What's your favorite focal length?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Paul Ciszek, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Paul Ciszek

    Paul Ciszek Guest

    If you had to pick out one prime lens, what focal length would you
    choose? Please mention your sensor type if not full frame.
    Paul Ciszek, Sep 24, 2012
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  2. For me it seems to be around 85 or 90mm on 24x36mm (35mm film or
    full-frame digital). The Leitz 90mm Summicron was my first taste of it,
    the Olympus 85mm and Nikon 85/1.8 AF are very nice, and the Olympus
    45/1.8 on M43 is very nice.

    The Nikkor 105/2.5 was too long, too slow, or both; never bonded with
    that, despite its being a classic lens. (And I use LONGER longer lenses
    a lot.)
    David Dyer-Bennet, Sep 24, 2012
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  3. Paul Ciszek

    otter Guest

    Me, personally? The only prime I have is the Samyang 14mm. I have
    Canon full-frame. I'd say my future prime purchases would probably
    also be at the wide, or ultra-wide end. The Canon zooms aren't really
    stellar in that range. I'm seriously looking at some options, like
    either the 17 or 24 TS-E, or 21mm Zeiss, etc. I tend to shoot a lot
    of landscapes.

    I already have a very sharp zoom to cover the 70-200 range, and
    looking at another to cover 24-70. I may be selling my 24-105 soon.

    That said, I am also on the lookout for some fast primes for low light
    shooting. I've heard that the 50 f/1.2L is a hard lens to master,
    I'd probably start with the 50 f/1.4. I know people like the 135L,
    the 85L, and the 35L. Maybe when I get a bonus at work (fat chance of
    that, these days).

    The 400mm f/5.6 is also on my wish list, but I have other priorities
    at the moment.
    otter, Sep 24, 2012
  4. Paul Ciszek

    Me Guest

    Potential buyers of uber-fast prime lenses in the standard focal length
    ranges, if they're after the extra stop or half stop for low light,
    should read the following article before deciding whether it's worth it:

    So, there may be a case for "larger pixels" (or BSI sensors) after all.
    This is not to be confused with F-stop vs T-stop light transmission
    through the lens, but presumably the filter stack and sensor microlens
    array's inability to re-focus light arriving at an oblique angle, down
    to the photo diodes.

    At the pixel pitch of a Canon 7d or a Nikon D800, your camera turns an
    f1.2 lens into an f1.8 lens, and worse, your camera maker very sneakily
    tricks you into thinking you're still getting "value for money" by
    secretly tweaking the sensitivity.
    So why don't the camera makers tell us this?
    Me, Sep 24, 2012
  5. Paul Ciszek

    Rob Guest

    What a difficult question. Although not a prime have the 24-120 f4 as my

    Looking at over 7000 images there is no particular focal length I
    favour. Even looking at my primes, which I don't want to carry all of
    them around, except my 16mm FF fisheye which is not practical as a
    standard prime.
    Rob, Sep 25, 2012
  6. Paul Ciszek

    David Taylor Guest

    It tends to be either the widest or the narrowest field of view - so
    that's 10 mm or 200 mm with my DX-format DSLR.

    By the way - there's a free utility which will plot a histogram of your
    used focal lengths and show you what your most used it - it's here:


    Might be worth checking to see whether your next lens should be
    telephoto or wide-angle.
    David Taylor, Sep 25, 2012
  7. Paul Ciszek

    Eric Stevens Guest

    If I had to pick out but the one prime lens I think I would choose
    Eric Stevens, Sep 25, 2012
  8. Now, they're not saying a single word about how they got that
    data, and down to 1/10 EV exact, when the camera supposedly
    counteracts by increasing the ISO.

    So how do they get the data? From noise profiling? To 1/10 EV?
    I disbelieve!
    Nope, not for pictorial photography. As long as the pixels are
    not too small (and thus lose too much space (to store electrons,
    not to capure photons -> microlenses) to circuity & co), you can
    always downsample and get the same result. Reading noise is really
    low these days, especially with Canon. (And the sensor size being
    given, you get the same amount of light onto the sensor -> i.e.
    identical photon noise at identical photo size. It's just that
    you can magnify more with smaller pixels without becoming blocky.
    This is the system T-stop, the shallow focus of the f/stop is
    still the same, isn't it?
    So what do they do to an f/1.8 lens? It's also affected ...
    it's not the f/1.8 lens you take it for.
    And it's well known that additional faster stops cost rapidly
    increasingly more.
    Maybe because --- simplest explanation --- dxomark got it's
    wires crossed and there's no such effect.

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Sep 25, 2012
  9. Money not being a problem?

    200mm f/2 sounds sweet.
    300mm f/2.8 has the bit more range I now miss (70-200mm) moving
    from crop to FF.

    One of those ...

    or maybe even a 400mm f/2.8, but I've not really handled these
    focal lengths a lot and they might be too long for what I use
    the camera most ...

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Sep 25, 2012
  10. Paul Ciszek

    otter Guest

    Yeah, seen that. Never-the-less if you really want paper thin DOF f/
    1.2 will do it better than f/1.8 anyday.
    otter, Sep 26, 2012
  11. Paul Ciszek

    RichA Guest

    20-25mm on a m4/3. Not too wide, long enough to not distort too
    much. A handy focal length. No surprising the standard film lens was
    RichA, Sep 26, 2012
  12. APS-C sensor. My most used prime focal length is 35mm, and is the one
    I most frequently carry or wear on the camera. But if I fell on hard
    times and had to sell lenses in order to eat, the prime I would hang
    on to until the last would be my 500mm AF reflex. On the other hand,
    if I had no primes and was starting to buy them, I'd probably first
    buy a 35mm.

    Primes I have: 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 500mm. Not yet a complete set
    Chris Malcolm, Sep 26, 2012
  13. Paul Ciszek

    Chemiker Guest

    Same here. My Nikon 24 2.8 "D" is a delight on my FF cameras, and a
    very nice 36mm equivalent on my D7000. Next loved is my 300mm 4.5,
    which is manual and also gives nice images on the APS-C, at 450mm
    equivalent . My 55mm Micro-Nikkor comes in 3rd. These plus my Tokina
    11-16 ATX (DX format) make a nice kit for almost any situation I run
    into in which a small format image is adequate. For medium format,
    it's a different story.

    Chemiker, Sep 26, 2012
  14. Paul Ciszek

    nick c Guest

    In responding to your question, I'm assuming I would be limiting myself
    to just one prime lens among a bag full of variable lenses (e.g.
    17-35mm, 24-120mm, or 70-200mm). In that case the prime lens I would
    choose would be a 28mm fast lens.

    However, that doesn't mean the 28mm prime would be my most used lens (my
    most used lens is the 17-35mm lens) but it does mean it would become my
    fall-back all-round lens to be used in scenes where speed, weight,
    composition, and perhaps depth of field become issues to address. An
    example would be one camera using one lens photographing the inside of a
    cathedral where the use of a flash (or multiple of flashes) would be
    restricted and carrying a medium to large size bag of equipment may
    invite somewhat disturbing onlooker inquiry.

    Any followup pictorial alterations to a photographed scene may then
    require the use of software to elevate a scene to a limited acceptable
    level, as seen through the eye of a beholder.

    nick c, Sep 26, 2012
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