mm focal lengths all "failed." Was it too
    : difficult getting 10-15% further away from a subject so you end up with
    : your precious 50mm focal length, if it's that important??
    :
    : http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/09/07/Carl-Zeiss-preparing-Distagon-55mm-
    : F1-4-for-Canon-Nikon-lenses-for-mirrorless-system-cameras

    The picture of "sour old" Wisniewski (note spelling) makes him look a good bit
    younger than me, and probably you. But we'll let that pass. Wisniewski's point
    may be pedantic and irrelevant (and it was pounced on by at least one other
    commenter), but it's based on historical fact. When SLRs first started to
    compete with 35mm rangefinder cameras, most came with "normal" lenses of 55mm
    or 58mm, rather than the common rangefinder "standard" of 50mm. The
    presumption at the time was that it was easier to keep the slightly longer
    lens away from the mirror. But the 50mm standard was pretty well ingrained in
    the mentality of 35mm photographers, and soon enough the SLR manufacturers
    replaced the longer lenses with 50mm designs compatible with their cameras. So
    in that sense the longer lenses did "fail".

    But surely you knew all that?

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Sep 8, 2012
    #2
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  3. Rich

    Bruce Guest


    It might be an "oddball hatred" in that particular case. Not being
    fan of the 50mm focal length, I can't see the point of such slavish
    adherence to it. Neither is the apparent perspective effect of a 50mm
    lens really so different to that of a 58mm. I don't like either, nor
    anything in between.

    I start to take an interest at 40mm and 75mm, but my favourites are
    21mm, 24mm, 35mm, 85 to 90mm and 180mm on full frame or their
    equivalents on smaller sensors.

    Once again, whether it is 85mm or 90mm makes very little difference,
    however there is a significant difference between the angle of view of
    a 21mm and a 24mm.

    What is clear, however, is that the western market prefers different
    focal lengths to eastern markets for the same purposes. The most
    popular wide angle lens in the east is 28mm whereas the west seems to
    prefer 24mm or 35mm. This is perpetuated in smaller formats with
    18-55mm standard zooms on APS-C and 14-42mm on Four Thirds.

    Once again, east and west differ on the best focal length for
    portraiture. The west strongly prefers the 85mm to 105mm range
    whereas the east strongly prefers 135mm to 150mm.

    So why is this a problem? Because most cameras and lenses are made in
    the east so there is an exceptionally strong offering of 28mm and
    135mm lenses. Because of this, the people in the west who don't have
    a clue about focal lengths, angles of view and apparent perspective
    tend to buy lenses that suit western tastes much less well.
     
    Bruce, Sep 8, 2012
    #3
  4. Rich

    Bruce Guest


    A small correction:

    The true focal length of a 50mm rangefinder lens with Leica mount
    (screw or M bayonet) is about 51.6mm. A lens with a true focal length
    of 50mm needs a second rangefinder helicoid machined into the rear of
    the lens to compensate for the difference in focal lengths.

    I am told, but have never confirmed, that the Carl Zeiss 50mm lens for
    M bayonet mount has such a helicoid and, because of its true 50mm
    focal length, has a greater angle of view than Leica "50mm" lenses.

    Deviations of a couple of millimetres from the focal lengths engraved
    or painted on the lens are not unusual. I had a Tokina 20-35mm lens
    which actually had a greater angle of view at the wide angle end than
    the Nikon 18-35mm. It's not desperately important unless you are
    upset that you are not getting an angle of view as wide as you thought
    you were paying for.
     
    Bruce, Sep 8, 2012
    #4
  5. Rich

    Robert Coe Guest

    :
    : >The picture of "sour old" Wisniewski (note spelling) makes him look a good bit
    : >younger than me, and probably you. But we'll let that pass. Wisniewski's point
    : >may be pedantic and irrelevant (and it was pounced on by at least one other
    : >commenter), but it's based on historical fact. When SLRs first started to
    : >compete with 35mm rangefinder cameras, most came with "normal" lenses of 55mm
    : >or 58mm, rather than the common rangefinder "standard" of 50mm. The
    : >presumption at the time was that it was easier to keep the slightly longer
    : >lens away from the mirror.
    :
    :
    : A small correction:
    :
    : The true focal length of a 50mm rangefinder lens with Leica mount
    : (screw or M bayonet) is about 51.6mm. A lens with a true focal length
    : of 50mm needs a second rangefinder helicoid machined into the rear of
    : the lens to compensate for the difference in focal lengths.
    :
    : I am told, but have never confirmed, that the Carl Zeiss 50mm lens for
    : M bayonet mount has such a helicoid and, because of its true 50mm
    : focal length, has a greater angle of view than Leica "50mm" lenses.
    :
    : Deviations of a couple of millimetres from the focal lengths engraved
    : or painted on the lens are not unusual. I had a Tokina 20-35mm lens
    : which actually had a greater angle of view at the wide angle end than
    : the Nikon 18-35mm. It's not desperately important unless you are
    : upset that you are not getting an angle of view as wide as you thought
    : you were paying for.

    That's interesting information, but a non sequitur in the thread. Sour old
    Wisniewski's point, although he didn't fully explain it, was that although
    lenses labelled as 55mm and 58mm were common on early SLRs, they died out
    rather quickly in favor of lenses labelled as 50mm, when SLRs entered serious
    competition with 35mm rangefinder cameras, on which 50mm lenses were
    ubiquitous. Rich objected to Wisniewski's characterization of this phenomenon
    as a failure of the longer lenses. At no point did the discussion address the
    entirely separate issue of whether the focal lengths of any of those lenses
    was accurately stated. What does seem clear, though, is that the SLR lenses
    were redesigned to a shorter focal length to accommodate the prevailing
    opinion that a 50mm lens was "normal" on a 35mm camera.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Sep 9, 2012
    #5
  6. Rich

    Trevor Guest

    Which is all rather amusing when you consider the more serious photographers
    used an 85mm lens and a 35mm lens combination far more often than anything
    in the 40-70mm range. If anything a 58 mm lens was a little better for
    portraits than a 50mm one at least, even if not by much. A fast 50mm is a
    much better lens now on a non FF sensor DSLR however IMO.

    Trevor.
     
    Trevor, Sep 9, 2012
    #6
  7. Rich

    Mxsmanic Guest

    People who argue about such things are never out taking pictures, and even if
    they are, their pictures are terrible, so who cares what they think?
     
    Mxsmanic, Sep 9, 2012
    #7
  8. Rich

    Bruce Guest


    It's called 'broadening the discussion', sometimes termed 'thread
    drift'. Sorry if it offended your sensibilities. ;-)
     
    Bruce, Sep 9, 2012
    #8
  9. Rich

    Robert Coe Guest

    :
    : >:
    : >: >The picture of "sour old" Wisniewski (note spelling) makes him look a good bit
    : >: >younger than me, and probably you. But we'll let that pass. Wisniewski's point
    : >: >may be pedantic and irrelevant (and it was pounced on by at least one other
    : >: >commenter), but it's based on historical fact. When SLRs first started to
    : >: >compete with 35mm rangefinder cameras, most came with "normal" lenses of 55mm
    : >: >or 58mm, rather than the common rangefinder "standard" of 50mm. The
    : >: >presumption at the time was that it was easier to keep the slightly longer
    : >: >lens away from the mirror.
    : >:
    : >:
    : >: A small correction:
    : >:
    : >: The true focal length of a 50mm rangefinder lens with Leica mount
    : >: (screw or M bayonet) is about 51.6mm. A lens with a true focal length
    : >: of 50mm needs a second rangefinder helicoid machined into the rear of
    : >: the lens to compensate for the difference in focal lengths.
    : >:
    : >: I am told, but have never confirmed, that the Carl Zeiss 50mm lens for
    : >: M bayonet mount has such a helicoid and, because of its true 50mm
    : >: focal length, has a greater angle of view than Leica "50mm" lenses.
    : >:
    : >: Deviations of a couple of millimetres from the focal lengths engraved
    : >: or painted on the lens are not unusual. I had a Tokina 20-35mm lens
    : >: which actually had a greater angle of view at the wide angle end than
    : >: the Nikon 18-35mm. It's not desperately important unless you are
    : >: upset that you are not getting an angle of view as wide as you thought
    : >: you were paying for.
    : >
    : >That's interesting information, but a non sequitur in the thread.
    :
    :
    : It's called 'broadening the discussion', sometimes termed 'thread
    : drift'. Sorry if it offended your sensibilities. ;-)

    You portrayed it as a "correction", which I think is confusing to the reader
    (as it was to me at first), since it doesn't address anything Rich or I said.
    By any other name, I'm fine with it. The fact is that I've contributed to
    thread drift myself often enough.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Sep 9, 2012
    #9
  10. A 58mm is great on a 1.5X DSLR for portraits :)
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Sep 9, 2012
    #10
  11. Rich

    RichA Guest

    But does it behave the same way as say an 85mm on a FF for the same
    subject matter?
     
    RichA, Sep 9, 2012
    #11
  12. Rich

    Alfred Molon Guest

    Why shouldn't it? The only issue might be the different DOF.
     
    Alfred Molon, Sep 9, 2012
    #12
  13. You're not using the edges, so vignetting and edge quality issues
    (common in ultra-fast lenses) are less important.

    The DOF is different (at any given aperture), yes. I don't find this
    actually matters in practice, but that'll depend on kind of photos and
    personal taste, it's a real difference. The DOF formulas work with real
    focal length not "equivalent". You also have to pick a circle of
    confusion, which depends partly on your standards for "sharp" and partly
    on the degree of enlargement planned and the viewing distance planned --
    and the degree of enlargement is greater for smaller sensors.
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Sep 10, 2012
    #13
  14. Rich

    Rich Guest

    How about the flattening effect (compression) of the focal length? m4/3
    and 50mm versus FF and 100mm, for instance. Same effective area coverage
    but would it look different, even if DOF was compensated for by using
    different apertures?
     
    Rich, Sep 11, 2012
    #14
  15. Rich

    Bruce Guest


    The "flattening effect" is purely a result of the distance between
    camera and subject. It has nothing to do with the focal length.

    However, the 50mm lens on m4/3 gives the same angle of view as the
    100mm on full frame. So to achieve a similar composition, you would
    have to stand at the same distance from the subject. So the
    "flattening effect" would be the same.
     
    Bruce, Sep 11, 2012
    #15
  16. Thre is no flattening effect or compression caused by focal length.

    Perspective (which technically means the relationships between objects
    in the rendered image) is controlled by camera location. If you take a
    photo from the same place with the center of the frame pointing exactly
    the same direction with a 24mm lens and 600mm lens, and crop the 600mm
    angle of view out of the center of the 24mm image, the perspective will
    be the same. (With that big a crop, there will probably be visible
    noise/sharpness issues, but the perspective will be the same.)

    (In the real world, one either picks a lens for a position you want to
    shoot from to get the framing you want, or else picks a position that
    gives the framing you want for the lens you have; the decisions are
    often made intertwined, not independently.)
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Sep 11, 2012
    #16
  17. Rich

    RichA Guest

    So, if we have two objects in a frame, at different distances from
    the camera and we just frame them in a 500mm lens and then a crop from
    a 50mm lens shot, the appearance between the two subjects in the
    images will appear identical in both shots? No "telephoto
    compression" will be visible making the two objects in the 500mm crop
    seem closer to each other?
     
    RichA, Sep 16, 2012
    #17
  18. Yes.

    The composition will be the same. That is, the size of the two object
    will have the same relationship. If the nearer object appears to be twice
    as tall as the far one, that will be true for both images.
     
    Floyd L. Davidson, Sep 16, 2012
    #18
  19. Rich

    Bruce Guest


    Yes, absolutely.


    No, absolutely.
     
    Bruce, Sep 16, 2012
    #19
  20. Exactly; if the 500mm and 50mm shots are taken from the same location.

    A "place mat" showing this (pictures taken with every lens a particular
    manufacturer made, all from the same location) used to be standard
    furniture at every camera store, too (usually one from each major lens
    manufacturer, in fact).

    With a modern wide-range zoom it's very easy to take your own test
    photos to compare yourself.
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Sep 16, 2012
    #20
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