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03-11-2011, 07:35 AM   #1
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Street shooting lens recommendations

Spring is coming where I live and people will be out in force soon. I'd like to try my hand at shooting people on the street as well as outside of buildings, windows, signs, etc. I'd like to keep the camera/lens combo small, so I'll be using a K-x and would like to use a pancake. I know some people use the 21mm limited for walking up to people, composing and shooting. But I'm thinking, at least in the beginning, I'd like to try shooting from the hip or chest. Would the 21mm work for that as well? The other choice seem to be the 40mm, but is that wide enough for shooting from the hip?

Any advice before I buy would be appreciated.

03-11-2011, 08:20 AM - 1 Like   #2

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21mm is better than 40mm for shooting from the hip.

Wide-angle lenses have a greater depth of field. Set a moderately small aperture like f11+ in Av mode, manually focus on something ~8 feet away, and everything from ~4 feet to infinity will be in focus. You can snap away without refocusing each photo. Those are rough distances for a 21mm lens on APS-C sensor. A 40mm lens will give less forgiving distances.

For more detail, you google "hyperfocal distance" or check (especially their online calculator for a comparison of 21mm and 40mm).
03-11-2011, 08:43 AM   #3
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I believe DA15 is a great street lens. It may force you to go too close, but if you compose the people close the frame edge, they may not realize that they are in the photo. The DA15 doesn't look like ultra wide lens.
03-11-2011, 09:01 AM   #4
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+1 for the DA15. It's short and wide (86) and you'll likely capture more than you intended if shooting from the hip but I find it more versatile with better sharpness/contrast than the DA21 although it's a tad slower (<1 stop). In fact, the DA15 is tied for my favorite lens.

For something longer, you get >angle of view on the FA43 (53) vs. the DA40 (39). Lastly, take a look at the Sigma 30/1.4 which I think is a real gem - while not super sharp corner to corner, the center and bokeh is outstanding.

03-11-2011, 09:39 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I use manual primes. For well-lit streets, I use an M42 Tokina-made 21/3.8 set to f/11 and prefocused to 2m for DOF from 1m to infinity. It's often badged as Vivitar, Soligor, Lentar, whatever, and sell for well under US$100. For not-so-well-lit streets, I use a PK Zenitar 16/2.8 (under US$200) set to f/4 and prefocused for DOF from 1.5m to infinity. Hip-shooting, u-betcha: no focusing needed!

Alas, neither of those are pancakes. Neither is my other suggestion, the DA18-55 set to f/5.6-11, depending, with AF on. Of course, none of these seem like *large* lenses on my K20D; pancakes on that are ludicrously tiny. And there are other forms of street shooting. One of my favorite street lens for grabbing faces is an Enna Tele-Sandmar 100/4.5 (US$7) that's smaller than most tiny Takumars -- it looks too short to be a telephoto.

What the hell, get what you want. It's only money, eh?
03-11-2011, 09:58 PM   #6
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I say the F 28mm. Perfect street focal length, somewhat small build, and renders amazing IQ.
03-11-2011, 11:05 PM   #7
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I agree with the DA15 recommendation. It is a great street lens and you will get more of the scene in your shot. You can always crop later.
03-12-2011, 11:29 AM   #8
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For the K-x and a pancake street lens I'd get the 21mm, or if money was tight then the 40mm.

03-12-2011, 04:31 PM   #9
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In my Sony days I very much liked the legendary Minolta 28/2 for street shooting. I recently switched to Pentax and bought a F28/2.8. I think it's actually rather close, iq-wise, to the Minolta. And a good budget alternative that you can sell on without a loss if it doesn't suit you.
03-14-2011, 06:15 AM   #10
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Original Poster
Thanks all for your input. I actually have the 15mm limited but hadn't thought of it in terms of street shooting given how close I'd have to be, but I'll give it a shot. Using manual lenses didn't occur to me either, because I thought pre-focusing and shooting from the hip would be hit or miss, but by using hyperfocal distance I should be able to pull it off. So I'm going to look for a manual lens in the 20+mm range. That will give me a couple different options to play with.
Thanks again!
03-14-2011, 06:42 AM   #11
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I'm going to buck the trend and recommend the FA31mm f/1.8 - it's fast,sharp it is a big lens but I haven't found that a hindrance in any case. And it provides a FOV that is easy to visualise. On my Leica M9 I rarely use any lenses wider than 35mm(though I own a few), a majority of my keepers on my Leica cameras have been shot with a 50mm lens.The biggest factor I find with street photography is that the lenses need to be fast, I know pentax DSLR's have in body IS but that means squat when you have a moving subject and you're down to 1/15th at ISO3200 f/4 when you could have 1/30th at the same ISO - sometimes one stop is the difference between getting the shot and not.

FA31mm f/1.8 limited Pentax K-7 - this was actually one of my first few shots with my new Pentax K-7:

Last edited by Digitalis; 03-14-2011 at 06:51 AM.
03-14-2011, 08:14 AM   #12
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If there is enough light, you can stop the 28mm f2.8 down to f8, prefocus and shoot from the hip. Very easy FOV to work with this way. The DA 21 is a good FOV for hip shots, with a very loose composition. The 40 is going to require some more thoughtful composition. It actually has enough reach, though, that you can take good street shots despite not shooting from the hip. I tend to get better shots when I put the camera to my eye. The snappy DA 40 autofocus is great in candid situations, too.

That FA 31 shot looks great. While I would prefer a more discrete lens for street shooting, there's not question that in the right hands that the FA 31 can take a wonderful candid!
03-14-2011, 04:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
While I would prefer a more discrete lens for street shooting
In that case, just about any pentax prime less than 100mm should fit the bill, even a pentax 50mm f/1.2 is considerably smaller than the Canon equivalent. I think people are being too picky about being discreet, for me street photography has little to do with discretion however respect for people's personal space is a priority. When you learn to make yourself less noticeable to people, you will be astonished with what you can get away with. Though having said that: I can't help but have a little giggle when I see some pretentious Canon photographer with a big white 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens on a 5DMKII doing what he calls "street" photography.
03-14-2011, 05:09 PM   #14
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Digitalis- Sorry to be off topic....Wow...what a cool pic....may I ask how you PP?
03-14-2011, 05:17 PM   #15
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the best one would be the FA 31mm

but of course that also costs the most.

The 21mm or the 35mm f2.4 are great also.

i myself, prefer the DA 40mm. That's the perfect street lens if you ask me.

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